An Insider’s Guide to Hyderabad

Mayhem and beauty together describe Hyderabad the best. Mayhem because of  the different types of people and beauty because of the look of the city and the grace with which it accepts all sorts of cultures and religions. An interesting demography ,where the number of Muslims and Hindus are almost equal, the city has an extremely unique culture, language and cuisine which is enjoyed by everyone irrespective of their identity. On one side if there is the biryani and Charminar, on the other side is the very famous Andhra cuisine and Birla Mandir. This is perhaps the only city where Ganesh Chaturthi and Ramzan are simultaneously celebrated with equal pomp and show amid peace. Not to forget, even Ganesh idols are sometimes placed inside dargah modeled tents.

Understanding the idea of Hyderabad can be a little complicated for an outsider, so here’s an insider’s list of the best places to get the Hyderabadi experience.

  1. City tour: Hyderabad is a city that offers a lot to see for someone new. The City Tour is provided by the Tourism Department and it shows around places like Birla Mandir, Charminar, Chowmahallah Palace, Golconda Fort, Taramati Baradari, Qutub Shahi Tombs, Salarjung Museum, etc. Most of these places carry rich history and great architecture.

    Picture shows a combination of old and new architecture

    A view from the top of Golconda Fort

  2. Shilparamam(crafts mela): Shilparamam is a crafts village located near Hitech City. It consists of stalls which sell indigenous clothes, accessories and other handicrafts. Besides, it also has an amphitheatre where cultural programs are held in the evenings. You can take a walk around this crafts village and go attend a cultural program in the evening. Shilparamam also holds a Crafts Mela generally during the end of every year. The mela is said to be the second most revenue generating after the Kumbh Mela. It is full of stalls from all across the country and a great time to shop.
  3. Drive around Hussain Sagar lake: The Hussain Sagar lake is situated in central Hyderabad and has a humongous Budha Statue in the centre of it. There are many ways to enjoy it, by sitting on the tank bund or Necklace Road or by taking a cruise around or even taking a boat to the Budha Statue. But I would suggest drive or ride around the entire lake starting off and ending at the Tank Bund. This way you can experience the beauty of the place, the gardens, restaurants and the statues along the roads and breathe in some cold and fresh air.
  4. South Indian films at RTC Cross-Roads: One of the biggest things that describe Hyderabad is Telugu Films. Lead actors are worshipped as Gods and all the single screen theatres in RTC cross-roads break into mayhem when their favourite actor’s film releases. Trust me, it is an occurrence like none other. Try your best and source a ticket for the first day morning show of either a Mahesh Babu film or a Pawan Kalyan film at a single screen in RTC cross roads. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the language, the experience is beyond euphoric.
  5. Ramoji Film City: This may sound like a cliché, but visiting Ramoji Film City can be fun to a first timer. As you keep seeing all the places, you start thinking that they’re all familiar from some or the other film. If you’re bored there, go out, hit the Outer Ring Road and explore all the lakes off the road that are hidden.
  6. Numaish: Opens in January first week and ends on the ides of February every year, the Numaish in Hyderabad is synonymous to pandemonium. The chaos is so much, you can never leave the side of your companions. There is everything in there, from toys to clothes to electronics and rides such as a giant wheel and a columbus. More than anything else, there are thousands of people. Over the years, Numaish has come to define Hyderabad in its attitude and is a must go for anyone who is in the city during that period.
  7. Dialogue in the Dark: This is a restaurant located in Inorbit Mall and visually challenged people serve you food in pitch darkness. For the time that you’re there, you’re only sensing, smelling and tasting the delicious food and taking in the sounds of the surrounding, thereby experiencing things from the perspective of a visually challenged. The experience is thrilling and an eye-opening grey swan.
  8. Heritage Walk / Rock Tours: Heritage Walks are held from Charminar to Chowmahallah Palace during mornings. The walks are through the tiny lanes of the Old City and a great opportunity at photographing the old buildings, the birds and the shops. Hyderabad is also a city known for its megaliths and it is the only city that protects rocks as heritage. Some societies hold rock tours around the city to see all the beautifully shaped rock structures.
  9. Osmania University: With a dense green cover, stunning gardens and some historic buildings, the Osmania University campus is an absolute beauty. A great place for a morning walk or a jog, it also serves as a place to go for a drive to take in some fresh air any time of the day.
  10. Laad Bazar: Laad Bazaar, known as ‘choodi bazaar’ locally, is a market for some of the best bangles in the country. It is situated in the old city and the market sells other items such as zari borders, laces, mehndi, sequins, etc. The bangles are painstakingly and meticulously made and decorated by the local women and they range from a few hundred to a few thousand rupees.

    Laad Bazaar or Choodi Bazaar is a famous market in the old city

    A shop selling bangles in Laad Bazaar

  11. Basheerbagh:Pearls and Bidri: Hyderabad is popularly known for its pearls and bidri work. For good quality at decent prices, the best place to go are stores like Mangatrai Jewellers or Mor Jewellers in Basheerbagh.
  12. Ganesh Chaturthi and Ramzan: Visiting Hyderabad during this season can be one of the best things to do. The loud music from Ganesh Pandals and the Haleem stalls during the Ramzaan season and the peaceful co-existence of the two is a sight to watch. Go pandal hopping and haleem stall hopping. During late night, drive to the old city, which is wide awake and buzzing during Ramzaan and eat all the delicious food off the streets.

There is much more than this to experience in the chaos of Hyderabad, specially the food and the festivities. I will come up with another post for them. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed this list and started trying out some of these places.

If you have any suggestions or anything about the post that you’d like to let us know, just comment!


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