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There is plenty to love about Hyderabad, capital of India’s southern province of Telangana. While it serves as a modern-day home away from home for international companies like Google and Microsoft, it is the old city that captures the imagination. Stocked with charm, its palaces, Islamic monuments and ornate tombs, hint at centuries of glorious history.
Book a flight to Hyderabad with Qatar Airways to witness a stark contrast of sprawling glass high-rises and shopping malls, set against the classic style of old-world India.
Most visitors head for the Old City when they travel to Hyderabad, located south of the river, and it’s where the majority of historical attractions can be found. Visit Charminar (Four Minarets), a stunning palace with its own mosque and temple, and drink in the spectacular panoramic city views from atop the minarets.
Charminar was built by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 to commemorate the founding of Hyderabad. The dramatic four-column, 56m-high structure has four arches facing the cardinal points, with minarets capping each column.
Another example of the city’s medieval heritage is Golconda Fortress. Although this 16th-century castle dates to the time of the Qutb Shah Kings, its origins have been traced to the earlier reigns of the Yadavas and Kakatiyas. You can pay for a guided tour or wait for the sound and light show that takes place after sunset.
The maze of winding, bustling streets surrounding the fort is filled with beautiful, old-world shops selling everything from jewellery to naan bread.
And for one of the largest array of artefacts, visit the Salar Jung Museum. Its sizeable and varied collection, dating back to the 1st century, was put together by Mir Yusaf Ali Khan (Salar Jung III). The 14,000 exhibits come from around the world, and include sculptures, wood carvings, devotional objects, Mughal miniature paintings, illuminated manuscripts, weaponry, toys and textiles.
Visitors also flock to Chowmahalla Palace, once home to the Nizam (city monarch).
Hyderabad in the summer is hot and humid, so if you want to cool off, take a boat ride at Lumbini Park or enjoy a picnic at NTR gardens. Families should try GoGoa Aquarium.
There’s much history and culture to discover during your trip to Hyderabad, and a Heritage Walk is the best way to learn more about the city’s past. Organised by the Tourist Department, these guided walks include breakfast and take in the major sights of the Old City. For a day-trip with a difference, film-lovers should take the one-hour drive to Ramoji Film City, for a guided tour of the world's largest film studio
Hyderabad's cuisine is heavily influenced by traditional South Indian spices and Mughlai flavours, so expect to be astonished at the sheer heat of some dishes. The city's most popular dish is Hyderabadi biryani, and the aroma of its preparation is not to be missed. Most restaurants and street-food vendors will serve chicken, mutton and vegetable versions.
Other regional specialities include khubani ka meetha (apricots boiled in sugar syrup) and Irani chai, a Hyderabadi spiced tea with a Persian influence. Many visitors to Hyderabad find the street food here to be among the best in India, and it's possible to sample a range of dishes at reasonable prices. Snacks such as samosa chaat and dahi puri can be found at most vendors.
Nowhere is Hyderabad's wealth more obvious than on The Golden Mile, a stretch of designer shops, jewellery boutiques and malls. There is, however, a more traditional side to shopping in the Old City, and for an authentic Hyderabadi experience, check out the city's bazaars. Colourful, and at times frenetic, an aroma of spices fills the air, as street entertainers jostle for attention, alongside vendors plying their trade.
Try Meena Bazaar for saris, suits and fabrics (fixed prices) or Laad Bazaar for glass and lacquer bangles. Even if you don't plan to buy, visiting a food market such as Monda Market is a memorable experience.
Essential facts about Hyderabad
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip