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Discovering Hyderabad's history in 2 days

Discovering Hyderabad's history in 2 days

Hyderabad may seem like a city mostly visited by tech employees and businessmen, and not really your typical destination for a solo trip in India. However, the city was the center for much Medieval history and the place where diamonds were first mined. The fairytale city is filled with tales of love, war, conquest and mysteries. Let this 2 day itinerary with things to see in Hyderabad show you the best part of the city.

If you want to have a getaway closer to home, we’ve got you covered with this 3 day trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand.




Day 1: Things to see in Hyderabad – Historical city

10am: Salar Jung Museum

The Salar Jung Museum is the third largest museum in India that houses the biggest one-man collections of antiques in the world. The range of artefacts and art pieces dates back to the 1st Century. The museum is named after Nawab Mir Yusuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III, former Prime Minister of the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad, who spent forty years of his life amassing a priceless collection which was originally exhibited in his palace, Diwan Deodi, and then moved to the present location in 1968.

Of note are a few art pieces of the Mughal Empire. A dagger and a jade fruit knife decorated with precious stones are believed to belong to Jehangir and Noor Jahan.

Open from 10am to 5pm and closed on Friday.

12pm: The Nizam’s Museum

His Exalted Highness The Nizam’s Museum is located in the stately Purani Haveli, a place where several Nizams were born and spent parts of their lives. The Haveli was built by Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of the city of Hyderabad, for his Peshwa (Prime Minister), Mir Momin. In 1777, Mir Nizam Ali Khan, the second Nizam, acquired the land from the descendant of Mir Momin to build a palace for his son, Sikander Jah, who eventually became the third Nizam in 1803. When he did, he moved to Chowmahalla, letting Purani Haveli lose its prime position.

There are over ten buildings in the Purani Haveli and perhaps the most impressive is the walk-in closet, a 176 ft long room made of Burma teak and built in two level housing the costumes worn in the 19th century.

Open from 10am to 5pm and closed on Friday.

There’s plenty of culture and heritage here at home too! Check out our neighbourhood guides.

Lunch at Shadab

Hyderabad’s most famous dish is biryani and Shadab is a safe pair of hands to sample the local dish and other typical delicacies.

330pm: Charminar

Possibly the most recognized icon of the city, Charminar, means four towers in Urdu. The towers are ornate minarets attached by four arches with outdoor balconies and they face each direction. The area is filled with buzzing market stalls selling jewellery, especially gold bangles, vegetables and fruit, clothes and pearls.

You can climb up one of the towers through a narrow and steep set of stairs to the first floor for a glimpse of the market area, the Masjid Mosque and the main trade arteries.

The Archeological Survey of India believes that Charminar was built at the end of the 16th century to commemorate the eradication of the plague and lies at the center of Hyderabad and the trade route between Golconda and the port city of Machilipatnam. Don’t forget to walk around the market stalls.

Opens from 9am to 5:30pm daily.

4pm: Taj Falaknuma Palace

Take a cab to the Falaknuma Palace, today a fairy-tale Taj Hotel. Originally the residence of the Nizam, the Palace was leased to Taj Group who undertook a serious renovation project to turn the palace into a grand and ostentatious representation of how royalty used to live. This is possibly the best preserved piece of Nizam architecture.

The hotel offers guided tours of the property with the Palace Historian on Saturday and Sunday at 4pm including high tea. Tickets can be booked through the Tourism Office here. Or contact the hotel directly to book The Champagne Palace Walk that starts at sunset with legends, love and war. Don’t miss the Palace Library, a replica of the one at Windsor Castle. You may also stay for dinner in its romantic balcony.

6pm: Mecca Masjid

Catch a cab or autorickshaw back to Mecca Masjid. It is said that Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah decided for the central arch of the mosque to be built of bricks made from soil brought from Mecca, hence the name of the mosque. The mosque is one of the largest in India and sits right next to Charminar. The praying hall is preceded by a large courtyard and a rectangular, arched and covered structure where the marble graves of the Nizams and their family can be found. When full, the hall can house 10,000 worshipers. Non-muslims will not be allowed inside and women must be covered. There are shawls at the entrace one can borrow.

The three arched facades were carved from a single piece of granite over five years and needed 8,000 workers. Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah laid the foundation stone but the mosque was completed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb after conquering Hyderabad.

Opens 4am to 9:30pm daily.


Day 2: Things to see in Hyderabad – Temples, tombs and parks

9am: Chilkur Balaji Temple

Chilkur Balaji Temple is an ancient Hindu temple of Lord Balaji visited by 75,000 to 100,000 devotees a week. What makes it unique is that it does not accept any money, it does not have a hundi, no green channel or any privileges for the wealthy.The whole temple is run on the money collected from the parking fees. The temple fought and won the right to stay out of government control and there is only one other temple like that in India.

Opens from 5am to 8pm daily.

1030am: Taramati Baradari

Catch a cab or call an uber to go to Taramati Baradari, a historical caravanserai, an ancient inn where travelers could rest on their journey. It is part of Ibrahim Bagh, a Persian style garden built during the reign of Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah, the second Sultan of Golconda in the 16th Century. The name is believed to have been given by the Sultan after his favourite courtesan. Legends and tales speak of a courtesan’s singing that could be heard from the Fort.
Open daily from 11am to 6pm.

1130am: Golconda Fort

You could walk the 4km to the Fort but it is much better to take an auto-rickshaw or cab as the roads are not suitable for walking easily. Golconda Fort was the capital of the medieval sultanate of the Qutub Shahi dynasty (1518–1687) and the center of major wars and legends. The fort is today in ruins but it is well worth a visit to explore the beautiful past.

The Fort is well known for its magical acoustics which are leveraged for a daily 1h evening show of lights and music that tells the history of the fort in in a fairytale style.

If you go, bring repellent, the fort is known for authentic plagues of mosquitoes that are invincible to the repellent. I used almost an entire bottle and they still managed to bite us despite being drenched in repellent with 50% DEET.

You will also be able to wander around the Fort before the show but beware that the sun setting will take away all the lights and you will be in the dark in a rather dangerous area so be sure to head to the show area as soon as the rays dissipate.

Opens from 9am to 5:30pm daily. After 5:30pm it is possible to enter if you are attending the music and lights show that starts at 6:30pm.

1pm: Qutub Shahi Tombs

Walk over from the fort to the seven tombs of the Qutub Shahi sultans. These structures are made of beautifully carved stonework, and surrounded by landscaped gardens. The domes were once covered in blue and green tiles of which few remain. In the centre of each tomb is a sarcophagus which overlies the actual burial vault in a crypt below.

Opens from 9:30am to 4:30pm every day

2pm: Lunch at Paradise

Paradise is synonymous with biryani and the oldest place to offer it in Hyderabad. They became so popular that rumours say they used to fly biryani to Dubai in a plane in the morning for it to arrive ready for lunch time. The one in Khairatabad is near next stops and also where the saga began in 1953 so great place to stop for lunch.

330pm: Birla Mandir

Take a cab to Birla Mandir, a 1976 Hindu temple built on a 85m hill called Naubath Pahad. The temple was constructed by Birla Foundation, which has also constructed several similar temples across India, all of which are known as Birla Mandir. The Birla family is known for owning an industrial empire.

Opens from 7am to 12pm and from 3pm to 9pm.

430pm: Hussain Sagar Lake

Asia’s largest artificial lake can be visited on a boating trip. It was constructed in 1562 AD during the reign of Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah. Built on the tributary of River Musi to provide irrigation and water to the city until 1930.

The lake is open from 8am to 10pm.

