Visiting our co-ops around the globe, we’re reminded of the endless beauty and inspiration that comes with the places our artisans call home. A recent trip near Hyderabad, India made it easy to get carried away by the charm this region has to offer, thanks to its rich history (more than 400 years worth!) and hustle-and-bustle vibe of the capital city of Andhra Pradesh, a southern Indian state.
Come along as we rediscover our favorite gems from this old city.
The Charminar: Easily the most well-known attraction in Hyderabad, this mosque is one of India’s top recognized structures. The name (translating to “four towers”) is a nod to its architecture, with four tall, ornate pillars on each corner and intricate archways underneath. The Charminar was built before Hyderabad was even an official city, and the city was later designed around it, making sure the landmark was an anchor to its surroundings.
Mecca Masjid: Not far from the Charminar is another of the largest and most historic mosques in India, the Mecca Masjid. This heritage building showcases three beautiful arched facades, carved from a single piece of black granite. The bricks used in the central archway are said to have come from red clay brought in from Mecca, the holiest site of Islam (which in turn, gave the structure its name).
Golconda Fort: It’s just a quick bus or auto rickshaw ride away, but the Golconda Fort is technically about seven miles west of Hyderabad. The ruined fort is famous for its acoustics, diamond vault, natural air conditioning and its Turkish baths, all of which serve as reminders of its former grandeur. The fort was built by the Qutb Shahi dynasty, which ruled during the 16th and 17th centuries. The fort’s high perch on a hill offers exquisite views of Hyderabad below.
Biryani: Made from various meats, spices, and basmati rice (that’s on the most basic level), this dish is a labor of love. It takes hours of slow cooking to prepare and requires a watchful eye to get the timing/temperature just right, but the end result is absolutely delicious.
Markets: The bazaars around the Charminar are home to row after row of tiny shops, where you’ll find a number of Indian specialties like spices, grains, perfumes, and more rare, local finds like seedless Anabshahi grapes.
Jewelry: The market is a perfect place to go jewel hunting. Once known as the “City of Pearls,” Hyderabad is the place to find varieties of seed pearl, rice pearl and round pearl, all priced reasonably well since this is where many of the world’s pearls are processed. There are also plenty of accessories to be found at the Laad Bazaar, a narrow street branching off of the Charminar that is a shopping destination for bridal pieces and another Hyderabad trademark: glass bangles.
Local film is huge in India and especially in the state of Andhra Pradesh, which boasts the most cinema theaters in all of India. Hyderabad is home to the Telugu film industry (also known as Tollywood), and together, the two boast a few distinctions in film: Telugu holds the largest film production facility in the world; and the largest 3D IMAX screen and the most attended cinema screen in the world are both right here in Hyderabad.
Soak up the Sun(set)
There are a few places to catch a swoonworthy sunset. One good stop is Kala Pahad (Black Mountain), a hilltop where you’ll find the white marble Birla Venkateswara temple. The aforementioned Golconda Fort is another favorite. And not too far from there is Taramati Baradari, a pavilion with gorgeous archways that provide the perfect frame for watching the day’s sun go down.