Wednesday, August 4

Hyderabad, in the least known India | The traveler

With about 10 million inhabitants, this fascinating city in the middle of the Deccan plateau, in south-central India, has a rich history that has left a good series of monuments and archaeological remains and an unusual vitality, reflected in overflowing bazaars of activity well into the early morning. Former capital of the very rich nizams (sovereigns) of Hyderabad, a princely state that maintained its independence during the time of the British Raj, its mosques, mausoleums or palaces are today joined by the avant-garde buildings and cultural spaces of the sector known as Cyberabad, one of the high-tech centers of contemporary India.

Hyderabad has been one of the fundamental centers of Muslim culture in the Indian subcontinent for the past centuries and was previously a center of power for important Hindu kingdoms, circumstances that have marked a considerable fusion of styles in its architecture, music, religious festivals and even in the famous Hyderabadi cuisine. It is not the most touristy metropolis in the country, but it well deserves to be taken into account.

9.00 Sweets and bangles

Iranian style coffee Nimrah (1) It is a well-stocked classic of juices, excellent coffee and oriental sweets. It is ideally located in the square presided over by the Charminar (2), an impressive arch flanked by four minarets erected in the 16th century as thanks to God for the end of a plague epidemic and the main symbol of the city. A few meters away is the Mecca mosque (3), from the 17th century and the most important for the Muslim minority (its prayer yard can accommodate up to 10,000 faithful). The bazaars that extend from one side of the Plaza del Charminar – even more beautiful when it is lit at night – are very lively with the shop windows of saris and kurtas silk and cotton, dried fruit or the best bangles, the typical colored bracelets inlaid with glass. Mumtaz The Charminar Bangles they are two recommended directions.

11.00 In front of a marble throne

A walk of about 10 minutes south from the Charminar leads to the Chowmahalla Museum (4), in the fabulous 18th century palace that was the residence of the Nizams, the extremely wealthy monarchs of the State of Hyderabad. Inside, the durbar The audience hall is supported by beautiful horseshoe arches and illuminated by a score of precious crystal chandeliers, while the throne is made of immaculate marble. In the extensive gardens, surrounded by a wall with impressive gates, you can admire some of the Rolls-Royces of the last nizams, while in the rooms around it the costumes, everyday objects and paraphernalia of royalty are displayed.

13.00 The fortress of diamonds

Until the mines of South Africa or Brazil were discovered, diamonds were mined from the legendary Golconda mines and therefore considered a gift from the gods. Its commercialization first made Hindu kings and then Muslim sultans chieftains of the prosperous territory of Golconda (5), whose ancient capital was a fortress on a hill 10 kilometers from Hyderabad (the most practical is to approach it by taxi). With a perimeter of more than 11 kilometers, its oldest parts date back to the 12th century and amaze the solid gates of the bastions, nailed with pointed stakes to repel the charges of elephants, and the remains of mosques, Hindu temples and palaces of the sultans of Golconda.

15.00 Between graves and a hamman

Two kilometers from the entrance to the Golconda fort, some gardens are home to a fascinating archaeological site containing some 40 tombs, of which the beautiful mausoleums with a square plan and bulbous domes of the sultans of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, who reigned in the 16th and 17th centuries, some mosques and a hamman. It can take up to two hours to walk among these testimonies of a splendid past.

17.00 The dargah de Ali Maula

Five hundred steps lead to the top of a hill in the northeast of the city where the dargah —Sufi sanctuary— of Ali Maula (6), son-in-law of Muhammad and to whom Hindus and Muslims attribute miracles. You have to explore the alleys that start from the base of the great rock and that hide places linked to the cultural history of Hyderabad, such as the mausoleum of the dancer, poet and courtesan Mah Laqa Bai (7), which captivated two nizams in the 18th century.

19.00 Cultural afternoon in Lamakaan

As evening falls it is time to get closer to the great lago artificial Hussain Sagar (8) that a sultan ordered to design nearly 500 years ago. In the middle of the waters there is a illuminated Buddha statue (9) 18 meters tall, erected in 1992 and blessed by the Dalai Lama. It is also advisable to check the programming of the modern cultural center Lamakaan (10), in the trendy area of Banjara Hills (11). Some of the best traditional Indian music formations (tabla, sitar and vocal) share the Lamakaan rooms with directors who discuss their latest films and exhibitions of painting and sculpture by authors who break with the classic molds of Indian art.

21.00 For a typical dinner

The local cuisine is famous throughout India, especially for its specialties: spicy chicken hyderabadi, rice biryani with lamb and its sweets, delicacies that preserve the Persian influence imported by the Mughals. The restaurant Shadab (12), north of the Charminar, is great for a typical dinner. From there, a taxi takes us back to Banjara Hills and the adjacent Jubilee Hills, with a good number of bars and clubs, some with live music or DJs, for drinks until midnight. Among the trendy places, Over the Moon (13), BLVD (14), the brewery MOB (15) The Vertigo the High Life (16).

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