The Return to Hyderabad

10 Aug

A work trip to Hyderabad! This was special in more ways than one – not only was it going to be my first work trip, but Hyderabad was where I spent all my childhood and is a second home. To make it all the more exciting, FOUR of us were going: the boss Swati Mitra, Nidhi Dhingra, Anupriya Roy, and yours truly.

It was a tricky proposition. Since we were going to photograph and research for our Hyderabad City Guide, I’d have to see Hyderabad in a new light – as a potential travel destination. When you’ve grown up in a city, you regard the most exotic tourist attractions with a sense familiarity and affection. We would trek up Naubat Pahad from school to Birla Mandir, drive past Hussain Sagar, Tank Bund and Osmania University every day to get home and past Public Gardens to go for swimming. Now I was back with camera and note book in hand and a whole lot of newly-learnt history and interesting anecdotes to revisit it all.

Anupriya, Nidhi, Tanya. Fully armed with cameras, notebook and pencil.

Anupriya, Nidhi, Tanya in Bala Hissar, Golconda Fort. Fully armed with cameras, notebook and pencil.

Even after numerous school trips to the Golconda Fort and the Qutb Shahi Tombs, it was only in my GK II office in Delhi and while poring over dusty volumes in libraries that I grasped its significance in history. The mighty Qutb Shahi dynasty, whose founder broke himself away from the Bahamani kingdom, ruled from the ingeniously protected Golconda fort from 1518 to 1589. Every time a king died, his body would be carried from the Fort, through the Murda Gate, to the Qutb Shahi Tombs where he would be buried in a splendid tomb.

Golconda Fort: a view of the royal complex

Golconda Fort: a view of the royal complex

A little boy poses against Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah's tomb

A little boy poses against Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah's tomb

Our guide took us through the fort bringing it alive for us. We even encountered a film being shot, quite a common sight in the movie crazy Hyderabad.

Lights... Camera... Action!

Lights... Camera... Action!

When we visited the Qutb Shahi Tombs from school, they were always a source of great delight. Always hoping to find the skeletal remains of the royal ones, I was more or less impervious to their architectural beauty. This time, I was wonderstruck at the sheer scale and symmetry of the tombs. Since it was afternoon and there were few visitors, it was a surreal experience – surrounded on all sides by tombs and mosques, it was the 16th century once again.

the tombs in the landscaped garden

the tombs in the landscaped garden

This trip to Hyderabad included my most memorable sojourns into the old city. One thing I brought back with me from those ancient streets, apart from a strong desire to go back, was bottles of fragrant attar. Who would have thought! Attar, which I always associated with grown ups and the old-fashioned, had Anupriya and me in its spell. We swooned with every tantalising fragrance that was dabbed on our wrists: Sanobar, Fankaar, Gulab, Omar Khayam, Shaheen….

An attar advertisement - Attar comes in these colourful little illustrated boxes

An attar advertisement - Attar comes in these colourful little illustrated boxes

Mr Shailendra Prasad of Hyderabad Perfumers lamented how the interest in attar made of natural ingredients was waning and that most of the affordable attar today was synthetic.  He did add there were still some connoisseurs of attar who came all the way from the Arab countries to buy it.

'Would you prefer something more fruity? more feminine? ...' - Mr Shailendra Prasad and his wares

'Would you prefer something more fruity? more feminine? ...' - Mr Shailendra Prasad and his wares

There were places I’d never visited like the Chowmahalla Palace Complex, and some real gems, which I am ashamed to say, I’d never even heard about and which you will have to wait for the Goodearth Hyderabad City Guide to find out about!

If you make your visit to Hyderabad before the book is out (a few more months of travelling, photography, research in libraries are still required), then you can try these:

A P Tourism (Phone: 011-23381293, 23366328) and INTACH Hyderabad for an exhaustive list of protected structures (Phone: 040-23730885).


