Nawabi Places to Visit in Hyderabad in 3 Days

When I traveled to Hyderabad twice this summer for my US visa interviews, I thought that I would not write a Hyderabad travel guide. Not because Hyderabad didn’t have enough archaic domes, stone-carved mosques, vast green lawns around centuries-old tombs, pigeons clouding the grey sky, flaky flavorful pastries crowding old bakeries, robust fort walls that sprawled through the city, ginger tea being sold at every nook and corner, and historic buildings standing bright and beautiful as proud queens amongst the hustle and bustle of the old bazaar.

But I didn’t want to write this list of places to visit in Hyderabad in 3 days because Hyderabad city seemed orthodox to my independent taste. Men ogled women freely, while their wives roamed around the city fully clad. Hoards of men crowded the corner shops and the streets while the women were nowhere to be seen. I even saw an old Muslim man pointing out to me and then later telling his son that the style of clothes I was wearing (a pink top and three-fourth jeans) weren’t decent. Though delicacies sent out a spicy fragrance in every corner of this Nawabi town, we had a hard time finding delicious vegetarian food in Hyderabad.

Then I decided against my intuition of not writing about Hyderabad. 

As I returned from my Hyderabad city tour, I slowly realized that Hyderabad was so much more than the conservative society rallying the streets of this heritage city. 

Hyderabad was established by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 at the banks of the Musi River to overcome the water shortages at Golconda fort. Later Hyderabad became the major trade center for pearls and diamonds as the mines of Golconda were rich with both. The lineage of the ten Qutb Shahi rulers then shifted their capital to Hyderabad, but the city was won by the Mughals to be eventually lost to the British. 

The present-day Hyderabad can be divided into the historic city that is on the southern side of the Musi River, and the New City that sits on the northern banks.

Though most of the historical places in Hyderabad are in the old city, this division is hardly visible. 

Now Hyderabad bustles like an era from the past that is equipped with modern cars and tall glass skyscrapers. While on one side you will see bright Charminar standing tall reminding us of Hyderabad’s Nizami heritage, on the other side you will see cabs full of white-collared migrants rushing to Hitec city. Laad Bazaar is as popular as Mega Shopping Mall. While Golconda fort is a weekend’s delight for many, the GVK Inox isn’t much behind. KFC might have a long queue of burger-hungry customers, but Shah Ghouse Cafe is even busier.

Hyderabad is an interesting blend of traditional and modern that invites you to immerse in it even if that means elbowing your way through crowded streets or standing in line to get into the Golconda fort. These are just the battles you have to win in Hyderabad. 

But if we are talking about imperfection, let me tell you that men stalked me even in the artistic lanes of Paris and Delhi, and I wouldn’t even get started on how crowded London tube gets.

So I will get started on these places to see in Hyderabad list.

Also read: Things to do in Hampi – Another South-Indian archaeological wonder.

 

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What does this Hyderabad travel guide contain?

  1. My Hyderabad itinerary for 3 days
    1. Day 1 in Hyderabad
    2. Day 2 in Hyderabad
    3. Day 3 in Hyderabad
  2. Places to visit in Hyderabad in 1 day
  3. Places to visit in Hyderabad in 2 days or if you are spending a weekend in Hyderabad.
  4. Hyderabad Food Guide for your 3 days in Hyderabad
  5. What are the best places to stay in Hyderabad?
  6. What is the best time to visit Hyderabad?
  7. Insider tips for your Hyderabad trip.

My Hyderabad itinerary for 3 days

Day 1 – You can start your first day in Hyderabad by visiting Purani Haveli and Chowmallah Palace during the day and Charminar, Laad Bazaar, and Mecca Masjid around evening. All these are some of the most beautiful places in Hyderabad. 

Day 2 – On your second day in Hyderabad, visit the Qutb Shahi tombs, the Taramati Baradari near the tombs, Golconda Fort, and Falaknuma Palace (if you like). These places would take almost all day. 

Day 3 – On your day three in Hyderabad, go to the Shilparamam handicraft center and Birla temple if you haven’t seen any other Birla temple before. If you have visited Birla mandir in any other city, then I would suggest walking around the Charminar again and wander in the labyrinth of Hyderabadi streets without a purpose. Who knows what you might find! 

For food options for your 3-day visit to Hyderabad, you can look at my food guide towards the end of the article and pick some places from there.

Related read: Another beautiful place to visit near Bangalore – Coorg – my experiential travel article

Day 1 in Hyderabad

You can start your first day in Hyderabad by visiting Purani Haveli and Chowmallah Palace during the day and Charminar, Laad Bazaar, and Mecca Masjid around the evening. All these are some of the most beautiful places in Hyderabad. 

 

Admire the grandeur of the Chowmallah Palace —

Visiting the Chowmallah palace could be a clichéd thing to do in Hyderabad, but we wanted to see the grandeur and the lifestyle of the Nizams, who lived in the Chowmallah palace during their ruling years from the 1700s until the partition and also hosted their royal guests in the palace. Now the mansion is a public museum which the eighth Nizam inaugurated in 2005.

Chowmallah palace which means four palaces as per the Urdu translation had various palaces for different uses. Some of the four mahals were for dance and entertainment, while some were to offer the best views of Hyderabad to the royal guests. Large fountains and lawns surrounded the mahals from all sides. Pigeons freely bathed and splashed around in the water fountains in the gardens, while a few cats drooled over the pigeons.

The exotic cars used by the Nizams are now on display in the palace, and you can also see the glass chandeliers, weapons, porcelain, jewelry, and many more royal artifacts in the museum.

Timings: 10 am to 5 pm. Closed on Friday.

 

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Purani Haveli —

Purani Haveli or the old mansion was Nizams’s residence for a long time until Sikandar Jah, the third Nizam, moved to a Chowmallah palace, and the haveli got its name.

Purani Haveli is a pleasant surprise in Hyderabad for it is a mix of both Indian and Baroque designs. The haveli has large rooms full of antique furniture,  mosaic floors, and also hosts the Nizam’s museum.

You would definitely need a couple of hours to fully experience this beautiful palace.

Timings: 10 am to 5 pm. Friday Closed.

 

Charminar and the Lad Bazaar— Places to visit in Hyderabad in Evening.

We got a chance to see the Charminar on the Indian Independence Day when the miners were lit with the freedom lights and stood gloriously amongst the crowd and the surrounding Lad bazaar.

As per Wikipedia and the history book of Hyderabad “Days of the Beloved,” Qutb Shah constructed the Charminar in the year 1589, on the very spot where he saw his future queen for the first time. While laying the foundation of Charminar, Qutub Shah, an early poet of Urdu, recited this prayer in Dakhini Urdu,

 میرا شہر لوگوں سے مامور کر

 راكهيو جوتو دريا میں مچھلی جيسے

Which reads like this in English,

Fill this city of mine with people as

You filled the river with fishes O Lord.

Charminar — which means four towers — stands tall on four ornate towers in each corner. Climb up one of these minarets to see the Lad bazaar and the web of streets that constitutes the old city of Hyderabad originating from the Charminar.

The Lad Bazaar gets its name from Laad which means Lacquer, and many bangles sold in the market are made out of it amongst the hundred other varieties. 

In the Lad Bazaar, you would find yourself surrounded by embroidered clothes, colorful zari dupattas, gold, silver, and artificial jewelry, pearls, hand-stitched footwear, paintings, colorful umbrellas, and stalls of Nizami food, sugarcane juice, fruits, chaats, shawarmas, and much more. 

The market is lit at night, and swarms of people head to the market for an evening meal or to purchase a pair of dazzling earrings to match their white salwar-kameez or to drink a glass of fresh sugar cane juice or to gorge on some kulfi while walking around the imposing Charminar. To each its own.

If you visit this bustling part of the town, make sure to get a cup of the Irani chai from the cafe behind the Charminar and sip it while watching the old and the new Hyderabad tune into a rhythm together.

Timings: All day long. 

Tips for visiting: The bazaar is crowded so there is mostly never a time when you would find it empty. But the evening lights do make the view of the bazaar and the Charminar more romantic.

A tour with a local guide – If you think the place would be too crowded for you to manage by yourself, here is a GetYourGuide tour that will take you through Golconda fort, Qutb tombs, Char Minar, Salar Jung Museum, and Chowmallah palace with a local guide.

Also Read: Another heritage town of India – Pushkar in Photos

 

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Makkah Masjid or Mecca Masjid 

I saw this grand mosque from the outside for only Male Muslims are allowed inside, and that is what I will suggest you do if you are not one of them.

The Masjid is beautiful though and deserves to be admired. Built by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth Qutb ruler, the masjid has bricks made from soil that was brought from Mecca city on the Qutb’s order and hence the name.

The arched facades that were carved from the same granite stone and the tall minarets supporting these facades make this masjid special. While standing near the Masjid, which is close to the Charminar, you do feel that you are standing in an ancient city.

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Lala Deen Dayal [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Day 2 in Hyderabad

On your second day in Hyderabad, visit the Qutb Shahi tombs, the Taramati Baradari near the tombs, Golconda Fort, and Falaknuma Palace (if you like). These places would take almost all day. 

Go to Golconda fort to get a bird’s eye view of Hyderabad —

It doesn’t matter how many forts you have seen, each Indian fort still offers something unique. The fascinating part of the Golconda Fort is the three layers of walls that are each 17-35 feet thick. Even Aurangzeb wasn’t able to penetrate these walls, and thus Golconda is also known as the impregnable fort.

Not many people know that the famous and disputed diamond Kohinoor was mined from one of the mines of the Golconda region of Hyderabad. The diamonds excavated from the mines of Golconda proved lucky for the Qutub Shahis, who ruled Hyderabad up to 1687, and the Nizams, who ruled the city until the independence, when the Indian constitution integrated the princely state of Hyderabad with India.

We went to the fort at 9 am to avoid the heat, but the Nawabi sun glowed us on so hard that we were sweating in no time. To my surprise, though the venue promises to be plastic-free, vendors freely sold small plastic bags of water to quench the thirst of the tired visitors.

Though one of the fort’s building was closed for renovation, we climbed up a temple, and then to the canons kept at the top of the fort. One can see the shining city, the Qutub tombs, the Charminar, and the sinewy walls of the forts from up there.

Fort timings: 9 am to 5,30 pm daily. One-hour music and lights show is held at Golconda every day at 6,30pm. The show is held in English, Hindi and Telugu language with the voice-over by Amitabh Bachchan.

Tips for visiting: The fort would be crowded on holidays, so try visiting on a weekday. Make sure you take water and some food which you can enjoy at a shaded corner of the fort. Walk at your pace, look at the intricate Persian carvings that were specially designed to keep the fort ventilated at all times.

 

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Suggested Read: My stories from living and traveling in India.

 

Relax in the Qutub Shahi Tombs — One of the best historical monuments in Hyderabad.

The idea might sound strange, but the Shahi Qutub tombs offered the peace that we were desperately searching in the bustling town.

These seven tombs of the Qutb Shahi dynasty stand in the middle of a landscaped garden that is known as Ibrahim Bagh. The intricately carved domes shined in the golden sunlight, while pigeons flew about the domes to make the entire scene quite medieval.

The almost-empty large gardens were perfect to spend a scorching Hyderabad afternoon. So when we got tired of sitting in the courtyard of one of the domes, we walked around the dense garden catching butterflies, listening to the chatty parrots, and tracing the cuckoo as she sang and fluttered from one tree to another. We also found some muddy paths in between the dense foliage; if we were a bit more silent, we could have seen the family of animals that ran away when we stumbled onto their everyday walkway.

We spend around three to four hours in these ornamented tombs, ate some guavas that we brought along, watched the sky turn orange from grey behind the serene domes, and breathed in peace.

Timings: 9,30 am to 4,30 pm every day

Tips for visiting: Take along some water and a bedsheet and some sandwiches or buy some samosas from the street and savor them as you enjoy these quaint beauties.

You can either walk from the Golconda fort to the tombs or the other way around if you want to go to the music show later.

Also Read: Angkor Wat Temple – In pictures

 

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Taramati Baradari

About 4 km away from Golconda Fort and 13 from Charminar, Taramati Baradari was constructed as a Sarai or a resting house for travelers in Ibrahim Bagh, our favorite Qutb Shahi tombs garden.

While many legends are connected to the names of this arched Sarai, but my favorite one is where Abdullah Qutb Shah used to listen to Taramati, a court singer’s voice who sang in the Sarai while the shah listened from Golconda fort. Hence the Sarai got the name.

Go here while you are visiting the Qutb Shahi tombs. If the afternoon is too sunny, rest here for a while for the Sarai’s cross ventilation is known to be one of the best.

Timings: 11 am to 6 pm

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Chiranjeevi Ranga [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Falaknuma Palace

Originally the residence of the Nizam, this Palace is now turned into a grand hotel by the Taj groups and isn’t open for public.

To visit the palace and see the grand collection of Nizam VI’s souvenirs that he brought over from around the world, you can only books tours at the official Telangana tourism website here

 

Day 3 in Hyderabad

On your day three in Hyderabad, go to the Shilparamam handicraft center and Birla temple if you haven’t seen any other Birla temple before. If you have visited Birla mandir in any other city, then I would suggest walking around the Charminar again and wander in the labyrinth of Hyderabadi streets without a purpose. Who knows what you might find! 

Shilparamam — One of the best things to do in Hyderabad if you love handicraft and local art.

Shilparamam village is about 9 km from Golconda fort near the Hitec city of Hyderabad. Similar to Dilli Haat, Shilparamam also flaunts handmade and traditional items brought over by artisans from all over India.

When you get bored of seeing the ancient famous places in Hyderabad, do consider taking a taxi to this village, eat from the many local stalls, and then find those handmade things you have always been searching online.

These were the main historical places in Hyderabad that I visited during my two three-days visits to Hyderabad.

I also went to Hussain Sagar, for I stayed nearby the lake, but the enormous amounts of plastic that people had thrown around the lake disappointed me.

Timings: 10:30 am to 8:30 pm

 

Birla Mandir

The grand Birla Mandir of Hyderabad stands on the top of a hill known as Kala pahaad. Like other Birla temples, Hyderabad Birla temple is also made of white marble.

Stories say that about 2000 tonnes of white marble was brought to build this temple. Temple is exquisite at night.

I would suggest that if you have seen other Birla temples and are short on time in Hyderabad, you can skip this one.

Timings: 7 am – 12 pm and from 3 – 9 pm.

Places to visit in Hyderabad in 1 day

If you only have one day in Hyderabad, go to Golconda Fort, Qutub Shahi Tombs, stop by Taramati Baradari in the gardens there, and Chowmallah palace during the day. And then towards the end of the day, visit the Charminar and the Lad Bazaar for some evening views and local dinner. While walking around the Charminar you can see the Mecca masjid from outside in the evening light.

The options of places to visit in Hyderabad for one day are many, so you will have to choose as per how fast or slow you want to go. If you feel these options seem too many, then I would suggest skipping Chowmallah palace. 

 

Places to visit in Hyderabad in 2 days or if you are spending a weekend in Hyderabad.

For spending two days in Hyderabad, you can just follow the first two days of my list of places to visit in Hyderabad in 3 days.

Day 1 – Start your first day in Hyderabad by visiting Purani Haveli and Chowmallah Palace during the day and Charminar, Laad Bazaar, and Mecca Masjid around evening. All these are some of the most beautiful places in Hyderabad. 

Day 2 – On your last day in Hyderabad, visit the Qutb Shahi tombs, the Taramati Baradari near the tombs, and Golconda Fort. 

Or do the other way around to spend your last evening in Hyderabad around Charminar.

 

 

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Hyderabad Food Guide for your 3 days in Hyderabad—

Though Hyderabad is famous for the rich Mughlai and Nizami food, I could only taste so much as I had recently turned a vegetarian, and the Hyderabadi biryani joints and Mughlai places don’t offer much to a vegetarian.

But an even bigger problem was finding a restaurant while walking, partly due to the heat and partly due to the rare vegetarian restaurants. Every time we wanted to eat, we had to walk for a long time, and all we could find was chicken and mutton biryani places and corner joints selling keema naan or seekh kebab. Swarms of men drank Irani chai outside shabby restaurants with dusty fans and faded wooden benches and chairs. Of course, we sat in some of those places, if not to eat, but to at least drink some chai and watch the Hyderabadi crowd.

And many times we searched for a place on Zomato and then walked to it or took a cab.

 

Putting here a list of vegetarian places in Hyderabad and my honest experience there.  

Lamakaans, which was close to the GKV Inox in Banjara Hills. (Budget-Friendly and good)

Lamakaans was a rustic community place which encouraged arts, theatre, social work, and entrepreneurship. Big Gulmohar trees overshadowed the huge mud complex of the cafe in which stacks of chairs and tables were kept; Entrepreneurs and artists and college friends came, assembled their chairs, and sat and drank tea and ate samosas, or just thought and stared the sky or at the floor.

