Holi in Hyderabad
This year’s Holi vacation turned out to be another chapter in my quest to travel to as many areas of India as I possibly can. My roommate and I travelled together for the first time to the city of Hyderabad. In this article, I’ll share with you the story of two guys having the time of their lives in this wonderful city.
The Indigo Airlines A320 touched us down on the tarmac of Rajiv Gandhi International Airport on a hot and humid afternoon. Right off the bat, we had to have some food. We got out of the arrival hall and walked in the fiery afternoon breeze to a nearby cafe. Here we enjoyed a couple of samosas (not a shabby start at all) and then I had something that blew my mind—grilled green chilli—or as known by the locals, mirchi fry. These are green chillies, salted and probably parboiled, and then fried to utter tenderness. Oh, my mouth waters at the mere thought!
After this quick refill, we decided to hit the road. We had decided to visit one of the main areas of the city before checking into the hotel. After some unsuccessful minutes trying to find out the bus route, we gave up and booked an Ola. After a half-hour ride, we arrived at our destination—Charminar.
Charminar is basically the Hollywood sign of Hyderabad. It is the central monument of the city, coupled with a mosque; you cannot miss out on this area when you travel here. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the building was under renovation and repair works. But the beauty of the details and structure was apparent even from the incomplete view of the building. There is also another grand mosque nearby—Makkah Masjid. After I prayed here, we checked out the area. The labyrinth of streets lined with an assortment of shops was a pleasure to walk through and explore.
After exploring quite a bit, we headed to the hotel we would be staying at for the next three days. The place was tucked away inside an alley in Nampally. While it wasn’t in a great location, the room was quite nice and spacious, with an average bathroom. However, we didn’t mind so much, as we had no plans to spend our time inside anyway.
Next on our agenda was visiting Snow World, the indoor snow center filled with fun and games. After a refreshing rest, we took the bus up to Hussain Sagar Lake, which is located nearby the snow park. Similar to my experience in other cities of India, bus transport was very cheap, although it gets crowded depending on the time and season.
After some fun in Snow World, we left the place as the day was coming to a close. We walked along the lake in the setting sun, towards Lumbini Park. Lumbini Park was filled with fun activities and games. There was the spinning wheel, the rodeo and the whole deal, and the park was teeming with friends and families out to enjoy the weekend. From the park, we took a boat ride to check out the statue of Buddha that had been erected on a small isle in the middle of the lake. The white granite depiction of the religious founder was the last bit on our agenda before we turned in for the night.
Early the next morning, we traveled to see the ruins of the famed Golkonda fort. The fort is an awe-inspiring feat of architecture and construction, spanning over a vast expanse of more than six miles. With gardens of lush greenery and various nooks and crannies everywhere for us to explore, it is no wonder that we roamed through the place for hours on end. The atmosphere inside the fort takes you back to the days of the Qutb Shahi dynasty back in the 17th century. That is, with the exception of the kulfis we had during the hot afternoon.
After refilling ourselves with some Iranian cookies and drinks, we roamed around the market areas looking for goodies to take back with us. One of the most memorable areas was the Moazzam Jahi market area, where we bought an assortment of things including some sweet and tasty fruits.
As night fell, we made a pit stop back at the hotel before heading back out to explore the HITEC City area. This is a more upbeat and posh area of the city, where most of the engineering and tech firms are based. The area also hosts stores from a lot of renowned international brands, so naturally, we went window shopping. We also bought books had a bite to eat before we headed back. I want to give a shout out to the Shawarma Shack for the heavenly dinner. Definitely do check them out if you’re there.
On the final day of our stay, we visited a major attraction of Hyderabad—Ramoji Film City. The 1,200 acres it consists of makes it the largest of its kind in the world. The studio complex boasts various sets from Indian movies made over the years, including the recent Telugu blockbuster Bahubali. (Check it out, it is a masterpiece!)
The place has some great “adventure stalls” where we got a glimpse of what happens behind the cameras and were able to see how the onscreen magic is created. There is also an amusement park with various fun rides and other activities to enjoy with friends and family. The spaces were designed to perfection, and it was a great experience just to visit and hang out in the place.
During the three days of our stay, we of course enjoyed a lot of the famed Hyderabadi cuisine. Every night, we enjoyed dum biriyani—a dish which lived up to its world-renowned reputation. Moreover, although I am not a huge fan of milk tea in general, I totally enjoyed the Masala Chai served from the various tea stands during the morning hours.
I do have one regret though: I was looking forward to trying Hyderabadi haleem during my trip, but after much searching, I wasn’t able to find the dish anywhere. For those who don’t know, haleem is a thick stew made from meat, lentils and wheat, among other things. According to the locals I asked, haleem is available only during the month of Ramadan. Guess where I’m planning to go during Ramadan next year!
My roommate and I invested substantially for this trip, and the bulk of the expenses went toward airfare. With that exception, the budget for the trip was pretty reasonable, and as always, we managed to keep ourselves from breaking the bank by planning ahead and booking everything in advance.
When we boarded the Indigo plane to head back, we were exhausted and extremely satisfied. As the plane took off and rose higher, I realized that my heart had wilted a little. It had been a hectic and fun three days, and we were not ready to leave this beautiful place behind. I will forever cherish the people I met and the experiences I had while exploring this regal city. If you ever visit Hyderabad, make sure to try the haleem and tell me how it tastes!