Posted by on August 10, 2009 in goodearth guides, travel


Tags: , , , ,

39 responses to “The Return to Hyderabad

  1. savita rao

    August 10, 2009 at 10:36 am

    I like the black and white shot of Golconda. Also like the advertisement! Its things like those that make a trip worthwhile, really. I love Hyd, so look forward to seeing your guide soon.

  2. Bernadette

    August 10, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Tani, it’s so true! We hardly ever realise the brilliance of the place we grow up in. I am thinking, I should revisit the bhool bhulaiya in Lucknow. 🙂
    I have never visited Hyderabad but your post invokes a sense of nostalgia that I am familiar with.
    Will certainly plan a trip to Hyderabad whenever i get a break. But you must come along. 🙂

  3. Rama

    August 10, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    For me, Tani, Hyderabad is where my two precious children grew up on the CIEFL campus–cycling, climbing trees, playing hide and seek, ‘chor-police’ and doing picnics with other friends of yours in the little ‘wood’ behind our famous Flat 56!!

    And now when you recount your memories visiting this great place (I must tell you I have the same nostalgia although I’ve tried to become a Delhite fast) I realise I really don’t know the rich place that you’ve (re)discovered–I’ll definitely go with you after your Guide is ready!!

    So waiting for the Guide ….

  4. Reena George

    August 10, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Hey Tani,

    Hyderabad looks great and sounds great ….

    I have never been to Hyderabad but ur article has given me enough thirst to make it there atleast once….
    The Fort and the tomb pictures are really good.I have already set my eyes on the attar.

    Its true that we often fail to discover the beauty of our birth place.

    I could really see that you are enjoying your work.

  5. Amina

    August 10, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Hey Tan…I too got to discover and learned a lot about Hyderabad along with you. It is a shame how we have spent our childhood in this city…but it is now that we have found out all this about it. The Falaknuma Palace was opened only temporarily and the Chowmahalla Palace was opened only recently…I think that is the reason why people know so little about these places.
    You should have also mentioned how Hyd is a gastronomic delight and in particular the Hyderabadi Biryani.

  6. Tanya Matthew

    August 11, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

    @ Savita
    Will keep you posted about the guide

    @ Bernie and Reena
    You MUST go to hyderabad soon! You can have two guides: the Goodearth guide and me.

    @ Ma, keep reading the blog, i love getting your comments.

    @ amina
    I don’t think its a shame! I just feel I discovered a lot more about Hyderabad which I didn’t know. But the way I knew Hyd then, you can only know if you really grow up there, but that kind of knowing can’t be written about.

    Keep watching this blog for more entries on Hyd, even food 😉

  7. Nive

    August 11, 2009 at 4:51 am

    Tanya, you just made me miss Hyderabad a lot more than I usually do! I was telling Ashwini the other day that I want to go see Golconda again, because like you said, I don’t think I paid that much attention when I used to go there as a child. I cannot wait for my “return to Hyderabad” next year- I am pretty sure it has changed so much that I’m going to be a little lost!

    • Tanya Matthew

      August 12, 2009 at 5:20 am

      yes it HAS changed a lot. So many more people live there now, and there are so many new roads.

      Let me know when you come, I’ll send you a copy of the book if its done by then

  8. Ranjan Matthew

    August 11, 2009 at 4:55 am

    Hey this article is like a family reunion! All the way into the comments section too! I love the photos, and hyderabad is so much to me! Somehow reading an article written by someone I’ve lived and grown up with in that city is a bit strange or different perhaps, but wonderful all the same.
    Excellent article philthebow and very nice photography! I can see you and your colleagues had good fun there!

    • Tanya Matthew

      August 12, 2009 at 5:21 am

      thanks nyanadu

      but why is it a bit strange or different to read an article written by me?

