City Guide: All About Hyderabad, The City Of Nawabs

Established in the 16th century, Hyderabad is situated along the banks of the Musi River and is surrounded by ancient rock formations
Charminar, Hyderabad
Charminar, HyderabadPrudhvichowdary / Shutterstock

Telangana's capital, Hyderabad, is known for its history, diverse cuisine, and many experiences. The Old City area is known for its heritage sites, while the contemporary part caters to a cosmopolitan population. The Charminar, a four-sided archway, stands at the city's heart and is surrounded by a bustling bazaar.

Situated on the Deccan Plateau, Hyderabad offers heritage charm influenced by the Nizam rulers. The city is famous for its Hyderabadi biryani, Irani chai and mirchi-ka-saalan.


Falaknuma Palace
Falaknuma PalaceShutterstock

Situated along the banks of the Musi River, the city is surrounded by large, ancient rock formations. Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah established it in the 16th century. Later, the Mughals invaded in 1685, followed by British involvement. In 1724, the Mughal viceroy in the Deccan, Asaf Jah Nizam al-Mulk, declared independence, leading to the formation of the princely state of Hyderabad, with Hyderabad as its capital. In 1950, the princely state of Hyderabad became part of the Indian Republic. Today, Hyderabad is a thriving hub for trade, commerce, and technology.



Hyderabad's Charminar is a significant architectural structure built in 1591 by Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah, marking the founding of Hyderabad. It is a four-sided archway with minarets on each corner, and each side faces a cardinal direction. The monument's square structure measures about 20 meters per side, with each minaret rising to a height of 24 meters and housing 149 circular steps. It is constructed in the Indo-Saracenic style using granite and lime mortar. 

Salar Jung Museum
Salar Jung MuseumCreativesam / Shutterstock

Salar Jung Museum

The Salar Jung Museum is renowned for its vast collection of artefacts assembled by Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, known as Salar Jung III. The museum features items from ancient civilizations and modern periods, from the 2nd century BC to the early 20th century AD, representing diverse cultures, including Greek, Roman, Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Christian, and Islamic. It holds 43,000 art objects, 50,000 manuscripts, and books. 

Qutub Shahi Tombs

The Qutub Shahi tombs in Hyderabad consist of 21 granite domed structures that blend Indian and Persian architectural styles. They feature colonnades and lime stucco work and also include mosques. The tombs are set in landscaped gardens and are unique as they are the burial place of an entire dynasty, with seven of the eight Qutb Shahi rulers buried here. 

Chowmahalla Palace
Chowmahalla Palace Shutterstock

Chowmahalla Palace

This palace was the centre of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and a place for Nizams to host official guests. Constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries, it's designed to resemble the Shah's Palace in Tehran, Iran. The palace showcases various architectural influences and has two courtyards with gardens and impressive buildings. 

Golconda Fort
Golconda FortShutterstock

Golconda Fort

Located around 11 km from Hyderabad, the Golconda Fort is a prominent 16th-century stronghold that served as the capital of the Golconda kingdom. It was strategically designed to be impregnable and retains its former grandeur with robust ramparts and fortifications. Positioned on a 120-meter-high hill, it offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and the bustling city. The fort has witnessed changes in dynastic rule, and it houses historic palaces and the famous Fateh Rahbar Gun, a reminder of a Mughal emperor's siege. 

Falaknuma Palace

Located on a 2,000-ft hillock, Falaknuma Palace is known for its grandeur. It features Venetian chandeliers, antique furniture, an Italian marble staircase, marble fountains, statues, manuscripts, and a unique Quran collection. Situated about 5 km from Old Hyderabad, it was the residence of the sixth Nizam, Mehboob Ali Pasha. Designed by a European architect, it was constructed in the 1880s but fell into disuse after the Nizam died in 1911. After nearly a century of neglect, it was renovated by an Indian luxury hotel company and is now a heritage hotel. 

Mosque at Paigah Tombs
Mosque at Paigah TombsShutterstock

Paigah Tombs

Near Charminar in Hyderabad, the Paigah Tombs are a well-known tourist attraction. The Paigahs were high-ranking nobles in the princely state of Hyderabad who were allowed to have a private army due to their marital ties with the Nizams. This tomb complex spans 30-40 acres and contains 27 marble tombs with intricate carvings.

The tombs are known for their unique play of light during dawn and dusk, thanks to lattice-worked walls. They date back to the late 18th century and represent Indo-Saracenic architecture. 

Mecca Masjid

Mecca Masjid is one of the world's largest mosques, designed to accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers. Construction started in 1614 under Sultan Quli Qutub Shah and was completed by Aurangzeb in 1693. Situated to the southwest of Charminar, the mosque is constructed from local granite and has dimensions of 225 ft length, 180 ft width, and 75 ft height.


What To Eat

Hyderabadi Biryani
Hyderabadi BiryaniShutterstock
  1. Osmania Biscuits are soft tea biscuits that go well with Irani chai. Legend has it that they were named after Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad, who loved the biscuits from a restaurant in Abids.

  2. Qubani Ka Meetha is a Hyderabadi dessert made from dried apricots, cream, and rose water. It's popular at weddings and in the royal kitchens.

  3. Sheer Korma is a special Hyderabadi dessert with vermicelli, ghee, sweetened milk, dates, and dry fruits. It's commonly enjoyed during Eid-ul-Fitr.

  4. Hyderabadi Biryani is a signature dish made with rice, meat, and spices. There are two types: kachhi biryani, where meat and rice cook together, and pakki biryani, where meat is cooked separately and layered with rice. Both are prepared using the dum cooking method with subtle spicing.

  5. Firni is a dessert made from broken rice, dry fruits, and sweetened milk. It's typically consumed during Ramadan and other special occasions, resembling a sweet rice and milk pudding.

