The city of Hyderabad, originally known as Bhagyanagar, was named after a local dancer Bhagmati. Mohammed Quli Qutub shah, who ousted the Bahamani dynasty in 1512 to establish the fortress city of Golkonda, then gave it its name Hyderabad. Legend has it that the young Sultan rode out from the Golkonda Fort to meet his beloved braving the flood waters of the river Musi. He re-christened her Hyder Mahal, and named the city Hyderabad in honor of her. Hyderabad’s fame, strategic location and Golkonda’s legendary wealth attracted Aurangzeb who captured Golkonda after a long siege in 1687 and made it a part of the Mughal Empire with Asaf Jah as the Prime Minister of Deccan. As the Mughal Empire began to disintegrate, Asaf Jah proclaimed himself the master of the Deccan. Hyderabad state was merged into the Indian Union in 1948.Hyderabad now bosts some of the best heritage buildings.
Charminar built by Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah in 1591 is a beautiful colossus in granite, lime, mortar and pulverized marble. It is a squarish structure with four towers in the four corners, each side in 20 meters in length. Every side opens into a plaza through giant arches. Each arch is 11 meters wide and rises 20 meters to the pinnacle from the plinth. Inside the minarets are spiral stairways of 149 steps from whose top one gets a panoramic view of the city. Apart from being the core of the city’s cultural milieu, it has become a brand name.
Salar Jung Museum:
The Salar jung Museum the repository of the artistic achievements of diverse European, Asian and Far Eastern countries. The major portion of this collection was acquired by Mir Yousuf Ali Khan known as Salar Jung III (1889-1949). Spread on two floors, museum comprises over 40,000 objects and 38 galleries. The collection of the Museum comprises of Indian Art, Middle Eastern Art, Far Eastern and European Art. There is a gallery devoted to the illustrious Salarjung family, the Children’s Section with over 43,000 articles and 50,000 books and a rare manuscripts section with Arabic, Urdu and Persian Manuscripts. Among the most interesting items are the Veiled Rebecca, a delicate marble statue of a woman seen through her veil and Marguitte and Mephistophilles, a double figure of carved wood. A painting of Krishna dancing with Radha is also worth seeing.
The history of Golkonda Fort dates back to early 13th century, when this south eastern part of the country was ruled by the Kakatiyas. Qutub Shahi king ruled from this area in 16th and 17th centuries. The fortress was built on a granite hill of 120 meters high, surrounded by massive crenellated ramparts. The fort has a 10km long outer wall having 87 semi circular bastions; some still mounted with cannons, eight gateways, four drawbridges, number of royal apartments, halls, temples and mosques. A hand clap at a certain point below the dome at the entrance reverberates and can be heard clearly at the ‘Bala Hisar’ pavilion, the highest point almost a kilometer away. This acted as the warning note to residents in case of danger. The story of Golkonda over centuries can be experienced in a sound and light show with a spectacular interplay of audio and visual effects.
The Chowmahallah Palace was the seat of the Asafjahi dynasty built by Nwab Nizam Ali Khan, Asaf Jah II, in 1780 to entertain official guests and royal visitors. The palace, unique for its style and elegance, consists of two courtyards with elegant palaces. Khilwat Mubarak is the heart of the complex. The palaces are named Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal & Aftab Mahal.
Birla Mandir & Birla Planetarium:
Birla Mandir built in sculpted white marbles, floats on the city skyline, on Kala Pahad. The idol in the temple is a replica of the one at Tirupati and was built by the Birlas three decade ago. The temple offers a panoramic view of the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
The Planetorium unveil the mysteries of the cosmos and the origins of the universe, comets, eclipses, unidentified flying objects and the clash of titans. The latest addition is the Dinosarium, which houses a collection of dinosaur egg fossils and the remains of a 160-million-year-old dinosaur.
A hundred yards southwest of the Charminar is the Mecca Masjid, so named because the bricks were brought from Mecca to build the central arch. The Qutub Shahis started construction which was completed by Aurangzeb in 1694. Masjid is poetry in stone, with a hall measuring 67 meters and soaring height of 54 meters.
Qutub Shahi Tombs:
The tombs of the legendary Qutub Shahi kings lie to the north of Golkonda. Planned and built by the Qutub Shahis themselves, these tombs are said to be the oldest historical monuments in Hyderabad. The tombs are built in Persian, Pathan and Hindu architectural styles using grey granite, with stucco ornamentation, the only one of its kind in the world where an entire dynasty has been buried at one place.
Ramoji Film City & Sanghi Temple:
A dream world created for the celluloid on a sprawling 1,800 acres, with every imaginable set and location, Ramoji Film City on the outskirts of Hyderabad offers facilities to produce any kind of movie. Apart from sets, there are hotels and entertainment places. Visitors too can go around in conducted tours.
Sanghi temple, situated near Ramoji Film City, is a beautiful temple located atop a hill. It was constructed in South Indian style with deities of many Gods.
Hussain Sagar Lake:
Constructed in 1562 by Hussain Shah Wali during the reign of Ibrahim Quli qutub Shah the lake joins Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Boating and water sports are a regular feature in the lake. One of the world’s tallest monolithic statues of Buddha which is 17.5 meters high and weighs 350 kg stands on the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’, right in the middle of the lake. It offers speed boats, motor boats, and 48 seater launch etc. On the eastern side of the lake is Tank Bund where statues of 33 eminent personalities are lined up.
Nehru Zoological Park:
Spread over 1,800 acres with diverse flora and fauna, Nehru Zoo Park is India’s biggest zoo. A lion safari tour, kiddies train and boating at the adjacent Mir Alam tank serve as major attractions.