(This post is by Ankita)
Five years ago, I booked a bus ticket from Pune to Hyderabad and took off to visit my best friend, who had an enviable position at Google (she still does, but now even more enviably in San Francisco :D). I was a post-graduate student at FLAME (Foundation for Liberal and Management Education) and it was the first time I’d be travelling alone on an overnight bus. Strangely, I’d never felt more liberated. I wasn’t a travel blogger then but solo travel still thrilled my heart like nothing else. Early the next morning, I reached my stop and met my groggy-eyed friend. Since I was her guest, I didn’t have to worry about hotels in Hyderabad.
Over the next four days, we talked into late hours of the night, toured the quaint streets and historical sites of Hyderabad with the aid of wily and chatty rickshaw walas (it was a pain haggling with them as they never went by the meter) and painted the town red with my friend’s colleagues at Google. By the end of the trip, I didn’t want to say goodbye but I checked my Air India flight status and it was dot on time. While waiting in the lounge, I managed to jot down what we’d done over the past few days. And that’s how I’m able to tell you about the top things to do in Hyderabad (I’ve checked to see that nothing is dated), despite my treacherous memory.
- Make a haunting trip to Golconda Fort at dusk
The mesmerising architecture of this 12th century fort is best experienced in the evening, followed by a magical sound and light show that brings historical events to life. Golconda was once the capital of the Qutub Shahi kings, who constructed the fort with eight gates and 87 bastions. Interestingly, mines in the area have produced some of the most famous diamonds such as the Koh-i-Noor, the Hope Diamond and Nassak Diamond.
- Tour the lovely Charminar
This monument and mosque dates back to 1591 and will be recognised easily by most Indians. Located on the banks of the Musi River, it is surrounded by beguiling markets where you’ll find bangles of every colour. It was intended to be the centrepiece of the Old City and is designed in the Indo-Islamic style, with inputs from Persian architects.
- Have biryani at Shadab’s or 4 Seasons
Biryani is the queen of Hyderabad’s culinary scene, along with haleem and other Mughlai delights. But finding the best biryani is not an easy task, unless you’re visiting a Muslim friend’s home. We enjoyed great Hyderabadi biryani at Hotel Shadab near Charminar though 4 Seasons (which has multiple outlets) also comes with decent recommendations.
- Enjoy a giant wheel ride at Numaish
Numaish is actually an annual shopping exhibition in Nampally, along with an array of joy rides and food stalls. The colourful fair is worth an entire evening’s entertainment and while the giant wheel belts are worryingly loose, we recommend a ride or two. Vendors from all over India sell local garments and jewellery at Numaish.
- Have dinner at Coco’s Bar & Grill
Banjara Hills is one of the posh neighbourhoods of Hyderabad and if it’s a windy open air dinner you crave, look no further than Coco’s Bar & Grill. Great music, barbecued delights and heady drinks come together at Coco’s for a memorable dinner.
- Party at 10 Downing Street
After dinner, take the party ahead at 10 Downing Street, a famous pub at Begumpet. There’s a different theme on every day of the week – we were there for Desi Saturday and danced like there was no tomorrow. Fantastic drinks and starters served in a posh ambience with period furniture and Colonial artwork make this an absolute winner.
- Take a walk at the Botanical Gardens
The Hyderabad Botanical Garden is spread across 120 acres in the Kothaguda Reserve Forest. With numerous fruit and timber trees, medicinal, ornamental and aquatic plants, the garden is a wonderland for nature lovers. One can also explore beautiful meadows, rock formations and ponds interspersed with the dense foliage.
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