Hyderabad is a perfect amalgamation of old and new, there is so much to see and there are some interesting stories related with every monument of the old city and the newer Hyderabad can compete with any world-class city. I have been to Hyderabad thrice and every time I experience something new. There is so much to see, experience and do in the city that I love to go again & again. There is a hidden charm & feel in Hyderabad even the local dialect has an interesting sound to it, food is superb be it street food or restaurant food though the culture is different people are mostly happy to help. In this post I am giving details of things to do in Hyderabad India in 3 days.
I like going to older places of Hyderabad and enjoy the unique culinary experience they offer. There is so much to see but some of the places one must visit when in Hyderabad to experience and absorb the feel of the city. Here is my guide for first-time visitors, what to do and see in 3 days.
We started our first day from Hyderabad’s most iconic monument Charminar. It is synonymous of Hyderabad and situated in the older part of the city. There is always traffic around it, so we thought of going in the morning to beat the traffic. We used a cab to reach it. The grand structure fascinated me as I saw it in reality for the first time. It is surrounded by the iron grilled fence to restrict unauthorized entry, we bought a 10 INR ticket (For international travelers it’s 100 INR) to see it from inside. The name Charminar came from the Four Minarets i.e. Char means four and minar mean Minarets. It was built in 1591 by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah as a masjid for prayers. The stucco decorations, the arrangement of its balustrades and balconies add to the beauty of it. We climbed 149 winding steps to reach the upper floor and from I saw the famous Macca masjid on one side & Laad bazaar on another side. Charminar is in the busiest area of the city and surrounded by bazaars and most prominent of these is Laad Bazaar.
We came down from the Charminar and went to see Macca Masjid, which was also commissioned by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah. Some of the bricks of the Masjid were made from the soil brought from “Mecca”(The holiest city for Muslims). These bricks were used to construct the central arch of the mosque, thus giving its name “Macca Masjid”. There was a strict dress code specially for women. Dress conservatively from neck to ankles, arms should be covered and also they asked us to cover the head. My clothes were fitting the guidelines and I was carrying a scarf so, I was fine with rules. In absence of anything, they may not allow entry. My friend was wearing a Capri with T-shirt and she had nothing to cover the head, so they refused her entry inside. So, I have to go alone inside. The main hall of the mosque is big enough to accommodate 10,000 people. It is a grand building with floral motifs and friezes over the arches, which reminds of Charminar. Inside the mosque complex, there are graves of Nizams family. Since my friend was waiting outside so I made a quick tour and came back fast.
From here walked to the Laad Bazaar, which is next to the Charminar. This market is famous for lacquer bangles studded with artificial diamonds. Other then bangles this market is famous for semi-precious stones, pearls, jewelry, silverware, traditional fabrics and Ittar perfume. Most of the shops conduct business in old style with floor sitting on a cotton mattress. Many of the shops have “Fixed Price” board but I am not sure if the prices are fixed, I personally think it’s better to negotiate the prices. Laad Bazaar is the best place to shop for the traditional stuff. I bought some bangles for gifting purpose from one shop.
By the time we finished with the market, it was already lunchtime. We decided to have famous Hyderabadi biryani. Shadab hotel was nearest to our location, so we went there by cab for lunch.
Chowmahalla Palace is little more than one & half km from Shadab but due to traffic, it took us longer than usual time. From the main gate, I bought entry ticket of 50 INR (For non-Indians it’s 200 INR) and a camera ticket for 50 INR.
The main attraction of Palace is Durbar hall, which is popularly known as Khilwat Mubarak in the local language. The pillared Durbar Hall has a pure marble platform as the royal seat, here the Nizams held their durbar and performed all symbolic ceremonies. This was renovated and opened for public in 2005. During the renovation of Hall 19 magnificent Chandeliers of Belgian crystal installed to recreate the lost splendor of this hall. It is a beautiful building and very significant in the history of Hyderabad.
