Hyderabad: Living it All

A morning walk on the Necklace Road abutting the Hussain Sagar lakefront, watching the sun rise over the 17 meter tall statue of Gautama Buddha adorning the island called Rock of Gibraltar in the middle of the Hussain Sagar Lake….

A morning cup of irani chai at the roadside café is the most delightful way for a Hyderabadi to start his/her day….

A laid back attitude calling 11 AM as ‘subah-subah’ or early morning, and using the trademark dialect of nakko, kaiku,hau, kiska – the hallmark of a Hyderabadi….

Hyderabadis, famous for their hospitality, are the friendliest people you can hope to meet. Every tourist is welcomed with open arms. Centuries of peaceful co-existence of various religions and several communities truly makes Hyderabad a ‘mini-India’. From defense personnel, celebrities, politicians to the ordinary junta, from haute couture to roadside peddlers, from high rise buildings in Hitec-city to the slums, from snake charmers to rocket scientists, from celebrating Sankrantri to Christmas, from the rich Nizami and Andhra heritage and culture to the nuances of nanotechnological advancements, there is no exaggeration in saying that the city lives a hundred decades at the same time.

Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh, the abode of the richest man in the world, Nizam, and the home to biryani and pearls, the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad will be an exciting vacation spot for people of all ages. The Hussain Sagar Lake also called the ‘Tank Bund’ separates Hyderabad and Secunderabad. From adventure sports to arts and architecture, history and museums, food and shopping, destination Hyderabad offers a gamut of activities for the inquisitive visitor. Hyderabad is well connected by road, rail and air from all the major railway stations and airports in India. The city has tourists pouring in all the year round, but the pleasant winter months from October to February are best time to visit the city. Summers from late February to early June can be extremely hot with temperatures rising above 40oC and monsoons from June to early October might be a little sultry. A light sweater for adults, and light woolens for kids would be enough to tackle the breezy evenings during the winter months and cottons are comfortable during the day.

The Charminar, Salar Jung Museum, Mecca Masjid, Qutub Shahi Tombs, Falaknuma and Chowmahalla Palaces portray the fine architectural taste of the Nawabs of yore and shopping malls like GVK One, Prasad’s Multiplex, and buildings in Hi-tec City are examples of the stylish and trendy modern architecture of today.  One cannot help being captivated by the charm of these buildings of past and present alike. Another must visit in the Twincities (Hyderabad and Secunderabad) is the Sanghi Temple and Birla Mandir. The authentic marble architecture of the Birla Mandir coupled with the enchanting sound of the temple bells offers a serene relaxing atmosphere right in the heart of the busy city. The Sanghi temple, located 35 km from the city, resplendent with the Chola-Chalukya style of architecture, has a huge and magnificent ‘Maha Dwaram’ or gateway that welcomes the visitors. This majestic temple stands on a hillock and the three gopurams tower the blue sky, leaving the spectators awestruck at the first glance. The Osmania University, reflecting the Indo-Gothic architectural style, The Legislative Assembly buildings glorifying the Persian architecture are the next pit stops. The historic Golconda fort, founded in 13th century by the Kakatiyas is the home for the priceless Kohinoor Diamond, and the architectural beauty of the fort’s massive walls, pavilions, gates, domes are a visual treat. The acoustic effect in the Fateh Darwaza at the fort is truly an engineering genius of those times.

En route to Sanghi temple from the city, is the Ramoji Film City, the largest film studio in the world and a leisure destination for adults and kids, corporates and adventure seekers alike. Hyderabad also houses ‘Tollywood’ or the Telugu film industry, an industry that ranks second in India, in terms of the number of films made and third, in terms of infrastructure. The annual turnover of the industry is in billions and the industry is the source of employment for more than a lakh families.  Theme parks like Mt.Opera, Ocean Park offer rip roaring rollercoaster and water rides and are a wholesome one day trip for the entire family. Snow World, India’s first snow theme park offering ‘thrill of the chill’ is a complete must-see during your trip to Hyderabad. For the nature lovers, boating at the Durgam Cheruvu tucked between hills would be an absolute delight. If stepping on the gas gives you a bang, then Runway 9 is the place to head. Apart from go-carting, Runway 9 also offers a plethora of activities like laser-combat, rock climbing, archery, shooting and many more. Sudha cars, a museum of handmade and whacky cars would be a feast to the eyes.

Brace yourself for the enthralling nightlife in Hyderabad.  After a long day at work, many people swarm the extensive and contemporary nightclubs donning the city. Apart from being an IT hub, the city is also a hub for shoppers. From shopping for chic clothes and designer bags at the upscale malls, to the tiny trinkets and baubles along the streets of Badi-chowdi and General Bazaar, shopping in Hyderabad offers a spectrum of products and a variety to suit every need and purse. A visit to Hyderabad would be incomplete if you don’t make it to ‘Lad Bazaar’ at Charminar where a million bangles in all hues and colors are beautifully displayed in the tiny shops.  Pochampally, a treasure house of weaves and ikkat fabrics is just an hour’s drive from the city. The picturesque and calm countryside of this village also includes a lake where one can go boating and transcend away from the hustle and bustle of the daily mundane. Make sure you have ample time set aside for Lepakshi, the state owned handicrafts showroom, for one can get lost in the myriad of kondapalli toys, kalamkari paintings, nirmal furniture and toys, stone and wooden carvings, an array of handlooms and a countless other arts and crafts from all over the state of Andhra Pradesh, and yes, all under one roof!

The Hyderabadis rejoice and throw parties at the drop of a hat and every festival is celebrated with equal poise and grandeur. Hyderabadis are epicureans and don’t be surprised if your host will not let you leave without a feast, after all, hospitality is their middle name. October marks the beginning of the festival season that extends until mid January and the sartorial extravaganza of the Hyderabadis can be witnessed during this time. During the month of Ramzaan, haleem, a delicious dish made from wheat, meat, lentils and spices is cooked in quintals and is an absolute toothsome. Every locality has good restaurants serving different cuisines, and make sure you don’t miss the ‘Hyderabadi Dum-ki-Biryani’ ….

Arpita Soma

[Image courtesy: http://cache.virtualtourist.com/176997-Charminar-Hyderabad.jpg]