Where To Eat

Osmania Biscuits
Osmania BiscuitsShutterstock
  1. Paradise Food Court, established in 1953, is renowned for its authentic Hyderabadi biryani, especially the mutton Hyderabadi dum biryani and supreme biryani. 

  2. Cafe Niloufer offers authentic Hyderabadi breakfast with creamy bun malai and chai, and they've been serving the same tea flavour since 1978, preparing their tea powder. 

  3. Hameedi Confectioners, established 125 years ago, is a beloved sweet shop famous for its Jouzi Halwa and various other Hyderabadi sweets, embodying rich culture and culinary excellence. 

  4. Taj Mahal Hotel at Abids is an iconic restaurant in Hyderabad known for its simple and delicious South Indian cuisine, featuring homemade masalas and traditional items like palak paneer dosa, button vada, masala dosa, thali, and filtered coffee.


For representational purposes
For representational purposesShutterstock

Bidriware is a traditional craft from Bidar, near Hyderabad, involving intricate silver or silver sheet inlay work on zinc and copper. This art is believed to have originated during the Bahmani sultans' rule in the 14th and 15th centuries, showcasing influences from Persian, Arabic, and Turkish designs. Visitors can find Bidri items in Hyderabad's arts and crafts shops and participate in heritage tours to witness artisans at work. The art's arrival in India is attributed to the followers of Khwaja Muinuddin Chisty in the 12th century.

Pochampally Sarees can be found in Hyderabad's markets, particularly at Laad Bazaar near Charminar, offering lacquered bangles, sarees, Kalamkari paintings, semi-precious jewellery, silverware, brocade fabrics, and more. Hyderabad is also known for its pearl shops, a speciality known as the "Pearl city," with pearl trading rooted in the Nizams' fondness for imported pearls. Pearl shopping areas include Laad Bazaar and Char Kaman near Charminar.

Making of Pochampally
Making of Pochampallycorona_view/Shutterstock

Malkha is a handwoven cotton fabric dyed with natural dyes for sarees, tablecloths, dupattas, and bedspreads. It represents a revival of traditional handloom practices, countering the environmental impact of industrial cotton production. The process emphasises smaller local units, preserving ancient skills and providing economic benefits to farmers, weavers, and spinners.


Laad Bazaar, Hyderabad
Laad Bazaar, HyderabadSnehal Jeevan Pailkar / Shutterstock

Laad Bazaar near Charminar is famous for its lacquered bangle shops and also offers sarees, wedding items, Kalamkari paintings, semi-precious stone jewellery, silverware, Bidriware, and more. The market is known for pearl trading, even though Hyderabad is not a coastal city due to the Nizams' preference for imported pearls.

The Perfume Market near Charminar specialises in traditional attar, offering fragrances like rose, sandalwood, and musk without alcohol or chemicals. Visitors can buy directly from generations-old producers and attend workshops to witness the crafting process.

Jummerat Bazaar, one of Hyderabad's oldest shopping streets, features old furniture, home decor items, cricket gear, and junk jewellery at affordable prices. Located near Begum Bazaar, it provides a street shopping experience.

Shahran Market, known for ladies' clothing, particularly burqas, also offers salwar suits and women's wear. The market includes a manufacturing unit for export-quality burqas.

Abids Street is a diverse market offering everything from electronics to handicrafts, and it is famous for traditional Indian sarees. 

Begum Bazaar, while vast, offers budget-friendly prices on items like Bidriwork, metalware, and bidri-studded jewellery.


Buddha statue, Hussain Sagar Lake, Hyderabad
Buddha statue, Hussain Sagar Lake, HyderabadShutterstock

Hussain Sagar Lake is a large, heart-shaped man-made lake between Hyderabad and Secunderabad, offering various water sports like parasailing, kayaking, boating, and luxury cruises. It hosts an annual boat race and provides sailing courses through the Yacht Club of India. Visitors can also enjoy boat rides on the lake.

Ethipothala Waterfall, situated 18 km from Nagarjuna Sagar, is known for its natural beauty as it cascades 22 m to meet the Krishna River. Three streams, Nakka Vagu, Tummala Vagu, and Chandravanka Vagu, merge to create this picturesque waterfall. The area also houses a crocodile breeding centre and two temples, Ranganatha and Dattatreya.

Lumbini Park, located on the banks of Hussain Sagar Lake, offers various family-friendly attractions, including boating, play areas for children, eateries, a floral clock, and two musical fountain shows. Developed by the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority in 1994, the park is named after the birthplace of Lord Buddha and is close to a famous Buddha statue.


 Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad
Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabadsaisnaps / Shutterstock

In the realm of luxury accommodation in Hyderabad, the Taj Falaknuma Palace stands as a former Nizam palace offering a regal experience, while The Park Hyderabad, situated in the city centre, provides modern luxury with premium amenities and a vibrant nightlife. ITC Kakatiya, a part of the ITC luxury chain, offers a luxurious stay with top-notch facilities. On the budget side, options include Hotel Geetanjali near the railway station, Hotel Megha City in Abids, OYO Rooms with various affordable accommodations, and the homely Rainbow Cottage near Golconda Fort. In the upscale category, the Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre focuses on sustainability, and Treebo Hotels emphasises eco-friendly and responsible tourism practices.

Getting There

If you're travelling by air, Rajiv Gandhi International Airport serves as a major gateway to the city, offering both domestic and international flights. You can also opt for the Indian Railways, with Hyderabad having multiple railway stations like Secunderabad and Hyderabad Deccan (Nampally), making it well-connected to many parts of the country. For those preferring road travel, a network of well-maintained national and state highways links Hyderabad to neighbouring cities and states.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Traveller