Hyderabad is the capital of the State of Telangana in South India. The old parts of the city are filled with historic structures, and the new parts of the city gleam with buildings housing multi-national offices.
Before You Go
- All major cities have flights into Hyderabad. You just need the Uber app to get around with ease.
- You will be spoilt for choice in terms of food – it is a foodie’s paradise!
- You will need the standard – good walking shoes, water bottle everywhere you go, sunscreen, plenty of patience as you sit in city traffic, and a scarf to breathe through (some places can get a bit too much!)
9:00 am – Golconda Fort
This beautiful fort rests on top of a hill. This site is renowned for its gemstones – even the famous Kohinoor Diamond came from here! So when you’ve visited, you can say you went to the source of this diamond, that now sits in the Tower Of London among Queen Victoria’s crown jewels.
It is a hard climb uphill and totally worth doing for the sights you will see. The Fort must have been an elaborate, complex structure in its time, for every few minutes you can turn around and look down to see the visually expanding ruins. All the roofs have fallen off, but many of the walls still stand. You will climb past mosques, gateways, stables, private bedrooms. From the very top, you will see the domes of the Qutb Shahi Tombs (the dynasty that ruled from this Fort). That will be your next stop.
Many dynasties ruled from here – from the Kakatiyas to the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Their influences can all be seen in the way the complex was structured, including the Hindu and Islamic structures for worship. To understand everything you’re looking at, you can hire an ASI guide (negotiate a rate upfront and don’t pay more than INR 300-400), or simply buy a guidebook when you go in.
12.30pm – Lunch
There are loads of places to grab a lunch in the area. If you are going to see the Qutb Shahi Tombs next as recommended in this itinerary, it is suggested you stay close by.
2:30 pm – Qutb Shahi Tombs
If Islamic tombs excite you like they do me, you are going to love the Qutb Shahi Tombs. The complex is called the Ibrahim Bagh, and is the resting place of many members of the Qutb Shahi dynasty in the 16th century. Once furnished with carpets, chandeliers, gleaming blue and green tiles, little remains of them now. But the structures stand. Tall and majestic. Some restoration work is in progress and is heartwarming to see. You can spend a good hour and a half admiring the mausoleums and domes.
5:00 pm – Walk Around Hussain Sagar
Do keep in mind that Hyderabad is a typical metro city in India and can get quite polluted. So if you’re going to do walks, I recommend covering your face with a scarf to keep at least some of the smoke out. The Hussain Sagar Lake is an artificial heart-shaped lake that was built in the 1500s. Over the centuries it has served as the city’s main water source, but is now quite the dump. However, walk around it to see landmark buildings, statues, parks, gardens, waterfront views. You may not be able to walk the entire perimeter, so choose your start and end points well!
8:00 pm – Dinner at Marriott
The Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre is a luxurious hotel by the Lake’s banks. I recommend the Altitude Lounge Bar that has a lovely romantic outdoor setting. If you’re willing to tolerate faint odours from the Lake, it can really be quite a nice dining experience. Otherwise the hotel has other restaurants to eat at as well.
8:30 am – Charminar
Visit the city’s claim to fame, the Charminar, built in 1591 by the Qutb Shahi dynasty. Prepare yourself for an onslaught of crowds, smells, sounds, tastes, colours. It can get a little bit overwhelming for the un-inducted, so please go see it as early as you can before the crowds come in! The Charminar is surrounded by markets and trade and commerce. You can go up the structure, but look up open timings before you do. It can give you good views of the city around. I cannot stress this enough – go as early as you can, and preferably on a weekday.
10:30 am – Chowmahalla Palace
This beautiful palace is one of the best kept sights in Hyderabad. It is a stone’s throw from the Charminar. It’s a little bit hard to believe it was built in the 1800s for it looks like it could have been built yesterday. Walk around to see all of the halls, some private quarters, manicured lawns, beautiful fountains, chandeliers, coins and loads of artefacts.
1:00 pm – Lunch
If you’re into local food and especially biriyani, you can’t go to Hyderabad and skip Paradise Biryani. Depending on where you find yourself at lunch time, google the nearest one and get your backside there!
2:30 pm – Salarjung Museum
We did not personally visit this, choosing to catch up on sleep instead. But it comes highly recommended from our friends. It is among the largest museums in the world and houses art, textiles, ceramics and plenty more from the personal collection of Nawab Mir Yusuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III.