Ooh yes, we are in Hyderabad, the City of Pearls! Forts, nizams, royalty and of course, the biryani. These are what come to mind when we think of Hyderabad. But you would be gravely mistaken if you think that this is all that Hyderabad has to offer. There are so many more things to do in Hyderabad.
With a history going back centuries, from food that will leave your mouth watering, to even the bustling bazaars you expect from a true Indian city, Hyderabad has got it all. Hyderabad has a certain vibe, making you feel like the whole city is a single living, breathing organism, injecting life into every event, place and person in it. No wonder the city and its people are so full of energy and warmth.
Hyderabad is full of interesting places to visit, items to shop and food to eat. Even a dictionary wouldn’t be enough to encompass all that there is in Hyderabad. So we have compressed this list down to the best of best things to do in Hyderabad for your convenience. Let’s get right into the list, shall we?
Best Places to see in Hyderabad
1. Golconda Fort
Ancient, striking and majestic, Golconda Fort is one of India’s best forts. Within Hyderabad city, it has a rich history of changing dynasties, kings and diamonds. In fact, some of the greatest diamonds of all time like Koh-i-noor, Daria-i-noor, Hope Diamond among others, were housed here. The fort was initially built by the Kakatiyas but rose to prominence under the Qutb Shahis.
This fort was famed to have been impenetrable, but now it welcomes you in; parts of Hyderabad old city are within the outermost walls of the fort. It has garnered this reputation thanks to its carefully planned yet grand architecture. The fort’s doors have spikes on them so that elephants can’t break it open, brilliantly planned plumbing systems and obviously ostentatious darbars, courtyards and mahals.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Golconda Fort is that when you clap your hands at a point at a place at the bottom of the fort, it can be heard at the very top. It was used as a warning mechanism back in the day, but still works, so that will pique your interest. From the top, a scintillating view of the fort and Hyderabad manifests itself, especially if you go in the evening, as the city’s lights begin to flicker into life. Truly a sight to behold.
The Sound and Light Show, in the evening, is a must-watch for all those who are yearning to learn the history of Hyderabad and Golconda in an informative and entertaining way. A guide is a must on this visit to Golconda to fully appreciate every nook and corner of it. He can give you insights into the Fort, cannons, artillery, courtyards, step-wells and different buildings and structures within Golconda Fort.
Golconda Fort is one of the most well-maintained monuments in India and deserves a visit by all those touring Hyderabad.
2. Salarjung Museum
Welcome to Salarjung Museum, one of the largest museums in India!
Salarjung Museum is one of the premium tourist destinations in Hyderabad and arguably the best museum in India with its collection ranging from paintings to carvings to textiles to sculptures to ceramics to clocks and so much more. Indeed, there is even a whole section of the museum dedicated to walking canes!
Salarjung Museum contains exhibits from around the world from the Far East, Middle East, India, Europe and more. The museum comprises an extensive range of miniature paintings from the Mughal period, swords and jade daggers, ancient Indian sculptures and Bengali art. Ofcourse, this is just the tip of the iceberg of Indian collections in Salarjung.
However, one of the most prized possessions of the museum isn’t from the Indian section but rather from the Western one. It is the marble sculpture of Veiled Rebecca by Giovanni Maria Benzoni. The highlight of the tour around Salarjung is the British musical clock. Whenever an hour passes, it is quite a spectacle as you will feel the clock starts to sing as the toy strikes the gong. Large crowds gather just to see this. The sound is very pleasing to the ears and the mechanisms to make the gong hit are also so detailed and immaculate.
For all history and art lovers, Salarjung Museum is one of the best places to see in Hyderabad.
3. Qutb Shahi Tombs
Qutb Shahi tombs are a cluster of tombs of the kings, queens and some important figures of the Qutb Shahi dynasty. And although it is a necropolis that you will be looking at, you wouldn’t feel any melancholy but rather awe and amazement at the incredible history, art and architecture that is preserved in this place.
The tombs were constructed in the 16th and 17th century in a magnificent blend of Indian and Persian architecture. While they are of varying sizes and dimensions, they are of a similar style, constructed on an elevated platform, minarets, open arches, domed tops and are surrounded by intricate stonework and landscaped gardens. It has beautiful ornamentation and green and blue tilling adding to the beauty (although most of these are now fully faded).
