Travel Bucket List: India – Telangana Part 2

Hyderabad Part 2

Originally built as the home to the prime minister of Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah, Mir Momen, the Purani Haveli displays some of the most exquisite forms of craftsmanship and today is known for its remarkable exhibits of artwork and talent and functions as a museum. A beautiful structure, one of the most unique features of the Purani Haveli is a wardrobe, which is the longest in the world. It is built on two levels and has a hand-operated elevator in place. The palace is an impressive structure with its interiors resembling the 18th-century European style of architecture and also amalgamates the traditional Indian courtyards and houses several antique furniture within the U-shaped complex with a central single-story building. The central palace has two parallel double-storeyed oblong wings among which the western wing houses the world’s longest wardrobe. Both the wings have ornamented courtyards that are further flanked by rooms and verandahs. A few of the chambers are embellished with exquisite tile and mosaic work that gives a unique regal appearance. The museum is filled with a fascinating collection of items gifted to Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad. The key highlights of the place are the remarkable exhibits of souvenirs, gifts, mementoes and models presented to him on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee Celebrations in 1927. The museum also has silver replicas of monuments in Hyderabad. A gold tiffin box inlaid with diamonds, diamond and gold-studded daggers, pearl-studded wooden writing box, painting of Mir Osman Ali Khan, caskets, silver perfume containers, silver coffee cups studded with diamonds, silver filigree elephant and citations about Mir Osman Ali Khan in Urdu is also present here. A wooden throne used for silver jubilee celebrations of the last Nizam also adorns the premises of the museum. Vintage cars such as 1930 Rolls-Royce, a Packard, and a Jaguar Mark V also find a place here. The museum is closed on Fridays and on other days is open between 10:30 am and 5 pm. Entry fees are INR 80 for adults, INR 15 for children and INR 150 to be allowed to take a camera inside.

The Taj Falaknuma Palace perched around 2000 metres above Hyderabad was once the royal residence of the Nizams, probably the richest man in the world at that time. Today the palace has been converted into a five-star luxury heritage hotel. Entry fees for adults are INR 3,100 while children need to pay INR 2,480. The Malwala Palace is an 18th-century historical monument that boasts of Rajput and Mughal architectural styles and has specially imported teak wood furniture. There are no entrance fees and is well known for its beautifully carved wooden pavilions.

Located in the Ibrahim Bagh complex, Taramati Baradari used to be a traveller’s inn or a sarai built by Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah. Today it is a cultural complex with an open-air auditorium that can accommodate 1600, an air-cooled theatre which can take in 500, a banquet hall and a multi-cuisine restaurant. It is open on all days between 11 am and 6 pm and has no entry fee.

Dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara of Tirumala with the idol a replica of the Lord in Tirupati, the Birla Mandir was created in 1976 by Swami Renganathananda of the Ramakrishna Ashram and constructed by the Birla Foundation. The temple is located at the top of a 280 feet hill called the Naubat Pahad that overlooks both, Hyderabad and Secunderabad as well as the Hussain Sagar Lake and has one of the best viewpoints in the city. The main idol in the temple is 11 feet tall and made entirely of white marble from Rajasthan and weighs approximately 2000 tonnes and is covered by a carved lotus canopy made of granite stone. The architectural style is a fusion of the South Indian and Nagara styles. The main tower and shrine or the Jagadananda Vimanam is built in the Dravidian style, the other smaller towers strongly resemble the South Indian style and the Sanctum Sanctorum is designed in a distinct Oriya style with a 42 feet flagstaff made of Bronze. There are depictions of scenes from Mahabharata and Ramayana carved on the walls. The temple is open on all days between 7 am to 12 noon and then again between 3 to 9 pm.