  9. Nidhi Dhingra

    August 11, 2009 at 5:16 am

    Love the post Tanya.. Brings back lots of wonderful memories of the trip! 🙂

    • Tanya Matthew

      August 12, 2009 at 5:19 am

      thanks nidsie

  10. mattu

    August 11, 2009 at 9:50 am

    There are so many places you’ve written about that I’ve never visited, but being a hyderabadi, the obvious thing for me to say is…..”Hao woh bhi achi jagah hai”…But i’ll definately visit these places soon (secretly…)

    Love the pictures….

    • Tanya Matthew

      August 12, 2009 at 4:56 am


  11. Monisha M

    August 11, 2009 at 10:04 am

    The description has given me an astounding urge to make a list of places that I have to visit.Probably the list will get longer every time you guys discover something new and enriching and post those discoveries on the web in beautiful words and pictures.
    I have only seen those pictures in my history textbooks.Its time that I see them straight as it truly seems interesting than ever. Have fun dear.It surely seems so.

    • Tanya Matthew

      August 12, 2009 at 4:55 am

      moni…. will send you the book once its done!

  12. Prashant Publisher

    August 11, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Dear Tanya Madam,

    Brilliantly written piece! Myself agent for big publishing house. If you are being interested in new job please do contact me – I promise double salary of whatever you’re current employers are paying.

    Warm Regards
    Prashant Publishers (P.P.)

    • Tanya Matthew

      August 12, 2009 at 4:54 am

      Very funny prashant……….

      But glad you liked it 😉

  13. Amina

    August 11, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Well Tan I feel I should have known all this earlier…as I live in this city. I too agree that Hyd cannot be known the way we know it as we have grown up here. I will watch out for more entries on Hyd. Can’t wait to read. 🙂

    • Tanya Matthew

      August 12, 2009 at 4:53 am

      Will let you know as soon as the next post is up!

  14. Siddharth Suhas

    August 13, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Awesome! I can’t believe most of us have moved out of Hyderabad. Honestly never thought such a day would ever come during school.

    Really nice post Tanya!! You seem to have a really cool job 🙂 lemme know if there are any openings. I hope you caught the sound and light show at Golconda – amazing!

    Also – Naubat Pahad??!!! I NEVER knew it was called that :p Actually I don’t even remember what we used to call it back in the day – Jungle? 😀

    Take care and post some more pics of the city!

    • Tanya

      August 19, 2009 at 5:34 am

      Thanks Siddharth!
      What! you’re not in Hyderabad either?

      Yes, its called naubat pahad. And its got a pretty impressive history (will send you copy of the book when its done and you can see it).

      Sound and light show I only saw long back. This trip we didn’t have the time.

  15. A. Mahone

    August 16, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Having been a resident of Hyderabad for over two decades- from the mid seventies to just two years ago- I must sincerely applaud this delightful little piece that I happened to stumble upon simply by chance. Miss Matthew has, in my humble opinion, captured a strikingly pertinant -given the limited length of the article- range of elements that truly bring alive the various nuances of the city. Crisp, well paced, and unburdened by excessive digressions into History (Which, while often important, can also render a piece of writing tedious to the lay reader!), this article of writing has awakened in my mind many fond memories of my experiences in Hyderabad, some previously thought forgotten.

    A. Mahone

  16. Durga Jyothi

    August 16, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Dear Tanya,
    I read your blog. it was nice and i must visit Golconda fort again. jeez, it will be after a gap of 11 years. when did you come to hyderabad. why didn’t you call me. we could have met.
    anyway, i can’t wait for your guide to come out. i will check it out.

    • Tanya Matthew

      September 1, 2009 at 3:38 pm

      Hey jyothi,
      thanks for your comment. Since it was a work trip I didn’t have any time. We’ll meet when I come next or when you’re in Delhi.

      Will send you the guide!

  17. lal

    August 18, 2009 at 5:06 am

    Hi tanya

    Very good writing. You have touched on the mystique of time and experience of places. It’s mind blowing. Your Hyderabad,past and present is as real as mine. The folk buried in the tombs would have theirs too. As would those who buried them and those who dug out thir resting places and those who made the tombs. So that makes thousands of Hyderabads floating around instead of one. That’s what makes Golconda and Qutb Shahi some of my favourite places in Hyderabad. Thanks for evoking it. I liked your bringing in the smells as well. Keep it up Tansi.

