Hyderabad capital of of Andhra Pradesh, is located on the banks of the Musi River in the Deccan Plateau in southern India. The city's area is 650 square kilometres (250 sq mi) and hosts a population of 6.8 million, while the metropolitan area contains 7.75 million residents, making it India's fourth most populous city and the sixth most populous urban agglomeration. The city was expanded in 2007 to form the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. As a growing metropolitan city in a developing country, Hyderabad confronts substantial pollution, congestion, overpopulation and other logistical and socio-economic problems.
Hyderabad was established in 1591 CE by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah and remained under the rule of the Qutb Shahi dynasty until 1687 when Mughal emperor Aurangzeb conquered the sultanate, and the city became part of the Deccan province of the Mughal empire. In 1724 Asif Jah I, a Mughal viceroy, declared his sovereignty and formed the Asif Jahi dynasty-also known as the Nizams of Hyderabad. The Nizams ruled the princely state of Hyderabad for more than two centuries, under subsidiary alliance with the British Raj. The city remained the princely state's capital from 1769 to 1948-when the Nizam signed an Instrument of Accession with the Indian Union following the Operation Polo. The city became capital of Andhra Pradesh following the 1956 State Reorganisation Act. Since 1969, Hyderabad has been a major center of the Telangana movement, which demands a separate state for the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh.
Situated at the crossroads of North and South India, Hyderabad is noted for its unique culture. As the former capital of the largest and richest princely state and with patronage from Nizams, Hyderabad established local traditions in art, literature, architecture and cuisine. The city is a tourist destination and has many places of interest, including the Chowmahalla Palace, Charminar and Golconda fort. Hyderabad is home to several museums, bazaars, galleries, libraries, sporting and other cultural institutions. The Telugu film industry is based in the city. From the 1990s Hyderabad emerged as a hub for the information technology, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology industries, alongside traditional and service industries. Hyderabad is a major centre for higher education and research and has 13 universities and business schools.
Charminar is as much the signature of Hyderabad as the Taj Mahal is of Agra or the Eiffel Tower is of Paris. Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of Hyderabad, built Charminar in 1591 at the centre of the original city layout. It is said to be built as a charm to ward off a deadly epidemic raging at that time. Four graceful minarets soar to a height of 48.7 m above the ground. Charminar has 45 prayer spaces and a mosque in it. Visitors can view the architectural splendour inside the Charminar. The monument is illuminated in the evenings and a pedestrianisation project around the monument is under implementation.
Visiting Hours: 9 am - 5.30 pm
Mecca Masjid: A two hundred yards southwest of the Charminar is 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.
Laad Baazar: This is famous, colourful shopping centre of the old city, tucked away in one of the streets leading off from Charminar. Bridal wear, Pearls and the traditional Hyderabadi glass and stone studded bangles are sold here.
Golconda is one of the famous forts of India. The name originates from the Telugu words "Golla Konda" meaning "Shepherd's Hill". The origins of the fort can be traced back to the Yadava dynasty of Deogiri and the Kakatiyas of Warangal. Golconda was originally a mud fort, which passed to the Bahmani dynasty and later to the Qutb Shahis, who held it from 1518 to 1687 A.D. The first three Qutb Shahi kings rebuilt Golconda, over a span of 62 years. The fort is famous for its acoustics, palaces, ingenious water supply system and the famous Fateh Rahben gun, one of the cannons used in the last siege of Golconda by Aurangzeb, to whom the fort ultimately fell.
Sound & Light Show at Golconda Fort: The glorious past of Golconda Fort is narrated effectively with matchless Sound and Light effects. The unique Sound & Light Show takes you right back in time, when Golconda was full of life, glory and grandeur.