The Chilkur Balaji Temple in the village of Chilkur, about 30 km from Hyderabad. It is also called the Visa Temple as it is believed that paying your obeisance to the presiding deity, Lord Balaji Venkateswara, along with his wives, Sridevi and Bhoodev can grant your wishes of gaining a visa to the USA. The belief finds its roots in an incident when a few students who had their Visa applications rejected, came and prayed here only to have their applications accepted. The temple is also sometimes referred to as the Chilkoor Balaji Temple and is reputed to be the oldest one in Telangana and is believed to have been built half a millennium ago during the time of Madanna and Akkanna, the uncles of Bhakta Ramadas. Chilkur Balaji is also the only temple in India that has continued to stay out of government control and which does not accept any monetary donations from its devotees. The temple is so popular that around 75,000 to 1,00,000 devotees visit the temple every week. As per belief, the temple was constructed by a devotee who used to visit Tirupati every year. However, on one occasion he could not do so, owing to serious illness. Moved by his faith, Lord Venkateswara appeared in his dream and instructed him to find his idol, along with the idols of Sridevi and Bhoodevi and construct this magnificent temple. When the devotee started digging, his axe struck Lord Balaji’s idol and suddenly blood started to flow from the wounds, turning the ground scarlet. The devotee then heard a mystical voice instructing him to flood the area with milk. This further resulted in the idols of Lord Balaji, accompanied by Sridevi and Bhoodevi to emerge from the ground and the idols were then installed in the temple. During a visit to the Chilkur Balaji Temple, devotees go through the usual rituals of prayer including the 11 circumambulations of the inner shrine and this is followed by making a vow. When and if this vow is fulfilled, the devotee has to walk 108 times around the sanctum sanctorum. The temple is open between 5 am and 8 pm daily.

The main deity at the ISKCON temple is Lord Krishna with other idols of Sri Gaura-Nitai, Sri Jagannatha Baladeva-Subhadra and Sri Radha Madana-Mohana. Also known as the Sri Radha-Madana-Mohana Temple, the temple has a magnificient architecture with the steps having various stops that lead to further ends of the temple. The Sanghi Temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateswara and is situated at a distance of about 35 km from Hyderabad. Perched atop the Parmanand Giri Hill, the temple has a magnificent gopuram and boasts of marvellous architecture. The temple houses idols of other Hindu deities as well and is said to be a replica of the Tirumala Temple. The temple is open on all days from 8:30 to 10:30 am and then between 4 to 6 pm. The Peddamma Temple’s main deity is the supreme mother as Pedamma means Mother of Mothers who is the supreme of the 11 forms of the village deities. Besides the main shrines, the Peddamma temple also has idols of Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganpathy and Goddess Saraswati and the temple accepts only coconuts as offerings. The temple which is closed on Sundays is open from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm on other days. Built by the Odia community in Hyderabad, the Sri Jagannath Temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe. Constructed in red sandstone, the temple follows the ancient shikhara style pattern. Besides the main deity, the temple has smaller shrines dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, Lord Hanuman and the Navagrahas. The temple is open between 6 to 11 am and 5 to 9 pm on all days.

The largest and oldest mosque in the city, the Mecca Masjid was commissioned in 1614 by Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, but only finished in 1694. Together with the Chowmahalla Palace, Laad Bazaar, and Charminar, the mosque forms the four heritage attractions in the city. Located near the Charminar, it has the capacity to accommodate 10,000 people. A grand gateway welcomes visitors to a path that leads up to the entrance of the court where one will find a water fountain with a vast pond situated nearby and it is believed that anyone who sits on the benches by the pond revisits them at least once again in their lifetime. The main prayer hall of the mosque is 75 feet high and 180 feet long with 15 ornamental arches decorating the roof with crystal chandeliers from Belgium which act as a support for three walls, such that five arches support each of the walls. Sermons from the Holy Quran as well as floral embellishments are carved onto the surface of the arches typical of the Qutb Shahi style of architecture. The columns are octagonal in shape and give way to arched balconies at the same level as the roof of the mosque itself. The columns themselves rise much higher and end in the shape of a spiral dome. Inside the dome lies five pathways to the tombs of the Asaf Jahi dynasty. The domes at the zenith of the mosque were not a part of the original architecture, rather they were later additions under the Mughals. Other heritage items such as a single strand of hair belonging to Prophet Mohammad, can be found here. It is believed that the arch embellishments over the main sanctum are made from the soil of Mecca which is why the mosque is known as the Mecca Masjid. Only followers of Islam are allowed to enter the mosque. The mosque is open daily between 4 am and 9:30 pm.

Located within the Paigah Palace, the Spanish Mosque is massive and can accommodate around 3000 people. Also known as the Masjid Iqbal Ud Daula or the Jam e Masjid Aiwan-E-Begumpet, the mosque, constructed in 1906, has beautiful architecture similar to that of Spain with a church-like appearance due to its structure and designs and is one-of-its-kind in India. The mosque is open on all days between 5 am to 9 pm. The Toli Masjid, also known as the Damdi Masjid is a flamboyant mosque, located nearly 2 km from the Golconda fort. It is a breathtakingly beautiful example of the Qutb Shahi architecture and is embellished by two minarets of about 20 meters on either side. It was constructed in 1671 by Mir Musa Khan Mahaldar, the designer of Qutb Shah. The frontage of the mosque comprises about five arches, each of which has lotus decorations in the spandrels. The main arch is somewhat broader and more elaborate. The mosque is open daily between 10 am and 6 pm.

