Hyderabad Beyond Biryani

By 12:16 Tuesday 26 March 2019 , , ,

Hi guys! If you follow me on Instagram, you might remember that I recently went to Hampi with a brief pitstop in Hyderabad. And though I didn't expect to see and do a lot here, I was pretty impressed at myself for squeezing in some amazing food and sightseeing experiences in the brief time window that we had before our train to Hampi. Although, I must disclose that some weird but hilarious turn of events made sure that we could do it all, except taste the world-famous Hyderabadi biryani. So unfortunately, I won't be able to give you any lowdown on that.

We had about 7-8 hours to explore the best of the city and we started off with the most obvious spot of them all: the Char Minar. It doesn't give me any joy to type this but for the sake of honesty, I was a tad bit underwhelmed. Maybe it was because of having read about it in text books and having an iconic image of it in my mind, but I wasn't really blown away by it. Also, two of its minarets are currently under renovation and it further took away from its historical charm. However, I don't regret going here because all the best food and shopping spots are around it.

 Laad Bazaar, a bustling market situated in the periphery of the Char Minar, can easily give Delhi's maddening Chandni Chowk a run for its money. I can't help but compare the two because of the chaos, the amazing variety of food on the streets and finally, the amount of shaadi-bling that line its narrow bylanes. I'm talking outrageous lehengas, quirky shararas, bejewelled burkhas, rhinestone-studded jhumkaas and paasas and what not. The Chudi Bazaar within this market is a paradise for bangle lovers. You will find oxidized metal ones with tiny ghungroos, painted lac bangles, gold partywear arm candies and of course, the classic glass bangles in every colour imaginable.

Coming to the food, you'll find excellent street food options around Char Minar. Don't miss out the piping hot dosas and Mysore vadas {and their cheese variants} from the street stalls just a few steps from Char Minar. Wash it all down with fresh sugarcane juice from the vendors around. You'll also find several 'bandis' { simply translating to 'stalls'} like Ram ki bandi, Govind ki bandi, etc. in Hyderabad selling mouthwatering chaat akin to Delhi.

Hyderabad is home to numerous Irani 'chai-cafes' that are unbelievably quick in their service and wonderfully nominal in their pricing. We only had the time to visit one and chose Nimrah Cafe and Bakery near the Char Minar. Along with the freshly baked puffs, Nimrah is famous for selling a variety of Irani biscuits. The most popular of them all is the melt-in-mouth, heaven-sent, amusingly sweet with a touch of salty Osmania bisqit. I took just a 10-minute chai break here and could tell that nothing has changed at Nimrah and nothing ever will: the chaos in its air, the impatience of its waiters and the jolt one feels at the first sip of their kadak Irani chai.

Our next stop was the magnificent Chowmahalla Palace built by the Nizams of Hyderabad around the 1860s. Chowmahalla, literally translating to 'four palaces', has some beautiful corners with ornate plaster and wood work. The durbar hall is especially instagram-worthy with beautiful antique chandeliers hanging from even more beautiful ceilings. I might have to create a separate blog post for a more detailed account of this underrated Indian palace!

After clicking a million pictures at the palace, I made it on time to catch the sunset at Golconda Fort. I got to witness some more of Hyderabad from our auto during the 40-minute ride from Chowmahalla to Golconda. Blatantly put, it's very similar to the ruins in Hauz Khas and Mehrauli. Golconda was the capital of the Qutb Shahi dynasty around the 16th century. The fort's notable claim to fame is a vault where the famous Koh-i-Noor was once stored. We didn't have the time {or the energy} but there's the beautiful Qutb Shahi tomb near the fort that might be of your interest if you're a history buff!

That'd be all, guys. Just to quickly recapitulate, here are the highlights from my 8-hour Hyderabad itinerary {sans the biryani}:

-Char Minar
-Laad Bazaar & Chudi Bazaar
-Street food around Char Minar
-Nimrah Cafe & Bakery
-Chowmahalla Palace
-Golconda Fort

Been to Hyderabad? Feel free to leave your experiences and suggestions in the comments below!
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