Hyderabad is probably the only city so far where we have ventured out in the evening for sight-seeing. The city felt safe even after dusk; Ola and Uber were available to ferry us to and fro. On the evening of the first day, we were at the famous Golconda fort, just in time to see it’s gates close to visitors; but first in queue for the Sound and Light show that is a major attraction in the evenings.
In fact many just attend the Sound and Light show to catch a glimpse of the old fort and understand the history, instead of doing the ambitious climb up the fort in the blazing sun. But we missed the iconic Qutub Shahi tombs near the Golconda fort, the final resting place of the Muslim sultans. For these you will have to make time during the day.
The Sound and Light show which lasts for an hour is a narration about the history of Golconda – it’s rise as the capital of the Qutub Shahi dynasty, which ruled the Deccan of the Indian sub-continent for nearly two centuries and its eventual fall to the Mughals led by Emperor Aurangzeb. The narrator is the Bollywood icon Amitab Bachchan; there are songs in between sung by Bhagmati for her king Muhammad Quli.
It was Muhammad Quli, the fifth Qutub Shahi ruler who developed Hyderabad as an alternative settlement for the people of Golconda. The Charminar was commissioned and built at the centre of the new city. With the defeat and subsequent plunder by the Mughals, Golconda was reduced to ruins. In the following decades, a new reign was established in the state and Hyderabad emerged as the capital of the Asif Jahi dynasty of the Nizams. The rise and fall of Nizams is another fascinating story.
The night was still young so at 8:30 pm, we took Ola from the Golconda fort to the Charminar. I have to mention that to reach the visitor’s entrance to the Golconda fort, we had to pass through a narrow arched doorway of the still standing outer walls of the Golconda fort. It is amazing that these walls are still in place, you can still see the large and magnificent wooden doors; the outer walls of the other forts we have seen so far, which are located close to the city have been destroyed (with only a remanent of the wall standing) and the land made way for new houses and shops. But here people have homes and shops in and around the magnificent fort walls and the traffic has to go through the ancient doors. The narrow roads would spell chaos if it not were for the traffic lights manning the ancient doors🚦.
The cab dropped us off at the entrance to the Laad Bazaar which led to the Charminar. The place was buzzing with activity – it was a Thursday evening. Bangles and pearls dominate the bazaar shops. The bangles definitely catch your attention – they are blingy, shiny, shimmering and colourful.
The square around the Charminar is filled with hawkers. You can sell anything here – rugs, sunglasses, perfumes, fruits, clothes, not to mention bangles, earrings and any fancy items. There is also the Charminar police station close by. We had a red guava from a fruit vendor laced with kala namak (black salt).
The Charminar seems to have received a recent face lift and paint job. The monument was closed for the evening, but you can still soak in it’s grandeur. The Charminar is a perfect square, it’s four tall towers or minarets stretch out into the sky. It’s a magnificent monument, centuries old and still inspire awe !!
Hungry? Head for Irani chai (tea) and biscuits at the Nimrah Cafe next to the Charminar. The warm milky tea on a cold December evening is lovely ☕️. Try a plate of assorted biscuits, though the Osmania biscuit is the most popular choice; the Kaju (cashew) biscuit was good too !! The cafe is crowded, but the service is super quick; there are table outside and customers move fast.
The next day morning was spent at Ikea shopping and after dumping all the stuff we bought back at the hotel, we hailed a cab and found ourselves at the Lumbini park next to the Hussain Sagar lake. We were in time to catch the music fountain and laser show starting at 7:15 pm. Friday evening and it was full house. The music is catchy and the laser display mesmerising. It’s was a pleasant surprise and a good end to the day.
After the laser show, you can walk around the Lumbini park; not much else going on, there are boats docked at the pier and you can get a glimpse of the illuminated Buddha statue in the middle of the lake.
Hyderabad is welcoming, both day and night. But as a precaution just be wary of the auto rickshaw drivers who tell you that they will take you pearl shopping and sight-seeing. If they agree to take you directly to your destination, go ahead, they work out cheaper than cabs.
But if they suggest pearl shopping – they will have a tie up with some jewellery shop and once you are on board, they will stop at the shop and ask you to just browse around. When in the shop, the auto-driver will take off and you may either end up buying something from the shop or have to look for another ride to your destination.
The itinerary for a 3 day trip to Hyderabad is linked here Treat yourself to Hyderabad: A 3 day itinerary 🌆