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Hyderabad, the pearl city of India, is the capital of Andhra Pradesh in Southern India, located on the banks of the Musi River and on the Deccan Plateau. Hyderabad and Secunderabad are "twin cities" near Hussain Sagar Lake (also known as Tank Bund in local parlance) but both cities have grown so much that now they have become one big metropolis. The city and district of Hyderabad are coterminous. Hyderabad district is entirely contained within the Ranga Reddy district of Andhra Pradesh. Many of the suburbs of Hyderabad were recently merged into the city, now called Greater Hyderabad.
This city, also called Bhagyanagaram, was kept by Quli Qutb Shah, the 16th century ruler of Hyderabad, in the name of his lover Bhagmathi.
A city rich with history and tradition, Hyderabad now competes with Bangalore, Chennai for the crown of India's IT capital; Microsoft and Google have their India headquarters here.
If you are traveling to Hyderabad on "business as is increasingly the case now" it is easy to miss the 400 year-old Hyderabad. The city that immediately hits the eye is a sprawling metropolis of shopping malls and office buildings with glass facades. The whole of the city seems to be under construction or renovation and the roads are jammed because flyovers are being constructed. It is a magnificent city in many senses.
The "old city" that was once the seat of the Nizam, the ruler of the largest and the most opulent "princely state", and the twin city of Secunderabad where the British maintained a cantonment to keep the army within striking distance of the Nizam can be seen only if you take the time out to see them.
Hyderabad's many epithets include the City of Pearls, the City of Nawabs, the Biryani City and, because of its high-tech draw, Cyberabad.
In 1463 Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk established the fortress of Golconda about 8 km to the west of Hyderabad’s present day old city. He had quelled rebellion in the Telangana region and was appointed the subedar, or administrator of the region as a result. By 1518, he had become independent from the Bahmani sultan, declared himself the Sultan under the name of Quli Qutb Shah and established the Qutb Shahi dynasty. In 1589, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, a grandson of Quli Qutb Shah, made the decision to move his capital from the Golconda fort to the present day location of Hyderabad due to water shortages at the old location. In 1591, he ordered the construction of the Charminar, reportedly in gratitude to Allah for cutting short a plague epidemic before it could do too much damage.
The name "Hyderabad" reportedly had its origins in an affair between Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah and a local Telugu courtesan named Bhagmati. He named the city Bhagyanagar after her, and after she converted to Islam and took on the name of "Hyder Mahal", he named the city Hyderabad. Hyderabad was built on a grid plan with help from Iranian architects. French traveler Jean-Baptiste Tavernier favorably compared Hyderabad to Orleans.
The Qutb Shahi dynasty lasted till 1687, when the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb defeated the sultanate and took over Hyderabad. He appointed his governor as ruler of the region and granted him the title of Nizam-ul-Mulk. However, Mughal rule was short-lived and in 1724, the Nizam Asaf Jah I gained independence from a declining Mughal empire. Legend has it that while on a hunting expedition, he met a holy man who offered him some kulchas and asked him to eat as much as he could. Asaf Jah ate only seven, and the holy man prophesied that his dynasty would last for seven generations. Sure enough, the seventh ruler in the dynasty was the last. In honour of the legend, the flag of the Nizams featured a kulcha.
Around 1763, Asif Jah II, defeated by the Marathas and threatened by Tipu Sultan of Mysore, entered into a subsidiary alliance with a British. Hyderabad state became a "princely state", protected by, and under the overlordship of the British. The British maintained their army in nearby Secunderabad to protect the Nizam and to ensure that he did not do any mischief. Hyderabad state was the richest in the country and in the 1930s Time magazine rated the Nizam the richest man in the world. In 1947, with India's independence, the seventh Nizam was reluctant to cede his principality to the newly independent India, preferring Pakistan instead. India sent in its troops and the 200 year old prophesy was fulfilled. On September 17th 1948, it was merged in to India. Hyderabad become the capital city of Hyderabad state till nov 1st 1956. After forced merger of hyderabad state with Andhra state and formed new linguistic state Andhra Pradesh on Nov 1st 1956. Thus, Hyderabad became the capital of the newly formed state of Andhra Pradesh. The new capital's administrative buildings were located around Hussain Sagar Lake, approximately between Secunderabad and the "old city", as the Nizam's city came to be called.
In 1995, Chandrababu Naidu became chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. Among his key policies was a major initiative to turn the city into an IT hub. He cleaned up the streets, laid out IT parks and did much to attract technology companies into the city. Today, as Bangalore’s infrastructure is choked by the city’s rapid growth, Hyderabad's well-laid out streets are proving to be a major attraction for software and IT-enabled companies. The technology enclave of Madhapur has actually been officially named Hi tec city, and "Cyberabad" is commonly used as an alternative name to Hyderabad.
In 2007, the suburbs of Hyderabad were merged with the city to form Greater Hyderabad. In 2009, the longstanding demand to have Telangana created as a separate state came to boil, with low intensity agitations and disturbances shaking up Hyderabad. While the traveller need not worry much (see the "Stay safe" section for more) it does call into question Hyderabad's future status, as Telangana includes Hyderabad city.
The best way to orient yourself to Hyderabad is to think with reference to two water bodies - the Musi river and the Hussain Sagar Lake. The Musi river flows from the west to the east, a few kilometers south of Hussain Sagar Lake.