Qutb Shahi Tombs: The tombs of the legendary Qutb Shahi kings lie about a kilometre away from Banjara Darwaza of the Golconda Fort. Planned and built by the Qutb Shahis themselves, these tombs are said to be the oldest historical monuments in Hyderabad. They form a large group and stand on a raised platform. The tombs are built in Persian, Pathan and Hindu architectural styles using grey granite, with stucco ornamentation, the only one of its kind in the world where an entire dynasty has been buried at one place.
Taramati Baradari is located at Ibrahimbagh, on the Osman Sagar (Gandipet) Road, close to Golconda. The complex is spread over a sprawling 7-acre area amidst lush green environs with the backdrop of the famed Golconda Fort. The heritage monument built by the Seventh Sultan of Golconda is accessed from the complex.
Visiting Hours: 8 am - 9.30 pm
With two fully equipped theatres, Taramati Baradari Culture Village is the perfect venue for music concerts, performing arts, social events etc. The Baradari illuminated in dynamic lighting forms the backdrop of all activities.
Birla Mandir (Venkateswara Temple)
This white marble temple of Lord Venkateshwara floats on the city skyline, on Kala Pahad. The idol in the temple is a replica of the one at Tirumala Tirupati.
Birla Planetarium is India's most modern planetarium and first of its kind in the country. It is equipped with advanced technology from Japan and is built on Naubat Pahad adjacent to Kala Pahad. And the Science Museum stands tribute to the advancement achieved by Science and Technology.
Salar Jung Museum
This museum houses one of the biggest one-man collections of antiques of the world by Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, Salar Jung III. The objects d'art include Persian carpets, Moghal miniatures, Chinese porcelain, Japanese lacquerware, famous statues including the Veiled Rebecca and Marguerite and Mephistopheles, a superb collection of jade, daggers belonging to Queen Noor Jahan and the Emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb's sword and many other fabulous items.
Visiting Hours: 10 am - 5 pm (Friday Closed)
AP State Archaeological Museum
A visit to the Andhra Pradesh State Archaeological Museum is a delight for art lovers. Located in the picturesque Public Gardens, the museum boasts of one of the richest repositories of antiques and art objects in the country. Built in 1920 by the Nizam VII, the museum building itself is a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. The museum contains a Buddhist gallery, Brahmanical & Jain gallery, Bronze gallery, Arms & Armour gallery, Numismatics gallery, Ajanta gallery and more. Adjacent to the State Museum is the Contemporary Art Museum.
Public Gardens: Hyderabad has several beautiful gardens, one of the most popular being the Public Gardens, which also encloses the State Legislature, State Archaeological Museum, Jubilee Hall, Jawahar Bal Bhavan and Telugu Lalita Kala Thoranam, an open-air theatre.
Visiting Hours : 10.30 am - 5 pm (Friday Closed)
Nehru Zoological Park
Spanning 300 lush green acres, the Nehru Zoological Park is a must for nature lovers. It has over 250 species of animals and birds, most of which are kept in conditions as close to their natural habitats as possible. This is the first zoo to create moated enclosures for animals. The Lion Safari Park, Natural History Museum and Children's Train are the added attractions.
Mir Alam Tank: Mir Alam Tank is a large lake adjacent to Nehru Zoological Park. AP Tourism operates boats on the lake, for which one has to enter through the Zoo.
Shilparamam (The Arts & Crafts Village)
Another attraction at Madhapur besides Hi-tec city in Hyderabad is the 30-acre village, which showcases arts and crafts of the country. India is an ocean of various arts and crafts but the talent of most of the artisans and artists goes unrecognized. To encourage them and give the necessary boost to their art, the crafts village hosts annual bazaars, where artists and artisans from all over the country exhibit their talent.
One of the modern monuments of trade and technology, it embodies the newfound attitude of Hyderabad and today finds a place of pride. Situated on the outskirts of the city, it is the nucleus of Cyberabad, the IT destination in this part of the world. Cyber Towers is the main building here.
