Situated 11 km west of the city of Hyderabad, Golkonda first came up during the rule of the Kakatiya Dynasty. Later, it rose to prominence and saw its zenith during the reign of Qutub Shahi dynasty when it was not just powerful but also famous as the diamond market. The rulers patronized art and artists.
A visit to Golkonda Fort requires time as it is a huge complex and exploring it is a time consuming but fruitful affair. Its architecture and engineering are noteworthy, especially its acoustics that fascinates visitors. The fort also has a Sound and Light show in the evening for anyone interested in knowing more about the past. At this time, Golkonda looks very beautiful, and walking through (the area that is open) it is quite an experience if you do not mind the mosquitos.
Golkonda is one of the top attractions of Hyderabad, hence a lot of people visit it, especially on holidays. So plan accordingly. Early mornings are the best time to visit the fort, as it leaves you with a good amount of time in hand to go around at your own pace.
Some monuments become the identity of the city they are located in. It is the same with the Charminar (char – four; minar – tower) of Hyderabad. Think of Hyderabad and the first visual that appears is that of this monument. It was built in 1591 by the fourth Qutub Shahi ruler, Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah.
It is believed that a sever plague struck the region during his era. A number of people were affected by the disease. The sultan prayed to God to end the grief of his people and pledged to build a mosque and madarsa. When the plague ended, he fulfilled his promise by building Charminar which has a mosque and madarsa at a higher level.
The monument, built in the center of the old city of Hyderabad, is a square structure with arches and domes as well as towers. The four clocks adorning the four sides were added later by the 6th Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Mehboob Ali Khan. Above there is a mosque and spaces for worship. Visitors can reach the top of the monument by ascending 149 steps of a narrow spiral staircase of a minaret. From the top, the interior decorations of Charminar – the balustrades, balconies and the carved floral designs – as well as the view of the markets around can be enjoyed. It is beautifully illuminated during night time.
Charminar is surrounded by markets. Numerous items including clothes and jewelleries are sold here. The famous Laad Bazaar, known for its making and sale of bangles, is another one amongst the attractions of Hyderabad, especially for shoppers.
Qutub Shahi Tombs
Spread across the vast area of Ibrahim Bagh, this attraction of Hyderabad houses the tombs of the Qutub Shahi rulers (except the last one –Abdul Hassan Tana Shah). The most significant of these is the tomb of the founder of the Qutub Shahi dynasty – Sultan Quli Qutub Ul Mulk. His tomb set the way tombs of his successors were built.
Close to his tomb is the tomb of his son, Jhamshed Quli Qutub Shah. His tomb is the only one that differs in shape from others. The most spectacular of all is the tomb of Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, founder of Hyderabad.
Other than the rulers of the family, the compound also houses the tomb of other royal members (Hayat Bakshi Begum, Fatima Sultan & Kulthoom) and those who were close to the royalty (the two famous physicians and favourite courtesans of Sultan Abdullah Shah). There are also mosques, a Hamam and wells in the premises. A visit to the Qutub Shahi tombs requires considerable time as it is a big area. It cab visited after a visit to the Golconda Fort as it is close to it. Hiring a guide to understand the history is a good idea.
Salar Jung Museum
This is one of its kind museums, the reason for this being that the exhibits on display in this museum were collected by a single person over a period of 35 years. The person referred to here is Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, the Prime Minister of the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad. Also known as Salar Jung III, the Nawab spent a sizeable amount from his salary to accrue artifacts from around the world. After his death, his collection was displayed to the world in the Salar Jung Museum housed in his ancestral palace, Diwan Deodi. At this point in time, the museum was still a private one. It was later shifted to its current location and came under the supervision of a Board of Trustees.
Salar Jung III collected artefacts from around the world, hence, quite obviously the exhibits of the museum are as varied as you can imagine. There are different sections for different kinds of exhibits. The Indian section has a ‘Founders Gallery’ displaying the portraits of the members of Salar Jung family. There are miniature paintings of different schools, modern Indian artwork, and Indian sculptures. Also on display are the weapons of the likes of Tipu Sultan, Aurengzeb and Bahadur Shah.
The western section displays artwork from British, French and Italian art schools. The most notable of the display in this section is the sculpture of Veiled Rebecca. The eastern section displays exhibits from countries like China, Japan, Tibet and Myanmar. Particularly interesting is the Clock section where clocks brought from various European countries fascinate visitors. The most popular here is the musical clock from England.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consorts – Goddess Bhavani and Sivadurga – the Keeseragutta Temple is located around 40 kms from Hyderabad. The legend associated with this temple narrates the story of Lord Ram who after killing Raavan, a Brahmin, wished to atone for his sin. He decided to install a Shivalingam at Keeseragutta and accordingly ordered Lord Hanuman to bring a Shiva Lingam all the way from Varanasi. Since Hanuman could not make it on time; Lord Shiva himself appeared and gave a Shivalingam to Lord Ram to do the installation on the auspicious time.
When Hanuman returned, he was unhappy at the turn of events. He had brought along 101 Shivalingam for Lord Ram to choose from, but now there was no need for any. Saddened, he threw the Shivalingams here and there. Till date, visitors can see a number of Shivalingam scattered all around the temple. To pacify Hanuman, Lord Ram told him that the hill, henceforth, will be known as Kesargiri (hill of the son of Kesari that is Hanuman) and devotees will first worship Hanuman here.
No wonder, Keeseragutta is a place of religious significance for Hindus. However, the discovery of the idols of Jain Tirthankaras has also associated the place with Jainism. The place is also a lovely spot for nature enthusiasts. Located on a hill, the place provides a wonderful view of the surrounding region. Sunset and sunrise are wonderful to visit Keeseragutta, just be careful of the monkeys that roam around the area.
There are a host of other attractions in Hyderabad that can be visited.