Back in 2008, when I first visited Hyderabad with my mother, I was surprised with how friendly the city was. Wherever we went, we found people who readily helped, with a smile on their face. Since then, I have been to Hyderabad numerous times to attend conferences, business meetings or simply to explore the city. I have always come back with bags bursting with stuff & a face that couldn’t stop smiling.
If you ask me, Hyderabad is a notch above many metropolitan cities of India when it comes to living conditions, employment opportunities & the culture of the city. For travellers, the city is a gold mine with treasures waiting to be discovered at every corner. What kind of treasures, you may ask! Well, here are a few to get you started:
1. Savour the freshly baked Karachi/ Shrewsberry Biscuits:
Whenever I have visited Hyderabad in the past, or a friend had, it had resulted in weight gain for me. Why? Because of these biscuits! No one can eat just one. One pack, I meant. I end up buying at least 10-15 packets. That doesn’t feel enough either.
Favourites – Almond Biscotti, Fruit Biscuits, Cashew, Coconut, Nankhatai, Zeera, Badam, Osmania…and Fruit Biscuits (I know).
2. Buy the beautiful, indigenous Kalamkari and Pochampally Sarees
Kalamkari, as the name suggests, is a hand-block/ hand-painted textile. You can find Kalamkari sarees, blouses, kurtas, dupattas, pants, dresses & shirts. Not just that, I noticed Kalamkari wallets & notepads the other day. As a textile style, Kalamkari has evolved over the decades. In India, this style flourished under the Golconda sultanate, which is Telangana & Andhra Pradesh of the present day.
Like Kalamkari, Pochampally is also a textile design form, derived from Ikat. In fact, Pochampally is a double Ikat technique that results in beautiful geometric patterns.
While you can find clothes and other items in both design forms online, the joy of buying this from the place that it originated from/ flourished is unparalleled.
3. Fill your stomach…and heart with Paradise Biryani
Think Biryani, Think Hyderabad. This is a ritual for me, of sorts. Every time, I visit Hyderabad, I absolutely have to have a meal of Biryani.
No, I don’t want to hear that vegetarian biryani is not actually biryani.
I have been told that there are many other outlets that sell good Biryani, other than Paradise Biryani. Well, Paradise or not, Biryani is important. In fact, a must-do if you are in Hyderabad
4. Grab a plate of Guntur Idli in Chutneys
Another popular & must-go restaurant of Hyderabad is Chutneys. At least for vegetarians.
You must have guessed it by now. Every time, I go to Hyderabad, I pay a visit to Chutneys. Guntur Idli, Dosai and Filter Coffee, who needs anything more in life?
5. Spend your evening at Hussain Sagar Lake
I like evenings at lakes. I love the street vendors that set up their shop by the road. Families come and visit such places. Soon, it becomes a place of joy.
Standing high on the Gibraltar rock, the statue of Gautam Buddha in the middle of Hussain Sagar lake seems soothing. A perfect place to spend some quality time with friends, family or yourself.
6. Get some fresh-water pearls for yourself & the family
There is no dearth of things that one must buy from Hyderabad, to take a little bit of Hyderabad with them. Fresh-water Pearls is another top recommendation. Buy rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, really anything! But get some pearls to your name, from Hyderabad.
Like diamonds, pearls are forever too! And who cares for diamonds anyway? Get pearls instead!
7. Experience the acoustic marvel that is the Golconda Fort
Speaking of Diamonds, did you know that the famous Koh-i-Noor & Hope Diamonds belonged to the Golconda region. Yeah, the place had a diamond mind & produced the world’s most famous diamonds such as Koh-i-Noor, Hope, Daria-i-Noor, Regent, Dresden Green, Orlov & many more.
Keeping that aside, Golconda fort has been designed with such intellect that it’s simply impressive. Did you know that if you clap at a certain spot at one of the entrance doors, the sound can be clearly heard at a point that’s one kilometre away?
And not just that, there are rooms inside the fort, where you may speak into one wall, but hear the whole conversation from another. Ingenious, right?
8. Visit the iconic Char Minar
Like Gateway of India, Taj Mahal, Meenakshi Temple & many other structures, Char Minar is also one of the iconic structures that are part of India’s identity.
If you are in the city, do pay a visit & experience the hustle-bustle around. Lad Bazaar, famous for selling bangles, jewellery & ornaments exists around Char Minar. Double the incentive to visit the place, I say.
Fun Fact: Sarojini Naidu, in her poem – In the Bazaars of Hyderabad, also spoke about the Bazaars around Char Minar
It’s believed that at its prime, Char Minar area had some 14,000 shops.
14, 000 shops! Imagine!
9. Have a taste of royalty at Salar Jung Museum
Diamonds, Flourishing Art Forms, Pearls, Rich & Diverse food, Cotton Industry, you get the drift? Hyderabad has been one of the most prosperous & one of the largest out of all the princely Indian states. The Nizams aka rulers of Hyderabad thus came to be known for their luxurious lifestyle & their excessive wealth, thanks to the diamond mines!
This is why Hyderabad has many gorgeous palaces – Chowmahalla Palace, Falaknuma Palace & Purani Haveli.
For a glimpse into the royalty, visit the Salar Jung Museum of Hyderabad, the private collection of Salar Jung Family, under the Nizams. A tour of the Salar Jung Museum would leave you in awe & surprise. Once you have had the tour, consider this – this was one part of the collection of one Nizam family. India was home to numerous such families. You probably won’t be able to, but try and imagine – how supremely wealthy India must have been!
10. Meet a friend or befriend a local
People from Hyderabad are warm and friendly. Do not hesitate in asking for directions or help. They will readily guide you, happily indulge you in small talk & amuse you a little bit with their dialect.