Located in the Ibrahim Bagh, the Qutub Shahi Tombs are a group of small and big mosques and tombs built by the rulers of the Qutub Shah dynasty. The tombs are all built on a raised platform and have a dome-shaped structure. The little tombs are single-storeyed while the bigger ones are double storeyed. The tombs are closed on Fridays and on other days, open between 9:30 am and 4:30 pm and has an entry fee of INR 10 for adults and INR 5 for children. Located in suburban Hyderabad, the Paigah Tombs are a group of tombs of the Paigah royal family and is managed by a family of caretakers who reside in the premises. Although derelict and dilapidated today, the tombs still boast of a stunningarchitecture with marvellously carved marble panels. The tombs are open daily between 10 am and 5 pm and do not have any entry fee.

An urban park named after Lumbini in Nepal, the Lumbini Park is located alongside the Hussain Sagar Lake and has an artificial water tank. There is a huge statue of Lord Buddha installed in the tank which can be reached through paddle boats. The park also has musical fountain shows and is open on all days between 9 am and 9 pm. The entry fee for adults is INR 20 and for children is INR 10. The Hyderabad Botanical Garden boasts of a rich variety of plants, shrubs, trees, flowering plants and medicinal herbs plus several meandering waterways and fountains. Open daily from 5:30 am and 6 pm, entry fees to the park are INR 25 for adults and INR 10 for children while photography which is allowed between 5 and 8 am has a fee of INR 500. Adjacent to the Hussain Sagar Lake, the NTR Gardens is a tiny but gorgeous park dotted with brightly coloured plants and tall trees. Boasting well-groomed landscaping, ornate lamp posts and brilliant water fountains, the park also has a souvenir shop, toy train, freefall, restaurants and a variety of fun activities for both kids and adults. The entry fee to the park is INR 20 for adults and INR 10 for children and the park is open from 2:30 to 8:30 pm, Mondays to Saturdays and from 12:30 to 8:30 pm on Sundays. Spread over 92 acres on the banks of Hussain Sagar Lake, the Sanjeevaiah Park is dedicated to the former President of India, Dr Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy. Replete with lush green trees, flowering shrubs, fountains and glossy grass lawns, the park is the perfect place to rewind and rejuvenate from the daily routine life. Open daily from 9 am to 6 pm, for morning walks, the entry fee is INR 2 per day or INR 50 monthly while general visitors pay INR 5 per visit and children below the age of 10 do not pay any entry fees. Named after the former Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi, the Indira Park houses tall towering trees and plenty of shrubs and flowering plants. Spread over an area of 76 acres, the park is believed to have been built in 1975. The park is open between 5 am to 8 pm daily and has an entry fee of INR 5 for adults and INR 1 for children. A popular hangout, the Krishna Kanth Park is dotted with swings and sprinkled with benches and is open daily between 5 am and 9 pm. The Kidwai Garden boasts lush green trees, vibrant blooming flowers and an all-round aesthetic atmosphere and is a popular local spot. The park is open daily between 10 am and 7 pm and has an entry fee of INR 20 for adults and INR 10 for children. Located adjacent to the Saroornagar Lake, the Priyadarshini Park has beautifully landscaped lawns, swings and snack stalls. The Saroornagar Lake offers magnificent views of the city in the moonlight and is open between 9 am and 8 pm daily. Entry fees to the park are INR 5. Established in 1846, during the Nizam’s reign, the Public Gardens is considered to be the oldest park in Hyderabad. Also known as the Bagh-e-Aam, the park houses several buildings of historical and political importance including the very popular Lotus Pond. Open daily from 9 am to 12 noon and then between 2 to 6 pm, the park’s entrance fee is INR 20 for adults and INR 10 for children.

Renowned as Asia’s largest artificial lake at 5.7 km, the Hussain Sagar Lake was commissioned by Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah in 1563 and is renowned for its monolith statue of Lord Buddha that stands in its centre, the tallest of its kind in the world. Also known as the Tank Bund, the lake lies on a tributary of the River Musi and has a 3 km long dam and connects the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The statue of Lord Buddha was installed in 1992 and was inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Crafted entirely out of white granite, the statue is placed upon what is known as the Rock of Gibraltar. The unique heart-shaped lake is perennially fed by canals from the Musi river and was the main source of water supply to Hyderabad before Himayat Sagar and Osman Sagar were built on river Musi. Hussein Sagar is open from 8 am to 10 pm daily.

