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Hyderabad was a short trip during the Diwali holidays, mainly meant to be a break for Mummy, Reema, and me. Initially we had planned to go with Veena World so that we would get some company and not be bothered with all the planning etc. But it did not work out due to some last-minute schedule changes by them, so we ended up traveling on our own. It was a great trip - we did a lot sight-seeing and had tons of fun!! I don't really have much to write since it was an easy-going trip within India. Just some tips from the top of my head:
  • Hyderabad is a very safe and friendly city. Many people speak either Hindi or English so communication was easy. It is also a very cosmopolitan city so food was not a problem at all.
  • Transport was easily managed using Uber cabs which were reasonable, and the drivers were all very nice and trustworthy. Smaller distances were covered by rickshaws which did not ply by meter but had some small fixed rates.
  • We stayed at the Radisson Blu Plaza in Banjara Hills; it was a good hotel with an excellent breakfast spread and fantastic service. Banjara Hills is a posh locality with tons of high-end shopping and multiple five-star hotels. But we didn't end up doing much there. Its a slightly inaccessible area with respect to the major roads and highways in town so one may be better off living in a more central place that is more accessible to the various sites spread over the big city. We spent considerable time just getting in and out of Banjara Hills.
  • Reema was six years old for this trip. She did pretty well and enjoyed the zoo, visiting the palaces, and Ramoji Film City. Hyderabad is a good 3-4 day break with some things for kids in store too.
Nov 1, Tuesday

We left Pune in the afternoon post lunch and arrived in Hyderabad around 4pm. We reached town in about an hour with Uber and enjoyed a relaxing swim at the hotel. The Radisson Blu Plaza located in Banjara Hills was a nice hotel with impeccable service. It is located a little inside from the main road which was a bit irritating from the perspective of getting cabs and rickshaws. The GVK One mall was very close to the hotel so we ate dinner there, ready to see the city the next morning.

Nov 2, Wednesday
We ate a hearty breakfast in the morning from a vast spread of South Indian, North Indian, and Continental dishes. We had booked the standard 8-hour 80-kms taxi for the day for ourselves. We covered the following places:
  • Golconda Fort: A well-maintained fort spread out over a huge area. You can climb to the top and get a nice view of the city. The fort had some special rooms where you can whisper in one corner of a room, and clearly hear all that was said in the diagonally opposite corner of the same room! They have a sound and light show every evening too but we could not catch it. Be prepared for some walking!

  • Salar Jung Museum: The home of the prime minister of the erstwhile king (Nizam) of Hyderabad has been converted to a museum. Its a fairly small museum compared to the ones we have seen in Europe, with two floors of three wings each for a total of about 60 rooms. We visited a few rooms such as the Jade collection, dolls and toys, Bidri work, etc. A decent collection but nothing to rave about. In the center courtyard they have a fancy clock which has a couple of men doing some actions on the hour every hour. Its non-working replica can be found at the Taj Falaknuma Palace.

  • Zoo: A moderately-sized zoo which has an excellent option of a battery-operated vehicle that shows you about 80% of the zoo. We did a very quick round for an hour and saw a lot of animals such as lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, bears, giraffes, etc.
  • Charminar: A four-pillared building (as the name suggests) located in the heart of the bustling town. You can climb to the top using the 54 steep steps but we did not. The Charminar is surrounded by a lively market - Laad Bazaar - selling mostly colorful jewelry, especially bangles. Not very good stuff but cheap and attractive. The Charminar is located in the heart of the city so its best to go there by rickshaw. The Chowmahalla place is located very close to the Charminar so its good to combine the two in one visit although we were not able to do that.

Nov 3, Thursday
We got off to an early start to go to Ramoji Film City. Ramoji is a huge film set area located about an hour away from Hyderabad where they have set up some fun shows and activities along side actual sets for movie shooting. There are two ways to get there - one is through the city which is about 40kms, and another longer route via highways which is about 70kms. At non-peak times, its better to take the shorter route, but at peak times both the routes are same: time-wise and cost-wise. We got slightly expensive tickets which was totally worth it since we got a fully-guided tour of the film city with very little walking and no waiting for the shows. They also have hotels on site but its not that far from Hyderabad so you can do a day trip, just with a slightly longer day.

First we saw a show which explained how they shoot a scene, and add sound effects to it. It was set on the Sholay scene where Basanti is riding her horse Dhanno to escape from the dacoits. The next show was about the different genres of cinema - romance, comedy, action, horror, etc. After that we saw multiple locales including parks, fake buildings, fountains, and two actual sets of a mythological drama and a jail. The sets were quite nice and the guide told us about the different movies in which they were used. We then walked through a butterfly park, a bird park, a bonsai garden, a waterfall, and a majestic Sun Fountain. Reema enjoyed a Segway ride in the middle too.


We had a nice buffet lunch at their hotel Sitara. Then we saw two other shows - the Spirit of Ramoji with a collection of dances, and a stunt show based on a Western movie. We got front row seats in both the shows. Reema enjoyed the Western show and collected a bunch of fake US dollars which got blown up at the end of the show and reached the front-row spectators. After these two shows, we roamed around the rides a little bit, and Reema sat in the carousel and the toy train.

In the evening, they had a live song-and-dance show in which some Bollywood singer called Aanchal Shrivastav sang a few numbers, and a lot of the audience danced along. There was a small Disneyesque parade in the dark where a few lit-up vehicles and participants participated. We left around 6:30pm but it was 8:00pm by the time we hit the hotel!

Nov 4, Friday
We were tired from two hectic days of sight-seeing so this was a peaceful day. We had a leisurely breakfast, swim in the pool, and a tub bath for Reema. That day we saw the Birla Temple and did some pearl shopping at Basheerbagh (Jagdamba and MangatRai jewelers). In the evening, we went to Hussain Sagar Lake and Lumbini Park. Reema and I took a speed boat ride and saw the tall Buddha statue in the middle of the lake. It was very easy to get to these local places using rickshaws - just make sure to negotiate the rate before you engage the rickshaw!


Nov 5, Saturday

Last day in Hyderabad! We started off with some saree shopping at Neeru's in Abids. I actually bought three sarees and was mighty impressed with myself :)! Then we went to the Chowmahalla Palace close to the Charminar. It was a pleasant palace with an impressive darbar hall with lovely chandeliers. They also have a Kuran gallery and a vintage car collection. But its a traffic nightmare to get to that part of town and out. So if you must do it, do Charminar and Chowmahalla in one shot.

The last and final stop of Hyderabad was the Taj Falaknuma Palace Hotel. This building was originally the Nizam's palace and converted to a hotel by Taj from 2000-2010. It was a majestic building of an era gone by. It is located on the outskirts of the city on a hill which offers a spectacular view of the entire city. The building is shaped like a scorpion as the original owner was of the Scorpio sun sign! He then handed over the palace to his wife's brother, the then Nizam, because the latter liked it a lot. We got there around 3:30pm for the High Tea which needless to say was a treat. But the main attraction was the palace tour post tea. We saw many rooms including the queen's bedroom and bathroom (with jacuzzi facilities in the early twentieth century and silk-lined cupboards), the main lobby, the kids' library, the main library, the dining room which seats 101 guests at a single table, the king's office with speed dial to the President of India, the Jade room, the game room, the bar, etc. What a wonderful experience! I have had better High Teas but the palace visit is a must!


The next day was quick with breakfast, pack-up, and the flight back to Pune. All in all a good trip and an awesome vacation spent with family. Hyderabad is highly recommended for a short and fun trip within India!