Excavated in 1562 A.D. by Hussain Shah Wali during the time of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah, the lake has a promenade that is a busy thoroughfare today. Boating and water sports are a regular feature in the Hussainsagar. One of the World's tallest monolithic statues of the Buddha stands on the 'Rock of Gibraltar', in the middle of the lake. Added to all these, AP Tourism has additional boating facilities like speed boats, motor boats, 48 seater launch etc. Starlit dinner on-board and private parties also can be arranged on the Launch.
Surroundings of Hussainsagar Lake provide marvellous entertainment options like NTR Gardens, Necklace Road, Tank Bund, Prasads Multiplex, Lumbini Park, Sanjeevaiah Park etc.,
The Nizam's Silver Jubilee Museum
The stately Purani Haveli, the palace acquired around the year 1750 by the second Nizam, is now converted into a museum with a fascinating collection. The museum exhibits the gifts and mementos presented to the last Nizam on the occasion of the silver jubilee celebrations in 1937. A 1930 Rolls Royce, Packard and a Mark V Jaguar are among the vintage cars displayed. There is an interesting collection of models made in silver of all the prominent buildings of the city and citations in Urdu about H.E.H. Mir Osman Ali Khan, gold burnished wooden throne used for the silver jubilee celebrations, gold tiffin box inlaid with diamonds, and a gold model of Jubilee Pavilion.
Chow Mohalla Palace
Built in several phases by the Nizams between 1857-1869, this is now one of the heritage buildings. The complex comprises four palaces in Moghal and European styles, of which the main palace is double storeyed with the others being single-storeyed blocks.
The 'Secret Lake' is situated close to Shilparamam Crafts Village and Hitec City, behind Jubilee Hills. AP Tourism organizes boating in the lake. 'Something Fishy', a bar at Secret Lake (Durgam Cheruvu)
Visiting Hours:9 am - 8.30 pm
Chilkur Balaji Temple
The Balaji Temple is located at Chilkur in the Hyderabad district. It is 33 Kms away from Mehdipatnam. Approximately 75,000 to 1,00,000 devotees visit in a week. Generally temple gets heavy rush on Saturdays and Sundays. Set in sylvan surroundings, the temple attracts thousands of pilgrims every year and is an ideal place for sequestered retreat and meditation.
KBR National Park
One of the largest parks within the city KBR National Park is a Southern tropical deciduous forest and the last vestigial representative of the endemic flora of Hyderabad region, with over 100 species of birds, 20 species of reptiles and 15 species of butterflies.
Mrugavani National Park
Located at Chilkur, 25 km. from Hyderabad, the park contains the endemic flora of Hyderabad and is an urban refuge for small mammals like wildboar, jungle cat etc. and birds.
Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Park
Located 15 Km. from Hyderabad, the park has more than 350 black bucks, 400 cheetals and a number of wild boars, small mammals, reptiles and over 100 species of birds.
Hyderabad Botanical Gardens
The first Botanical Gardens in Andhra Pradesh, spread over 120 acres. Already open to public is the first phase, with the completion of some sections. The sections include medicinal plants, timber trees, fruit trees, ornamental plants, aquatic plants and bamboos. The Park has been designed to have large water bodies, Rolling Meadows, natural forests, rich grasslands and exquisite rock formations.
Osmansagar, better known as Gandipet, on the outskirts of Hyderabad is an excellent picnic spot. Osmansagar is one of the two lakes on the city's periphery that supplies drinking water to the great metropolis. The lake is a reservoir created by a dam across the Isa, a tributary of the River Musi. Abutting the lake and the bund are lush gardens that provide the ideal ambience for an outing. Overlooking the lake is the heritage building, Sagar Mahal, built as a resort by the Nizam of Hyderabad and converted now into a lake resort managed by AP Tourism.
Located 24 km to the north of Secunderabad, Shamirpet has a beautiful lake and a deer park. Its peaceful environs make it a great picnic spot. AP Tourism offers comfortable cottage facilities for accommodation, while the forest lodges can be booked with the AP Forest Department office at Saifabad.