Located in Hyderabad’s outskirts, the Osman Sagar Lake is also known as Gandipet. Elless World, Ocean Park and Treasure Island surround this lake, making it a local favourite. The water body was made by building a dam on the Moosi River in 1920 by Mir Osman Ali Khan and it provides waters to Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The lake is open daily between 9:30 am and 5:30 pm and has an entry fee of INR 5 per person.

Durgam Cheruvu is a serene and picturesque lake in the middle of Hyderabad, it is also known as the Secret Lake as it is bordered by granite on all ends and is hidden by rocks. It is believed that the lake was the main source of water for those living in Golconda Fort. Today, Durgam Cheruvu has an artificial waterfall and fountain with boating the must-do activity here. It is open between 10 am and 6:30 pm daily.

With over 1500 species here, the Nehru Zoological Park is also known as the Hyderabad Zoo and is among the largest zoos in India at 380 acres. Inside the zoo, visitors are spoilt for choice with a number of safaris including Lion, Tiger, and Bear. For children, enclosures such as the Dinosaur Park visit, a mini train ride and elephant rides. The zoo also has a museum detailing its natural history. Migratory birds are known to arrive every year at the Mir Alam tank lake and its embankment, adding to the biological diversity of the place. From April to June, the zoo is open from 8 am to 5:30 pm while between July and March, it is open from 8:30 am to 5 pm. Closed on Mondays, entrance is INR 20 for adults and INR 10 for children. For the train ride, adults and children pay INR 15 while the safari ride costs INR 25 for adults and INR 10 for children. Fees for the regular Elephant Ride is INR 15 for an adult and INR 5 for a child while for the Maharaja Elephant Ride, it is INR 50 for an adult and INR 50 for a child. The entrance fee to the Nocturnal Animal House is INR 10 for adults and INR 5 for children and a brochure with the zoo details and a map is available for INR 5 at the entrance. A guest house is available from 9 am to 5:30 pm for INR 200 for 10 persons and INR 2000 for more than 10 persons. For an amateur photography camera, the fees are INR 20 while it is INR 500 for a professional photography camera. Fees for an amateur video camera is INR 100 and INR 500 for a professional video camera.

A one of its kind planetarium, the Birla Planetarium was inaugurated in 1985 with technological help from Japan. With periodical sky shows throughout the day, the planetarium is open daily between 11:30 am and 8 pm and has an entrance fee of INR 100 per person while the entrance fee to the science museum and planetarium combined is INR 160 per person.

Located on the banks of the Musi River, the Salar Jung Museum is one of the three national museums in the country and also among the largest at 10 acres and spread over two floors. The collection inside the museum is because of Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, also known as Salar Jung III, the former Prime Minister of the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad. With over one million paintings, sculptures, carvings, manuscripts and artefacts, the museum is a repository of art collections, some dating back to the first century, including a painting of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the artist, Aurangzeb’s sword, daggers that belonged to Shah Jahan, Jehangir and a full wardrobe of Tipu Sultan. The museum also has a number of priceless sculptures such as the Veiled Rebecca, the Double Statue of Mephistopheles & Margaretta. The biggest attraction at the museum is the musical clock dating to the 19th century and consists of more than 350 parts. It is believed that the present collection is just half of the original collection of Salar Jung III. The museum building has a semi-circular shape and 38 galleries within it spread over two floors with the ground floor having 20 galleries and the first floor 18 galleries. The musical clock was acquired from Cook and Kelvey Co. and has more than three hundred parts. A bearded man in a robe comes out of an enclosure and hits the bell, the number of hits signifying the time of hour while a blacksmith constantly hits an anvil every second. Created by the Italian sculptor, Giovanni Maria Benzoni, the Veiled Rebecca is a life-size sculpture that is skilfully wrapped in a transparent veil that is also a part of the marble masterpiece. The pedestal on which the sculpture stands is carved out of a single marble and there are only four copies of the Veiled Rebecca in the world. The museum is closed on Fridays and public holidays and on other days is open from 10 am to 5 pm and Indians will need to pay INR 20 and foreigners INR 500 to access the museum.

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A private museum, the Sudha Cars Museum was established in 2010 by Kanyaboyina Sudhakar who displayed hand-made cars created by him with all cars designed to look like everyday objects. Every exhibit has a plaque stating the time and cost of manufacture and the maximum speed it can attain. The cars at the museum can be driven but are not for sale. The museum is open daily between 9:30 am and 6:30 pm and has an entrance fee of INR 50 for adults and INR 15 for children.

