Hyderabad is somewhere I knew very little about, and when I thought about travelling to India it was somewhere that never crossed my mind. However this South Indian city which is the largest city and capital of Telangana state is very much under the tourism radar, which makes it the perfect place to explore as it isn’t spoilt by the tourism industry. Locals are extremely friendly and love coming up to talk to you, and find out where you are from and love getting a selfie with you.
The city has plenty to see and do with historical palaces, monuments, temples, and many markets and bazaars. It’s also where the rice dish – Biriyani originates from so that is an absolute must try while in Hyderabad. It’s also well known across India for its bangles and many Indians travel to the city to purchase their bangles for special events and weddings. Wandering around the bazaars you can see lots of craftsmen creating the traditional bangles and you can purchase them in a whole range of styles and colours.
Hyderabad is also a business hub in India and well known for its IT sector and pharmaceutical companies based there, so it doesn’t attract a lot of tourists it’s more people travelling there for business trips and work.
Recently I was rostered a Hyderabad with the airline I work for, we get a 24 hour layover in the city which isn’t long however it is enough time to visit the main sites of the city, and on future trips I plan to explore some more. I absolutely love India and when I’ve been to India before I’ve always had such a great time, and Hyderabad was no different we had such an amazing time roaming around the city and meeting the lovely locals. We booked a tuk tuk for the day with a guide that a lot of my colleagues suggested, and I would really recommend booking him for a city tour if your strapped for time.
Sights & Activities
Birla Mandir is a Hindu temple set upon a hilltop which overlooks the city, the temple was built back in the 1970s and took almost 10 years to finish. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is built with white marble. We visited towards the end of the day and got some amazing views over the city and the sunset. We didn’t enter the temple as it was getting quite late so just walked around it and admired the views. The temple is free to enter and you can spend between 1 to 2 hours exploring it.
Charminar & Laad Bazaar
Charminar is a monument and mosque in the centre of the city and is the icon and landmark of Hyderabad. The structure was completed back in 1591, the reason as to why it was built is still a bit of a mystery and has many theories as to why it created. One belief is that this structure was created by the sultan at the time to celebrate the end of a plague that gripped the city, another theory is that it was built in honour of the sultans wife as well as many other speculations.
The large four pillared monument can also be entered for a small fee, and you can climb the stairs to the top. We decided to just wander around the outside of it as it was a hot day and all of us were pretty tired from working the flight over and hadn’t had much sleep, I would like to go back and visit Charminar and next time walk up to the top.
Charminar is located in the heart of the old city in a large open square surrounded by the Laad Bazaar which is famous for selling traditional Indian bangles along with many other stalls and vendors selling a whole range of items. There is so much hustle and bustle in this area and so much going on but this area of the city is a must if you really want to see an authentic side to Hyderabad.
Chowmahalla Palace is one of Hyderabad’s top attractions, the construction of the palace began in 1750 and was completed in the mid 1800s. The grounds are comprised of 4 palaces which are Tahniyat Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Afzal Mahal, and Aftab Mahal. There are also courtyards, gardens and fountains in the grounds, as well as lots of artefacts and antiques which can be viewed.
The palace was built by the Nizams which were a monarchy in Hyderabad which ruled the Telangana state for almost 2 centuries from the 1700s to the 1900s. Entrance is only about £2 and so worth it, we spent just over an hour exploring the palaces and the grounds. No trip to Hyderabad would be complete without a visit to one of India’s most famous palaces.
Mir Alam Mandi
Mir Alam Mandi is a wholesale food market and sells lots of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a whole range of traditional spices and cookware. This area is a great place to visit to view a traditional way of life, and if you want to purchase some spices to take home this is the place to come. The area is so colourful and vibrant and we really enjoyed wandering the streets around this district seeing the variety of stalls and what they had on offer.
Food & Drink
Hotel Shadab is well known across the city for its traditional Hyderabadi biryani, we went upstairs to the air coned restaurant which feels like stepping back in time to the 1970s, with its brown pattered table clothes and old fashioned grandfather clock by the stairs, but don’t let the decor put you off, honestly I had one of the best Indian meals of my life in there.
The food was incredible and service was warm and friendly, we had to wait 15 minutes for a table as the place is really busy with locals. We had to try the Biriyani so ordered a vegetable one to share as the portions are huge, and we ordered a few sides to share we ordered the paneer 65, gobi manchurian and mixed raita and they were all out of this world delicious. I also had the Kashmiri coconut naan which was also incredible. We had so much food and in total it came to about £5 each when we split the bill. You must visit this restaurant as the food is amazing and such good value, and honestly I can’t stop thinking about how delicious the food was there!
Transport & Getting Around
Hyderabad is a really easy and cheap city to get around although there is quite a lot of traffic it is nowhere near as bad as other cities in India. There a public buses and also an air conditioned metro rail, which runs on elevated tracks above the city. There is also plenty of taxis and tuk tuks which are readily available.
I was recommended a man called Sadam by some of my colleagues, he’s a tuk tuk driver and is really reliable and really well priced, and you can just WhatsApp (+91 863 9641629) him what you would like to see and do and he will put an itinerary together for you and make suggestions.
We paid roughly £10 each plus a small tip for the day and he came with 2 tuk tuks for all of us and took us everywhere around the city. We had such a good day with him and he walked us around the markets and sights to make sure we didn’t miss a thing.