Adjacent to each tomb is a mosque; the biggest and most impressive of these is opposite to the tomb of Hayat Bakshi Begum. The only Qutb Shah to not have his body buried here is Abul Hasan Qutb Shahi, who was imprisoned by Aurungzeb at the time of his death.
The whole group of Qutb Shahi Tombs are situated in the area of Ibrahim Bagh and are in a spacious compound, making it a great place to picnic too. Renovation work is going on to improve the condition of the tombs and make the tourist’s experience more memorable, so make sure Qutb Shahi Tombs are on your list the next time you find yourself in Hyderabad.
Charminar is to Hyderabad what bread is to butter.
Charminar is the four pillar monument that is the symbol of Hyderabad, part of the city’s very fabric. At the centre of Hyderabad, Charminar was built by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shahi in 1591 to commemorate the end of a plague that ravaged the city. It was constructed in Indo-Islamic architecture with elements of Persian designs.
Charminar has four columns with minarets atop each pillar going up to a height of 49m. This is where its name ‘Charminar’ (four pillars) is derived from and these minarets symbolise the first four Khalifas of Islam. There are also four archways in the four directions of the prominent streets of Hyderabad at the time. It is made in a remarkable blend of limestone, granite, mortar and marble.
With a mosque on the top floor, Charminar is also one of the oldest mosques in the city. While the mosque is closed to the public, the floor below gives great views of the lively Old City of Hyderabad. Meanwhile, the Charminar stands regally and calmly, in stark contrast to the chaotic streets below it. This increases its glory exponentially.
What makes a visit to Charminar even more necessary is that it is literally a throwaway from other sites of historic and religious importance such as Meccah Mosque and Chowmahalla Palace. So do yourself a favour and visit this archaeological marvel of India. There won’t be a more charming place than Charminar anywhere in the world. This is one of the best things to do in Hyderabad.
5. Ramoji Film City
“Picture abhi baki hai dost.”
The largest integrated film city in the world, this ‘city within a city’ is the most fun-filled theme park in Hyderabad, maybe even India. It contains the sets of various films, shows and plays and is still used extensively for producing movies.
You can get a first-hand experience of what it’s like to work in a studio. There are interactive sessions with crew members who show you how a green screen works or how sound effects are added to the film. It will be a very stimulating experience. You can also see the sets of different movies including Baahubali and if there any current movies being shot, you can have a glimpse at that too.
Along with being a shooting site, Ramoji Film City is also a theme and amusement park. A tour of the ‘City’ in the classic red buses of London is conducted every day. You can take photos at different locations such as Mughal gardens, Japanese gardens, Kripula Caves, airports, palaces and royal courts where a sabha is taking place. Of course, all these places are artificially recreated. There are also settings of cowboys, rural Europe, highways, shopping plazas and more.
Ramoji Film City is also home to some exciting rides and activities such as Movie Magic Park, which portrays the action stunts such as freefalls, earthquakes and other thrills. For those with children, go inside the haunted Borasura, Fundastan and the various exciting rides of Kid’s Park. ‘Wings’ is a section of Ramoji Film City that is reserved for nature lovers, as many colourful and rare birds are kept here. The live dramas, performances and plays are also engrossing and informative at the same time.
These all are just a small portion of the massive theme and film park. To enjoy all these – and a lot more, Ramoji Film City is a must-visit. It is bound to be the most entertaining day of your whole trip to Hyderabad.
6. Hussain Sagar Lake
Hussain Sagar Lake (also called Tank Bund) is a heart-shaped lake in the middle of Hyderabad city, making it quite literally the heart of Hyderabad. The largest artificial lake in Asia, Hussain Sagar was excavated in 1563 by Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shahi. It was used for irrigation purposes back then but now it acts as an escape from the busy city life in this peaceful setting.
Over 400 years after the lake was dug, in 1992, a monolith 18m Buddha statue was erected on an island in the lake. This statue can be reached by boat and gives out tranquil vibes to anyone visiting. It seems like the giant Buddha is blessing the whole city.
The lake is also very popular for boating in the scenic waters. Oh, and Hussain Sagar Lake is also bordered by gardens and parks on all sides, with Lumbini Park, Sanjeeviah Park, NTR Gardens and Indira Park. Lumbini Park has a musical fountains show and NTR Gardens has many rides for children, 3D cinema and even Japanese gardens. Sounds fun, no?
