Hyderabad, the capital city of the newly formed state of Telengana in India is aptly known as the ‘City of Nawabs’. 24 hours is a mere nothing to explore the luxurious footprints that the Nawabs have left. But, as the world is getting more and more developed, the schedules are becoming busier. In the rat race of climbing up that professional ladder, often people are just left with 24-hours ‘free’. If you find yourself in Hyderabad with ‘free’ 24 hours and an urge to know the city better, then read up the following list! Please note Hyderabad has been subjected to terrorism many times so security is very strict. Almost none of the monuments in Hyderabad allow bags to be carried in.
Experience Holiness at Mecca Masjid – The Mecca Masjid is almost adjacent to the Charminar (no. 2 on the list). The bricks used in the construction of this mosque were made of soil brought from Mecca. The mosque was built under the patronage of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of Hyderabad. Outsiders are not allowed inside the mosque itself but they are allowed in the beautiful courtyard. The presence of the clean water pond in the courtyard makes the place very photogenic. None of the monuments or markets or food joints in Hyderabad open before 9 A.M but this mosque opens at around 4 A.M. Reach at 8.30 AM to best use the day. And remember to dress conservatively. Women must wear a dupatta or hijab inside the premises. Reserve half hour for this site in your itinerary. Cameras are allowed.
Charming Charminar – The global icon of Hyderabad opens at 9 AM. The way this old yet beautiful monument stands right in the middle of a chaotic crossroad will blow your mind. The four minarets are connected with each other through arched and domed balconies. Each balcony overlooks a broad street and has one gigantic clock. A very narrow, dark and winding staircase brings you to the first floor of the monument. According to history, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah built this monument as a mark of gratitude to God for ending a tormenting plague in the city. Reserve an hour for this site. The entrance fee is INR 15.
Breakfast at Nimrah – Nimrah is an old food joint by the side of Charminar. The eatery is often cluttered with locals and it is an excellent place to observe typical Hyderabadi life. Nimrah is famous for its ‘irani tea’ and ‘osmania biscuits’. But we found the ‘kopra biscuits’ to be the best. We also enjoyed having ‘dilkhush’- bread stuffed with sweet fillings of coconut.
Feel like a royal at Chowmahalla Palace – Turn on Google maps and head next to Chowmahalla Palace. It will take around 20 minutes on foot. Once upon a time Chomahalla Palace used to be the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad. Nowadays, it is a museum-cum-banquet hall where parties can be hosted. The northern courtyard houses the building of Bara Imam with a mirror image on the opposite side. In between is a beautiful pool with fountains. Four palaces, namely Aftab Mahal, Afzal Mahal, Mehtab Mahal and Tahniyat Mahal surround the southern courtyard. It also has a pond with ducks waddling in the water and a vintage car gallery. The Khilwat Mubarak is the most important building. It used to be the royal seat of the ruler. The grand carpeted marble hall has 19 sparkling chandeliers and galleries on its upper floor. The entire palace tour including photo breaks will take around two and a half hours. The entrance and camera fee are both INR 50 each.
Walk through the colourful Laad Bazaar and Patthargatti – The heart of a city lies in its markets. In the old city of Hyderabad, the surroundings of Charminar are a maze of alleys. The streets of Laad Bazaar and Patthargatti come to life from 11 AM onwards. The endless clinking of the bangles and the soul stirring smell of ‘attar’ are the two noteworthy features of the market. Of course the famous pearls of Hyderabad are also sold here. Be sure to check their genuineness before buying from roadside sellers though. From something as ordinary as hairclips to something as intricate as a designer carpet, this market is a heaven for shoppers. We assume this is the best place for bridal shopping in Hyderabad with traditional dresses and jewelleries galore. Good News: this market is very pocket friendly!
Fill your tummy at Shadaab Hotel – After roaming in the labyrinth of little streets, Shadaab Hotel is the restaurant where you should head to, to taste the authentic Hyderabadi Biryani. It is easily navigable and a walking distance from Laad Bazaar and Pathhargatti. The documentaries we watched in Discovery channel and the articles we read in Lonely Planet all pointed us to Shadaab. Please be prepared to wait for a table and in some cases you may need to share the table with strangers. It is not a place where you go for ambiance and fancy lunch but it is a place you go to satiate the foodie in you. Get a kebab, mutton biryani and have the khubani-ka-sweet for dessert.
Enjoy sunset at Hussain Sagar Lake – Hire a taxi from Shadaab to reach here. It is a man-made lake built under the regime of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah. It is also the most scenic part of Hyderabad. The promenade around this huge lake in a busy city is surprisingly peaceful. Many parks are situated along the lake. On an island in the middle of the lake reigns a huge monolithic statue of Lord Budhha. Ferry service to the statue operates from Lumbini Park and Eat Street starting from Rs. 35 and going up to more than 200.
The other places of interest in and around Hyderabad include the Salar Jung Museum, Golconda Fort and the Ramoji Film City, but all these destinations are either far away from the city centre or deserves at least a half day tour.
When you have only 24 hours in the city, plan it intelligently!
Have you been to Hyderabad? Do you have anything to add to the list? Would you like to know more about the city? Comment below and let me know!
Love Traveling? Sign up for the free newsletter here to read our travel tales and inspirational tips!