Hyderabad On a Budget
SightsHyderabad is a mix of the old and new, the traditional and the modern, with historic landmarks standing out against contemporary architecture. Charminar has become one such icon of the city, with its four towers soaring above the bustle of the city below. The building was constructed on the spot where Quli Qtub Shali prayed for the plague epidemic to end. There is a mosque inside and the minarets provide a bird's eye view over the city. Mecca Masjid is another impressive sight, one of the oldest mosques in the city and easily the biggest. Large enough to hold up to ten thousand worshippers, the structure was completed in 1694, made out of massive granite bricks. Other outstanding historic sites include the royal Nazim Chowmahall Palace, the massive complex of Golconda Fort, the white marble temple of Birla Mandir, and many others.
Another landmark, located at the heart of the city, is Hussein Sagar Lake. The lake was formed in 1562, during the reign of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah, by damming the River Musi, and is now surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens as well as parks, temples, statues, and historical buildings. At the center of the lake stands a Buddha statue which can be reached by boat.
NeighborhoodsThe Old City is the historical area of Hyderabad with most of its traditional landmarks. It is located on the southern side of the Musi River, while the New City encompasses the urbanized area on the northern banks. The central zone of the city has upscale neighborhoods along with several venues for entertainment and dining. The south and central areas comprise most of Hyderabad's historic and tourist sites with places such as the Charminar, the Mecca Masjid, the Salar Jung Museum, the Nizam's Museum, the Falaknuma Palace, and the traditional retail corridor comprising the Pearl Market, Laad Bazaar, and Madina Circle. The northern end of the city is mostly home to residential, commercial, and industrial areas as well as parks and recreation centers.
ActivitiesIn addition to visiting the sights mentioned earlier, the State Museum is also well worth exploring. The museum houses an impressive display of items dating back to ancient civilizations, as well as pieces from more recent periods. Artifacts in the collection range from lotus medallions from the 1st century, to beautiful bedspreads that once belonged to Nizams, as well as sculptures, statues, and other textiles.
Additional activities include a heritage walk of the city, renting a bike to tour the top sites, a visit to one of the local theme and amusement parks, the aquarium, shopping, and much more.
Food and DiningHyderabadi cooking consists of a mix of Mughal, Turkish, and Arabic along with the influence of the native Telugu and Marathwada cuisines. Main ingredients largely consist of rice, wheat, and meat dishes as well as the skilled use of various spices and herbs. Biryani is a favorite of the city. Hyderabadi biryani has a distinct aroma, garnished with pudina (mint), fried onion, and boiled eggs. Variations include mutton biryani, chicken biryani, biryani khaam, biryani zard or zafrani, or joban malti biryani in which mutton, partridges, and quails are cooked with rice. Street food is another common favorite in Hyderabad, as it is better than most other cities in India and it is cheap.
Other specialties include pathar-ka-ghosht (goat), nahari (stew of slow-cooked meat), haleem (stew of wheat or barley, meat, and sometimes lentils), double-ka-meetha (dessert made from bread, milk, and dry fruits), khubani-ka-meetha (dessert made from apricots boiled in sugar syrup), seviyon-ka-meetha (dessert made with vermicelli noodles), and kheer (a kind of rice pudding flavored with cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashews, pistachios, or almonds).
TransportationBy plane, Rajiv Gandhi International Airports is located 22 kilometers (14 miles) from the city. International carriers operating from Hyderabad include Air India, British Airways, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Silk Air, Etihad Airways, and Thai Airways. The airport is also well-connected domestically. One arrived, visitors can take a bus or cab into the city.
By train, Indian Railways has service to Hyderabad from all over India. Secunderabad, Hyderabad, and Kachiguda are the three main stations serving the city.
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