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Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana (after partition of Andhra Pradesh in 2014), is a 400 year old metropolis with an urban population of about 5 million people. The city presents an attractive amalgam of old world charm together with ebullience of modern development. Beautiful old edifices built in the medieval times coexist with large glass and chrome temples of hi-tech enterprises. The city is also famous for the colorful costumes and tribal music of the gypsy tribes of the area, the Lambadas and Banjaras. They have a subtle influence on the distinctive cuisine of Hyderabad also. Hyderabad being on the Deccan Plateau is situated at an altitude of 1759 feet above sea-level. This has a moderating effect on its climate. The summers are relative cooler than surrounding areas and winters are also moderate with minimum temperature being around 12 degrees centigrade. One requires light woolens in mornings and evenings.
History of Hyderabad began in the nearby Golkunda Fort. The region was part of the Bahamani Kingdom of Deccan. There were revolts against the Bahamani Kingdom in the Telangana area in 1463 and Sultan Quli Qutubul Mulk, a Shia (originally from Azerbaijan) Turk commander of the army of Muhammad Shah Bahamani was deputed to contain the unrest in the region. He was successful in bringing order to the region and the king promoted him to the rank of Subedar (provincial governor) of Telangana in 1495. He established his government in Golkunda. In 1518 he declared himself sovereign monarch of the region thereby founding the Qutub Shahi Dynasty that ruled the area up to 1687 when Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb conquered the area. There was an old mud fort in Golkunda before Sultan Quli Qutubul Mulk arrived there. He strengthened the fortifications and built palaces, mosques and gardens in the fort. He called it Muhammad Nagar. The city soon became famous for the trade of diamonds and precious stones. The general public and the traders in the kingdom held him in high regard. Unfortunately his life ended in tragedy when his own son, Jamsheed Quli killed him at the ripe age of 99 years in 1543. Although Jamsheed Quli, who took the title of Qutub Shah II was very well educated and cultured, he was disliked by the general public who resented the patricidal takeover by the third eldest son. He died after a short reign of seven year in 1550. The Sultan Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah III, the next ruler of Golkunda was the youngest son of Qutub Shah II. Before ascending the throne he lived in exile as an honored guest of the Raja of Vijayanagar and learnt the native Telugu language well enough to appreciate its culture. After he was crowned he encouraged the local language along with Urdu and also gave royal patronage to Telugu scholars and poets, an act that was unprecedented in the history of Islamic rulers of the southern India. He was a very able administrator and undertook some ambitious projects like the building of Dams at Hussain Sagar, Budwel and Ibrahimpatnam. The next ruler of Golkunda, Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, was only a child of 15 years when he was crowned the ruler in 1580. He was encouraged by his father to learn the local Telugu language and appreciate its culture. He ranked the Telugu language at par with Arabic and Persian in his court. During his rule the Deccani poetry flourished and many poets were attracted to his court. He had ruled for 32 years when he died in 1612 at a rather young age of 48. He was admired and respected by the citizens of his kingdom. He decided to move the capital away from Golkunda because of scarcity of water, frequent epidemics of plague and cholera. The new site of the city was on the banks of River Musi. The focal point of the city was the Charminar – an impressive and massive gateway with four minarets on its corners. He started the construction of Charminar after a plague hit his kingdom to provide work and food to his citizens in 1591. The building is built out of local granite stone. Being Shia muslim the inspiration for its design came from Tazias, models of the mausoleum of Hussain, the nephew of the prophet of Islam. The building has a height of 180 feet. Along with the construction of Charminar a complete new city sprang around it, laid out in geometrical pattern with broad roads running out from the Charminar. Some European travelers who chronicled the contemporary history of Hyderabad mentioned the construction of a couple of palaces. These were burned down and destroyed when Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb conquered the Golkunda and the Qutub Shahi kingdom in 1687 after a very long siege. The Mughal Emperor was attracted to the region by the legendary wealth of Golkunda Monarchs and of the citizenry in general. An excavation done in the area revealed traces of some arched and vaulted foundations of these palaces. He did not leave behind a male heir to the throne and his daughter, Hayath Bakshi Begum married his nephew, who was crowned as Sultan Muhammad Qutub Shah VI. He was a deeply religious person and connoisseur of books, the Qutub Shahi chronicles were completed during his reign. He laid the foundation of the Mecca Masjid in 1617 and also began the building of Sultan Nagar. Abdullah Qutub Shah was the next ruler, who also ascended the throne in childhood at the age of 12. His mother was his guide and virtual ruler until he reached maturity. He indulged himself in pleasure and luxury. The kingdom did extend during his reign but the Mughal armies increased their influence and the Qutub Shahi Kingdom came under intense pressure in 1636. After the attack in 1656, a heavy tribute had to be paid. Abdullah Qutub Shah died on May 1, 1672. The next Qutub Shahi ruler was his son-in-law, Abul Hasan who was popularly known as Tana Shah. He stood up to the Mughal might and was very regarded in the kingdom as a just, benign and tolerant monarch. The kingdom prospered during his reign.