After exploring Chowmahalla Palace we booked a cab for Falaknuma Palace, which is approx 5 km. Falaknuma is little out of city rush and situated on a hilltop. Now it is a Taj group’s property and to see it either you stay here or take their high tea tour or dinner tour. These tours need to be booked in advance on tourism dept’s site or directly with the hotel. We were fortunate because my friend’s close relative was working there when we visited. When we reached there, she organized a tour of the Palace hotel for us. The palace has 60 rooms and 22 halls. The dining hall can seat 101 guests and its chairs are made of carved rosewood with green leather upholstery. The Palace hotel has considerable collections of the Nizam’s treasures including paintings, statues, furniture, books, manuscripts, and a jade collection. The library’s roof is made of carved walnut wood, which is a replica of the one library at Windsor Castle. The ceiling of state reception room is decorated with frescoes and gilded reliefs. Other than this there was a gym, swimming pool, and all other modern amenities. It’s on a hill so we could see the overview of the city at distance.
From Falaknuma Palace we booked a cab for our hotel. Our first day was quite busy and we saw some of the most historical buildings of Hyderabad. We ended our day with dinner at Chutneys.
Next day we decided to start early and went to Golconda Fort. There is a lot of walking involved in open so we decided to return before it gets too hot. We bought a ticket of 10 INR and entered from the gate. From outside the fort was not visible but when we turned and entered inside from a big wooden gate we saw the vast structure. As we entered the gate 3-4 guides approached and surrounded us, usually I prefer to explore at my own pace but we decided to hire a guide. I had been told that there are some points in the fort, which a guide can show better. We explored the Golconda fort with a guide and he showed us some very interesting places. The acoustic system of the fort is very popular and our guide made us experience this with the help of his fellow at the base of the fort.
From Golconda fort, we quickly moved to Salar Jung Museum because we wanted to see the famous clock ringing at 12.00 Noon. We bought the entry ticket and quickly went to the clock area. Security was tight at the entrance and there was a list of restricted items plastered on the wall, we followed the instructions for quick entry. There was already a small crowd gathered in front of the clock. We also grabbed the seats with a good view to see the action, which everyone recommended us. It rang 12 times at 12.00 Noon but after seeing this I personally feel that it’s an overrated thing. We submit photo ID proof and rented the audio guides to understand the details of artifacts they had displayed in the museum and I personally recommend the use audio guide. We have received a brochure with the map from the museum and I followed it to navigate from one hall to another. They marked the special collection on the map, it helped me a lot otherwise I would have lost in the museum.
There were big collections of different items on display in rooms & halls of the museum, for eg one room was full of Chinese crockery, another room has exclusive collection of walking sticks or a room with different design of daggers or in one they have displayed ancient copies of Qur’an or designer furniture from Egypt or furniture made of Ivory or there was a collection of Raja Ravi Verma’s paintings and this list goes on & on. Another must-see was the statue of veiled Rebecca, it is one of the important possession of the museum.
There was a small cafeteria in the museum but I personally didn’t like it.
We went for late lunch after the museum and decided to take a power nap at the hotel before going for next round of exploring Hyderabad.
After relaxing for some time, we went to Lumbini Park. It is adjacent to Hussain Sagar lake and is dedicated to Lord Buddha. We bought an entry ticket for 10 INR. At the security checkpoint, they had asked us to deposit 20 INR as we were carrying water bottles. This security deposit they return at the time of exit if you carry the water bottle back, the purpose of this security deposit is to stop people from littering water bottles inside the park. Near the entry, we saw a giant clock made of plants and seasonal flower and it was attracting everyone going inside the park. Inside the park, they have fun rides for kids and it was more like an entertainment park in the middle of Hyderabad. They have a fountain Lazar show every evening in the park, we decided to skip it because I had already seen similar shows. There was nothing much for us in the park, so we decided to do boating and visit statue of Buddha in middle of the Lake.
