As a tourist destination, Hyderabad is noted for its glorious Islamic heritage of centuries of prosperous rule. This ended with the Nizam dynasty when Hyderabad merged with the rest of India after independence in 1947. The legacy permeates the city with its architectural treasures, especially in the neighborhood around the Charminar. These important things to do in Hyderabad will help you discover it.
1) See the Charminar and Old City
The Charminar is undoubtedly the most emblematic monument of Hyderabad. This historic 16th-century mosque with great Islamic architecture is at the center of the atmosphere of the Old City. It was built by the ruler Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of Hyderabad when he relocated his capital there from Golconda Fort due to severe water shortages and sanitation problems. The fact that the Charminar was the first structure of Hyderabad gives it a special meaning. It is possible to climb to the first level (tickets cost 15 rupees for Indians and 200 rupees for foreigners) for an impressive view. Around the Charminar is a noisy market area, crowded and infested with traffic.
2) Feel real at Falaknuma Palace
If you do not have money to stay there (one night it will cost you around Rs. 30,000 or more), at least take a tea or dinner at the opulent Falaknuma Palace. It was inaugurated as a luxury hotel belonging to the Taj Group in 2010. However, it was originally built as the residence of the Prime Minister of Hyderabad, Nawab Vikar-ul-Umra, who was married to Nizam’s older sister. Al Nizam liked the palace so much that he ended up buying it and using it as a real guest house. The name of the palace means “Mirror of the Sky,” and it is located on a hill that dominates the city. The interior is fantastic, to say the least.
3) Marvel Over the Museums
The museums of Hyderabad not only contain some rare treasures of the previous rulers of the city but are housed in spectacular locations. The 200-year-old Chowmahallah Palace, which was the official residence of the Nizams, is now a museum with a collection that includes antique cars, photos, furniture, and clothes. The manor house of the sixth Nizam, Purani Haveli, contains the Nizam Museum dedicated to the seventh and last Nizam of Hyderabad. Many of his personal effects are on display. Salar Jung Museum is an exceptional museum of art and antiquities, located in the palace of Salar Jung III (the seventh prime minister of Nizam, who established the museum). Please note that museums are closed on Fridays.
4) Explore the strong Golkonda
The extensive ruins of Golkonda Fort, west of Hyderabad, also have a fascinating history and architecture. The fortress dates back to the 13th century as a mud fort, but it achieved fame as the capital of the Qutb Shahi dynasty in the sixteenth century, before Hyderabad was founded. The Mongols took the fort in the seventeenth century, after a long and intense battle. And, with that, they got some of the best diamonds in the world, which had been mined in the area. There are many structures to see inside the fort, so leave plenty of time to explore. A show of light and sound that tells the story of the fort takes place every night.
5) Stroll through Ancient Tombs
The magnificent tombs of the seven Qutb Shahi kings, who ruled the region for almost 170 years, are located just north of Golconda Fort. The oldest one dates from 1543 and the Indo-Persian architecture is exquisite. The tombs were once decorated with chandeliers, carpets and velvet canopies. They fell into disrepair after the Qutb Shahi dynasty came to an end in 1687 when the Mughals and later the Nizams took over. Fortunately, Salar Jung III restored them at the beginning of the 19th century.
The intricate tombs of Paigah, which date back to the late 18th century and belong to the noble Paigah family (who loyally served the Nizams in important roles for generations), are also worth a visit. They are a hidden gem on the tourist trail.
6) Admire the Colorful Mosaics
Badshahi Ashurkhana, a royal mourning house for Shiite Muslims during Muharram, is notable for its colorful mosaics of enameled tiles. It was built by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah in 1594 to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. Grandson of the Prophet Muhammad was a revolutionary leader of the seventh century who died during the battle of Karbala in Muharram, in a fight against corruption and tyranny. Badshahi Ashurkhana was the second structure of Hyderabad and is the only type of this type in India. It is hidden north of the Charminar in the Old City, not far from the High Court.
7) Biryani Heaven
If you are a foodie, you cannot visit Hyderabad without trying some authentic Hyderabadi biryani. This famous rice dish, aromatically cooked with meat and spices, originated in the kitchen of the Nizams. A mixture of Iranian and Mughlai cuisine was brought to the city by Mughals invaders. You could say that you will find the best biryani in the Shadab Hotel near Badshahi Ashurkhana.
8) Examine Markets and Crafts
Women who love shopping should not miss the bustling bazaars west of the Charminar. Laad Bazaar, the city’s famous bracelet market, is located there. However, items for sale are not limited to bracelets. There are also textiles, fashion accessories, and trinkets. Between Laad Bazaar and Moti Chowk, there is a perfume market with fragrances produced locally in glass jars. A wide range of antiques is also available at the stores near Murgi Chowk, near the Charminar.