Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back from a short break : Hyderabad

The view of the city
 from our room at Taj Banjara
Hyderabad, the fifth largest metropolis of India, is the state capital of Andhra Pradesh, known for its rich history and culture with monuments, mosques, temples, a rich and varied heritage in arts, crafts and dance.

Golconda Fort:
Golconda Fort in Hyderabad is a majestic monument, which lies on the western outskirts of the city. It speaks of a great cultural heritage of 400 years and is considered as a place that is worth visiting. Golconda was famous for its diamond mines in olden days. The world-renowned 'Kohinoor' diamond is believed to have come from here. The Golconda fort is built on a granite hill 120m high. The fort has 8 gates or Darwazas as they are called in local language. The main gate is called Fateh Darwaza. The hills around the fort lend a very mysterious charm and colossal grandeur to the gigantic fort.
The Golconda Fort reaches to a height of 120 meters with a boundary wall covering a range of 10 kilometers of the outskirts of Hyderabad. The Golconda fort comprises of four small forts within itself. 
You have to enter the fort through 'Fateh Darwaza', which is also called the 'Victory gate'. The main attractions of this entrance are the acoustic effects, which is a remarkable feature of the Golconda Fort. It is said that such an articulate construction was used in those ancestral days for security purposes.

The latest feature that adds more excitement to the Golconda fort is the Light and Sound show. The amazing light and sound impacts with the narration of the hair raising story of the Golconda Fort is interesting.

 Unfortunately we could not see it although we  had time for it, because it suddenly started raining heavily in the evening in Hyderabad.
View of the Husain Sagar Lake from Birla Temple.

The dasaavatars all standing in line on top of the wooden dancing Ganeshas.
They are called Kondapally toys made in Andhra Pradesh. They are made of wood and painted in
bright colors and also very light.
Birla Temple: We are not great fans of Birla temples, yet we visited it, and I spotted a set of Dasaavathars there which I bought

Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad

Aficionados of Hyderabad, the cultural treasure trove can't help raving about Salar Jung Museum, India’s third largest museum. The museum sited in the hot seat of cultural splendor contains antique pieces and artifacts from nearly all epochs of history.
The existence of the museum is credited to Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III as well as the Prime Minister of the seventh Nizam, whose passion lay in collecting priceless antiques.
Salar Jung Museum, flaunting the country’s largest ‘one-man collection’ of antiques rests on the southern bank of the Musi River. The museum is a dream come true for those who love to take long trips along the musty pages of history with its varied collection of over 43000 art objects, 50000 books and manuscripts. These compilations include works and relics of Indian Art, Middle Eastern Art, Far Eastern Art, European Art, and Children Art along with an elaborate Founder’s gallery.

The semi-circular building is a magnificent architectural edifice with 38 galleries spread across two floors of an imperial building. Each gallery has its own specialty with one housing the Nizam’s personal belongings, another houses Indian artifacts. Others display a plethora of items ranging from paintings, musical instruments, preserved stages showcased in glass cabinets, Kashmiri furniture and handicrafts as well a multitude of other valued historical relics.

A visit to Hyderabad’s Salar Jung Museum opens up treasure chest of unbelievable cultural legacy an unveils an ancient figurine of Veiled Rebecca, Double figure by Italian sculptor G.H Benzoni, Musical clock, Arabic Al Quran in Nashq (1288 AD), jade crafted knifes of Jehangir & Nurjahan and Famous European paintings like 'Venice', 'Soap Bubbles' etc.
We nearly spent 3 hours here, everything was so amazing, with history and love dripping from each and every objects, so well preserved. If you ever ever visit Hyderabad, don't miss it. The restrooms  there good and there are plenty of them in each floor. The whole Museum is very clean and well maintained.
Cameras are not allowed.

After this visit, we were guided to a very good Muslim Restaurant for lunch, it was practically full with all kinds of people enjoying their food or were patiently waiting for their turn to be served. It had a very Turkish look, one felt as if one had all of sudden landed in some place in Turkey. The food was wonderful: their Lassi/ Buttermilk was made like a  falooda, and it tasted real good.

The Chowmahalla Palace
 Chowmahalla Palace :

The Chowmahalla Palace was once the centre of Hyderabad. It was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty
where the Nizam entertained his official guests and royal vistors.The palace is unique for its style and elegance.
 The complex consists of two coutyards with elegant palaces, the grand khilwat
(the Durbar Hall), fountains and gardens. khilwat mubrarak is the heart of the palace.
Different portions of the Chowmahalla were build during different phases of the Asaf Jahi rule.This was build around 1780 during the reign of Nawab Nizam Ali Khan, Asaf Jah II, but extensively renovated later in 1911.
Afzal mahal, a two storeyed building is the most imposing.the grand pillared Durbar Hall has a pure marble platform on which the Taqt e nishan or royal seat was laid. The 19 spectacular chandeliers of Belgian crystal have been recently reinstalled to create the lost splendour of this regal hall.

The old Clock Tower.

