11 takeaways from my first trip to Hyderabad

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Charminar - things to know about hyderabad for first time travellersHyderabad had always fascinated me. While the city of Nawabs is rich in culture and history, there was also the thrill of driving down from Mumbai to another Indian state.

In October 2015, prior to switching my job to boost my ‘so called’ corporate career, I took a two week break. The plan was to do a road trip, 720km away, to Hyderabad. Here are the key takeaways from my first trip ever…

Hyderabadis are big eaters

As much as I love my food, I was never able to finish a dish that I ordered while in Hyderabad. The Hyderabadis have a large appetite for food. Don’t let the waiter fool you when he says a Biryani plate will suffice for one. If you order a plate of Biryani in Hyderabad, three average eaters can finish the meal. And if you order a Biryani family thali for three, it is good enough for five to six people. The concept of buffet seems apt to them.

Hyderabad Food - things to know about hyderabad for first time travellers

A chicken rice plate at a local restaurant cost Rs. 90 only

Filmy restaurants

That Hyderabad loves movies is a given. Their love for cinema shows in almost everything they do including dining. On day 2 of my stay in Hyderabad, I visited a restaurant called ‘70mm’ that had films as its theme. And as if I wasn’t done, on the third day, I ate a lavish buffet meal at the ‘Superstar’ restaurant at the Ramoji Film City.

Hyderabad food 70mm - things to know about hyderabad for first time travellers

The ’70mm’ restaurant in Ohri’s Jalavihar

The traffic is insane

The traffic in Hyderabad is chaotic to say the least. You’re better off walking but it’s too sunny to leave behind the comforts and shade of a transport. While Hyderabad is a major hub for IT and IT enabled services, there is a lot to be desired in terms of infrastructure. The metro work is in a mess, there are too many one-ways leading to confusion and the roads are narrow and jam packed with daily commuters. We were often frustrated with the traffic that went late into the night.

Hyderabad Traffic - things to know about hyderabad for first time travellers

The people are ever so kind

Unfamiliar roads, we struggled to find our way around the city. But the people are ever so kind. Often they would tell us to follow them to help us reach our destination. On three occasions, the locals went out of their way to guide us on our route. As a female traveller, I also found Hyderabad to be women friendly.

People in Hyderabad - things to know about hyderabad for first time travellers

(In the pic) Meet Yogesh. He was a security personnel at Charminar and he briefly ran me through the history of the monument. In a candid chat, he revealed that he is doing his BCom in Hyderabad but he’s originally from Aurangabad and wants to become a bank manager someday. He recommended that I visit the NTR Park. He said that he went there with his girlfriend and that it’s a very nice place.

Disappointment and happiness at Ramoji Film City

I’m a huge South Indian movie buff and I don’t let the language barrier come in the way of my love for Tollywood. So, when I was in Hyderabad, it was obvious that I would drive down to Ramoji Film City, even if it meant giving an entire day to this place from my packed itinerary.

Ramoji Film city (2) - things to know about hyderabad for first time travellers

While the sheer size of the film city is unbelievable, I was a tad disappointed as not one Telugu song played while I toured the complex. This was something I wasn’t prepared for. On the brighter side, I managed to click a picture with a local actor playing a cowboy in one of the shows at the film city and who I thought looked hot 😀

Ramoji Film City - things to know about hyderabad for first time travellers

Almond Biscotti at Karachi Bakery

I was told that I have to try the specialty fruit biscuits from Karachi Bakery in Hyderabad. When I entered one of their outlets, I went crazy with the aroma of freshly baked goodies. I ended up buying a variety of flavoured biscuits, Nankhatai and Almond Biscotti. The biscotti, especially, has had me wanting for more ever since. Now I keep a track of friends and folks visiting Hyderabad so I can request them to bring me some almond biscotti 😀

Karachi Bakery - things to know about hyderabad for first time travellers

Necklace Road is like Mumbai’s Marine Drive

If Mumbai has Marine Drive, Hyderabad has the Necklace Road. The reason to call it the ‘Necklace Road’ is the same as why we call Marine Drive ‘Queen’s Necklace’. The Necklace Road encircles the Hussain Sagar Lake or Tank Bund and the street lamps glitter at night making for a spectacular view. Even the drive is a joy during evenings with empty serene roads and cool breeze.

Necklace road - Hyderabad - things to know about hyderabad for first time travellers

I wasn’t allowed to enter the Mecca Masjid

That’s true! The Mecca Masjid has a strict dress code and visitors are expected to follow it as a sign of respect to God. While they expect you to be modestly dressed, they do not consider jeans and t-shirt (even if it is full sleeved) as modest clothing for women, although men could enter wearing that attire. When I pushed my luck and tried to enter the masjid, I was stopped at the entrance and shown the board that hung there. So ladies, remember, if you want to visit the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, wear lose knee-length kurta and carry a shawl, or wear a Salwar Kameez.

Salman Khan has a thing for Hyderabad

My guide at the Golconda Fort told me that the superstar has shot a majority of his films at this fort like Tere Naam, Wanted, Ready, Bodyguard and Dabangg 1 and 2. Salman’s sister, Arpita Khan had her grand wedding celebration at the palatial Falaknuma Palace where the entire Khan khandaan flew down to attend the lavish ceremonies. I’m probably connecting the dots here but it does seem like Salman Khan has a thing for Hyderabad. What do you think?

The Nizam lives in the Australian outback

Hyderabad was ruled by the Nizams from 1724 to 1948. And while their rule has abolished, some of them are still honored and widely respected. Hyderabad is home to a number of palaces like the Falaknuma Palace and the Purani Haveli. The Chowmahalla Palace is the residence of the current Nizam, Mukarram Jah. I was surprised to learn that the Nizam has left his palatial home and settled on a sheep station in the Australian outback. The Chowmahalla palace was opened to tourists in 2005.

Chowmohalla Palace (2) - things to know about hyderabad for first time travellers

The Chowmahalla Palace

Two worlds in one

Hyderabad is divided into old city and new city. While the old city has most of the tourist attractions and is the lifeline of local trade, the new city consisting of Hitec City, Jubilee Hills and Banjara Hills is complete with swanky commercial buildings, IT parks, branded showrooms and posh eateries. The traffic situation and the travel time from the old city to the new city and back almost makes it feel like Hyderabad is a merger of two worlds in one.

Golconda fort hilltop - city view - things to know about hyderabad for first time travellers

Panoramic view of Hyderabad city from Golconda Fort

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Edwina D'souza

Read write watch, 2 left hands and feet, recluse, gazer and occasionally suffer from wanderlust syndrome!!

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