Welcome to Hyderabad!
Located on the banks of the Musi River and the Deccan Plateau, Hyderabad, India, is a city with over 400-years of history behind it. Hyderabad and the nearby city of Secunderabad are twins cities that grew in tandem until they eventually merged together as one megacity.
Hyderabad was once the city of the opulent ruler Nazim when it was one of the richest and most lavish princely states in India. Modern times have, in a sense, taken over the city, and now, tourists arriving in Hyderabad Airport find high-tech businesses set among skyscrapers, shopping malls, large glass, and steel buildings.
Although Hyderabad is now a tech city, remnants of its old history can still be found around town, you just have to know where to look. A worldwide local knows that sometimes you need to scratch the surface a bit to get to the good stuff, and this insider’s guide is just what you need to do it!
Worldwide Local Tip: For a long time, the local culture has had Islamic influence and conservative culture. However, in modern times, because of the recent tech boom, the city has seen an influx of younger men and women looking for work. Visitors should keep in mind that some areas of town, like the old city, are more conservative than others, make sure to always dress and act appropriately. Keep this in mind, too, when you’re deciding where to stay from the hotels in Hyderabad.
Start in the Old City
Getting around Hyderabad, you’ll notice that it is split into zones, of North, South, East, West, and Central. Of course, as a worldwide local, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the culture and history, so your first stop should be in the Old City, which is located in the South Zone. It should be easy to navigate here, with the convenience of the Hyderabad metro. The Old City is full of iconic landmarks and marvelous architecture from Hyderabad’s Islamic age. The Charminar is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks and also one of its most important, as it was built by the founder of Hyderabad. The Charminar was one of Hyderabad’s first structures, built in the 16th century, and is one of the largest Mosques in India.
Worldwide Local Tip: Tour groups that go to the Charminar are offered but if you’re more the type to want to do things on your own then you can always check it out regardless. Visitors can climb to the first level of the tower and get one of the best views of the city. It costs 200 rupees for access (about $3 USD)
Eat Like a Local in Hyderabad
A worldwide local knows that to get properly acquainted with a city you have to taste it. Hyderabad Biryani is reputed to be some of the best in the world and for good reason! When you’ve been making the dish for over 400 years, you get pretty good at it. Allegedly, it was the Nazim’s favorite and now restaurants all over the city offer this fragrant and delicious dish. Biryani is made with long grain basmati rice, served alongside marinated meat soaked overnight in a concoction of spices and steamed over hot coals. Some of the best in the city are served in the Hotel Shadab but make sure to ask the locals where they like to get theirs for the most authentic experience.
Worldwide Local Tip: There are a lot of food tours being offered in the city, so if you’re spending a lot of time in Hyderabad consider going on a food tour to find some favorite spots that you can return to at a later time. It’s a great experience to walk the city, enjoying the Hyderabad weather and discovering delicious new tastes.
Shopping in Hyderabad
If you’re looking to pick something up for yourself, or perhaps for some friends back home, then definitely head to one of the city’s many bazaars. Perhaps one of the more popular ones is the Laad Bazaar. Operating since the time of the Nazim, this bazaar is also known as the “bangle bazaar,” but don’t let the name fool you, they sell everything from perfume and jewelry to textiles, trinkets, and antiques.
Worldwide Local Tip: Like many other bazaars found around the world, haggling is the name of the game here. Brush up on your negotiating skills and always try to haggle for a better price. Not only will you often get a better price, but the act of doing it is expected and respected.
Have a Fantastic Time in Hyderabad, India!
Hyderabad has seen kings, conquerors, the British, and now Microsoft and Google. Although the city is now a high-tech hub of India, the encroaching modernity has only made the city different on the surface. The buildings and monuments of old still stand, the food is still traditional, and the way of life still carries on. A worldwide local knows that if you have to search a little bit, you’ll find the good stuff--and Hyderabad is full of it.