Necklace Road, adjoining Hussain Sagar Lake, is another prime spot, especially for artist and art connoisseurs. The road is famous for its street art and various designs that bring the street to life. Also, enjoy the lakeside views as you dig into your food at the food court called Eat Street. Yummy and scenic, what a combination!
All in all, Hussain Sagar Lake is one of the best places to visit in Hyderabad.
7. Sudha Car Museum
Embracing the obscure. That is what Sudha Car Museum is all about. It is a one of a kind museum with cars and vehicles in different shapes, sizes and forms. A brainchild of Sudhakar Yadav, for whom cars were a lifelong obsession, the Car Museum has the wackiest cars you’d ever see. The world’s largest tricycle and smallest double-decker bus also call this museum home.
The museum welcomes you in with a giant replica of an old Ford and as you go in to explore Sudhakar Yadav’s world of quirks, you will observe cars in the shape of cameras, computers, bats, mugs, pens, balls, billiards table and its newest addition is now a corona car! Every car is accompanied by a plaque telling you its maximum speed, time taken to build and date of completion. There are events regularly where the museum takes all these crazy cars out for a spin.
However, this isn’t just a museum with oddities but even has cars, vans and bikes from WW2 and other antique cars that are rare finds. You would be hard-pressed to find an attraction more unusual than this, so make sure you don’t miss this one.
8. Dhola ri Dhani
Welcome to Rajasthan. Oh wait, you say you are in Hyderabad? No worries then, welcome to a Rajasthan in Hyderabad!
Dhola ri Dhani is a Rajasthani themed resort just 11km from Hyderabad. The whole ambience and scenes of this resort will make you feel like you were mysteriously teleported to Rajasthan. Camel rides, horse rides, magic shows and traditional Rajasthani puppet shows are all part of the package. Panch Devi Mandir, lakes, lawns and a myriad of other structures make this resort that much more extraordinary.
To round of the cultural experience, Rajasthani folk songs, tales and dances will all be showcased in events throughout the day. One particular performance that stands out is the Ghumar Jhumar, performed by eunuchs (transgenders). You yourself will want to join the dance with them.
For the more conventional resort amenities, there are swimming pools, rain dance and function halls. The food will also mesmerise you with its authenticity and scrumptious food. The table has an assortment of bazra roti, naan, sag gatta ro, jalebi, gajar mutter ro, mutter paneer, kheer and so much more. Ummm, my stomach is grumbling just thinking about it.
For a unique experience where you also get the opportunity to sense the heritage of India, Dhola ri Dhani is the best thing to do near Hyderabad.
9. Birla Mandir and Planetarium
Divine and gorgeous, the only way to describe Birla Mandir. Sitting atop a 280ft hillock, this is one of the newest temples in India and was completed only in 1976. Birla Temple exquisitely mixes Dravidian, Oria and Rajasthani style. But the most extraordinary thing about the temple is that it is all made of pure, white marble. It sure can give the Taj Mahal a run for its money.
The carving and sculptures of different figures from Hindu mythology on the walls of Birla Temple are so intricate and lovely that you will fall in love with it. The sanctum sanctorum contains a shrine of Lord Venkatesha. Other shrines are those of Shiva, Ganesha, Saraswati, etc. There is even a special temple for Buddha with paintings describing his life. The picturesque view of Hyderabad and Hussain Sagar Lake is another reason to stop by at Birla Mandir for some tranquillity and serenity.
Right next to Birla Mandir is the out worldly Birla Planetarium. The Cosmic Presentation at the planetarium is among the best in the world and make you feel as if you are staring at the vast universe for real. This is an ethereal experience not to be missed.
The science museum next to the planetarium has its own spoils to share, as you can learn different concepts of science in a practical way. There is a section for dinosaurs in the museum, complete with dinosaur skeletons and fossils. An archaeological museum and doll museum too are present on the premises. While these all can be enjoyed by all ages, children in particular will love it.
10. Mrugavani National Park
“Into the Wild”. At Mrugavani National Park, you certainly will be into the wild.
Less than an hour’s drive from Hyderabad, Mrugavani is for those who want to experience nature in its rawest form. The different animals to call Mrugavani home are wild boars, vipers, foxes, cheetahs, jungle cats, monitor lizards and also over 100 species of birds. It really is a wildlife haven.
