Experiencing Hyderabad with cazenove+loyd
Hyderabad, India’s fourth-largest city, will leave you wanting more. With a population of around 8 million, the capital of southern India’s Telangana state is a similar size to London. There is so much to see and do, so you need to know how and where to find the hidden gems. With the help of Jonty, one of the best guides I have met anywhere in the world, I was able to really get to the heart of Hyderabad. My first full day here was one of my favourites of my whole trip.
I rose early and Jonty took me to see the 16th-century Golconda Fort, which was built under the patronage of Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah. It is said that the site was once a renowned diamond market attracting merchants from the world over. Normally, tourists flock here but our guides know the hidden nooks and crannies and the right times to be there, so you will feel as though you have the place to yourself.
Afterwards, Jonty showed me to the Qutub Shahi Tombs. Individuals of the same dynasty that ruled the fort are all buried here. Each tomb is more impressive than the last, as back in the day it was a competition. People even started building them before they died.
I had worked up an incredible appetite by lunch, so Jonty took me to a local restaurant, which specialised in traditional southern Indian dishes. It was absolutely delicious. Just before sunset, we made it to the street markets around Charminar (aFour Minarets’) in the centre of the Old City, which was built to commemorate the end of a plague in 1591.
Finally, we ended our day at the Salar Jung Museum, one of the best-known museums in India, where you will find private collections of the Nizam rulers of Hyderabad.
This is only a snapshot of my time in the city, but as with all of our destinations around the world, it is the guiding which sets us apart and this was particularly evident with Jonty. She understood me exactly and what my interests were, taking it in her stride to lead the way to amazing places off the usual route.
We can arrange for our clients to experience Hyderabad in a way that no others can because of our friends on the ground. Hyderabadis are renowned for their hospitality – and no more so than when you are welcomed into their homes to learn the secrets of how to make biryani. Known as ‘food for the kings’, this delicious and famous dish has been an integral part of Indian cuisine – from the palaces of the sultans to the small back alleys of remote villages. This foodie experience explores the many regional and subtle foreign influences that make this dish so special, and enables you to dive under the skin of the city.
Fitting in with the locals by eating with your hands will impress them. It is also said that it makes the food taste better and activates your digestive system quicker, so you will be able to digest everything more efficiently.
Where to stay
Taj Falaknuma Palace is one of the most impressive palace hotels in India. It used to be the guesthouse of the richest man in the world at the time: Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nazim ruler. Even if you aren’t staying here, you must make time to enjoy high tea on the terrace overlooking Hyderabad, which comes with a personal tour with the resident historian.
My advice would be to combine three nights in Hyderabad with two or three in the ancient village of Hampi, an extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage Site in nearby Karnataka. The flight is only 40 minutes and both places are in the Deccan Plateau area, a very under-explored region. They complement one another well and will give you an excellent insight into this fascinating part of India.