The auto journeys we took during our Hyderabad trip (December 2013) were all unique in themselves. Well, this is going to qualify as the subject for my next blog post, and so I will keep that to it for now. One of the autowallahs, who spoke way more than how much he concentrated on his work, told us the ‘4 Must Do’s when in Hyderabad’. He said- if you are in Hyderabad there are 4 things you just cannot miss- The Charminar, the Hyderabadi Biryani, the authentic Pearl Market and the Ramoji Film City.
|At one of the panelled windows at Charminar, Hyderabad|
We tried 3 of the 4 he mentioned, gave a miss to the pearls and tried a 5th one instead- biscuits. I thought it was worth writing a little about each one. 5 Must-Do’s when in Hyderabad- Have you tried them all?
1. The Charminar
Well, I had seen the photo of Charminar in the ‘Monuments of India’ chart when I was a kid. Recent research had told me it was at a chowk (square). We reached Charminar as our first destination on Day 1 of our trip. From the distance, I couldn’t estimate the size of the monument. As we neared it, the grandeur was unmistakable. A Rs.5 ticket bought our way into the Charminar. The stairs leading up to the first floor are quite steep and could be difficult and scary, especially while climbing down. Standing on the first floor of the Charminar showed me an amazing panoramic view of the old city of Hyderabad with the Mecca Masjid, the 2nd largest mosque in India, clearly visible nearby. It did provide a lot of picturesque backgrounds for photographs for the few moments we got a balcony to ourselves. The place was crowded when we visited it in the early morning hours. Oh! It was Christmas Day and so a holiday and so perhaps, the crowd!
Also, if you are at Charminar, do visit the Mecca Masjid and the Chowmahalla Palace. They are very close to Charminar and worth a visit. Don’t miss the vintage cars at the palace!
My Verdict: How can you come to Hyderabad and not see the Charminar- the identity of the city?
|Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad|
|Panoramic View, Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad|
|Panoramic View, Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad|
2. Hyderabadi Biryani
Of course! How can one go to Hyderabad and not have the world famous biryani? Well, this was the sole reason why I wanted to try the authentic and original biryani. We were near the Charminar and I looked up nearby biryani restaurants on Zomato and found Rumaan Restaurant. It was less than 500 metres from where we stood and owing to a hungry stomach, we proceeded to the restaurant. The menu wasn’t long and the place was full soon after we took a table. It was four of us and my father decided to order the family-pack chicken biryani. Funny how the plate-sizes were named, something which I saw was common all over the city- Either you can get a plate for one, or two or the family-pack for 3-4 members. With the appetite we have, it turned out that the family-pack could have served at least two more people on completely empty stomach. I should have clicked a picture of the plate when it reached our table. It was a huge mountain of rice! The taste? Well, frankly, I don’t know why I was expecting that it would be different from the biryanis I have had at other parts of the country. Globalisation has done its job well!
|We had our slice of the Hyderabadi Biryani at Rumaan Restaurant, Near Charminar, Hyderabad|
It was later that we got to know of the Paradise Restaurant which is famous for its biryani. A little research and talk-with-people could have helped here. But none of us were in for a second serving of biryani in the next two days and so, we let the case rest!
My Verdict: Biryani lovers go for it. Try the mutton one. And may be at Paradise Restaurant.
3. Pearl Market
The markets all around Charminar were full of pearl shops. Somebody told us that most of the shops here didn’t sell authentic pearls and one should go to the Pearl Market in case they wish to buy some. The autowallah tried convincing us to go there. In fact every autowallah has a map and city guide in hand and as soon as they see tourists, they would flock around with the best ‘pearl’ deals. I thanked WikiTravel for warning us against it. I had read, ‘Most of the auto drivers want you to checkout Govt. Authentic pearls shop in exchange of less fare however they are okay if you don't buy anything from these shops, just sit there for 10 minutes. They get 25 kg rice if they take 15 customers to these pearls shop. The pearl shops are notorious for persuasive sales tactics and they won't let you out easily. So pay the complete fare to auto drivers instead of being diverted to a pearl shop.’ We weren’t in the mood to buy pearls or even check some shops out, due to sheer lack of time, and so we forgot about it. I can only imagine a reader from Hyderabad reading this and thinking, You missed an important thing. Well, it’s on my agenda on a later visit, perhaps.
