Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hyderabad



Hyderabad

Hyderabad was not on my priority list of places to visit, but since my parents were going so I grabbed the opportunity and visited the city recently.

Hyderabad, located on the Deccan Plateau is popularly known as the ‘city of pearls’.  Located at the crossroads of North & South India, Hyderabad has developed a unique culture that is reflected in its language and architecture. It won’t be wrong to say that this city is a perfect mixture of modern developments and cultural mix. There are number of places to visit in Hyderabad, either be its well-maintained parks, historical places or the famous markets, the city has something to offer to all age groups.

Day-1- Our train reached in afternoon and we had only half day so we visited Shilparamam, 30-acre village, which houses arts and crafts of the country. To encourage crafts persons and to give the necessary boost to their art, the crafts village hosts annual bazaars, where artists and artisans from all over the country exhibit their talents. It is a mixture of Dilli Heart and Chokidhani of Jaipur. But one thing is sure I really loved this amazing craft mela.





Day-2- We embarked our day with Salarjung Museum, third largest museum in India housing the biggest one-man collections of antiques in the world Established in 1951,the major portion of the collection of the museum was acquired by Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, popularly known as Salar Jung III and hence the name. There are 38 galleries in the Museum spread over in three buildings- Central Block, Eastern Block (Mir Laiq Ali Khan Bhavan) and Western Block (Mir Turab Ali Khan Bhavan) on two floors. The Central Block with 27 galleries (ground floor 15 galleries, first floor 12 galleries). And if you do not have the vigour, you are bound to miss one or the other gallery. But I must say there are worth visiting as each of them has some rare collections.


After visiting this enormous museum, we enjoyed our lunch in one of the most renowned restaurants of the old city, Shadab restaurant. Hyderabad Biryani was obviously our first choice and I must say it was super delicious. After the exotic lunch we went to The Char Minar. It is located in the old city and as you walk pass the road, your eyes will be engulfed in glitter and gluttony. The stalls and showrooms on both sides of the road looks like a wedding market. It reminded me of Old Delhi. Sultan Muhammad QuliQutub Shah, the 5th ruler of the Qutub Shahi dynasty has built Charminar in 1591. The stairs of the monument is a bit too high so have a look before you decide to climb up.



Just beside the Char Minar there is world famous Laad Market. A lively street which begins at famous Charminar’s foot, Laad Bazaar is not just a part of Hyderabad history perhaps also a locality where culture thrives. As per locales, the bazaar was set up the former ruler Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah as a shopping destination for guests attending his daughter’s wedding. The proud father named the Bazaar after his beloved daughter Laad. And till date Laad Bazaar is for all those who love to travel and experience places like a local and for those who desires to see the single largest lac and stone bangles market of the country. An unrelenting shopper can find anything from pearls, accessories, jewels, kohl (surma), perfume (attar), cloth material, bed sheets, bangles, mehndi, footwear, utensils to even groceries. And after visiting this colourful market we became quite exhaustive and decided to go back home.




Day-3- We started our third day with a visit to Golconda Fort. Since I have special inclination towards historical place, this fort is my favourite place among all the places we visited in Hyderabad. The bulk of the ruins of this fort, date from the time of the Qutub Shahi kings, who had ruled this area in the 16th and 17th century.

The fortress is built on a granite hill 120 metres high, surrounded by massive crenelated ramparts. The main structure of the fort is laid out in a sequence of enclosures that holds the public and administrative structures to the royal residences and halls. The mortuary baths lie to the right of the portico. Though most of people consider this fort ruin, I would say is a glimpse of the royal era gone by.








Prominent corner minarets distinguish the small mosque (1518) built by Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah. The other buildings found inside the fort are Habshi Kamans (Abyssian arches), Ashlah Khana, Taramati mosque,camel stable, private chambers (kilwat), Mortuary bath, Nagina bagh, Ramasasa's kotha, Durbar hall, Ambar khana etc.




The courtyard is extended up to the ramparts providing spectacular views of the landscape below. Climb up the fort to see the whole view of the fort, definitely a must visit place of Hyderabad.

Just 1 kilometre from the Golconda fort lies The 7 Tombs. You can feel the spirit of the place and that is ‘peace’. These are the Qutub Shahi tombs, the crypt of the 'Sultans of Golconda', surrounded by the lovely landscaped gardens of Ibrahim Bagh. The tombs here consist mainly of the seven Qutub Shahi kings who ruled Golconda for nearly 170 years (all the kings except the last, who was a prisoner in the fortress of Daulatabad, near Aurangabad, when he died).These graceful structures are surrounded by landscaped gardens, some of which having beautifully carved stonework. After visiting both these places, it is needless to say that we were quite exhausted. So, after having a quick lunch we decided to visit a place which does not need much of walking and therefore headed to Hussain Sagar Lake.





Hussain Sagar Lake is one of the largest man-made lake situated at the confluence of Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Begumpet. It is a sprawling artificial lake that holds water perennially. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it connects the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The Hussain Sagar was constructed on a tributary of the Musi river by Hussain Shah Wahi during the reign of Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah in 1562.And the two major attractions of this lake are- Lumbini Park and Buddha Statue that you can reach in a boat, I must say both are simply refreshing.






