Hyderabad, once the land of Nawabs, was historically a famous diamond and pearl trading centre, from where it got its popular name – the “City of Pearls”.
The pearl city of India is an internationally famed tourist destination not only for its brilliant pearls, exquisite cuisine, greenery, or landscapes but mostly for the rich cultural heritage it anchors. In case you are wondering what heritage places in Hyderabad you must visit, here are some quick facts that will guide you through the city’s age-old history.
Hyderabad and Charminar are synonymous. It is the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Hyderabad.
The monument, built by Quli Qutub Shah in the year 1591, is located in the heart of the city. The iconic monument is a prominent tourist spot for Indian, as well as international travelers. The structure, reflecting the impressive Cazia style, comprises of four minarets, each 48.7 meters tall, and houses a mosque with 45 prayer spaces.
Charminar is the nerve center, the lifeblood of Hyderabad. It is a must-watch, though it is also very difficult to miss either when you are in Hyderabad.
Golconda, pronounced as “Golla Konda”, means the Shepherd’s Hill. An engineering marvel, this fort won’t fail to bewitch you with its magic.
The fortress, originally built during the Yadava Dynasty in the 13th century, is an embodiment of history. It was later administered by the Kakatiya Dynasty, and the Bahmani Dynasty, from whom it went under the control of Qutb Shahis, and finally, the Mughal Dynasty.
The awe-inspiring structure is famous for its incredible acoustic effects. It leaves visitors open-mouthed when they clap their hands at Fateh Darwaza, and the sound is clearly heard at Bala, located a kilometre away. The whispering walls and royal palaces are other main attractions of Golconda fort.
The stunning Salarjung Museum was founded in 1951. The museum is the home of India’s finest collections, most of which are of Mir Yousuf Ali Khan’s, known as Salar Jung III.
The collections are so exhaustive that they are classified into various sections like European Art, Far Eastern Art, Indian Art, and the Art of Middle East. There is also a gallery to enthrall children.
Salarjung Museum’s collections span across the world, and they include Indian sculptures, Chinese porcelain, bronze statues, woodcarvings, antique jewelry, jade carvings, Persian carpets, glass work and much more. This museum, having the distinction of housing the biggest personal collection in the world, would take an entire day for history enthusiasts and art admirers.
Makkah Masjid, the 400-year-old ancient mosque, was constructed by Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, the founder of Hyderabad.
Makkah Masjid is significant because Qutub Shah personally laid its foundation stone and built the city of Hyderabad around it. The mosque, which can be considered as the birthplace of Hyderabad, was built from a special soil brought from Mecca. It is also believed that one of the rooms have Prophet Muhammad’s hair.
The Old City
Though Hyderabad is increasingly becoming the tech capital of India, the charm of Old City is very much alive even today.
The old city, an important site for trade and culture ever since Hyderabad was founded, isn’t located in the heart of Hyderabad. It is, in fact, the heart of Hyderabad. The Laad Bazaar, renowned for pearls, the ancient Madina Market, and some of the best traditional jewellery shops are located in the old city.
This part of the city is also known for its array of authentic shops selling Hyderabadi biryani, kebabs, and tandoor — hallmarks of the famed Hyderabadi cuisine worth dying for.
Qutb Shahi Tombs
Qutb Shahi Tombs, a series of seven tombs belonging to the Qutubuddin Dynasty, is an important heritage site in Hyderabad.
Constructed in the 1500’s, Qutb Shahi Tombs draw tourists for its exceptional architecture, which blends Persian and Hindu styles. The tombs, a burial ground of the Qutubuddin Dynasty, teleport people back in history. Its intricate arches and stonework are truly delightful.
Chowmallah Palace, standing tall for over 200 years, was the office of Nizams. The palace is separated into three parts, including, the Northern Courtyard, the Southern Courtyard, and the Khilwat Mubarak. Chowmallah Palace was a location for major events and ceremonies back in those days. Its plush interiors and opulent exteriors are beyond admiration.
Paigah Tomb, the final resting place of Paigah nawabs, reflects a blend of Mughal, Rajputana, Deccan, and Persian architecture.
The Paigah nawabs were second to the Nizams in stature, and they were very powerful and influential people of ancient Hyderabad. Their presence can be still felt through many monuments they built in the city.
Paigah Tombs have wonderful mosaic tile works, floral designs, stone, and marble work, which are a sight to behold. A walk through the Paigah Tomb will surely enthrall the history lovers.
The Spanish Mosque is situated inside the Paigah Palace complex, and it is one of the most beautiful structures of Hyderabad.
The mosque was built after Paigah Nawab Iqbal Ud Daula came back to Hyderabad from Europe. It is said, Nawab was so impressed by European architecture during his tour to Europe that he decided to build something similar in Hyderabad.
The mosque is one of its kind because it isn’t built in Islamic style, rather it borrowed heavily from the Spanish-Moorish architecture. Identical architectural design can be also seen in the Faluknama palace.
Chilkoor Balaji Temple
Chilkur Balaji Temple is an ancient Hindu temple of Lord Balaji, built during the age of Akkanna and Madanna, who were the uncles of Bhakta Ramadas.
This temple, one of the oldest in Hyderabad, doesn’t accept offerings from devotees, and neither does it have any green channel for VIPs. Chilkur Balaji Temple is situated on the banks of Osman Sagar. The temple is popularly known as Visa Balaji, as it is believed that the deity can solve all Visa related problems!
While the places mentioned above are simply magical, Hyderabad has a lot more to offer. Rich in its historical past, the city can satiate your appetite for art, culture, history, and heritage.