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Big, sprawling Hyderabad is full of life; you can enjoy the bustle of a traditional market, head over to one of the city's many video gaming centers or an amusement park, and then finish off your day at a sleek fine dining restaurant.
Hyderabad serves as the capital city for the province of Telangana in Southern India. It's a center for India's burgeoning technology industry (earning it the nickname "Cyberabad"), and that's brought a cosmopolitan scene of dining, shopping, and entertainment options to the city. Hyderabad sees thousands of business travelers on a daily basis, but the high-tech giants like Microsoft India exist alongside a 400-year-old city center with a rich history and culture.
Hyderabad and Secunderabad were once twin cities, located at opposite sides of Hussain Sagar Lake. Today, the two have merged into one giant municipal area that blossoms out around the lake. From the office towers to the Old City and its many historical monuments, Hyderabad is waiting for you to discover its many charms.
Hyderabad is part of India's Islamic heritage, and the spectacular Charminar mosque, with its four towers, is one of the city's iconic structures. You can check out Chowmahalla Palace, where royalty once greeted visitors, and Golconda Fort, once the capital of a medieval kingdom, among many other historical attractions.
North and South Indian cuisine merge in Hyderabad's dining scene, with many options from street food to elegant fine dining rooms and hipster hangouts. You'll also find many Turkish and Arabic influences, with Western and other international options catering to the city's many business travelers.
From centuries-old traditional bazaars to ultra-modern shopping malls and boutiques, Hyderabad has everything you could wish for when it comes to shopping. In particular, it is a center for the jewelry trade, from fashion pieces to precious metals and genuine pearls - Hyderabad was once called the "City of Pearls."
The citizens of Hyderabad love their water and amusement parks, and you can enjoy no less than a dozen of them in the city. Ramoji Film City (where films are actually shot) alone covers over 2,500 acres with a combination of natural features like lakes and gardens with movie sets depicting a London street, royal castle, and much more.
Despite the city's huge size and population of just under 8 million people, you can easily escape the hustle and bustle in one of Hyderabad's many beautiful parks. Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National Park is the largest, a huge green oasis perfect for walking or jogging.
The most popular time for tourist visits is from November to February, when the city's tropical climate takes a somewhat milder turn. Average temperatures range between about 60 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The period between March to about June sees temperatures rise to more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and monsoon season extends from July to October, when heavy rains are common.
Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (HYD) lies about 14 miles from the city. The airport is relatively new and you can expect modern facilities and amenities. Air-conditioned buses make the airport run to various designated spots in the city, with fares ranging from ₹150 to ₹250. Official taxi service at the airport is offered by Skycabs and Meru only, with metered service that starts at ₹21 for every 0.62 miles or so.
The city's main railway station is known as Nampally station, located in the Nampally district. It is a major hub for Indian Railways, with connections to urban centers throughout the country.
The city connects to other major centers via a recently upgraded highway system. Highway NH7 connects the city to Bangalore, and highways NH9 and NH5 will get you to Chennai. You can also make the drive to and from Mumbai via NH9.
A number of private and state bus companies make intercity trips, including Dhanunjaya Bus, Veeru Travels, NTA Express, and the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC). Many intercity routes operate through the Jubilee Bus Station in Secunderabad. There are connections to Chennai, Mumbai, and Bangalore.
At the Taj Falaknuma Palaca, you'll stay in palatial grandeur. The luxury hotel was once a genuine palace, and includes Italian sculptures and a 100-seat dining table, among many other treasures. Taj Krishna and Taj Banjara are just two of the city's many modern hotels, offering stylish decor and upscale amenities. The Raj Classic Inn is clean and budget priced, with a convenient location near the bus station.
Central Zone - this is an upscale part of the city, and where you'll find many options when it comes to dining and night life. Many of the city's high-end shopping centers are located here, including Hyderabad Central and the ultramodern Inorbit Mall.
South Zone - located along the south bank of the Musi River, this is where you'll find the majority of the city's wonderful historic attractions. It's also called the Old City, and it's home to Hyderabad's fantastic traditional markets like the Laad Bazaar, famous for bangles, semi-precious gemstones, and pearl jewelry; the Moazzam Jahi Market with its fresh fruit and gorgeous flowers; and the Sultan Bazaar (also called Sultan Bazar), great for fashion bargains.
North Zone - this area incorporates Secunderabad, a sister city that has been swallowed up by the growing metropolis. Developed directly under British rule until 1948, it has its own sophisticated restaurant and entertainment scene to check out.
TSRTC, a state company, provides efficient local bus service that covers most of the sprawling city. Fares run by zone, starting at ₹35. For longer stays, a monthly pass costs ₹2,100 and offers unlimited travel throughout the city.
Taxis are plentiful in Hyderabad, but you will want to make sure you choose a metered taxi. Fares start at ₹6 per 0.62 miles. Auto rickshaws are an alternative to taxi travel within the city, and you'll find many of them around major hotels and in the financial district. Rares start at ₹20 for about the first mile, with an additional ₹11 for each 0.62 mile after that.
There is no expressway system or route in Hyderabad, which means the city is often plagued by traffic congestion. Parking spaces are also at a premium, and often unavailable in many sections of town. Local companies include Carzonrent and Hyderabad Car Rentals. Car rental starts at about ₹6,800 but you will have to reserve well in advance as the supply is somewhat limited.
Punjagutta and Ameerpet, in the western areas of the city, have developed into shopping meccas, home to enormous shopping malls. This is also a good place to look for bargains on jewelry, with several of the city's best shops located in this area. The so-called "golden mile" for shopping in Hyderabad extends from the Begumpet Flyover area to Banjara Hills, and includes a string of shopping malls, designer boutiques, and many, many jewelry stores.
Vijetha Supermarket has several locations in the city, along with Ratnadeep Super Market. There are also several online grocery options like Grocerkart. A quart of milk costs about ₹52 and a dozen eggs about ₹60.
For upscale Asian fusion cuisine in a stylish rooftop lounge, look to SO. The Sky Kitchen, with main dishes that start at ₹375. When you visit the Charminar, you can stop at Nimrah, a classic Indian cafe where you can sample tasty baked goods that start at ₹3. For classic biryani and local cuisine, head to Paradise in Secunderabad, where you can choose from five dining rooms and mains that start at ₹200.