In 1687 the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb laid an eight month long siege of the Fort of Golkunda. Finally the Mughals were able to storm the Fort when a traitor opened the gates and enabled the invading army to come inside. Aurangzeb took Abul Hasan a prisoner. He kept him in a jail in Bidar initially and later appointed Jan Sapar Khan, one of the nobles serving in the Mughal army to take him to Daulatabad, where Aurangzeb had made his capital to fight the Marathas. Abul Hasan died in prison in Daulatabad after 12 years of captivity.
Emperor Aurangzeb appointed Jan Sapar Khan as the governor of Deccan later. After him Mir Qamaruddin found favor with the Mughal Emperor. But Emperor Aurangzeb got suspicious of him when he realized how much power Mir Qamaruddin had in the southern territories. In a fit of anger Aurangzeb ordered Mubariz Khan, the local governor of Hyderabad to arrange his assassination. Mubariz Khan paid a heavy price for this attempt. He was killed in 1724. The next Mughal Emperor was Muhammad Shah, who appointed Mir Qamaruddin as a Minister and honored him with the title of Asif Jah. He was quite young when he was already promoted to the position of the Viceroy of Deccan. But Muhammad Shah had no power to back his administrative orders regarding the provinces. Mir Qamaruddin Asif Jah assumed the title of Nizam-ul-Mulk and without officially declaring sovereignty started ruling the Deccan territories independently from 1724. The Asif Jahi Dynasty that he thus established was destined to rule for seven generations until 1948 when the territory of Deccan was united in Independent India. The new dynasty was much more powerful and affluent than the preceding Qutub Shahi rulers. Their state covered 97’337 square miles about the size of France in Europe. They had two separate territories under their rule. The other territory of Nizam lay in Sindh, present day Pakistan. They rose to be the most powerful of the princely states of India. At one time the Nizam of Hyderabad was considered the richest person on earth. The first Nizam was born on August 11, 1691. He grew up in Mughal patronage. Some contemporary chroniclers believe that he was named Qamaruddin by Emperor Aurangzeb. Already at the age of six the Emperor was affectionate of him and talked of his bright future. Aurangzeb awarded him the title of Chin Qalich Khan when he was 20 years of age and this was soon followed by him being appointed the Mughal governor of Bijapur. At the time of the brutal invasion of the Persian Nadir Shah in 1738, the Mughal Empire had already weakened considerably. Nizam-ul-Mulk had the backing of a powerful army that was strong enough to influence Nadir Shah to declare a truce. Emperor Muhammad Shah was highly indebted to him for this intervention and even offered him the Mughal Throne. The Nizam believed in loyalty and refused the very generous offer of the weak Mughal Emperor. Back in his territories the Nizam was considered a very capable administrator. His wise and just rule laid a strong foundation for his dynasty. He lived to a relatively old age of 77, a period he very ably utilized to consolidate his power. The fourth eldest son of the Nizam-ul-Mulk, Asif Jah was the next Nizam who ruled with the title of Ali Khan. He was born on February 24, 1734. Already at 28 years of age he was entrusted with the Subedari – governorship of Deccan. After succeeding the able founder of the Dynasty, he ruled the Nizam’s territories for nearly 42 years. This was the longest reign among the seven Nizams of Asif Jahi Dynasty. His one great contribution was the moving of the capital of the Deccan from Aurangabad to Hyderabad. Aurangabad had no merit for being the capital city after the death of Aurangzeb and the subsequent rise of Maratha power. He was an astute diplomat and realized early enough that with his own army he could not defend Deccan from Marathas in the northwest and from the powerful Tippu Sultan of Mysore in the south. To augment his military strength he signed a mutual protection treaty with the British East India Company. Nizam Ali Khan had lived a long and very fulfilling life of 69 years when he died in 1803. He is buried beside his mother, Umda Begum, in the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. His successor was Akbar Ali Khan Sikandar Jah who was born on November 11, 1768. As the Nizams were still officially ruling under the Mughal Empire, he was appointed the Subedar Jah by another weak Mughal Emperor Shah Alam Khan. The fourth Nizam of Hyderabad was Mir Farkhanda Ali Khan Nasir-ud-Daula, who was born on April 25, 1794 in Bidar, the eldest son of Nizam Sikandar Jah. He succeeded his father on May 23, 1829. During the reign of his father the British had infiltrated many British Civil Service officers in the administration of the Nizam. He was contemporary of the reformist but very controversial Governor General, Lord William Bentick who wished to sell the marble of Taj Mahal in Europe. Mir Farkhanda Ali Khan requested Lord Bentick to withdraw some of the British Civil Servants from Hyderabad. As a consequence of a treaty of subsidiary alliance for military and political cooperation between the Nizam and the British East India Company in 1798, a British Cantonment area was established and named Secunderabad after Nizam Sikander Jah. This area was divided by the Husain Sagar Lake from the