My Verdict: Obviously, I don’t qualify to give one!
The one part of the trip I looked forward to most. Probably it was the reason why I wanted to go to Hyderabad in the first place. We scheduled Ramoji Film City on our itinerary for the full third and final day of the trip. A full day, yes. We later realized that just wasn’t enough. My parents and sister were somehow too tired and exhausted by mid-day but I wasn’t going to miss anything. We hadn’t had breakfast and I was okay with skipping lunch. Food wasn’t the priority right now. Seeing each and every small detail of the entire Film City was. Well, we did go for all the shows at the ‘Movie Magic’ and the tour bus, had a sumptuous lunch at ‘Sangam’, shopped for some merchandise, and clicked loads and loads of photographs. I was in awe of the place.
|Entrance area view from inside, Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad|
|The Rajasthan Palaces set, Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad|
|The Mask! At Movie Magic, Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad|
We had reached in time for the welcome ceremony at 10 AM and left around 6.30 in the evening, just when the Winter carnival began. We had to reach the city 30 kms away in the evening rush traffic, check out of our hotel and reach Secunderabad railway station in time to catch our train at 10 PM. It had been an amazing day at the Film City. You can be certain that a separate post devoted to Ramoji is in the offing here. [;)]
My Verdict: The Rs.800 entry fee is much more than worth it. If nothing else, put this on Rank#1 of your Hyderabad Must-Do list and spend an entire day- 10 AM till closing time (or perhaps, until you are thrown out)!
5. Karachi Biscuits
During a telephonic conversation with my uncle at the end of Day 1 of our trip, he told us about the Karachi biscuits at the famous Karachi Bakery in Hyderabad. I wanted to try this out. Even our loud spoken autowallah had mentioned it. While returning from Ramoji Film City I told our cab driver to stop by this famous bakery but due to lack of time (as explained above) and the scheduled departure of our train in less than 2 hours, we dropped the stopover plan. Thankfully we reached Secunderabad station with some 45-minutes left for our train to depart. To my delight, we spotted the IRCTC stall and a long menu of ‘Karachi biscuits’ at the counter. I was expecting they would be costly, probably 500 bucks or something like that for a pack. We got the assorted biscuits because we had no clue which particular type of biscuit would be liked by us. And we got two 500 gram packs, each for 180 bucks!
What if you don’t like them? My parents asked.
We will see that later.
|I liked the packaging of the Karachi Biscuits Assorted Collection. Karachi Bakery, Hyderabad|
|A byte from each of the biscuits to check the flavour- 5 sweet and 2 sour. Karachi Bakery, Hyderabad|
Turned out, there were 7 different flavours in each pack. 5 of which were sweet and 2 salty. I liked it.
My Verdict: Probably not very different from the other bakeries in town, but still, come on, this one’s got its own website and it’s famous and it’s called Karachi and it’s in Hyderabad! I would surely term it a 5th Must-Do when in Hyderabad!
One thing I realized during this trip of mine- the internet isn’t allowing us to have complete enjoyment in any trip. Agreed the internet helps us immensely with the trip planning, cautioning us against things, preparing us with what to expect. But check this- Wherever you go, you have already read so much about it and seen the photos and the maps and everything else that nothing seems new when you actually set your eyes on something for the first time. You already know why something is the way it is and what to expect behind that corner. I mean, the fun that actually exploring new things about a new place would give, isn’t there any longer. I guess it’s just something we have to accept. A controlled use of the internet might help in not ‘spoiling’ the real fun of getting to know the unknown. What do you think?
Is there something else that should have surely figured on this list? Do share it in the comments below with me and other readers. The objective of this post would be fulfilled when someday some traveler is researching about Hyderabad on the internet and they read this post and enlist these in their to-do list when visiting the city.
Other posts in this series: