Named the City of Pearls, Hyderabad was once one of the largest and wealthiest seats of power in India. Vestiges of its golden days remain, making the city a playground of centuries-old monuments, ornate tombs and inspiring architectural wonders. Visitors will never be at a loss of things to do in this laid-back, largely Muslim city.
Hyderabad’s architectural crown jewel is the imposing Golconda Fort. Located just outside the city, the fortress dates back to the sixteenth century Qutb Shah kingdom when it drew attention for its rich diamond mining — the Hope, Orloff, Regent and Koh-i-Noor diamonds were all excavated from Golconda. Give yourself at least two hours to explore the extensive ruins of the fort.
Nearby the Golconda Fort you’ll find another of Hyderabad’s architectural landmarks, the Qutb Shahi Tombs. The complex is made up of 30 domed white marble tombs, mosques and mausoleums where the Qutb Shahi nobility were once laid to rest. Back in Hyderabad, visit the Qutb Shahi Tombs Site Museum to study up on the history of these impressive structures. Sometime during your stay, make sure to visit Charminar, the ornate ceremonial gateway built in honor of the foundation of the city.
Museum enthusiasts will enjoy the extensive collection of artifacts at the Salar Jung Museum. The halls contain everything from paintings, furniture and jewelry to an entire Nizam wardrobe of expensive clothing and shoes. The city has many religious sites worth visiting, the most notable of which include the Birla Mandir and Jami Masjid, thought to be the oldest functioning mosque in the city.
Hyderabad’s colorful bazaars offer inexpensive souvenir shopping opportunities, particularly at the Laad Bazaar where you’ll find lacquered items, bangles, pearls, jewelry, paper kites, spices and dishware. Remember that bargaining is expected, and if you’re shopping for pearls or other fine jewelry, know what you’re looking for and be aware of fakes.