Here are a few things that you shouldn’t miss while visiting Hyderabad. Few cities offer a bigger range of historic and modern sights and Hyderabad is one of them.
Synonymous with Hyderabad, the minar — which stands for the intermingling of Hindu and Islamic traditions — is imposing by day and breathtaking when lit up at night. Walk up the rather steep and narrow staircase for an exciting view of the city. Tickets: Rs 5 per person.
A marvel of military architecture, the fort was once considered impregnable. Today, of course, it welcomes you through its imposing gates, winding alleys and residential quarters before taking you to the Fateh Darwaza or Victory Gate. If you clap your hands at the portico, the sound reverberates miraculously inside the King’s chambers on top of the hill. The story of the fort and the different rulers who walked there comes alive in superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s voice, as part of an exciting light and sound show every evening (Rs 40 per person).
Salar Jung Museum
Home to one of the largest and most precious collections of art and curios in the world, belonging to the late Hyderabad nobleman, Salar Jung III. From his personal heirlooms to articles reflecting the history of the city, it includes the refined porcelain, bone china, sculpture, clocks, manuscripts and furniture. Admiring it all could take a whole day, but make time for the special museum clock. Like a cuckoo clock, a toy soldier pops out to sound the gong every hour. The clock draws a small crowd to a special viewing area, complete with seating arrangements and close circuit TV.
The museum is open from 9.45 am to 4 pm on all days except Friday. The entry fee is Rs 5. Cameras have to be deposited at counters outside though. Phone: (040) 2457643.
Ramoji Film City
Do not be surprised if you find yourself on a red London bus in Hyderabad , driving around the Taj Mahal and what looks like a Mumbai slum and Mysore’s Brindavan garden. Suspend all disbelief for these are mere sets at Ramoji City, a unique theme park-cum-film facility.
Several movie hits, including the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Karan Arjun, were shot here. Situated on the outskirts of the city, its parks, joy rides and stunt and comedy shows make it a favourite picnic spot (Entry: Rs 250 per person).
Opening Ceremony: 9.45 am
Alampana Theatre: 12.30am and 3.45 pm (two shows daily)
Wild West Stunt Show: 1 pm and 4.30 pm
Closing Ceremony: 5.30 pm
Phone: (8415) 246555/ 246333
Laser show at Lumbini Park
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.
Now coming to my favourite part of the trip—feasting on kaathi kebabs and chicken biryani at Paradise Persis. Initially I always felt that people exaggerated when they spoke about this place, but once I personally paid a visit to the restaurant I was really happy to be wrong. The spread and the quantity for the price were amazing and the meats just melted in our mouths. I can assure you that you wouldn’t mind binging even if your tummy was full. In fact, our friends went to the extent of packing Paradise biryani in the afternoon when we were headed back for home.
Another place for some real tasty Chinese is at Palace Heights on Abids. The interesting thing about this restaurant is that it is located on the top most floor, offering you a view of both the old and the new Hyderabad city. Good service, nawabi ambience and delicious food constitute Palace Heights. It seemed like a popular restaurant as even on a weekday afternoon this place had a good deal of clientele.
This city is lovely; it has a certain charm of its own which has got me hooked to it. It’s not as rushed as in metropolises of Mumbai and Delhi, but then you get the best of both worlds here. To get enchanted and enjoy a good break in the city, Hyderabad is certainly a good choice.
You may also like to read Pearl and Bangle Shopping in Hyderabad.
A Travel Series for Rediff.com, 22nd August, 2006.