main city of Hyderabad. The two cities grew with time and almost merged into one. The tank bund is the distinguishing line between the two cities. The fifth Nizam of Hyderabad was Mir Tahniath Ali Khan Afzal-ud-Daula. He was born on October 11, 1827, the eldest son of the fourth Nizam. He was crowned on May 18, 1857, just two months before the Sepoy Mutiny or the First War of Indian Independence started on July 17, 1857 with the attack of Rohilas on the British Residency. The able and faithful prime minister of Nizam, Salar Jung, crushed the local revolt immediately with a firm hand although the British had lingering problems in other areas of India for a long time. Nizam profited from this loyalty to the British when they transferred the control of some territories of Sholapur to him. After the Sepoy Mutiny the Nizam retained the Derar region as his sovereign territory and the British agreed to it by a mutual treaty signed in 1853. The sixth Nizam of Hyderabad was Mir Mahmoob Ali Khan, who was born on August 17, 1866 as the sole son of his father. He was still an infant of 2 years and 7 months when his father died. The legendary prime minister, Salar Jang, installed him as Munsab and supervised by a team of able administrators including Nawab Rasheeduddin Khan, Shar-ul-Ummul. This team of supervisors even included the British Resident at Hyderabad who was very influential in the upbringing of the Nizam. Apart from the Resident, Salar Jang remained the most influential local official of the state of Nizam and was highly regarded by the royal family of Nizam until his death.
The seventh and last reigning Nizam of Hyderabad was Mir Osman Ali Khan, who was born on April 5, 1886 at Purani Haveli (the old palace). He was raised as heir apparent and consequently received the best education that one could have in the world at that time. He was a scholar of English, Urdu and Persian languages. He married Dulhan Pasha Begum, the daughter of Nawab Jahangir Jung at Eden Bag at the age 21 on April 14, 1906. He undertook many very important reforms to modernize the state. In 1913 he appointed John Henry as the head of a new department of Agriculture to supervise the development of Agriculture in the state. With very important ancient sites like the Ajanta and Ellora Cave being in the territory of Nizam, he established an Archeological Department in 1914. The construction of the building of the High Court was started on September 15, 1915 and completed on March 31, 1919. A few years later in 1921 he ordered the Judiciary to be separated from the Executive branch of the state of Nizam. In 1917 Osmania University was established. On September 6, 1917 he appointed Abdul Haq as the head of a new department, the Bureau of Translation and Compilation. On November 7, 1919 the Nizam proclaimed a new constitution of the Government with a relatively independent Executive Council. Between 1920 and 1927 the Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar Lakes were constructed. There was a delay in the merger of Hyderabad with the newly independent India because of the indecision by Nizam. He had territories in Sindh, the area that went to Pakistan after independence. In September 1948 after a police action the Nizam decided to merge with the Indian Union. He passed away on February 24, 1967.
Sightseeing in Hyderabad:
Golkunda Fort: This fort was originally built between 945 and 970 CE by the Kakatiya Dynasty rulers on a 120 meters or 400 feet high granite hilltop and is surrounded by massive crenellated ramparts. The region was an important diamond mining center. Please read above for more information on the rulers of this fort.
Charminar: No monument in Hyderabad personifies the metropolitan city as the Charminar does. The founder of the Kingdom of Hyderabad, Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, built this monument to celebrate the first millennium of Islamic calendar and the end of a devastating plague that continued in the kingdom for a long time. Its design was based on Tazias (replicas of the mausoleums of Imam Hasan & Hussain, the nephews of the prophet of Islam. Tazias are taken out in a procession by Shia muslims during the month of Muharram that celebrates the sacrifice of Imam Hasan & Hussain. The monument is located at the crossing of busy streets in old town on the east bank of Musi River. At its southwest is the granite Mecca Masjid. It is a square building with 4 minarets, each of which rise to a height of 48.7 meters or 160 feet. The Charminar monument itself also has a mosque in it with prayer places for 45 persons. It is open to visitors and is lit up in the night time. The local administration is making arrangements for creating a pedestrian zone around the monument. The entrance fee for Charminar is Rs. 150.
Mecca Masjid: Situated close to the Charminar and the Chowmahalla Palace, this mosque was commissioned by the 5th. Qutub Shahi ruler, Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah. It used bricks that were imported from Mecca, from which it derives its name. The surrounding wall of this place of prayers is built with granite and is decorated with a design of inverted conch shells. Inside it has magnificent chandeliers that were imported from Belgium. The worshipers sit around an artificial pond. The interior of the mosque is filled with ancient relics and beautifully decorated with floral motifs.
