If oriental history fascinates you, Hyderabad, should be one of the must visit places in your tour itinerary.
Moslem architecture predominates the skyline of older part of Hyderabad, whose history is over 400 years old. Many of these old buildings were constructed in Indo-Arabic style. Preeminent among them is Charminar, which means four minarets in Urdu. It was built in 1591 by the then ruler of the city Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah. The legend has it that it was built after the plague, which claimed lives of many residents, receded.
Coming to the structure, it is square-shaped with each side stretching about 66 feet (20 meters) long. It is surrounded by four arches, which act as an entrance. On its four corners are four minarets that stand 184 feet (56 meters) high. Limestone and granite were the main elements used in its construction.
Apart from it, the other landmark buildings of Hyderabad are Qutb Shahi Tombs, Purani Haveli (Old Palace in Urdu), Bella Vista Palace, Falaknuma Palace, etc. All of them have the trademark old Hyderabadi architecture, a unique one that was influenced by a combination of Indian and Islamic styles. That does not mean Hindu temples are far behind. It is famous for the Birla Temple as well as the Chilkur Balaji temple.
It earned the sobriquet 'the city of pearls', because it still is the largest center for exotic varieties that metal in India. In fact, you can find many pearl vendors close to Charminar.
None other than 'The New York Times' named Hyderabad as one of the 41 places to visit across the world in 2011, mainly for its minarets, British Colonial architecture, and Hindu temples. The colonial architecture can be found in Hyderabad's twin city, Secunderabad, founded by the Britishers, who set up their cantonment there. Former British premier Sir Winston Churchill reportedly served as a soldier in Secunderabad in 1890s!
Although a city with a long Islamic history, the main lingo here is Telugu, and it is the capital of Telengana. Of course, there is a large percentage Urdu speakers here. Besides there quite a few number of Tamil, Marathi and Kannada speakers also.
There is more to this city than what has just been mentioned. It is home to Microsoft's biggest development center outside of the US! This was thanks largely to the information technology (IT) boom that hit the city in the late 1990s, which has not ceased and shows no signs of doing so in the near future. In fact, Facebook chose this city to set up its first shop in Asia. Google too has a major presence here. Other renowned IT companies that have set up their shop in Hyderabad include IBM, Oracle, Yahoo!, to name a few. It also houses prominent pharmaceutical companies like Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Mylan, Shantha Biotechnics, a 100% subsidiary of Sanofi, etc.
International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank arm, in one of its reports, named Hyderabad as the second easiest city in India to do business in. It is rated above Bengaluru, (formerly Bangalore), the Silicon Valley of India, and New Delhi, the Indian capital, in the same report. Hyderabad is also the sixth largest city in India, and the fifth largest contributor to Indian Gross Domestic Product (GDP). So this is decidedly an international city, where state-of the-art buildings exist along with monuments of the past.
It is also home to many research institutions like International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT), a United Nations organization involved in agricultural research, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC), National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), among others.
It also has an English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) where languages, such as French, German, Arabic, Japanese, etc. are taught. Other institutes of repute are Indian School of Business (ISB), Maulana Azad National Urdu University, University of Hyderabad, among others.
It is home to the second largest film industry in India, known locally as Tollywood, where mostly films in Telugu language are produced. It also hoses Ramoji Film City, which was named by Guinness World Records in 2005 as the world's largest studio!
But one of the major tourist attractions of Hyderabad is its cuisine, which is inspired by Arab and Moghlai (North Indian Muslim) ways of cooking. Trademark dishes are Hyderabadi Biryani (made with rice and meat) and Haleem (a meat stew). Haleem is consumed by ritually by Muslims, during the month of Ramadan (Ramzan in India), when they break their fast. It is also known for Bhaghara Baingan (a curry made from an Indian variety of eggplant).
For foreign tourists, there are a number of luxury hotels of world fame. They are Courtyard by Marriott, Park Hyatt, Trident, Radisson, Novotel, among others, besides Taj Falaknuma, Taj Residency, ITC Kakatiya, Vivanta by Taj, etc., which are owned by Indian companies. It also has watering holes of world fame, such as Hard Rock Café and Thank God It's Friday (TGIF), and many other local pubs. It has other attractions, such as K. Brahmananda Reddy Park, Lumbini Park, Hussain Sagar (Tank Bund), housing a Buddha statue, Nehru Zoological Park, BM Birla Science Centre, Vipassana International Meditation Centre, among others.
The local airport is Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, which offers connectivity to London, Frankfurt, Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai, Jeddah, etc., in addition to local flights which connect you to flights leaving for New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and other major US cities from Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay).
Let us state some downsides of the city. The climate is typically tropical, with modest winters. Visitors should be warned of traffic snarls, which cause vehicles to move slowly during rush hours. Therefore, air pollution levels are high, and so are industrial emissions.
But these problems are not unique to Hyderabad. All major cities all over the world have their own set of problems. These, therefore, are hardly deterrents that prevent anyone from visiting such a culturally rich city, which also offers other avenues of entertainment and shopping.
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Cisco evangelist Ravi Namboori writes fondly about Hyderabad, the city he started his career in, and where he resided for a considerable period. He lists out the various facets of this city, which has many hues. It might not be exhaustive, but is detailed enough to draw a wanderlust reader's attention.further Information: https://www.ravinambori.com
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