There is a wildlife safari that takes you through the National Park. A tall tower acts as a vantage point offering stunning views of the greenery of Mrugavani and beyond. Apart from that, there is a resort for you to take a relaxing day off from your stressful urban life. Activities such as horse riding, museums, a snake rehab, library and live play theatre are present.
Foodies awaken. Your dineland is here!
Hyderabad is the city to be for food. From South Indian delights to Telangana specials like pachi pulusu to Hyderabadi biryani and everything in between, Hyderabad has got it all. The street food and chat scene is abundant, tasty and cheap and you can find delicious non veg dishes all over the map. Here are some of the best food in Hyderabad-
Hyderabadi Biryani & Haleem: These are the two Hyderabadi dishes that have gained countrywide and even worldwide fame for their ability to tantalise and mesmerise your tastebuds. Ask any Hyderabadi and he will tell you their city’s biryani is the best; they certainly have a point. Haleem is a fiery porridge made of mutton flesh and wheat that is mainly found only during Ramzan season and the whole city has a unique buzz to it during this time so definitely check it out. Oh, and any biryani lover will tell you, the spicier, the better.
Paya & Beja Fry: Paya is a soup made of goat hoofs that are used as a dip to eat chapatti or naans with. It has a distinct flavour to it that you got to give a go. Beja Fry is a dish made of frying goat brain. While it sounds strange to say the least, a true traveller should be willing to taste anything, however crazy it may seem. And you won’t regret tasting this yummy fry for sure.
Ram ki Bandi: Behold the wild and wonderful side of Hyderabad. Ram ki Bandi is your place for a midnight grab of food. This streetside food stall opens only at 3 AM and is a popular place for his midnight dosas. It is there in Begum Bazaar and is a good place to go after exploring the nightlife of Hyderabad.
Bakeries: This might seem like a mundane thing to add to the list but bakeries in Hyderabad have their own charisma and delight. For the meat lovers out there, you have to try out the chicken and mutton samosas and puffs. They are quite endemic to Hyderabad and are undoubtedly the yummiest here. Osmania biscuits are another delicacy from Hyderabad bakeries to take home.
One more bakery to look out for is Karachi Bakery, the true icon for Hyderabadi baking. It specialises in Karachi biscuits and thus the name. Nowadays it diversified into other pastries and baked goods as well and makes them with the same amount of care and love.
Shopaholics, assemble! Hyderabad is a Mecca for shopping and you will be spellbound by the amount of variety and excitement that is there to shop here. The street is where you will do the bulk of shopping as you get silver junk jewellery, ladies accessories, women’s clothing, dazzling footwear, and a lot more from roadside shops. Koti Market echoes with shopping in Hyderabad and it will resonate with your heart too. Koti also has great British colonial architecture for you to relish.
For the ultimate shopping experience, Laad Bazaar is your place. Glittery bangles and other accessories can all be bought aplenty in Laad Bazaar. But the only time when you can get the full exposure of Laad Bazaar is after dusk, as you can fully gaze in awe at the disco-like lighting of the bazaar. It becomes so colourful and bright that you might need your cooling glasses. No worries, you can buy that here too!
Laad Bazaar and the labyrinth of lanes around Charminar that form its supporting cast are all shopping essentials. For fans of pearls, you can check out the area around Charminar/Madina for this too.
The artistic side of you will be very happy to shop the handicrafts and art at Shilparamam, where artists and craftsmen from different parts of India come together to showcase and sell their products. Clothes, paintings, artefacts, souvenirs, jewellery and items made of mud are all found here.
For a Swedish shopping adventure head over to IKEA. This furniture store may seem like a strange choice while compiling a shopping list for Hyderabad but trust me when I say you will have a one of a kind experience. The shop is so large and has such a wide range of things to buy, from candles to book stands to air fresheners and a plethora of other products, that you will find something for yourself.
The food court here is another reason to visit. It has appetising Swedish food such as meatballs, salmon, desserts and more. And the billing system is also something funny. You can pick up all the food you want and then bill it as you do at a supermarket. Cool, no?
All things said, Hyderabad is a shopper’s heaven. Shopping in Hyderabad can be considered a whole new experience on its own.
Whew, so much to do, eat and shop in Hyderabad! This listing barely scratches the surface. I’m sure you must be very excited to go to Hyderabad. Without doubt, the Biryani City will leave you a changed person.
So what are you waiting for! Hop in and embark on this holiday for all the thrills and enjoyment of a lifetime. Have a blast and let us know of the awesome time you had there!