Each year a variety of locations are proposed and considered as host cities for a THINK Global School term, and each year India’s most interesting cities have received strong consideration. This August, India will become an exotic reality as we make our way to Hyderabad for four months. India’s fourth largest city isn’t as well known as Calcutta or Mumbai, so let’s take a look at what makes Hyderabad #3 on Lonely Planet’s “Top Ten Cities To Visit.”
Where is Hyderabad?
Hyderabad is located in southeastern India along the banks of the Musi river, which divides the city in half. Most of the city’s historical attractions, such as The Charminar and Salarjung Museum, can be found in Hyderabad’s Old City south of the Musi River. Much of Hyderabad’s more recent development, including HITEC City, can be found to the north. Additionally, Mumbai is located roughly 430 miles from Hyderabad, so be prepared for a ten hour drive if traveling between the two.
Who lives in Hyderabad?
Since 1947, Hyderabad has been a member of the world’s largest democracy, India. The move was welcomed by the dominant Hindu population, but largely viewed as unlawful by the Muslim population. Some of the Muslims living in Hyderabad deflected at this time to Pakistan and elsewhere, which is why you are able to find Hyderabad communities throughout different parts of the world. Within Hyderabad, Hindus and Muslims now coexist side by side in unity and much of the prosperity that has been enjoyed since its creation still exists today. Currently, around 8 million people live in Hyderabad, and that population is expected to top 10 million by 2015. Hindus make up the majority of the population, but Muslims account for roughly 40%. Click here to read more about Hyderabad’s intriguing history.
What is the weather like?
Don’t plan on seeing the Winter Olympics take place in Hyderabad anytime soon, as the lowest temperature on record is a relatively mild 6°C (43°F). Visitors will instead find Hyderabad’s weather to be temperate and balmy throughout most of the year, excluding the months of March through June, when temperatures can sneak up to a sweltering 38°C (100°F). During August through December, when our fall term will take place, temperatures will generally stay around 30°C (86°F) during the day and 25°C (78°F) at night. Hyderabad, like the rest of India, experiences a monsoon season during the months of June through September, but the rainfall here is relatively mild in comparison to cities like Mumbai and Calcutta.
What is there to see?
Hyderabad has a long and storied history, and over the course of the last 500 years, many monuments to the ruling Nizam Dynasty have been constructed. Here are some of the top attractions within Hyderabad that our students and other visitors will no doubt have the opportunity to explore:
- The Charminar and surrounding bazaars – An impressive landmark that is striking in its scale, having been created just a few years after the city itself in 1591. Legend has it that The Charminar was built at the city’s center to commemorate the eradication of a plague. A mosque sits at the top of The Charminar and the Laad Bazaar and Panther Gatti can be found near its base — perfect for souvenirs.
- Golconda Fort: Equally important to Hyderabad’s history as The Charminar is the Golconda Fort, which sits just outside of the city. Golconda became famous during the 13th century for its diamond producing mines, which are said to have produced some of the world’s most well-known jewels, including the Hope Diamond. Golconda’s buttressed walls are teeming with history and should present a fascinating visit for anyone who ventures their way.
- Chowmahalla Palace: Constructed over two hundred years ago, this UNESCO award-winning complex features remnants of the four palaces used by the reigning Nizams (kings) before Hyderabad’s incorporation into India in 1947. A testament to the Nizam’s great opulence, a visit to the Chowmahalla Palace is enough to make anyone feel royal.
Like many major cosmopolitan cities, Hyderabad has received a variety of nicknames over the course of its 400 year history. The moniker Cyberadad (Cyber City) is one that it can genuinely be proud of. Hyderabad has become a veritable technology powerhouse with over 1,300 IT firms and the top talent necessary to run such companies calling it home. These investments by companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook have caused a ripple effect along Hyderabad’s skyline as plush building after plush building pops up, resulting in a higher quality of life for many of its skilled inhabitants. Our students will no doubt feed off of the pioneering energy that abounds in such a digitally inclined and highly educated city.
A brief history of Hyderabad and its people
Hyderabad is known as the most diverse city in South India due to its mix of Hindu and Muslim population, and a quick look at its history will explain why:
The Qutub Shahi Dynasty
Construction of Hyderabad was begun by Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah in 1589, and two years later construction begun on The Charminar, the city’s massive and wondrous centerpiece. Muhammed was the fifth sultan of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, and many of the city’s current Shiite Muslim population can trace their history back to the origins of the sultanate. For 100 hundred years, Hyderabad thrived as the center of a prosperous diamond and pearl trade (Hyderabad, ironically, is still heavily associated with pearls, even though it is landlocked. The majority of the pearls sold in Hyderabad today now come from China).
The Mughul Empire
After a nine-month siege in 1687, Hyderabad fell at the hands of the Mughal (who were also Persian and Muslim) Prince Aurangzeb. At its pinnacle, the Mughal Empire controlled over 1.25 million square miles and ruled over more than 1/4th of the world’s population. Under Aurangzeb, however, Hyderabad languished and its trade dried up. Things would remain dismal until 1724, when Asaf Jah was appointed as the Administrator of the Realm by then ruling Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar.
The Nizam Dynasty
The appointment of Asif Jah I in 1748 began a second period of prosperity in Hyderabad which would continue as The Mughul Empire crumbled and The Nizam Dynasty begun. Lasting two hundred years, The Nizam Dynasty was truly a bright spot in India’s history, and led to the construction of many of the attractions that our students and tourists appreciate today. The Nizam Dynasty is also notable for the massive wealth accumulated by its rulers, with the final Nizam having a net worth of US$2 billion in 1945, the equivalent of $225 billion today. One of the sites that anyone visiting Hyderabad will definitely want to see is the Nizam’s Museum, where glimpses of their massive collection of treasures are now on display.
The Nizam Dynasty continued to thrive well until 1947, when India gained its independence. Throughout Hyderabad’s long history, Muslim leaders had been in place, even though they were outnumbered now by the Hindu population 8 to 1. The ruling Nizam initially refused to join India at the time, and instead requested to become a part of the newly formed Muslim country Pakistan. This was exceptionally problematic, however, as Hyderabad was surrounded on all borders by the Indian state. After a military tactic code-named “Operation Polo” was commenced by the Indian army, the ruling Nizam was overthrown, and Hyderabad was incorporated into the newly formed Indian state.
Thanks for reading!
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this quick look at Hyderabad, India, and now have a better understanding of the city, itself. If you have any suggestions on attractions you feel should be included, let us know in the comments!