Hyderabad

Inhabited since the Iron Age (500 BC), Hyderabad is a city rich with history and culture. Through the intervening centuries, the city has been home to a number of dynasties, rulers, and kingdoms, among them the Hindu Chalukyas, the mighty Mughals, and finally, the British. Under the British, Hyderabad was transformed into a teeming, modern metropolis; indeed, so prosperous was the city that it became known as "The City of Pearls." Now home to about 7 million inhabitants, Hyderabad is among India's top IT enclaves, and is an emerging megacity.

As with many other areas of India, Hyderabad has a tropical climate. Therefore, the best time to visit is during the dry season, which runs from November to February. At other times, Hyderabad is humid and muggy, especially during the monsoon season that runs from July to October.

Experiences

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Cuisine

Due to the many empires, dynasties, and peoples who have populated the area, Hyderabad is home to a fine culinary tradition that blends a variety of influences. Chief amongst Hyderabad’s dishes is the Central Asian-influenced biryani, a dish of rice wherein meat is marinated in saffron, cumin, and other rare spices, mixed with basmati rice, sealed into a vessel, and slow-cooked over hot coals. Another highlight is kheer, a thick, fragrant, and decadently sweet rice pudding made from milk, cardamom, almonds, saffron, rice, and pistachios.

Buddhism

Bodhi Sampanna is a center for the study of Buddhism, meditation techniques and the various teachings of the religion.

Golkonda Fort

Once home to a series of kingdoms, including the Turkic Qutb Shah dynasty, the Kakatiyas, and of course, the Golkondas (best known for producing the Hope Diamond and the Koh-i-Noor), the Fort is located some 7 miles (11 kilometers) outside Hyderabad. Today, Golkonda consists of four separate forts over a series of hilltops, all of which offer commanding views of the surrounding countryside.

Mecca Masjid

The largest mosque in Hyderabad, it was begun in 1617 and finished in 1694. The sounds of the prayer calls at various times throughout the day are enchanting, while immense granite structure, which can hold up to 10,000 devotees at a time, is also a favorite of photographers.

Some of the bricks used to build the mosque were made with soil carried to India all the way from Mecca - hence the name, "Mecca Masjid," or Mecca Mosque.

Old City

The plague was turned back in Hyderabad, according to local legend, via a special prayer offered by Quli Qutb Shah. The spot of the prayer is now the Charminar Mosque, marked by four minarets.

Public Gardens

Known as the “Bagh-e-Aam,” or “Garden of the Commoners,” these neatly manicured, comfortable grounds are ideal for an outing. Nearby lie the State Legislative Assembly, State Archeology Museum, and a slew of other administrative buildings.

Tollywood

Hyderabad is a major film making hub of India, specializing in films shot both in Hindi (spoken primarily in North India) and Telugu (spoken in Hyderabad's parent province of Andhra Pradesh). Home to Ramoji Film City, believed to be the largest film studio in the world, Hyderabad also hosts the Hyderabad International Film Festival and the Children’s Film Festival. For a closer look at this fascinating industry, distinct from its more famous cousin, Bollywood, visit a studio and speak with actors, actresses, writers, and directors.

Tomb of Michel Raymond

Visit the tomb of Michel Raymond, a famous French mercenary and military commander who served under a local ruler of the Kingdom of Nizam. Prior to their defeat at the hands of the British at the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the French exerted considerable influence over the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the area near Hyderabad.

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