530pm: Lumbini Park

Lumbini Park is in the center of the city and a good place for a stroll and a breath of fresh air. It was made famous in 2007 when it was targeted by the Hyderabad bombings that killed 44 people. The park is known for the boats, the lake and the multimedia fountain show that combine laser animation, live video, sound, rhythmic musical fountains and the largest water screens in India. The show shares historical and cultural aspects of Hyderabad’s past, present and future at 7,15pm everyday except for Mondays.

The park is open from 9am to 9pm daily.

8pm: Dinner

Dinner will be at Bawarchi, another local restaurant serving traditional Hyderabadi, Indian and Chinese continental.




Places to stay in Hyderabad

Affordable

Just 0.5km from the city center, Aditya Hometel, a cosy budget-friendly hotel is part of the 3rd largest hotel chain in India and provides a vast array of services including free WiFi in all rooms and a 24-hour service desk. With rave reviews from past customers,  this is a clear choice for the budget traveller. Reservations start at SGD$73 per night.

Book here now!

Mid-range

Located right in the city center of Hyderabad, the Park Hyatt Hyderabad ensures quality facilities for a pleasurable stay in the city. There is a yoga room, an outdoor swimming pool and even a golf course just 3km away! Nightly rates start from SGD$164.

Book here now!

High-end

If you can really afford it, why not be transported into a fairytale world and stay at the Taj’s Falaknuma Palace, a five-star majestic compound that allows visitors to truly escape from the hustle and bustle of Hyderabad. With exceptional service and amenities guaranteed at Taj Hotels across India, pamper yourself by booking a room for you and your loved one here today. Rates start at SGD$521 per night.

Book here now!

Getting to Hyderabad

The ideal time to visit Hyderabad is from October to March and here are just two airline options that fly to Hyderabad from Singapore.

TigerAir

TigerAir flies to Hyderabad from Singapore at 10:30pm daily, with the corresponding return flight landing in Singapore at 8:50am. Tickets start at SGD$650, although the 4 hour flight does cost less during the off season, going as low as SGD$560 in June.

Check out the flight schedule here.

Singapore Airlines

Alternatively, Singapore Airlines also operates round trips to Hyderabad daily, even providing travellers with two options on certain days of the week according to its schedule. Tickets can go as low as SGD$702.

Check out the flight schedule here.

Other things to note in Hyderabad

Visa and money matters

All foreign nationals visiting India are required to obtain a valid Indian visa. Don’t rely upon your ATM cards too much in Hyderabad as there may be some technical issues at the ATMs and you are unable to control the exchange rate.

Stay hydrated

Hyderabad can get quite hot especially during the summer months of April-May so be sure to purchase plenty of mineral water bottles and bring them along with you on your daily travels!

Turn on the meter

Travelling by auto-rickshaws (or autos for short) can be a thrilling experience, especially for affordable travels without the hassle of taking a bus. However, make sure that the meter is switched on and don’t travel on a fixed rate! Auto drivers in Hyderabad have a bit of a reputation of bringing customers to shops on the pretext of being “government authorized” but as long you firmly refuse, you’ll be fine. If you don’t want the hassle, book a prepaid metered cab!

Renting might be dangerous

Although renting a car or a bike really allows you the freedom to truly explore Hyderabad including the outskirts of the city, it can be dangerous for drivers who are not used to the hectic way of driving in India so be prepared!

Uber it

Using Uber or even Ola in Hyderabad assures reasonably good service and courteous drivers!  There have been a few cases of errant drivers so if you want to be extra cautious, you could use the Hyderabad Police App and enter the details of your cab to be safe.

Be conservative

When visiting some of the religious sites mentioned in this itinerary, remember to dress conservatively and be fully covered. In addition, female travellers should dress conservatively as well while roaming the streets of Hyderabad or any part of India in general just to be safe. Here is a guide to what to wear in india. Travelling alone at night for female travellers is also not recommended!

Visit this handy site for more travel tips!

Photo 2 of the High Court in Hyderabad by Rajesh Pamnani, image was cropped to size
Photo 6 of Ibrahim Mosque at Golconda Fort by Masrur Ashraf, image was cropped to size

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