We bought tickets for boat and waited for a while to board. We opted for a regular boat (Instead of speedboat) and while we were in the boat I saw the necklace road with lights around the lake. The boat dropped us on the island with Buddha statue. This statue is world’s tallest monolithic Buddha statue, it is installed on 15 feet high concrete platform. In 1990 during the transfer of statue from shore to the platform in the lake, the statue tipped and fell in the lake. It took 2 years to pull the statue out from the lake and finally it was installed on the platform in December 1992. Our boat driver told us to return to the boat after 20 minutes, there is nothing much to see or do on the platform except for the giant statue. We returned to our boat and it took us another 15 minutes to return to the shore.
From Hussain Sagar, we went to Birla Temple which is in close proximity. They don’t allow mobile phone, camera, and any other electronic items inside the temple. We kept our things in our cab but they have lockers to keep the stuff. The temple is made on top of a 280 feet high hillock. It is made of white marble like other Birla temples all across India. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Venkateswara, which is made of granite and a carved lotus forms an umbrella on the top of it. We climbed the stairs to reach the temple and from top of the temple, we had seen the full view of the necklace road and Hussain Sagar lake. The temple does not have traditional bells to create an atmosphere conducive for meditation. We went in the evening so the marble of stairs was warm but during the day it gets very hot and it is painful to walk on such hot stone, so if anyone is going during the day then wear socks to avoid the heat. We had spent some good time in the peaceful environment of the temple and came down.
We went to Paradise Biryani for dinner before going back to the hotel.
For our 3rd day in Hyderabad, we had booked a full day tour for Ramoji Film City. Visiting Ramoji Rao film city should be must in things to do in Hyderabad India. I booked online through Telangana Tourism’s website by paying 1400 INR. Ramoji Rao film city is 30 Km from Hyderabad and booking through tourism deptt saved us the hassle of traveling to film city. They took us from Hyderabad. We boarded our bus from Paryatak Bhavan, Begumpet at 07.50 AM. The bus was of differently designed from outside and gave us the feeling of a film tour. Upon reaching the Raoji Rao city, our tour guide helped us smooth entry at main gate but after that, he disappeared. The outside food is not allowed inside the film city and in cases, if they find anything in the bag then you have to leave it outside before entering from the main gate.
Once we entered the film city another bus of film city picked us up to take us to all action area. We reached there before the formal opening of the film city for tourists and every day they have a show for people. There were dance performances with elaborate costumes, jokers roaming around and welcome song. It was a good show to begin our day.
Ramoji film city is a big complex of 2,000 acres and certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest film studio complex. Inside the film city, they have both natural and artificial attractions including an amusement park. There is some close and open theater where artists give live action & stunts and dance programs. We went to different studios during the day and saw the different process of filmmaking, there was an interactive filmmaking session also. The 7D theater was an interesting experience and fortunately, we got the entry for the show really fast because it was less crowded due the weekday.
There were some shootings going on in different areas, we saw some movie sets, there were gardens with beautiful landscape, a railway station, a set of international city and many more interesting places. There was so much to see and experience in the Ramoji Rao Film City.
There were restaurants inside and we had lunch & tea there, food was ok though nothing great.
Inside the film city for showing different film sets and places, they made groups of people and assigned a tour guide to each group with a fancy looking bus. Our tour guide was very animated and added humor to his narrative, which entertained us.
Ramoji Rao film city is one of its own kind and I personally recommend a day’s trip here, when in Hyderabad.
They have a premium package also for 2349 INR in this, they have some additional facilities in comparison to the regular package.
This was my 3 days itinerary when I first time visited Hyderabad, during my next 2 visits I explored a couple of places again. Also visited few more places/markets but the places I mentioned in this post are should be in list of things to do in Hyderabad India
Few things to remember –
I stayed in Aditya Hometel of Sarovar group of hotels and The Plaza Hotel of Telangana Tourism.
We used “Ola” and “Uber” most of the time, they were very convenient and economical + saved the hassle of negotiation with autorickshaw drivers.
Hyderabad has some unique pickles like “tomato pickle” and “gongura achaar”, these are must try for pickle lovers.
Also, carry fruit biscuits from Karachi Bakery, they last for more than a month.