Holy Hyderabad, Batman!

After being in Chennai for two weeks, I was getting the travel itch again and decided to visit my cousin Hannah in Hyderabad. I’m currently typing this at midnight on the bus back from H-Town since the ride is so bumpy that I had to put down reading Shantaram (which, I may add, is kind of cool to read since it’s also about a traveler’s experience in India.)

Hyderabad has a lot of great history. The part of town with many cool sites is the Old City, and it includes many beautiful mosques, palaces and other marble buildings. Hannah herself lives in the Hi-Tec City neighborhood. The name cracks me up because it’s so dorky: that area is where all the IT companies are, but it also stands for Hyderabad Information Technology Engineering Consultancy. Indians are so geeky, I love it. Hi-Tec City is rather new, about 5-10 years ago that area was all rocks and there were tribal villages there before the city moved them all out.

I was only in Hyderabad for two days but I managed to see a good amount. We explored Golconda Fort, which is located in the outskirts of the city and was built in 1463 by a sultan. Unfortunately, the grounds haven’t been well maintained which is probably due to low entry fees. Throughout India you will often find a drastic difference in prices for local visitors and foreign visitors. I was pretty miffed about it at first, for example the Golconda Fort foreigner fee is 100 rupees while the local one is 5. But then again, the currency rate is so low that even 100 rupees is just a few dollars anyway, so I guess I shouldn’t be that annoyed. Well, that and as long as I don’t speak I can pass for a local and don’t have to pay the foreigner fee anyway.

After the fort we went into the heart of Old City and wandered through Chowmahalla Palace, a palace that was actually replicated from the Shah’s palace in Tehran, Iran. I was pretty impressed with this place. The grounds are nicely kept and the details in the building are so beautiful. This one room in particular had such a beautiful ceiling along with gorgeous glass chandeliers that all I could say was “Wow.” Made me want to be a princess! One of the vintage cars they had on display was a yellow car with a roof made out of silver. Talk about making an entrance.

We also saw a nearby mosque and Charminar, which means “four minarets.” Charminar is an impressive building and is pretty much the main symbol of the city. I wish I could have seen at night as well. The Old City can be pretty overwhelming because of the swarms of merchants, pedestrians, and cars, but it was a great site to see nonetheless. I’d recommend touring it early in the morning – I heard that the tourist office has a walking tour on Saturday mornings at 7am when the streets are empty (and the weather is kind.) Definitely make that happen if you’ll be visiting Hyderabad on a weekend! And dress appropriately if you’ll be visiting mosques, unless you want to stand out amongst all the women dressed head to toe in black burqas.

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