Hyderabad should be the first stop for any tourist in Andhra Pradesh. Known as The City of Nizams and The City of Pearls because of the immense wealth of its former rulers who were at one time the richest men in the world, Hyderabad offers an enormity of famous sites. It is also the center of the Telegu film industry, Tollywood, as well as many emergent IT and medical companies, combining new and old in this city of seven million people, one of the largest in India.
Tourist attractions in Hyderabad
The Charminar and Mekkah Masjid Mosque
This ancient memorial dedicated to plague victims was built in 1591, and it serves as a symbol of the city. Located in the old town of Hyderabad, this beautiful monument with its characteristic four minarets is surrounded by a market where locals sell bangles, a decorative wristband worn by women. Right next to the Charminar is the Mekkah Masjid Mosque, the largest mosque, in the city built hundreds of years ago with bricks brought from the holy city of Mecca. It is truly a sight to behold during prayer time.
This gorgeous palace, commissioned by one of the famous Nizam’s of the city, was built by an Italian architect in the late 1800’s. It is built entirely of imported Italian marble and has a unique position overlooking the city. Falaknuma Palace has one of the largest collections of precious jade in the world and is decorated with intricate frescoes and reliefs.
Golkonda is a ruined city just west of Hyderabad. It was the capital of the medieval state of the same name. Situated on top of a granite hill, the city was famous for its diamond mines, which in its time were the only known ones in the world. Many of the world’s largest diamonds were mined and cut here, including the famous Hope Diamond, said to be cursed. The citadel itself is made up of four forts with a ten kilometer long (!) outer wall. At the lowest wall is the iconic “Victory Gate”, where an intricate system of acoustics allowed for someone to shout a kilometer away to warn the royalty of impeding attacks. Keep in mind this engineering task was accomplished hundreds of years ago!
Arguably the most beautiful palace in the city, Chowmahalla Palace was the seat of power for the Nizams. Its magnificent chandeliers and vast courtyards should be visited by any tourist visiting Hyderabad. Many suggest visiting the palace at night, as the lighting of it makes for a particularly mesmerizing experience.
Salar Jung Museum
One of the prime ministers of a Hyderabadi Nizam started this immense collection of over a million artifacts, the passion of his life and a testament to the immense wealth of the city. It is the largest one-man collection of antiques in the world and is the third largest museum in India. It has large collections of virtually everything and has the sword of Aurangzeb, one of the most powerful emperors of Mughal India. There is also the famous clock room, where hundreds of clocks click. Be sure to check out the musical clock, where a timekeeper emerges every hour to hit a gong as many times as it hours of the day.
Ramoji Film City
Believe it or not the world’s largest film studio is, the Ramoji Film City, is located in the suburbs of Hyderabad, and it attracts millions of tourists every year to see its gorgeous gardens, visit its spas, shop, and even see movies in production. For millions of Indians, this is one of the top destinations in the country.
The largest Hindu temple in the city, dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara, Birla Mandir is made entirely of white marble and towers over the city. It is open to all Hindus, including untouchables. It also provides one of the best views of the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.