Named after the birthplace of Buddha, Lumbini Park along the Hussain Sagar lake looks up at a giant standing Buddha in the middle of the lake. With its Japanese rock garden, dancing fountains and a huge floral clock, it attracts large crowds. Every evening, a laser-light show (Tickets: Rs 30 per person) uses a water screen to project and narrate the history of Hyderabad. After the show, take a stroll down Necklace Road to complete a perfect evening.

Day-4- Next day we went to The Chowmala Palace. Once regarded as the center of Hyderabad, the magnificent Chowmahalla Palace was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty where the Nizams entertained their official guests and royal visitors. Built over 200 years ago, Chowmahalla Palace is renowned for its unique style and elegance. The best part is its architecture that is a synthesis of many architectural styles and influences.  And the Palace Complex has been meticulously restored, simply beautiful. .The palaces are named Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal. Of these, 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 re-installed to create the lost splendour of this regal hall. The palace is definitely a must visit!


From here we walked to The Mecca Masjid, so named because the bricks were brought from Mecca to build the central arch. The Qutb Shahis never finished the building of the mosque, which was completed by Aurangzeb in 1694. Mecca Masjid is poetry in stone, with a hall measuring 67 metres and soaring to a height of 54 metres. Fifteen graceful arches five to each of the three sides support the roof. Towards the southern end of the mosque lie the graves in marble of Nizam Ali Khan and the families of the Asaf Jahi dynasty.




After visiting this beautiful masjid, we headed to Nehru Zoological Park. Although I was not very keen in visiting zoo as I have always believed that keeping animals in small cage is wrong. But since my sister was keen on vising it so I thought of giving it a try only because it has Safari. And I was wrong as this zoo is quite different from the once I visited in childhood. The Zoo's undulating landscape provides a natural setting to the animals and birds displayed in large enclosures simulating natural habitat. 






One of the largest and the best zoos in Asia, the Nehru Zoological Park has nearly 1,500 species of animals, birds and reptiles. Though I did not get to see much in safari (2 lions, 2-3 deers and some birds), but this place definitely proved that some zoos are good. But one thing is sure you need to have walking capacity to see the whole of zoo or you can take the local battery car or hire bicycle on rent.

Day-5- How can a visit to Hyderabad be complete without visiting Ramoji Film City, so we decided to go there. Though I thought I can write a whole new post on Ramoji Film City, but decided I will write it here only. The 1666-acre Ramoji Film City, established by the Ramoji Group amid the alluring grandeur of Nature, is the world’s largest integrated film studio complex and one of Asia’s most popular tourism and recreation centres. The most amusing part of the Ramoji Film City was various sets that create various scenes like a village scene, a market scene, a city skyscraper and streets. There was a huge building, which is designed as an airport on one side, a hospital on other side, a church on third side and a bank on the fourth side. Similarly, there are bungalows, which have 4 different facades on four sides, and a single building can serves as multiple houses for various characters of a film.



One fascinating set is that of a palace scene probably used for all the mythological and period dramas. The grandeur of this set does give you a feeling of being in a different era. Similarly a set called Movie Magic, personally my favourite takes you for a few minutes into the fantasy world of movies where everything is bright and shining and in a minute you go around the world.





There are a few shows, which give you a breather and you can relax as you enjoy them. There is a spirit of Ramoji show that is about film dancing and some very interesting and entertaining pieces that showcase some really talented artists. All these shows were amazing and you would get up from your seats and applause. In a show called Action, they pick up a person from the audience and make a small movie with them, showcasing the camerawork, sound and music mixing and editing. This is quite an informative show and I especially liked the demonstration of the re-production of natural sounds like air, rain, thunderstorm and even running horses.

The memories that you will gather over here will cherish you for a long period of time.

Day-6- On the last day of our stay in Hyderabad, we visited the Ocean Park spread across 20 acres of landscaped gardens, an amusement park. It is one of the first theme parks started in twin-cities and continues to be a great hit especially with children. But it is not the young ones alone who enjoy, even adults can have lots of fun here. It is a family amusement park offering a good mix of fun and thrills for people of all ages with water rideskiddies pool, wave pool, water slides, dry rides- super loop, the 60 feet high ride, bumping cars, slam bomb etc.

The park has a water sports section and another one for amusement games. Here you can relive your childhood or romp around with your children amid the various water bodies. If you enjoy the thrills of the games where the ships and trains make half and full circles, where tea cups juggle in the air and you are literally taken on a ride, then Ocean park is the place for you.

The other park we visited was NTR Garden. It boasts a vast collection of flora, a unique fountain, Gopuram, an imposing entrance plaza with Nandi Bulls besides other attractions. A huge restaurant resembling a bowl of fruits is to be found here, fringed by three petal shaped pools and greenery.





To ensure the ease and entertainment visitors, there are several cafes, souvenir shops, Shiromani Garden, a picturesque waterfall, bowling alley and electronic games. The NTR Garden of Hyderabad provides leisure activities, eateries and tastefully landscaped topography.

And with this, our six day trip to Hyderabad came to end. This was a great break from my monotonous office-home-home-office routine.


*All the photographs of this post are clicked by me.