My day job allowed me a rare trip away from the UK, spending a busy week in Hyderabad and another in Mumbai. For those working in technology, consulting or start ups, India is often a popular destination for business trips. One of the growing spots particularly for tech is Hyderabad, located in the central South part of the country and is the capital of the Telegana state. Just outside the city centre is HITEC CITY, a whole area of high rise office buildings and tech campuses. With companies ranging from Amazon, Tata, and HCL to Dell, IBM and Google, this is a hub of innovation and technology.
Apart from the glamorously built tech firms, the old city itself also has a lot to see and it is well worth spending an afternoon in town. The ride in might be bumpy and taking about an hour but it is very much an enjoyable journey with lots to see on the way!
Hyderabad Town Centre and Markets
With archaeological evidence since the Iron ages (500 BC), the surrounding areas were known as Golkonda or Sheperd's Hill. Historically, it has gone through many rulerships such as the Chalukya and Kakatiya dynasty. Most notably, the city was officially founded by Muhammad Qutb in 1591 and was part of the Qutb Shahi dynasty. It was almost a century before the Mughals took it over in 1724 and Asif Jah I declared it a sovereignty and made it his own dynasty, calling it the Nizams of Hyderabad. With such interesting history, a walk around the city center was a definitely going to provide a range of interesting sights. I always enjoy visiting cities that have gone through a long history of changes which can be very visible with a walk around. My mind brings me back to trips to Sarajevo, Sofia and Penang. Hyderbad's history makes it a perfect place to visit and here is my list of must sees and eats!
Town Center and market
After getting dropped off at the edge of town, I walked along the main street (Pathergatti Rd) starting near the river and heading towards the main action area near the Charminar. This stroll allowed me to see quite a few things such as the local market and it also gave me a real feel of how busy everything was! It certainly reminded me of my visit to Dehli was I was a young child! There are plenty of street stalls selling everything you need. What was quite funny was when a policy van came charging by, all the stall owners literally pulled their little carts back onto the main pedestrian way. It was like a flood of carts just all really quickly moving and running away! Guessing it is not quite legal, but minutes later they were all back at the same spot!
I really enjoyed this stroll along the main street, I love a good city with a proper market feel. The hustle and bustle was pretty intense and there was just a lot of things going on. Nice and busy and just a lot of fun. It was also great fun watching people walk around buying things and doing the usual shop!
Right in the middle of central Hyderabad is the iconic Charminar. Built around 1591, this is the heart of the city and acts as a monument. The mosque at the top has actually been around for over 400 years. This place was created when the capital was moved from Golkanda to the now Hyderabad city. Walking through the market and towards it made me realize how grand it looks!
The design of the building and the facade was of Indo-Islamic architecture and has some really fine design work, especially on the inside!
The view from the top was simply fantastic. I loved seeing the market that I had just walked through and seeing how busy it all was!
Just a little further down the road is Mecca Masjid, one of the oldest Mosques in Hyderabad. It was completed in 1694 and you an see the significance of this place. There were a lot of people queuing up to go into the Mosque and it was really busy! Unfortunately, I was wearing shorts and was not allowed in, but the exterior of the building shows you how grand it is!
Around the corner is one of the palaces built by the Nizams in 1750. In fact, it is still owned by a heir of the Nizams but is now a museum. The name Chowmahalla actually means four palaces. This is a relatively large complex and one with many rooms and courtyards on display. The main palace is really well decorated with this really interesting architectural design
Walk inside and you will see another different side of the style and design, with the extravagant chandeliers. There are plenty of rooms to get lost in at this big palace!
The final stop of my short day tour of Hyderabad was to the mighty fort at the side of the hill, located at the heart of the district's diamond mines. This large fort is a really impressive site, especially from the foot of the hill looking up with its castle like features - perfect as a defence system
Once at the top, the views are simply fantastic. You can see for miles and miles and definitely a strategic stand point. It was similar to the view at Tunis' Carthage - strategic and incredible views!
I was lucky to have arrived on a day of a special ceremony. There were a lot of festive events such as people carrying a basket of something burning on their heads and I even got to see a full on dance! It was all very fascinating, festive and fun! A great way to end a day exploring Hyderabad!
Where to Eat?
Baring in mind that I have been on a low carb diet for almost a year, going to India was going to be a real challenge. However, I managed to go two weeks and just about got away with eating a relatively low carb diet. There were a lot of amazing food on offer and here are some of the best places to try!
One of the best rated local restaurants, Hotel Shadab, was hard to miss. I was so confused when I arrived and was looking for food at the downstairs area. There were a lot of shouting and locals having lunch at a canteen style area. I was directed to go upstairs where it was more of a sit down restaurant. The queue was long but well worth it. I got myself a Malai Kebab which was some tandoori chicken and also a veg manchuria (slightly too carby for me). The meal was perfectly finished off with some Hyderbadi Chai!
This is probably the most famous bakery in the whole of Hyderabad. This busy shop is filled with people waiting for their pastries and Iranian chai. It is a busy spot, so nab a seat and order some sweet cakes and biscuits. I heard they are the best in town!
Since I came with a colleague, I wasn't going to stop him from trying the world famous Biriyani. Shah Ghouse is famous for the rice dish which originated from this city. The interior was very local but ask anyone and they will tell you its the best place for it.
For a bit of a seafood meal near the Hitec city, Fisherman's wharf is the best option. Their aim is to cook up the best Goan fish dishes. The vibe of the restaurant was pretty cool too with beach side style little buildings and a little courtyard. There were fresh fish to choose from and of course cooked with great local spices. The fish was delicious and really fresh!
This chain is probably one of the more popular places for large group meals and birthdays. Its an all you can eat BBQ spot that gives out free cakes on people's birthdays. The meat here was freshly cooked and then placed on massive skewers in front of you. You get veg or non veg options and they are all super appetising.
Jewel of Nizam
Our last meal at Hyderabad was a special one at the Jewel of Nizam. This is probably the best restaurant in the whole state and is a place for a special occasion. Located at the Golkonda Resort and Spa, this restaurant looks to showcase the best of "Nizamese" food. The grand setting of the restaurant can be seen from the entrance of the resort, sitting at the top of the tower.
Once inside, the interior is beautifully decorated and provides a fantastic ambience and great views. The food was really lovely too, where we had the Kalmi Kebab and my favourite Murgh majedar. It was a fantastic way to end my time in Hyderabad!
All in All
I would never have gone to Hyderabad if it wasn't for work and what a surprise this busy city has been. The old town was a day out with lots to see and eat and the the Hitec City is in a world of its own. Stick around and check out my next travel guide for Mumbai!