When a poet, architect and an aesthete supervises the building of a city, beauty, balance and symmetry are to be expected. What leads romance to the city of Hyderabad, is the love story of a young prince and a village belle that resulted in its very foundations being laid.
Hyderabad is generally warm and dry during the summer months but it is particularly pleasant between November and March.
Hyderabad was modeled after Isfaan in Iran and built under the supervision of the Prime Minister Mir Momin, a poet, architect and an aesthete-like his master. He tried to create a replica of Paradise itself to suit Muhammad Qulis status as the greatest of the Qutab Shahi rulers. The city was completed in 1592. It has a grid plan of two broad intersecting streets with the Charminar as a kind of triumphal arch at the center. The French traveler, Tavernier in 1652, compared Hyderabad to Orleans well built and opened out and in 1672, Abbe Carr was much impressed by the city as the center of all trade in the East.
The Charminar - Charminar, the hub of the city, has four wide roads radiating in the four cardinal directions. The four minarets command the landscape for miles. The structure is square, each side measuring 100 feet, with a central pointed high arch at the center. The whole edifice contains numerous small decorative arches arranged both vertically and horizontally. The prominently projected cornice on the first floor upholds a series of six arches and capitals on each façade, rising to the double-story gallery of the minarets. The projected canopy, ornamental brackets and decoration in stucco plaster add graceful elegance to the structure. The minarets, their domed finials rising from their lotus-leaves cushion, rise to 180 feet from the ground.
The Mecca Masjid - Near the Charminar stands the Mecca Masjid, begun by Muhammad Qutb Shah in 1617 and completed by Aurangzeb in 1693. It is a grand edifice with a huge courtyard which can accommodate nearly ten thousand men at prayer. The minarets look rather stunted in comparison with the grandeur of the whole massive structure. A particular stone brick in the mihrab is believed to have been brought from Mecca.
Other Mosques - The other two mosques-the Jami Masjid and the Toli Masjid are small and modest structures. Muhammad Quli Shah built the Jami Masjid in 1592, after founding Hyderabad. Musa Khan, a supervisor of works at the Mecca Masjid, levied a damri for every rupee spent on the building of the Mecca Masjid. With these collections he built the Toli Masjid, near the Purana Pul.
Other Sites Of Interest - The Nizams did not build any great mosques or palaces. The last Nizam built the Falakuma palace which housed the most expensive art objects, tapestries and carpets, in addition to the largest single-man collection of diamonds. Here the Nizam had received their Majesties, the late King George V and King Edward VIII of England.
Of much interest to visitors is the Husain Sagar Lake, a large artificial lake lying between Hyderabad and Secunderaad. It was built by Ibrahim Qutb Shah around 1550, in gratitude to Husain Shah Wali, who had cured him of a disease. A tourist spot affording lovely views of the city is the Naubat Pahad, a hilltop crowned by the Birla temple. The Bagh-I-Aam stretches below this hillock where stands the State Legislative Assembly building. Among the newer additions to Hyderabads grand buildings are the Osmani University, the High Court and the Osmania General Hospital.
The city straddles the Musi river which, in 1908, had caused much destruction by flooding the city. Under the supervision of Indias greatest engineer Sir M.Vishweshvarayya, two large reservoirs, Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar were constructed to save the city from devastation by floods in the future. If there is some time left, a visit to the Nehru Zoological Park is recommended for a short lion safari and observing the wild beasts moving about freely in their expansive compounds. One of the most visited places in the city is the Salar Jung museum.
Golconda has been known as famous center for diamonds, and the diamond mines boast of some of the most renowned diamonds in the world. The Kohinoor originally belonged to Golconda as did the Darya-I-Noor, the Orloff, the Pitt, and the great table of the Nizam.
Warangal is situated 157 km north-east of Hyderabad. It is famous for its thousand pillar temple-a specimen of the Chalukya architecture. The fort was built by the Kakatiyas, who ruled between 12th and 14th centuries. Ruins of the mud-brick fort survive in certain portions. The great temple at Harnamkonda was built on the slopes of the hill in 1163 by Rudra Deva. It carries some exquisitely carved pillars. The monolithic Nandi sits on guard at the entrance which also has rock cut statues of elephants on either side.
110 km northwest of Hyderabad lies Bidar, former capital of the Bahamani, and later on Barid Shahi dynasty. It has a vast range of palaces mosques baths, schools and tombs within a strong fortified area. If one has some time to spare he/she shouldnt miss nearby Gulbarga, the Bhamani capital, famous for its beautiful mosques and fort.
Nagarjunakonda, lying south-east of Hyderabad, has had been under strong Buddhist influence. The Satvahanas built a grand stupa at Amravati, embellished with most sumptuous sculptures. Before work on the Nagarjunasagar Dam project began, archaeologists performed the miraculous task of transporting stones from the excavated ruins of Vijaipuri to the top of Nagajunakonda hill and setting them up in their exact position. Remains of sculpture, monasteries, amphitheatre, and streets found a new safer home permanently relieved of the fear of inundation. A huge statue of Buddha dominates the crest of Nagarjunakonda.
Pearls - Hyderabads chief claim to international fame rests on two things, the Charminar and the pearl market. Both the Qutab Shahi rulers and the Nizams loved pearls and diamonds. They patronized this trade in a big way. At one time pearls were imported from Basra; now Japan is the chief supplier of raw material. The flourishing trade in pearls at Hyderabad attracts tourist and connoisseur alike.
Bidriware - Hyderabad is also famous for Bidriware, a type of encrusted metalwork where one metal is inlaid or overlaid on another metal. The design is inlaid by hammering in strands of wire in engraved grooves in linear design or pieces of chiseled out pattern in metal are inserted in exact cut out surface and then hammered in. Later, a permanent black color is imparted to the alloy surface by chemical process which leaves the inlaid designs brilliant and unaffected. Lastly the object is washed, dried and given an oil massage for finish.
Kat Saris - For women, Hyderabad holds yet another shopping opportunitythose irresistible saris in striking colors. The patterning is done by resist-dyeing or tie-dyeing the yarn before it is put on the loom for weaving. The other popular variety of saris is from Siddipet, Dharmavaram, Narayanpet and Gadwal. These forms of weaving require experience since patterns are created by changing the color of the yarn during weaving. Also typical of the state is Kalmakarithe hand painted fabric, and Nirmal painting, using dyes to create memorable scenes from the Mahabharat and the Ramayana.
HOW TO REACH
Being located in the heart of the Deccan Plateau, Hyaderabad is almost equidistant from all the important destinations in the south. Its geographical location makes it an important rail junction.
It has a modern airport that links it to most major cities. There is also an extensive road network.