A Cinnamon Bittern in Flight
A Cinnamon Bittern in Flight by Hari K Patibanda

Hyderabad India – Top-10 Attractions Not to Miss

The capital of two states of India, Andhra Pradesh and the recently formed Telangana, Hyderabad is a busy workaday city filled with the aromas of the mouth-watering biryanis and halim, its streets littered with interesting places and historical palaces forming the charming amalgamation of the different architectural styles of India and the world. The traffic in Hyderabad is even worse than you could expect so always keep some extra time to accommodate for the traffic.

Here is our list of top 10 attractions to visit in Hyderabad to get the real taste of the city.

1. Charminar

If there is one thing Hyderabad is synonymous with, it is the Charminar. A beautiful Mughal structure surrounded by 4 pillar (from where it derives the name), the Charminar should be on the list of must see attractions for any visitor to not just Hyderabad, but India as well. The magnificence of the multi-layered structure which houses a mosque on its top level is just mind-blowing. Walk around the bustling market which surrounds Charminar and talk to the vendors – many of them are very enthusiastic to share the history of the place with visitors.

Charminar was constructed by Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah to commemorate the end of the plague. If crowded places are not your cup of tea then you might think of giving the Charminar a miss, but in the end it would truly be your loss. Open from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm for an entry price of INR120, it is definitely a must see travel destination.

2. Golconda Fort

Another major tourist attraction in Hyderabad is the Golconda fort. Built in the 13th century, it was once the capital of the ancient Golconda Kingdom and sits on a 400 feet high granite hill. There is an astonishing effect that can be witnessed at Fateh Darwaza, the entrance: when you clap your hands, the clap can be heard at the pavilion. The acoustics in the whispering walls and the architecture of the magnificent palaces are indeed very impressive.

The fort is open from 9 am to 5.30 pm on all days and the entry price is just INR120. There are also regular light and sound shows which are an amazing experience, especially for kids.

3. Chowmahalla Palace

When you think of Hyderabad, you think of Nizams. Our Indian friends often tell us they have grown up on stories about the riches of the Nizams and if there is one place where that is on display, it is the Chowmahalla palace. The seat of the Nizams during their reign, this 18th century palace was home to all the ceremonial proceedings. The palace is the very definition of opulence as the intricate design coupled with white marble-tiled floors and ornate chandeliers transports you into times gone by.

The palace is open to visitors from 10am to 5 pm for a fee of INR250 and is a must visit tourist attraction for anyone who wants to experience the glorious riches of the Nizams. Do not miss the yellow 1911 Rolls Royce which belonged to the Nizams and is now an exhibit.

4. Hussain Sagar Lake

An artificial lake built in 1652 on a tributary of the Musi river, the Hussain Sagar Lake is the largest artificial lake in Asia. In earlier times, it was also the main water supply of Hyderabad. The lake is pristine to look at and we just couldn’t resist the urge to bring out the poet within us as we sat in the gardens nearby. There is a magnificent 16 metre tall Buddha statue in the middle of the lake and it is possible to take a boat ride up to it.

The entry is free and the lake is open from 9am in the morning to 9.30 pm in the night and as the lights come on in the Budhha statue at night, it is truly a sight to behold.

5. Salarjung Museum

The Salarjung museum in Hyderabad houses rather a unique collection of artefacts collected by Salar Jung III. It is said to be the largest collection of antiques belonging to one owner. It includes antiques from all over the world – from Indian sculptures to Persian carpets to Chinese porcelain and not only. The Veiled Rebecca, a sculpture by Italian master Benzoni is the centrepiece of the museum.

The entry fee is INR600 but it is totally worth it. The museum is open to visits from 10am to 5pm on all days except Fridays.

6. Qutb Shahi Tombs

The Qutb Shahi tombs – as the name suggests – are a collection of tombs and mosques built by the various Kings of the QutbShahi dynasty. The whole complex is a great example of a unique architectural style which is a mix of the Persian and Hindu styles. The Qutb Shahi tombs were in serious danger of being run over by the elements but Salar Jung III restored the resting place of an entire dynasty making it a wonderful place to visit.

The tombs are open to visitors from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm for the price of INR120.

7/ British Residency

The British were present in India for over 200 years and they have left their evident mark in the culture here. It becomes especially obvious as soon as you enter the British Residency of Hyderabad. It is simply breathtaking. It was built by James Achilles Kirkpatrick as a residence for him and his Indian wife. It also served as the Embassy for the East India Company in the court of Nizam and its opulent architecture resembles the White House to a great extent. Once inside the great halls, it is easy to imagine how it inspired the noted author William Dalrymple to weave the enchanting story of “The White Mughals” around this magnificent monument.

It is open to the public for a fee of INR120 from 10 am to 5 pm and its grandeur is something that can only be experienced in person.

8. Ramoji Film City

The magic of movies never fails to fascinate and the Ramoji film city is definitely a must-see destinations for all the movie enthusiasts – you will be forgiven if you break out into a little dance routine as soon as you enter the Film City. The Ramoji film city holds the Guinness Book world record of being the largest film studio in the world.

Open for visitors from 9am to 6pm, entrance fee is on the pricier side at INR1200 but the sheer aura of the place is more than worth the price.

9. Paigah Palace

The Paigah palace was built by the Paigahs, who were entrusted with the defence of Hyderabad by the Nizams and were one of the most influential families. They were also great builders and this is attested by the fact that the palace houses the Consulate General of the US in Hyderabad presently. Take a notice of quite a mixture of architectural styles –the reason for that was that the Paigahs used to travel a lot and they were influenced by different architectural styles which they adopted here – for example, the Spanish mosque was designed after the Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba.

The entry to Paigah palace is free and you can visit it from 10am to 5pm on all days except Friday.

10. Chilkoor Balaji Temple

No trip to any city in India would be complete without a visit to a temple, and Hyderabad is no different. While there are a number of pristine temples here, the Chilkoor Balaji ensures you get the most authentic experience. Following a local legend, the locals who want to get a visa to the US come to pray here. Expect massive crowds, especially on Tuesdays or during exam times.

The entry to the temple is free and it stays open from 8am to 8pm for the devotees.