5 Sights to See and Snap in Hyderabad
November 22, 2013
Karryn Miller rounds up the best site-seeing for a taste of the city’s varied history.
Published on Nov 22, 2013
1. Time Travel
See Hyderabad as it once was at the Golconda Fort. This 16th-century citadel, strategically located on a granite hilltop, holds the remains of armories, arched mosques, reservoirs, gardens, marketplaces and the homes of royalty. Ruler Ibrahim Qutub Shah and his son transformed the original 13th-century mud-and-brick structure into a grand fortress. Despite now being in ruins, it remains majestic. Take a guide (or rent a portable GPS video tour) to hear tales of the thriving gem and diamond trade—the Hope and Kohinoor diamonds were discovered there—and the unbelievable acoustics: clap beneath the domed entrance and it will be heard clearly at Bala Hissar, about a kilometer away on the well-worn stone path. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except Mondays).
2. Take Tea in Style
Where better to sip high tea thanin a royal palace? The 119-year old Falaknuma Palace is a snapshot of historic kingly life. Peacocks stroll through the 12.5-hectare property and horsedrawn carriages click along the cobblestone paths. Inside, colossal chandeliers dangle above reception rooms and towering family portraits frame the staircases and hallways. During teatime, scones are topped with jam and cream, and washed down with Nizami Indian tea in china cups. Daily 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.; bookings must be made a minimum of 24 hours in advance; Rs1,500; Engine Bowli, Falaknuma; +91 40 6629 8585; tajhotels.com.
3. Get Crafty
No modern machines are used when creating Bidri handicrafts. In fact, the process has barely changed since it originated 500 years ago. A combination of zinc and copper is heated in an earthy kiln, shaped into the product, inlayed with pure silver and then oxidized through submersion in a mixture of special Bidar soil that hasn’t seen light in a century. At the family-run shop Gulistan Bidri Works, you can watch the artisans at work and pick up Bidriware statues, cufflinks, jewelry boxes and other handicrafts at reasonable prices. Gulistan Bidri Works, 22-1-1042 Kali Kabar, (opposite Honda Showroom); +91 40 2452 3386.
4. Eat Like a King
You can join Hyderabad’s highsociety for a meal at membersonly club Chiraan Fort. The regal establishment opens to the public on Fridays and weekends for a buffet Indian lunch. Claim a seat in the small courtyard for some midday sun and fill up on dal, oily curries, spicy potatoes, biryani and buttery naan. Chiraan is modeled on 15th-century Mughal architecture, with scalloped arches connecting open air corridors, high ceilings with glass chandeliers, and portraits of kings and historic scenes adorning the walls. Friday to Sunday for lunch; Police Lines Begumpet, near U.S. consulate; +91 40 3984 1100; chiraanfort.com.
5. Temple Hop
Having only opened in 1976, Birla Temple may not have the history of Golconda Fort, but what it lacks in age it makes up in spirituality. The sanctum is filled with statues of Hindu gods, with the main deity Lord Venkateswara (destroyer of sins) at the center. Crowds of devotees pray in front of the lord’s statue, eagerly clutching at the smoke from lit incense sticks the holy men wave before them. From the wide staircases to the temple’s peaks, everything here is made from white marble—2,000 tons of it. Open daily 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. & 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.; free entry; Adarsh Nagar, Hyderabad; birlatemple.com.