Hyderabad is famous for pearls and biriyani, but the Indian city also attracts the largest global tech companies – lending it the nickname “Cyberabad”.
It’s intriguing to see how this international presence blends with the bustle of a modern Indian city, and the antiquity found in well-preserved attractions like Chowmahalla Palace and Charminar Mosque.
Built in the 16th century to mark the end of the plague, the exquisitely crafted mosque of Charminar is now the landmark of Hyderabad. It stands proudly at the centre of a busy junction, but there’s plenty of nearby pedestrianised areas to gawp at it in safety. Non-Muslims are allowed to enter the mosque. Open 9am-5.30pm daily.
Golconda Fort was originally built in the 12th century but grew to become a complex of palaces, defences and temples. Climb up its hill to survey Hyderabad in all its glory, or head to the Queen’s Palace at 7 pm for a sound and light show. Open 8am-5.30pm daily.
Formerly the residence of the Nizam monarchs of Hyderabad, Chowmahalla Palace features four major buildings within well-kept gardens and courtyards. Begin at the impressive Durbar Hall, decorated with huge chandeliers dripping with Belgian crystal, and work your way around the exhibitions of regal finery. Open 10 am–5 pm daily, closed Fridays.
Salar Jung Museum
Allow a few hours to explore the Salar Jung museum – with nearly 100,000 rare items on display, it’s one of the largest museums in India. Its Quran collection is the largest draw, but the Indian jade daggers and Veiled Rebecca by Giovanni Maria Benzoni are other highlights. Open 10am-5pm daily closed Fridays.
Where to stay
Decent hotels are affordable to even those on meagre budgets. To start, try lemon tree hotels, the Premier Inn of India. Its budget-friendly prices are achieved with economies of scale and a no-fuss approach to clean and modern accommodation. Doubles from Rs3,390 (£37), B&B. For those on a stricter budget, sister brand Red Fox is just the ticket. Doubles from Rs2,499 (£28), B&B
Where to eat
First thing’s first: you can’t leave Hyderabad without trying its biryani. This is where the Mughal one-pot dish was popularised and it’s still hugely celebrated. Biryani is a speciality at Shadab (0091 780 976 6659), where patrons can see the chefs at work as they wait for their dish, priced at around Rs270 (£3). Open 5am-2am daily.
For indecisive visitors, flechazo is a buffet-style eatery that serves Mediterranean-Asian fusion food – expect made-to-order pizza, chaats on a conveyor belt like a sushi bar, ice cream prepared with liquid nitrogen and much more. This one needs booking in advance. Open 11.30am-4pm and 6.30pm-midnight daily.
Where to drink
Given the quality of homebrewed chai, neighbourhood cafes are revised into more grandiose propositions like chit chat chai. Its creamy masala chai is a must, but it also serves concoctions like banana walnut lassi, kiwi and green apple ice tea and Oreo chai frappe, alongside breakfast food. Open 8.30am weekends/10am weekdays-midnight.
For something a little stronger, Heart Cup Coffee in Jubilee Hills not only gives a caffeine hit but turns into a buzzy bar with live music as day turns into night. Open 10.30am-midnight daily.
Where to shop
Known as the City of Pearls, Hyderabad’s jewellery stores are the sole reason for many a visit – a pearl earring and necklace set begins at around £50. It’s possible to find a bargain in the Punjagutta area, busy with shops selling pearls and gemstones, but Mangatrai jewellers provide more assurance. Diamonds, for example, come with a certificate, and there’s no haggling on the already reasonable price.
Elsewhere, Laad Baazar is found at the foot of Charminar, selling bangles, costume jewellery, bridalwear and household goods. It’s an experience to take it all in, but not necessarily a place you’ll find a perfect memento of the trip.