We gorged on the tasty and cheap khatti dal, aloo bonda, rice, samosa, chilly bhajji along with some nimbu pani, and tea under a tree. Prices are affordable, and the food is delicious.

 

The Jewels of Nizam (in Golconda hotel) (Lavish and okay)

Here we enjoyed naan, khameeri roti, buttermilk, and two Mughlai sabjis while two maestros played classical tabla and sitar.

Though the prices didn’t match the service, ambiance, or the food of the place, we had a comfortable time there.

 

Santhosh’s family Dhaba’s (Below Average)

This restaurant’s name popped up in Zomato when we looked for a vegetarian restaurant, but the place was anything but a dhaba. The methi Chaman and the green peas and mushroom curries that we ordered swam in golden oil, and as I tilted the plate to serve the gravy to my friend, the oil dripped on my hand and the tablecloth. On top of that, the toilets were broken and dirty.

 

GKV Inox Foodcourt (affordable and good)

On my second 2 days trip in Hyderabad, we watched two back to back movies and ate at the food court of the GKV Inox. Hyderabad has an upper limit to the ticket prices so you can watch movies for cheap.

Here we ate a vegetarian uruvachari biryani, noodles, and gobhi Manchurian at the Andhra stall. The biryani was delicious, like all the other Andhra food.

 

Chutneys, a popular South Indian joint (Affordable and good)

We ordered breakfast from there, and the dosas and the chutneys were authentic and delicious.

 

Cafes and bakeries were in abundance in the Hyderabad city, but we couldn’t eat at most of them for the food was mostly non-vegetarian. Like the favorite Shah Ghouse cafe which we skipped when we saw the menu and the men crowding the entrance and the insides. But we did eat local delicacies such as veg puff, mushroom patty, cream rolls, potato patty at the small corner side bakeries.

While leaving for our bus, we ate at a South Indian street food joint in the Lad bazaar and drank sugarcane juice. Oh! the sweet sugarcane! Do try when in Hyderabad.

 

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What are the best places to stay in Hyderabad?

If you would try to find accommodation close to all the must-see places in Hyderabad, you would never find a hotel. Some of the places that I have mentioned here are in and around Banjara Hills which is not so close to the main attractions but it is a good area to stay and has many of the important places to see in reach.

 

Lavish properties for those looking for a comfortable stay in Hyderabad. 

Hotel Hyatt Hyderabad Gachibowli – Hyatt is always a good option. 

Radisson Blu, Banjara Hills – Located in Banjara Hills.

CITADEL Hotel By Vinnca – If you are looking for something near Hyderabad airport.

Lemon Tree Hotel, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad – Very recommendable reviews for customer service.

 

Some budget-friendly accommodations in Hyderabad.

Elysium Inn Backpacker – Known for friendly owners.

Shepherd Stories – Very good reviews by many backpackers.

Beehive Commune Hyderabad – Super clean reviews. I mean reviews suggest it is a clean place.

 

Shobha serviced apartments – If you are going to Hyderabad for the US visa.

Shobha serviced apartments are right opposite the US consulate office. You can walk to the consulate via the back gate of the apartments. The breakfast was okay, but the manager and the staff were helpful. For some reason, the property shows booked for a long time. Do check closer to your Hyderabad travel dates.

Also Read: US Tourist Visa Application process for Indians

 

What is the best time to visit Hyderabad?

Hyderabad would be pretty hot in the summer season which could last anywhere from April to about September. Plan your Hyderabad visit outside of these scorching months.

 

Insider tips for your Hyderabad trip.

  • Internet was a little slow in Hyderabad. You will have to be patient.
  • We had trouble finding toilet paper. So please take yours.
  • You cannot drink the tap water in Hyderabad. I use the Lifestraw bottle that filters water on the go. With Lifestraw you don’t have to buy any more plastic bottles. Just fill from anywhere, and let the filter of the bottle work.
  • If you wish to spend the last evening of your 3 days in Hyderabad at the Charminar and the nearby Laad Bazaar, you can go to a quaint CCD in the Bazaar to use the bathroom. The market doesn’t have many other clean toilets.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Mayuri Patel May 18, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    Loved reading..I visited this city last year as my husband was living there for few months.Unlike you I didn’t experience any stare or Modern indian women kind feeling.May be there could be an issue in old city. Also city is chaotic but I loved spending 5 days there Because every citu has its own charm.

    Reply

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