Hyderabad - the territory of the richest man in the world, the Nizam, is also rich in history, arts, architecture and culture. Like the Kohinoor diamond which was mined here, the city is multi-faceted and a shining example of valued traditions. More than 400 years of history is preserved and exists along with the ultra modern infrastructure. Known as the City of Pearls, it is now globally famous as an IT hub. Enigmatic, vibrant and alluring, Hyderabad has a mystic charm attached to the various historic monuments, mosques, minarets and museums which abound here.
Founded in 1591, the history of Hyderabad is rooted in romance. Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah of the Qutub Shahi dynasty fell in love with Bhagyamati, a Banjara (tribal) girl and married her. Initially the city was called Bhagyanagar, but after her conversion to Islam she became Hyder Mahal, hence the present name Hyderabad.
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One of the major historical sites worth visiting is the Charminar, situated in the heart of the city. It is an important landmark in Hyderabad. Hyderabad is famous for pearls which are sold in shops around the Charminar. It is said to be built as a charm to ward off a deadly epidemic raging at that time. Four graceful minarets soar to a height of 48.7 m above the ground. Charminar has 45 prayer spaces and a mosque in it. Visitors can view the architectural splendor inside the Charminar. The monument is illuminated in the evenings and a pedestrianisation project around the monument is under implementation.
Hyderabad Botanical Gardens
Hyderabad Botanical Gardens is the first Botanical Garden in Andhra Pradesh that is coming up in stages in Kotaguda Reserve Forest near the Hi-tech city, Madhapur. Lumbini Park situated near the Hussain Sagar is also popularly known as Tank Bund. The Public Gardens are one of the largest gardens in the city. One of the most recent and glamorous attractions of Hyderabad, NTR gardens spread over 34 acres is absolutely unique with large-scale use of fiberglass in the form of insects and fruits. Sanjeevaiah Park is a major recreation center located next to Hussain Sagar at the end of Necklace Road, in Hyderabad. Indira Park is a recreation park for children, situated near lower Tank Bund which offers boat rides. Snow World is the World's Biggest and India's 1st Snow Theme Park behind Indira Park on Lower Tank Bund Road. Artificially produced snow using state of the art technology is an added attraction.
The Venkateswara Temple in Hyderabad, popularly known as Birla Mandir is a magnificent structure which is built entirely of marble brought from Rajasthan. The presiding deity in this temple is Lord Venkateswara. The temple was built by Birla Foundation and it took ten years for the workers to complete this magnificent structure.
The architecture of the temple bears resemblance with the temples of Southern and Northern India. The intricately carved gopurams (tower) at the base are in typical South Indian style, while the smooth sikhara (dome) at the top is in the North Indian Rajasthani style. The temple has beautiful marble carvings and some of them illustrate verses from the Ramayana. The tower of the main temple called the Jagadananda Vimanam has a close resemblance to the architecture of the Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneswar.
At night the temple is illuminated with lights of various colors which offer a spectacular view of the surrounding.
Another tourist attraction here is the Golconda Fort, a 16th century fortress situated on the western outskirts of the city of Hyderabad. Known for its collection of diamonds, it is said that the famous Kohinoor originally belonged to Golconda. Golconda was originally a mud fort which was passed on to the Bahmani dynasty and later to the Qutb Shahis, who held it from 1518 to 1687 A.D. The first three Qutb Shahi kings rebuilt Golconda over a span of 62 years. The fort is famous for its acoustics, palaces, ingenious water supply system and the famous Fateh Rahben gun, one of the cannons used in the last siege of Golconda by Aurangzeb to whom the fort ultimately fell.
Hussain Sagar Lake
One of the largest manmade lakes is situated at Hyderabad. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it connects the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. A famous monolith of Lord Buddha is installed at the center of the lake. Hussain Sagar Lake is popularly known as the Tank Bund, a major spot of tourist attraction.
The Hussain Sagar was constructed on a tributary of the Musi River by Hussain Shah Wahi during the reign of Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah in 1562. It is a sprawling artificial lake that holds water perennially. Every Sunday cultural programmes are conducted by the Department of culture in the evenings and admission is free for public.
If you are exploring Hussain Sagar Lake, you must also visit other nearby tourist spots like Lumbini Park, an amusement park and the enchanting Birla Mandir and Planetarium. Standing on the Tank Bund at night, one is awe-struck to see the glimmering row of lights outlining the lake that looks like a diamond studded necklace. This is the necklace road that enhances the beauty of Hussain Sagar. The famous and ancient temple of Katta Maisamma, meaning goddess of the dam is very close to this park and attracts a lot of devotees every year.
Salar Jung Museum
The Salar Jung museum in Hyderabad is one of the oldest museums in the city. It has the largest compilation of personally collected artifacts from all around the world. This museum boasts of some of the greatest collection of rare antiques and knick-knacks from all over. One needs to devote an entire day for touring the museum itself.
The museum exhibits objects of art like the Chinese porcelain, Aurangazeb's sword, daggers belonging to Queen Noor Jehan, Emperor Jahangir and Shah Jahan, sculpture, Indian paintings & Persian carpets. Some of the highlights are the Veiled Rebecca, the translucent white marble statue by Bezoni and the Arms section.
If you are visiting Hyderabad, it will be truly incomplete if you do not visit this simple building on the banks of Musi River. The Museum attracts nearly ten lakh visitors annually.
Shopping in Hyderabad can be exciting with shops of world famous pearls and traditional Arts & Crafts. You can also buy textiles of all modern brands. Apart from these one can also look forward to buying some beautiful traditional saris famous all over the country. Shopping in Hyderabad is not confined to a particular area; you can find shops in almost every part of the city. But the Charminar area of Hyderabad is the hub for shops; it is surrounded by the famous Lad Bazaar and the Pearl Bazaar.