    • Tanya Matthew

      September 1, 2009 at 3:41 pm

      Hi Lal

      Thanks so much for all the nice things you’ve said.

      I strikes me everytime I read something new about Hyd (which I do all the time now), how many different Hyderabads there are.

  18. Mojca

    August 31, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Hi Tanya,
    you have a very interesting job – discovering places and informing others. Nice piece about Hyderabad. And nice photos – the architecture so much different from what I’m used to.
    And it’s true that we usually don’t find much fascinating in plasces we live.

    Bye, Mojca

    • Tanya Matthew

      September 1, 2009 at 3:42 pm

      thanks mojca.
      Do keep visiting the site. We have a new post up on mumbai now.

      You should make a trip to india soon. Its about time!

  19. Mojca

    September 2, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Well… I’d love to see India. 🙂
    Let me know if you’re interested in Europe or my little country Slovenia.

  20. Janit

    September 2, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Nice blog and nice post on Golconda too.

  21. Tanya Matthew

    September 6, 2009 at 5:55 am

    thanks janit, you have an interesting blog too!

  22. Harsha Puvvada

    September 14, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Hi Tanya, extremely well written, great job! (Tandon teacher would be proud). There is a lot that we take for granted about our hometown, when I go back to visit this time, I’ll make sure I hit up some of the places you’ve mentioned. Cheers!

  23. a.g

    October 4, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Brings back tons of memories. I also revisited Hyderabad after going to Delhi and it was quite eyeopening. There are so many things that we took for granted. Golconda is one of my favourite places in Hyderabad and I go there every time I´m back. Can´t wait to visit next year.

    I look forward to the book. Thanks Tanya 🙂

    • goodearthguides

      October 13, 2009 at 4:42 am

      thanks ashwini,
      will let you know when the book is out.

      Do keep reading, we really appreciate the responses!

  24. vasantha perima

    October 19, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Hi Thanu,
    Great writing! Hyderabad was my second home when Rama, you, Ranjan and Iype were there. ThoughI regularly visited once a year I didn’t visit these places which you have written about. After your book comes out I definitely make an attempt to visit H’ Bad again, as a tourist!!! Keep writing and let me know.

    Vasantha perima

    • Tanya Matthew

      November 9, 2009 at 4:50 am

      Thanks for the comment perima.
      Do keep visiting the site, we have lots of new posts every now and then.
      Will send you the Hyd book when its out, and then you can make another trip there!


  25. Aditi Chakraborty

    September 29, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I have been working in one of the largest Media Houses in India & was heading their exclusive Travel n Tourism wing.
    I have been their Concept, Research n Content Head for 7 travelogues n City Guides published. I kept a 360 degree focus and was in all ways the Editor too of all the books now on stands.
    I am interested to be a part of your esteemed Editorial Team and am currently settled in Mumbai. If a project is given to me then you will be provided with the content & layout with vibrant pics. In short you would get a ready to publish book that would act as the traveller’s friend, philosopher & guide through out his travel including detailed maps of the City and also the interior maps of important archaleological sites in & around the place working on.
    I would be indebted if you give me a chance and would send you some of my work if you so desire. Traveling is not a problem for me but a pleasure as I love to travel.
    I await a positive revert.

    Thanking you

    • goodearthguides

      October 9, 2010 at 6:19 am


      Thanks for writing in and evincing interest in joining Goodearth Publications. We would however appreciate some more details about the organisation/guides you have been associated with, to get a better idea of the scope of work they would entail. Also, currently, we do not have vacancies for a full-time post but we may have freelance assignments to well, assign, in the not-too-distant future.

      Looking forward to your reply,

      Anupriya Roy
      Goodearth Publications


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