Inside the Palace

Chowmahalla Palace

I had to take a picture like this : just like them

Charminar: Culture
Charminar is always on the top of the mind of any tourist visiting Hyderabad. To imagine this 400-year-old city without Charminar is to imagine New York without the Statue of Liberty or Moscow without the Kremlin. Built by Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah in 1591, shortly after he had shifted his capital from Golkonda to what now is known as Hyderabad, this beautiful colossus in granite, lime, mortar and, some say, pulverised marble, was at one time the heart of the city. This great tribute to aesthetics looks sturdy and solid from a distance but as one moves closer, it emerges as an elegant and romantic edifice proclaiming its architectural eminence in all its detail and dignity
Every side opens into a plaza through giant arches, which overlook four major thoroughfares and dwarf other features of the building except the minarets. Each arch is 11 metres wide and rises 20 metres to the pinnacle from the plinth. The minarets soar skywards by 24 metres from the roof of Charminar. Each minaret has four storeys, each looking like a delicately carved ring around the minaret. Some Anglophiles call Charminar the Arc de Triomphe of the East. From the ground to the apex, the minarets cover a length of 48.7 metres.

Atop the great monument are 45 prayer spaces for the devout where they can offer worship in an atmosphere unspoilt by the bustle of the city. East of this space is a spacious verandah with small and large arches in the middle. The first floor has beautiful balconies from where one has a fantastic view of the historic city and its later accretions.

And of course I bought lots bangles and other knick- knacks that caught my eye. I also bought the red Venkatagiri saree ( though I could not get the exact thing I wanted), yet what I got was also very beautiful.
I managed to get a beautiful peach colored pearl set and also one pearl bracelet.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped in the pouring rain and waited for our driver to bring us the famous Irani Samosas and  the equally famous  Irani Chai or tea for which Hyderabad is very well known for.
It tasted really good : hot and crispy, to really die for!
 I felt sad saying good bye  to this amazingly vibrant and ancient city, throbbing with so much life. I also felt bad the we could have seen a few more places if it had not started raining so heavily.
Anyway, the time we spent in Hyderabad was really great, and the weather was wonderful, except for the unexpected rain. Like they say "All good things must come to an end"

The next blog would be about Vizag: a really great place to visit.


  1. Welcome back.

    Very comprehensive. Read two times in phases.

    Very nice pictures

    Seems like you had very good time

  2. Wow! You have showcased Hyderabad beautifully. It is my sasural and holds a special place in my heart. Yet, I haven't yet visited the Salarjung museum or the Golconda fort yet :). Did you try the famous Paradise Biryani, that is if you are a non-vegetarian. And, you were really lucky to find beautiful weather, that is rarest of rare in Hyderabad. Look forward to your post about Vizag, never been there!

  3. very informative post! Hyderabad is my fabourite city..I havent seen chowmohalla palce, waiting to see it.
    Why not post a picture of that saree you bought?

  4. Thanks for a nice travelogue. Beautiful pics. Never been to Hyderabad so far. Will visit there next time. Thanks.

  5. Planning to visit there shortly and Golkonda fort seems to be my kind of place to paint! You gave a precise picture of this lovely city Rama!

  6. Thanks A, Rachana, Renu, SG, and Padmaja.
    If any of you have plans to visit, don't miss the Salar Jung Museum, and definitely not the shopping.

  7. Hi Rama,

    Very interesting information about Hyderabad.In fact you have taken so much trouble to describe with great detail that I felt I was visiting these places with you.

    I have been to Hyderabad way back in 1971 for a job interview in Hyderabad Usha Works in Bala Nagar Township.I did not get the job.At that time I remember having visited Salar Jung Museum and Charminar.But my memory is very vague except that Salar Jung Museum looked well maintained and Charminar was in a very crowded place.You post was useful to me to jog my memory.

    Two of my children are working in Hyderabad for an American IT company.Hopefully one day I will visit them and check up on all those places you have so beautifully explained.

    Your photos are lovely and I can see you with a big, bright,charming smile, a clear sign you were thrilled to be there and truly enjoying yourself.

    Have nice day,

  8. Thanks for your comment Raji, I reproduce it here:

    very elaborative post.Though i have not been to hyderabad ,i felt as if i was there.I like the description of the palace and the charminar.The palace with the renovated 9 chandeliers is beautiful.

  9. well written
    with beautiful pics
    thanks for virtual trip

  10. Looks like you had a great time in Hyderabad.

    Nice pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Good post; revisited to go through it again. About Vizag post, I had visited twice earlier and, now my sister moved to Vizag a year ago.. And the new template and photo background is nice.

  12. Thank you Subu. I was kind of bored with same picture, so the change of scene and also the color.

  13. Hey Rama.. Quite a lesson in history there! :) We've also put together a list of getaways around Hyderabad to help people out at www.lifeisoutside.com Do take a look and tell us what you think. Would love to make additions based on your advice.

  14. amazing hyderabad.. thanks for the information...keep blogging..

  15. Really good views. thanks for the information