In many senses, Hyderabad is the meeting ground between North and South India. The city has a culture that is distinct from the rest of Andhra Pradesh, showing Islamic influences and a courtly presence imparted from its period as the capital of the Nizamate. This is more evident in the old city. The new city resembles many provincial state capitals in India. Secunderabad is more cosmopolitan, as the Cantonment area is located in this part of the city.
Due to a recent influx of young men and women from various parts of the country, Hyderabad's culture and attitudes have taken a turn towards "modernity". However, it is good to keep in mind that the city is still a deeply conservative place and to dress appropriately, especially in the old city.
Note that people have a very indifferent attitude towards time and a very laid back attitude.
Like many Indian cities Hyderabad has a tropical climate. The best time to visit the city is from mid-November to mid-February.Temperatures are mild with abundant sunshine during this time and average temperature range from a low of 15°C (59°F) to a high of 29°C (85°F). March to June is hot and dry with occasional thunderstorms. Highs can reach 45°C (113°F) or more and lack of air-conditioning can make it feel very uncomfortable. July, August, September and October can be quite warm and humid and low pressure systems from the Bay of Bengal during the monsoon season can cause heavy rain for days.
Telugu (the state language of Andhra Pradesh and one of India's three living classical languages) and Urdu are widely spoken in Hyderabad, and most educated people speak Telugu, Urdu, Hindi and/or English. The dialect of Telugu spoken is different in Hyderabad from the standard language including many verbal phrases or their pronunciation.
English signs are common.
The city is one of the main places where Urdu developed, and the dialect spoken primarily by the large Muslim population is known as "Deccani Urdu or Dakhani Urdu" (which both translate to Urdu of the Deccan). Because of the influence of Urdu, a dialect of Hindi is also spoken in the city and your Hindi phrasebook may still be useful.
Hyderabad is well connected to all parts of the country by air, rail and road.
Hyderabad's new Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (IATA: HYD)  is located 22 km (14 mi) from the city. Note that the old airport at Begumpet is now closed. The sleek and well-organized airport is one of the best aviation facilities in India. The elevated expressway to the airport is now open and takes 20 minutes. Direct international connectivity from Hyderabad is available for many countries. International carriers operating from Hyderabad are Air India, British Airways, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Silk Air, Etihad Airways and Thai Airways.
Domestic connectivity is excellent with Indian airlines operating from here including Air India, Air India Express, Indian Airlines, Indigo Airlines, Jet Airways, JetLite and SpiceJet.
Once you arrive at Hyderabad airport, one option is to take the air-conditioned buses run by the airport (Aero Express)  to various designated points in the city such as (1) Begumpet (Paryatak Bhavan) (2) Secunderabad (Keyes High School) (3) Hi-Tec City (Opposite Shilparamam) at a fixed price of Rs. 180, and two designated points in the city (4) Charminar (City College) (5) Mehdipatnam (Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital) at Rs. 120 (travel time runs from 45-100 min depending on time of day and traffic conditions). The buses have a frequency of a bus every 30 min from 3:30AM-11PM and every hour at midnight, 1AM, 2AM and 3AM. You can reach the designated points and then take an auto or metered cab from there.
Alternatively, you can hire metered air-conditioned radio cabs starting from Rs. 20 per km (see Get around section) Easy and Meru are approved by the airport @ 15Rs./km and are available just after exiting the terminal building. For the rest, you need to call and book with a lead time of 15 minutes to 1 hour. These cabs charge 25% surcharge in the night (i.e., Rs. 18.75 per km). Hyderabad traffic police counter is on the ground floor with prepaid taxis. Beware of taxi soliciting touts at the airport greeting area; they will try to scam you into exorbitant rates.
Hired cars are also available from a booth just before walking outside of the airport. This gives you the advantage of paying in advance, thereby avoiding any disagreements over price.The airport can be contacted on their (toll free for BSNL/MTNL subscribers) number 1 800 419-2008 for all services and enquiries including arrivals / departure information, facilities, transport availability, etc. Another option for cheap travel from the airport to Hyderabad city is: When you arrive at airport, go to the departure gates, where you can get a car that has just dropped off passengers and would otherwise return empty to the city. Such vehicles will drop you off in city for only Rs. 30. The same is true if you hail a taxi near Mehdipathnam, where the flyover starts.
Indian Railways has service to Hyderabad from all over India.
There are three major railway stations serving the twin cities: Secunderabad, Hyderabad and Kachiguda and a minor station at Begumpet. Most of the trains bound for South India and North India originate from Hyderabad and leave via Secunderabad.
From these major railway stations you can easily get connected buses or private taxis which will take you to the destination of your choice. You can also ask taxi drivers about getting around Hyderabad as they have adequate experience and guide you appropriate to save your significant amount of time.
Hyderabad is well connected to other major Metros by road. Bangalore is connected by NH7 and is at a distance of 560 km. The city is 752 km from Chennai (using highways NH9 and NH5) and 800 km from Mumbai (NH9 till Pune and the expressway to Mumbai.)
The Bangalore Hyderabad section is part of the North South corridor which is being upgraded to a four-lane divided highway.
Hyderabad is well-connected to all parts of the Andhra Pradesh and most parts of South and Western India. Both state government and private buses operate large number of luxury and ordinary services across the state and neighboring states.
It may be difficult to find direct buses from North India due large size of that part of the country.