With almost no thought but to catch up with some friends and spend an expiring travel voucher, I booked my tickets to Hyderabad for a 3 day solo trip. Closer to the dates, my research started on what to eat and where to go. I had a lot of help via the travelling people group on facebook - especially, on things to eat and I noted them all down, already dreamy about delicacies I'd get to try. My 3 day weekend turned out exactly how I had envisioned it - lots of food, culture and history. In all, I think 3 days is exactly what I required to explore the city.
Here is where all I went including some funny things I got to know about Hyderabadi's as quoted by Hyderabad locals.
Never expect a Hyderabadi to be on time.
The first morning of my trip, sleepy (thanks to a 4 hour Indigo flight delay) but excited, I got a cab to get to Golconda Fort. The fort is spread over a hillock and a guided tour is a must. Be ready to climb a lot of stairs and if you go after February like me, also be ready for the heat. The guided tour was fun where my guide took his own time to explain every stone, wall, pillar and its significance. The view from the very top is quite a sight and you can also spot the Charminar. You can see the old city walls as well. The guide will bring you all the way down to give you a complete round which means you can not pause for long at the top, so I'd suggest climb back up. It takes some willpower but it gets easier the second time.
Tip 1: Ubers are cheaper than autos if you are a tourist.
Hyderabadi Insight: If the time on a wedding card is 8 pm for the function, and you show up, one can find the decoration being put up or cleaning lady doing her work. If someone tells you to meet them at 2 pm, chill and get there by 3 because it is expected and normal to turn up late.
Eating out: Had Biryani at Prince hotel opp. the Fort. 3/5!
'Parsu' does not mean day before yesterday.
After the Golconda fort, I headed to the Qutub Shahi tombs. I was amazed to find such a beautiful but secluded and quiet place in the middle of the hustle-bustle. The tombs are frequented often by people of different religions. A guided tour is available at the gate. More than all the information from a historical perspective, there is a sense of calm which one can experience there. You can not miss the old world charm in the architecture as well as the wall paintings and carvings.
Tip 2: Negotiate the costs of guided tours.
Hyderabadi Insight: Apparently, when Hyderabadi's say 'Parsu' they use it without a definitive time limit. Thus, when told that I met someone *parsu*, it could mean last month or 15 days back.
Eating out: Tried chaat outside the tombs. It was awesome. 5/5
'Baingan si baatan mat kro' is used often.
Skipping all the eating I did in between, my next stop was the Salarjung Museum. I spent 3 plus hours there and if you like museums, it is a must go. You can hire the audio guide and explore the museum at your own pace. It houses everything and all kinds of vintage articles. My favorite were the cuckoo clock, the exhibits of various kinds of jewelry and outfits worn, the handiwork in different metals.
Hyderabadi Insight: Baingan si baatan mat kro is an equivalent of 'don't talk rubbish' or 'pappu si baat mat kr'. It is used often and in hilarious ways.
Eating out: I ate at the Salarjung museum canteen - not a big fan. (1/5)
Driving in the city should be left to people who do it daily.
I went to Charminar next which was old and glorious. The view from the minar is definitely worth a trip. And that's about it. I passed the bazaar where you can shop for bangles, lamps, lanterns, furniture.
Hyderabadi Insight: I found it funny that a reference to driving in the city on a travel website clearly listed as not to be done by outsiders. I did not need to really check it with a friend, as I spotted really bad driving on the roads and very often.
Eating out: Yummy ice-cream at Famous ice-cream - mouthwatering (100/5!); Biryani and Malai Kebab at Hotel Sarvi, Banjara hills (5/5).
Solo women are hardly seen.
Next up on my itinerary was Chowmallah palace and I have fallen in love with it. There is a room dedicated to Quran which is breathtakingly beautiful. The palace is well maintained and you can find so many old artifacts - including chinaware exhibited. The work on the walls, ceiling, the lights in all the rooms, the vintage automobiles display are just some of the things which will entice you.
I also visited Shilparamam on the third day of my trip and if you are looking to shop, I would recommend it. It could be called the 'Dilli haat' of Hyderabad and a variety of things including carpets, furniture, mirrors, handicrafts, pearls can be bought here - it is advisable to negotiate for a good bargain.
Hyderabadi Insight: To generalise it would be unfair of me, but I never saw women alone. They were either with men or with other women. Malls are a different world but when you step on to the streets, Hyderabad is conservative at best. Skirts, racebacks are not commonly seen and therefore, stared at. My perception of Hyderbad - IT crowd, Facebook HQ - was a very different picture.