BANGALORE: Caught between the future and the past, Hyderabad is a curious mix of old and new. Areas like Madhavpura and Durgam Cheruvu have given way to new age names like Hitech City and Secret Lake with the onslaught of the IT sector on the city but as old timers will tell you, the soul of the city is still alive just that its moved to other places.
Known as the ‘City of Pearls’, Hyderabad in the past few decades has gained international repute as the Biryani Capital of the country. This is perhaps of the pervasiveness of the delicacy in Hyderabad with every nook and cranny playing host to a biryani hotel.
However Hyderabadi cuisine is much more than Biryani, there is the popular but lesser known ‘Shawarma’ which is minced chicken served in a bread roll and Tandoori Rotis double the size of a normal plate. However one has to search a little bit for these as the only dish that will be offered and advertised to tourists is the biryani.
So a curious tourist would inquire for a few places that offer anything besides Biryani and would end up in the age old Charminar area which has the most amazing parathas and naans to offer. Charminar gets its name from the famous monument in its midst which consists of a structure with four minarets and was constructed to mark the end of plague in Hyderabad by Mohammed Quli Qutab Shah in 1591.
If you can brave the claustrophobic feeling of climbing on the inside of a narrow tower to the top of Charminar, you will be gifted with a birds eye view of the city.
There is more to the place than the monument and the food however as Charminar is packed with Pearl Shops which help in giving the city its name of “City of Pearls”. A throwback to the time of the Nizams in the city who encouraged craftsmen from far and wide to come and work in Hyd, some of the shops in Charminar have kept those ancient designs alive even today.
Another popular place in the city for history buffs is the Salar Jung Museum. Established in 1951, the museum has been declared an ‘Institution of national importance’ by the Indian Government and features a massive amalgamation of cultures ranging from Greek, Roman, Hindu, Christian and Islamic.
The gallery dedicates exclusive space to memories of the Salar Jung Family who acquired and maintained the museum until it was taken over by the government.
If you are a fan of movies, Ramoji Film City located on the outskirts of the city offers a surreal insight into the functioning of the industry. Spread over idyllic 2,500 acres and studded with hills, woods, lakes and striking architectural triumphs, Ramoji Film City offers close to 50 studio floors and 500 film locations.
It would need at least an entire day to explore and offers train rides, boating, film screenings and hundreds of photo.
Hyderabad is all about finding out the way to places to enjoy. It is important not to fall for the regular tourist circuit which though
interesting does not have much to offer for the fun seekers. From tiny cafes tucked away in the calm locales of Jubilee Hills to creaky buildings housing 100 year old restaurants offering amazing biryani in Punjagutta which stay open all night, a tourist with a sharp eye can enjoy all these out of the way places which offer an insight into a city which is divided between two cultures but still manages to attract people from all over the country.
IN A NUTSHELL
Hot for most part of the year, no warm clothes required unless travelling at height of winter.
■ Off Beat Restaurants Bahar Biryani and Secret Lake in Hitech City.
■ Local Travel
Bus system is overcrowded. Autos are the best option.
■ Must see
Charminar, Hitech City, Gachibowli Stadium, ABIDS, Banjara Hills.
Restricted to 12:00 am for most nightclubs, wineshops close earlier.