Chowmahalla Palace: The Palace, as it name means, is comprised of 4 palaces. It originally covered an area of 45 acres of only 12 acres are now preserved. Its construction was started by Salabat Jung, the 4th. Nizam of Hyderabad in 1750. It was completed during the reign of his successor, Afzal ud Daulah, Asaf Jah, the 5th. Nizam of Hyderabad. The palace served as the main residence and seat of government of the Nizams and important receptions of the British Resident and Governor-General as well as the crowning of the Nizams used to be held in it. The oldest portion of the palace is in its southern courtyard and has 4 palaces built in neo-classical style of architecture surrounding it: Afzal Mahal, Mehtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal. The northern courtyard called Bara Imam has a long corridor of rooms that housed the administrative offices along with Shiste-Alat (mirror image) on the other side that was a row of rooms that were used as guest houses for visiting delegations. The other important section of the Chowmahalla Palace is the Khilwat Mubarak that served as the Darbar Hall. This hall is recently renovated and 19 spectacular chandeliers are re-installed in it to show case its original glory. The Council Hall was a library of rare books and manuscripts, it also served as a meeting place of Nizam with visiting dignitaries. Temporary exhibitions of treasures from Chowmahalla Palace collection are also held in this area. The Roshan Bangla was the official residence of the sixth Nizam and is named after his mother, Roshan Begum. The present heir to the former ruling family of Nizams, Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Shah, patronized the restoration of the palace in 2005. Princess Ezra Jah, the ex-wife of the seventh Nizam's heir, who splits her life with stays in London, Istanbul and Santa Barbara, California, came back to Hyderabad to supervise the immaculate restoration of the palace. She also was instrumental in the restoration of the Falaknuma Palace, that is now managed as a 5-star deluxe, heritage, palace hotel. The entrance to Chowmahalla Palace is Rs. 150.
H.E.H. The Nizam Museum: This museum is located in the Purani Haveli, that served as residence of the erstwhile royal family of Hyderabad. The museum showcases the gifts that the last ruling Nizam, Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII received at the occasion of his silver jubilee. The sixth Nizam is reputed to have never worn a garment twice - his grand wardrobe is in this palace. There are vintage cars on display in this palace including a 1930 Rolls Royce Packard and a Jaguar Mark V. Other interesting artifacts on display are a 150-year old manually operated lift and 200-year old proclamation drums. The entrance to this museum is Rs. 70.
Hyderabad today is an important center of information technology second only to Bangalore in India. This industry is an important source of prosperity of the city in particular and also contributes to the economy of the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Among the most popular city restaurants in Hyderabad are the "Eatmor 70mm" on Necklace Road (ohris.com/restaurants) that offers cuisines from all over India and has an interior decoration with movie memorabilia from Bollywood. The "Hotel Shahdah" on High Court Road in Ghansi Bazaar, is a famous old city restaurant known for its mutton biryani and other Mughalai dishes. The Famous Ice Cream place is the most popular ice cream parlor with exotic flavors like mango, custard apple and litchi, on Moazzam Jahi Market in Nampalli.
5-star deluxe Hotel:
Taj Falaknuma Palace Hotel - 60 suites
Taj Deccan Hotel, Banjara Hills – 151 rooms
Taj Banjara Hotel – 122 rooms
Hotel Taj Krishna, Banjara Hills – 261 rooms
Park Hyatt Hotel, Banjara Hills - 251 rooms
ITC Welcomgroup Kakatia Sheraton & Towers – 188 rooms
Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Center - 293 rooms
Fortune Select Manohar by Welcomgroup– 132 rooms & suites
Hotel Katriya - 234 rooms & suites
Westin Hyderabad Mindspace Hotel, IT City - 427 rooms
Novotel Hyderabad Airport Hotel - 305 rooms
Aalankrita Resort Hotel – 50 rooms
Hotel Amrutha Castle Best Western – 84 rooms
Green Park Hotel – 147 rooms
Mount Opera Hotel – 35 rooms
Hotel Golkunda – 143 rooms
Quality Inn Residency – 95 rooms
Hotel Ashok – 90 rooms
Kamat Lingapur Hotel – 77 rooms
Hotel Minerva – 57 rooms
Hotel Nagarjuna – 50 rooms
Hotel Rukmini Riviera – 48 rooms
Distance from Hyderabad in Kilometers and Miles:
Golkunda: 8 Kilometers or 5 Miles
Bangalore: 562 Kilometers or 349 Miles
Bider: 131 Kilometers or 81 Miles
Gulbarga: 214 Kilometers or 133 Miles
Bijapur: 286 Kilometers or 178 Miles