In close proximity to the Charminar, the Nizams Museum is a royal museum, situated in the Purani Haveli housing the memorabilia and artefacts of the then Nizam of Hyderabad. These include a 1930 Rolls Royce, Mark V Jaguar and Packard as well as the flattering gold-furnished throne, used during the celebrations, coffee cups made of silver and studded with diamonds, a gold tiffin box with diamonds and more. The museum which is closed on Fridays is open from 10 am to 5 pm and has an entry fee of INR 100 for adults and INR 15 for children.

The AP State Archaeology Museum, now known as Telangana State Archaeology Museum is located in the public garden of Hyderabad and is one of the oldest museums in South India. The museum is built in the Indo-Saracenic style and is unique. It is said that the sole purpose of the museum was not just to be a place of artefacts, but as a repository of the culture and heritage of the state of Hyderabad when it was taken over by the British colonial rule. Created in 1915, the museum was constructed in 1930. Previously the museum was installed inside a palace in the Public Garden which was the Nizam for his daughter and was called it the Doll’s house. The most famous attraction of the museum is the presence of an Egyptian mummy which was accidentally brought in by Mahbub Ali Khan, the son-in-law of Nizam. Another attraction is the gallery dedicated to Lord Buddha which comprises bronze artefacts, arms, armours and has a Jain gallery as well. Closed on Fridays, the museum is otherwise open from 10:30 am to 5 pm and has entrance fees of INR 10 per adult and INR 5 per child as well as INR 20 for any camera carried inside.

Shilparamam is a traditional crafts village created with the idea to preserve and conserve traditional crafts. The village has been set amidst cascading waterfalls and lush greenery; with sections designated to depict each region of the country. There is also a rock museum, a rural museum, a recreational area and boating activities for visitors. Open daily between 10:30 am and 8:30 pm, Shilparamam has an entry fee of INR 40 for adults and INR 30 for children.

The Ramoji Film City was built in 1991 and is spread over 2500 acres. It has been certified as the World’s largest Film Studio Complex by the Guinness Book of World Records. The film city can accommodate 20 film units at one go and has various shooting locations including the streets of London, the Hollywood signage, Japanese gardens, an airport, a hospital, landscapes and buildings as well as laboratories. There are a number of package tours and buses that leave regularly from the city to tour the film city. It is open daily from 9 am to 8 pm daily and a general guided tour without Food provided will set an adult back by INR 900 & a child between 3-12 years by INR 800. A Ramoji Star Experience which includes food provided will cost an adult INR 1900 & a child between 3 – 12 years, INR 1600.

Located in the Jubilee Hills area, the KBR National Park or the Kasu Brahmananda Reddy Park is also known as the Chiran Fort Palace. The park is known as a jungle amidst the concrete jungle and was declared a National Park in 1998 and the complex houses the Chiran Fort Palace, a Mor bungalow on a hillock, the Gol bungalow, stables for animals, a motor shed for vehicles, several water tanks and wells, all enveloped by a dense forest. One can see more than 600 species of flowers and plants, more than 100 species of birds, reptiles and other animals as well as several small animals here as well as an exciting range of butterflies and the park also offers guided tours mostly during the evenings. The two different zones of the park are the Conservation Zone and the Visitors Zone. The larger of the two zones, the Conservation Zone is spread over 86.5 hectares and is dedicated primarily to the conservation of nature with several planned activities here. The Visitors Zone is spread over 56 hectares and falls partially under the Wildlife Protection Act, and so visitors can only access certain parts of this zone. The Park used to be a palace before being declared a national park in 1998. The Chiran Palace was built on the premises in 1940 and it is believed that Azam Jah gifted this palace to his son Prince Mukarram Jah, on his coronation and is a double-storey structure.

Located near the Chiklur village, the Mrugavani National Park is a very popular weekend getaway for locals which sprawls over 1211 acres and houses 600 species of animals and plants. The Park was declared a National Park in 1994 and in addition to birdwatching and jungle safaris, the park also houses a tall tower that lets one look at the mesmerising view of the wildland below. The national park also has a jungle resort which allows visitors to unwind and relax amidst nature. Visitors can tour the Mrugavani National Park by taking a safari bus which can take a maximum of 50 passengers at a time and the cost per person is INR 20. Other facilities in the park include a well-stocked library, an education centre, a museum, and an auditorium. Visitors can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the forest from the tall watchtower inside the park. Accommodation is also available with prior booking in tents, cottages, and dormitories. The park is closed on Mondays and on other days is open between 9 am and 5 pm. Entrance fees are INR 10 per person while the safari rate is INR 50 per person.

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