Impromptu road trips are the best. We started at 7:30 p.m. from central point in Vijayawada and reached the gates of Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad at 11:30 p.m., this Friday. This was quite a smooth drive of 4 hours, with not many distractions except the 4 toll gates and the kiosks on the highway, which are a must-stop for the best Andhra snacks, especially Mysore Bhajji.
Due to my job, I get to travel with lot of people, with strangers, with first-timers, with professionals and more. Apart from these, there is a very familiar sort that I often travel with and that is of consultants, yeah the lot whose work and deadlines I have been trying to decipher for last 8 years now. For this road trip, I found company in my husband and two of his colleagues/friends from his new project in Vijayawada. One of them hails from Hyderabad and we had a wonderful trip in his aegis. Not only did he host us, but also introduced us to his city in the best way. When I was traveling down here from Delhi, the city of Nizams was always on my mind because my last trip had been thoroughly about work. I was yet to explore the famous Hyderabadi food and touch upon its touristy angle. These two days were meant for this.
Highs of Hyderabad
Interestingly, this trip was not just between two cities but states, Andhra Pradesh to Telangana. And when it comes to India, all our states are goldmines of history, heritage, touristy attractions and beyond. Telangana is still a new and small state but its capital Hyderabad is legendary and is always counted as one of the cities to visit in India. On the banks of river Musi, this city of the Nizams has always been in the limelight, be it for its diamonds, pearls or the charms of Charminar. Today, the city also stands as a major center for Information and Technology. Well two days were not enough but they weren’t less either. Since, it was Ramadan time,we were looking forward to eating Haleem, Biryani, chutneys, thaali, authentic Telegu cuisine and Iraani chai. Also, there were many other places to visit. Let me share just the way we did it.
The drive and the mysore bajji on the highway was the best take-away of the day. By the time we actually reached the main city on Friday night, it was late and the guys were pretty tired. Thus we decided to eat at the most convenient place, close to our host’s house and call it a day. Our friend, native from Hyderabad, suggested Baawarchi and we got our first taste of Hyderabadi Biryani and Haleem. The food was good but not the kind that I was looking for. It was only on the next day that I realized that the city is obsessed with Bawarchi and there may be more than 20 name-sake restaurants. There is new Bawarchi, green Bawarchi, red Bawarchi and more. Actually, at one point of time, it restaurant was such a hit that it got its real and fake cousins all over the city. Check with your friends for the authentic one and then head there.
Saturday fun began with brunch at Chutneys!
We started on a very lazy note because we had planned it that way. We skipped our breakfast and decided to go to “Chutneys restaurant” for brunch. The 70 mm dosa, upma with puri, buttermilk, everything was fresh and nicely prepared. The signature chutneys were thrilling. I could see it was a very busy place and I am sure the locals loved it for serving only vegetarian food and several varieties of chutneys. Normally we are served 2-3 chutneys with dosa but this one gives 6 with a normal dosa or upma. Isn’t it interesting? We ate our full and booked taxi for Salar Jung Museum.
Located at Dar-ul-Shifa, this one is counted as one of the wonders of Hyderabad. I always wanted to explore this one for its priceless ivory collections and artifacts from all round the world. Two things that stand out for this museum are, first it is the largest one-man collections of the world and secondly, it has the beautiful, 200 year old amazing musical clock. It also houses one of the biggest library consisting of nearly sixty thousand books. The items that are part of the museum are from 2nd century B.C to early 20th century A.D. I would love to go back to spend more time as I was not able to see the first floor properly. The museum closes at sharp 5 p.m. We stayed there till the musical clock struck five and witnessed the striking of the gong. Don’t miss this whenever you are there! Though the building looks great on the outside, a lot more can be done inside the rooms to make it more attractive. Some of the display areas looked too dull despite having amazing stuff in there.
Any trip to Hyderabad in incomplete without a visit to Charminar and that is why many people visit the city. In my last visit to the city, I had stayed near the airport, winded up my work and flew back, without seeing this masterpiece. This was my chance. Thought the minarets were undergoing some refurbishment, it did not matter to anyone. The vibes and colors of the place were truly infectious. Laad Bazaar was at its best, shining in the brilliance of variety of bangles. We actually walked from Salar Jung Museum to Charminar just before the sunset and saw the setting up of the market before the Iftari time. The vendors were setting up their fruit stalls, clothes stall and some had just started selling fresh snacks. Later, we also saw the festivities and cheerfulness after the breaking of the fast. I did not miss the Iraani chai at Nimrah and some bangle shopping at Laad bazaar. This has to be one of the most photogenic places in South India. I couldn’t help but click pictures and capture the colourfulness of the place. Do watch out for my photo story on Charminar. Also you can easily do a trip to Hyderabad under 10 grands.
Hussain Sagar Lake
At around 7 p.m., we hired an auto rickshaw to take us to Hussain Sagar Lake and Lumbini Park. Locals had literally thronged here in hundreds. It was very crowded at the ticket counter. Of course, we knew it was a weekend and parks make a great place in summers. We did not attend the laser show but walked around the park. A lot of people were taking those boat rides towards the famous Buddha statue. It is organised by Hyderabad Boat Club and Telangana Tourism. Kids were having great fun in the small pool there and it looked like a rejoicing place for couples and families too. There were swings too. It is a good place for photography but not in the night. I had time constraint else I would have loved to do come here in the morning. From here, we drive down to Paradise restaurant to dig in the world famous biryani.
Paradise Biryani and Bilal Ice Cream
Those who know me know my love for rice and especially biryani. The visit to paradise may be called a check in the box but I genuinely wanted to eat its delicacies at the main restaurant. This brand is quite a rage among the biryani lovers all around the world. Some people do say its over-rated but I was not disappointed. The biryani was delicious and Haleem was one of the best that I have had this Ramadan. I will definitely recommend it for one meal in Hyderabad.
Just like the locals in Vijayawada have a lot of fascination for faloodas, even Hyderabad is not far behind. The city folks love ice creams. It was evident from the local and global brands they have. Bilal Ice-cream is an old and iconic brand of the city. They are located near an old clock tower in the form of an open cafeteria. When we reached, it was buzzing with activity and people were enjoying their ice cream. One of the members of the shop came to take our order in the car itself. We tried their famous ice-cream, all seasonal fruit flavors (custard apple, mango, lichi and chikoo) and it tasted really good. The tastes were quite close to Naturals but at really economical prices. I really loved lichi ice-cream. We ended the day on a very sweet note. All thanks to hubby’s friend for hosting us and helping us visit the best places for sightseeing and food. His family was also very friendly. Overall, consultants make good travelers and they are up to experimenting with food because they get to travel so much. I must say I had a nice and eventful day in Hyderabad in the great company. I was dog-tired and slept almost instantly. Sunday was still there.