Golconda Fort

How to explore Hyderabad wisely?

‘Everything has its own time’ – Be it a normal life with scheduled stuff everywhere, nature’s phenomenon of variation in a day, the process of eating desserts after the main course and even travelling, What? Ever wondered? ‘That hill looks amazing in the morning..’, ‘Street food will spice up your evening…’, ‘Be there by 8 in the evening for the light show..’, ‘Spend a night around a beach with bonfires and all…’ and many such one-liners which we all have definitely heard, which justifies the role of time in journey.

Here presenting the lessons about how to optimise your trip to get the most of it and of course, at the right time. The blog is divided into four simple sections, morning, afternoon, evening and night.

Morning
1. In Hyderabad mornings should start with breakfast at a bandi(a local slang for thela), which is the most popular source of yummy and filling idli and dosa.

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I was looking for Laksham ki bandi on the streets of Begum Bazaar, asking every other person for the location of this idli wala thela and the last person I asked, replied, “take left from here and you will find this bandi, called Lakshman Ki Bandi”, finally got what I was looking for.

At Lakshman’s Idlis and dosas are freshly prepared by the enthusiastic bunch of people. Policewala, Familywala, Bachelors, all sorts of people were right up there. It opens up at 6:30 am and closes at around 4 pm.

2. Next comes the great Indian chai served in small cups at LB Nagar bus stand. Ravi, the chai stall owner is super energetic, he had a separate utensil, in which tea leaves were boiled then mixed with milk and served in small china cups.

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I stood there for 15 minutes, for three reasons, the aroma of tea, the crowd and the way the chai was getting prepared, Awesome.

Right next to this is a dosa corner where you can try Pesarattu Upma(it looks like dosa but with a different dough and upma inside it), which is a traditional dish of Andhra.

3. After eating, you can head to Golconda fort, which is roughly 11 kilometres from Begum Bazaar, you can go to Mehdipatnam first and then take a bus from there to the fort. The entry ticket is merely Rs 5 and they charge Rs 25 for videography. Rule Number one, click a photo of the fort map or the list of places inside the fort (usually on a board). This will act as a checklist on the journey.

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The journey is more like climbing a mountain(using a staircase, don’t worry), as you go up, the Panoramic view of the city will keep on astonishing you, especially from Baradari(Darbar Hall), just stand here for few minutes and feel the view along with fresh air. There was a small temple of Mahankali and mosque of Ibrahim in the fort complex. Right next to the Rani Mahal, where sound and light show takes place, is a hall where you can get the echoed sound within the wall, give it a try. You can easily spend 2 hours in the fort just exploring the huge number of halls, forts, stone arch and gardens.

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4. Hardly a Kilometre from here is the Qutab Shahi Tomb, which is not a tomb but a combination of Mosques. Here the thing that you must see is the first Mosque, there is a tunnel from here which directly goes to Charminar, a small gallery which has some demonstration of some archaeological surveys and the best thing is the pictures that you see of Scanning the fort using 3D Laser Scanning, in order to identify the section which has defects. Now this is an amazing technology for maintenance and recovery of our historical monuments. Aga Khan Trust for Culture has taken up this project. There are several other mosques here, good for photography purpose.

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Afternoon
1. You should reach Salarjung 15 minutes before noon to see the toy which comes out of the clock every hour and this would be the highest number of times it will come out. The crowd gathers every hour in the hall with cameras and phones all set to capture the cartoon. Bags are not allowed inside, keep it in the locker rooms and the ticket is just Rs 10 and the camera fee is Rs 30.

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It was one of craziest moment! Aah, the wait for the toy is amazing and happiness on everyone’s face as the clock strikes is incredible.

If you love antiques, history and paintings, you can easily spend 3 hours in the museum. The museum is not about Salar Jung’s dynasty but is a great depiction of his love for art, as it has an eastern, western, Chinese and Japanese gallery too with several other types like walking stick gallery, steel gallery, dishes gallery, toy gallery, paintings gallery and statues gallery. For more, visit Get amuse at the museum(pic).

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2.You can eat lunch in Bawarchi Restaurant at RTC cross roads, famous for its Boti Kebab, fish rolls and Biryani or Pista House, serving world’s best Haleem (it’s heavy and just melts in the mouth, lemon is highly recommended with this), it is located in Namplally, Charminar and Tolichowki. Double ka Meetha is a famous sweet dish made out of bread and milk, which is made in bulk every morning.

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3. Since monuments usually closes at 5:30 pm, you should hurry up to Chowmahalla Palace, which is a small Palace with beautiful gardens, fountains, lots of vintage cars and one of the best chandeliers that you may have ever seen. The crockery museum should not be missed. The ticket is worth Rs 50 and travel time would be 30 minutes.This is like 5 minutes away from Charminar.

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Evening
1. The evening is the perfect time to visit Charminar because Charminar and the surrounding area is most crowded at this time of the day and seeing so many people from the top of Charminar holds its own charm. Visit anytime before 5:30 pm and do take a round, when you go up, on one side you can see Mecca masjid and another side a big stretch of the market. They even light up( though not so often) Charminar. Photography enthusiasts can wait for that.

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2. Next you can go to Mecca Masjid and relax there for a while like all the people there, you will be accompanied by lots of pigeons there.

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3. By now if you are tired or maybe not, just get a kick by grabbing a cup of tea(in cup and saucer) with some Osmania Biscuit, the signature evening nashta(snacks) of Hyderabad at Nimrah cafe and Bakery, located right next to the masjid. They have many other options to eat and anyways, it does look like an evening chit-chat point.

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4. You can explore the Charminar market, popular items in the market are pearl jewellery, bangles, perfumes and Jutiyans. The best part which every tourist may experience is that an auto guy or a random person may come up to you to sell you the best pearl in the town. One more unique thing was the chocolate biscuit thela, looks like Perk is spread all across the thela. This is a highly crowded area, take care of your belongings.

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5. Looking for some more local street action, head towards Koti or Abids market, which is the shopping hub of Hyderabad. Countless second-hand book shops, lots and lots of automobile parts shops and many other famous shops will definitely keep the non-shopaholics engaged. Since you have come to Koti, do visit Gokul Chaat, a small chat shop with a security check and an all-time crowded place. Samosa Chaat, Kachori Chaat, Dahi Papdi and many other chaat options. The taste is too good, not too sour or too sweet, just perfect.

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Night
There is a unique thing about every cityโ€™s night-life. And if you are at a place for a short span of time, then you’ve really less time to soak the charm of the city, so plan wisely!

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1. Reach the Lumbini Park by 7:30 because there’re a laser and fountain show waiting for you. The show had a beautiful depiction of art with fountains on beats of some very good music. They even pay tribute to our nation and even their lovely city, Hyderabad. The show will keep you engaged until the end and you will walk with pride after watching the show. The show and park have the separate ticket. Show costs Rs 40 and park Rs 10.*

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2. Excited about the necklace road? Want to see a big Buddha’s statue right in the middle of Hussain Sagar Lake? Want to ride in a ferry with party music on? Aaand, you are just a boat ticket away to enjoy all this. You can see the circumference of the Hussain Sagar, beautiful color changing lights on the Buddha statue and feel the pure air around. Two options of the boats are available, Rs 50(Normal Ferry) and Rs 100(party cruise yeah). It winds up by 9:30 PM.

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3. Very close by Lumbini Park is the Paradise Food Court in Secunderabad. You won’t believe how big and established this brand is. They have a big restaurant lounge and also an open-air section, with a highly well-trained man force to guide and suggest you the dish to order. Chicken Biryani is their speciality and many great people like Sachin Tendulkar, SRK, Rajnikanth have visited this place, all their pictures are lined up on the walls of Paradise. This used to be a small cafe earlier, then a theatre and now as you know the Best Biryani joint. This is the oldest and the main outlet in Hyderabad.

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4. Birla Mandir is a place which should be visited during the night because of the beautifully light up temples and view of the entire city. During weekends, it is very crowded, so be patient, at least for the view that will be seen after you reach the templeโ€™s last point. They have a small Sai Mandir inside too. Photography is not allowed in Birla Mandir, keep your Camera in the cloak room.

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Do check out the Legislative Assembly which is right in front of the entrance of Birla Mandir, the multi-colored lights will keep you spellbound(again, the beauty of night!). It’s like 5 kilometres from the Hyderabad’s posh area, Banjara Hills (a clue to party).

5. Hotel Shadab is a legendary restaurant in Hyderabad, famous for its Biryani and Paya with Shirmal. Paya is available after 5 PM, so the appropriate time to visit is definitely after that. Do try the Qubaani Ka meetha here, which is a dessert made from dried apricots, sort of Muraba. They have a different section for families and you always have to wait for at least 20 minutes, even at 4pm(guess, people shift their lunch time to eat at Shadab).

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6. Bilal ki ice cream can be the cherry on top for your night, it is a big ice cream parlour serving some delicious natural fruit ice creams, try their triplet of Sitaphal, Chickoo and Mango Ice cream, it is less sweet, low calorie and just melts in the mouth. This chain is running since ages and is easy to locate in Nampally, right on the red light, opposite to Karachi bakery.

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There’s a tradition in Hyderabad to carry a pack of Karachi Fruit Biscuit for your kin and kiths. Do follow this. There are many outlets of Karachi Bakery in the entire city, there is one even at the airport.

I hope all the lessons are learnt and you will agree that time plays an important role in travelling. And the most obvious tip of all, start your day early when you are travelling, it helps in covering more places. Hence, More places, More Food, Less Time and More Fun! That’s what we always look for in our journey to any diversified city.

Lessons: On my trip to Hyderabad, I realised the significance of time in our trips (Credits to my poor management on day 1 of the trip). And big thanks to my friend, Sathvik, for providing shelter and trip ideas, suggesting the great places to eat and getting me started every morning.

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