HYDERABAD: In 1912 when Sarojini Naidu gave a glimpse about what Hyderabad looks like to the world through her poem, “In the Bazars of Hyderabad”, the poem was called an oriental gem. Over the century, the ‘raunak’ of the city toned down and tinkering gold “bells for the feet of blue pigeons” failed to hold the attention of the denizens.
The nawabi city’s fragrance and colour, its romantic twilights, its mystic and magic has finally, albeit belatedly, come to the forefront, after being listed as one of the best tourist destinations in the world by a leading international publication.
Though the revelation left many amused, some wide-eyed in disbelief – several others like the renowned theatre artiste Vijay Marur, are disappointed that the city was ranked second. “I have always believed that it is the best city in the world. And this is after a lot of personal experience in many parts of the world and a lot of reports from places I haven’t been,” says the director and CEO of Heartworks. Vijay adds that the quality of life enjoyed, the culture, the warmth and happiness that the city offers is incomparable.
Highlighting further on what worked for the laid-back city to make it to the list of one of the most coveted holiday destinations, Vanishree Srinivas, an entrepreneur who shuttles between Bangalore and Hyderabad on business, feels that the city has effectively retained its historical essence while embracing modernisation.
“It’s the old Hyderabad charm coupled with its new city’s modernisation that makes it different from the other places. Its delectable cuisine, historical monuments, shopper’s paradise from high-end boutiques in Banjara Hills to traditional hand embroidery done at Charminar, its world famous pearls – all give it a unique distinction,” Vanishree explains.
Hyderabadis who have travelled all over the world also agree that the city has plenty to offer. For artist Ramakanth Thumrugoti Hyderabad while being quaint offers plenty of amusement. “The city is cheaper compared to many cities of advanced countries. It also represents the religious and cultural diversity of a vast country like India,” the painter opines. Echoing Ramakanth on how city has retained the cultural diversity, Nayantara Nandakumar, founder of Our Scared Space in the city says the recognition for the city is certainly encouraging and will hopefully stall the destruction of future religious relics. “Such recognition is very heartening and I am hopeful it will help in the preservation and protection of the heritage,” she says.
Meanwhile, the new status for the city has piqued the interest of its residents as well. Nasiruddin Hussain, a techie with an IT major who made Hyderabad home almost a decade ago says, “I still haven’t visited the Golconda Fort even though it is just few kilometre from Madhapur, the place where I reside. I am thinking I need to explore the city some more.”
Hyderabad is not better than Switzerland
Though the list places Hyderabad over Switzerland and Washington DC and gives the world an assured and guaranteed reason to visit the city, for some the idea is preposterous. For instance, Jayesh Ranjan, managing director of Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) and former Tourism secretary of the state, says while Hyderabad making to the list is an achievement in itself, it is a misconception that Hyderabad is better than London, only because the city doesn’t feature on the list.
“All cities mentioned in the list are recommendations and places that were mentioned last year, will not find place this year, that does not mean that Hyderabad is better than all those places,” he clarifies.
While the MD agrees that finding mention in the list will boost the number of foreign tourists in the city, it also means that all stakeholders will have to work to make Hyderabad up to the international mark.
“With the city being the MICE capital of the country where a number of international seminars are conducted and also houses IT giants, we do have quality infrastructural and amusement in place for them,” he says.