Some call it a city of pearls, others call it a software hub while still others find glory in the classical heritage of the city: welcome to the city of the erstwhile nizams! Hyderabad is said to be the fourth most populated city after the three main metros. It has especially grown in the last 20 years thanks to the enormous software boom. In this growth and churning, the major factor has been the high influx of people from all over the country. And Hyderabad has embraced them all, willingly and generously. So you will find that Hyderabad has not only added different languages, religious beliefs and places of worship but also different kinds of food to its cultural potpourri.
For Food Lovers
Andhra food is known for its fiery hot curries and if you want to relish the food do it the way locals do, layer it with generous helpings of pure ghee and make sure you have loads of yogurt. Now relish the food.
For the ‘world famous Hyderabadi biryani’, visit Shadab from Charminar or Sarvi from Khairtabad. In case you are in the vicinity of Secunderabad, the twin city, then make a trip to Paradise for some finger lickin’ good stuff! Team it with their Chicken 65 ( a patented dish of Hyderabad) and round off your meal with the iconic ‘double ka meetha’ or ‘khubani ka meetha’. There is no other place in the country that makes these two rich desserts.
If you are fond of pure meat, try the ‘pathar ka gosht’ – slivers of boneless meat cooked on a hot stone. This again is a dish unique to Hyderabad and goes back to the good old days when shikaris went out on a shoot and cooked out in the open!
For Art Lovers
If you happen to be in the Hi-tech city, Gachibowli, Miyapur, Attapur area, remember that this part of the city is dotted with a large number of art galleries and you could walk into any one. Kalakriti Art gallery is one of them which conducts regular art festivals and workshops where the who’s who of the art world participate. Then there are two open spaces Lamakaan (Banjara Hills) and Our Sacred Space (Secunderabad) which encourage a lot of theatre, music, dance shows and workshops. Take a chance and you might be entranced by Nayantara’s classical Odissi dance workshop for little girls or a flea market selling organic vegetables, honey, etc.
For Shopping Lovers
Andhra is known for its flourishing handloom sector. Some of the best cotton and silk handlooms are being exported from this state in the form of garments and accessories. A good place to visit for quality hand woven, light as air silk fabric and ready-made garments, would be Creative Bee. The silk scarves from Aina Mehta’s Creative Bee have been recognized by UNESCO for conservation of heritage.
If you are looking for a sari , do buy a classic gadwal. Named after a village in Mahboobnagar, the handloom weavers of this village have acquired a skill that very few others have. They weave the body of the sari in fine cotton, the borders and pallu are woven in pure silk with pure zari designs on them. It is a pleasure to see and wear that saree. Also it is the perfect sari to wear for special occasion in the summers. Be warned—a pure gadwal (cotton) could start from Rs 3000 and move upwards! There are imitation ones also which could start from 500-600 and go upwards.
If you are looking to buy some exquisite cotton fabric by the yard, do step into the AP handloom stores, which dot the landscape and pick from the airy, Maheshwari cottons, pochampally and ikat weaves. Look out for some exotic hand printed kalamkari fabrics on mulmul, the perfect dress materiel to beat the summer.
For History Lovers
Do take a little time out and make a trip to the Golconda fort for the very nicely done Sound and Light show – the narrator is Amitabh Bachhan and that alone adds another dimension to the story of Quli Qutub Shah and Bhagmati.
For all history buffs, a walk around the fort throws up legends attached to every pit stop. You will marvel at the acoustics and the architectural wonder of this more than 600 years old fort. Do ask your guide to tell you about the Taramati baradari—the one inside the fort and not the one where the cultural shows take place.
Did you Know?
Much before the city of Hyderabad came into existence, courtesy a young prince’s romance, there was the Golkonda fort which was eyed by the Mughal emperors and earlier conquerors for the longest time especially for the diamonds mined here!
Know the City
The origin of Hyderabad
A very romantic legend tells us that Prince Quli Qutub Shah, the young scion of the Quli Qutub dynasty fell in love with a beautiful young dancer, called Bhagmati. He married her and built a new city called Bhagnagar across the Musi river. Later, she is said to have been renamed Hyder Mahal and the city was renamed Hyderabad.
The one image of Hyderabad recognised worldwide is that of the Charminar, (four minarets) an elegant structure in the heart of the old city. This landmark is more than 400 years old and is said to have been built in the year 1591 by the then Emperor Quli Qutb Shah. Some historians say that the emperor had promised to build a mosque if his lands were freed of the annual floods and plague. Others say that it was dedicated to Bhagmati, the dancing paramour of the Emperor whose village was located where the present old city stands.
Pearls in Hyderabad
How is it that a landlocked city like Hyderabad, became a flourishing trade centre for pearls? The fifth Nizam, Mahbool Ali Pasha, is said to have initiated the import of pearls from China. Locals were trained to do the drilling and setting under the eagle eyes of master craftsmen from the Arab world so that within a short time pearl jewellery and the pearl trade flourished in the state.
Khubani ka Meetha
When khubani (apricots) do not grow in Hyderabad , how is it that a dessert using this fruit is such a common favorite of the citizens? The story goes that one of the early kings wanted a new dessert every day. Those were the days when the dry fruits used to come to India via Afghanistan. A fresh consignment of these lovely apricots— orangy- peachy dried fruit— had come in and the cooks ventured forth to cook up a storm. It is obvious the royal person was pleased and the dish came to stay.
Do chew on the tiny almonds you see in the dish—they are from the apricot itself! Locals like to have khubani ka meetha with vanilla ice cream or a vanilla custard.
Ramoji Film City
If you are a film buff and want to know more about how films are made then a trip to the Ramoji Film city should be included in the schedule. The place has very exotic sets for all kinds of movies.
Written by Shyamola Khanna