Diamonds, Dynasties and Decadence : Hyderabad is one of India’s cultural gems

Diamonds, Dynasties and Decadence : Hyderabad is one of India’s cultural gems

Updated: Mar 23

We got your votes in, and Hyderabad is the first of the three new cities Art Fervour is adding to our City Guides.


Our city guides recommend the best of the arts in each city. And as our latest edition to the list, here’s a little history behind the city and the legacy it holds for India.

Hyderabad remains the contested winner for many Biryani lovers, but what many fail to realise is that Hyderabad has been a pioneer for much of India’s rich history and cultural heritage. Capital city of the new state of Telangana, the city is the de jure capital of Andhra Pradesh.


While most of us are aware of its royal Mughal influence and blend of technological advancement, the historical influence of Hyderabad stands testament to the magnificent architecture seen all around. As part of our one year celebration, we are announcing 3 new cities this month and Hyderabad, nicknamed the ‘City Of Pearls’, the only diamond port of the world in the 19th century, we’re going to talk to you about the many facets of Hyderabad and why it is a must visit destination for art lovers and culture seekers galore.

Hyderabads stands testament to the brilliance of Mughal Architecture

Controlled by the powerful Nizam empire, Hyderabad became the capital city of the Nizams.


Upon signing a subsidiary alliance the East India company moved in the city to provide protection to the Nizam who demanded to remain independent until 1950 when it was made part of the Hyderabad state as part of the Constitution of India.

The wealth, culture and heritage of Hyderabad has remained one of it’s most prized characteristics and gave the city its prominence and status.


Hyderabad boasts many UNESCO badges from noteworthy cultural heritage sites, merit awards for conservation and classic palaces now converted into private hotels.


Chowmahalla Palace


Chowmahalla Palace Photo Courtesy : Architectural Digest

A little known love story adds to the charm of the popular Chowmahalla Palace. The palace was restored between 2005 and 2010 under the patronage of Princess Esra, and was awarded the UNESCO Asia Pacific Merit award for cultural heritage conservation in 2010. It was built by Nizam Salabat Jung and was the seat of Asaf Jahi Dynasty.


It is said to have been the start of the love affair between British resident James Kirkpatrick and Khair-un-Nissa, the prime minister’s beautiful granddaughter, who met during the 19th century. Kirkpatrick converted to Islam to marry Khair-un-Nissa against the wishes of the Governer General at the time. Their palatial marital home is known as the Koti Residency and Khair lived with their two children but both are known to have died very soon into their marriage.

One can visit the ruins of the zenana and witness the spot that kindled one of Hyderabad's greatest love stories.


Charminar


Charminar Photo Courtesy by Kasturi Gadge

The Charminar is synonymous with Hyderabad, serving as it’s global symbol and is one of the most widely recognised monuments in India. The monument translates to “Four Pillars” in English, known for its popular and bustling local markets that surround the structure.


The Charminar is one of the most visited tourist spots in Hyderabad, which is why we had to include this in our list. The site hosts numerous festivals throughout the year and really reflects the pulse of the city.


Golconda Fort


Insides of the Golconda Fort Photo Courtesy : India & Beyond

Would you believe us if we said the Golconda Fort once housed the vaults that kept precious diamonds such as Koh-i-Noor and Hope?


Hyderabad was the world’s only diamond port which is visiting the Golconda Fort is like traveling down a little slice of history. The Golconda Fort is listed as an archaeological treasure on the official “List of Monuments” prepared by the Archaeological Survey of India consisting of four distinct forts, eight gateways, four drawbridges, a number of royal apartments and halls, temples, mosques, and so much more!


The city is listed as a UNESCO creative city of gastronomy


Paradise Biryani


Insides of the Golconda Fort Photo Courtesy : India & Beyond

There is a list of foods from Hyderabad that you have to ‘try before you die’ or at least that’s what a lot of listacles have been telling us and we agree. Paradise Biryani, a homegrown example of the popularity of Hyderabadi Biryani has travelled all over the world. Since 1953, Paradise Biryani has been a brand serving “the world’s favorite biryani”, while many might not agree, we’re leaving it up to you to decide.


Pista House


They say spicy food is not for the weak which is why we’re recommending something a little closer to the soul at Pista House. Providing Haleem all over the country through its online delivery service. Yes, it’s that famous! Their haleem is known to be delicious, and serves those who like a little less spice in their food.


Hyderabad is known for its rich culture and heritage


Kalamkari


If you are a fan of Indian textiles and crafts you are no stranger to the Kalamkari style. This style can be found both in hand painted or block printed cotton textiles identified from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, using only natural dyes.


This technique uses twenty three steps where the “kalam” of the pen is used for freehand drawing of the subject and filling the colours is entirely hand worked. The style flourishes around temples and their patronage can be noticed through its usage on scrolls, temple hangings, chariot banners, and depicts deities and scenes taken from the Hindu epics of the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Purana.


A fun fact : Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, pioneer of Kalamkari was also the first chairperson of the All India Handicrafts Board.


Pochampalli Ikat



Girl standing in a veranda wearing a Pochampally saree, 1895, by Hermann Linde

Another style that is characteristic of Hyderabad is the Pochampalli Ikat, or Ponchampalli Saree. While many of us are not aware but this Ikat style unique in it’s design from other Ikat producing areas of India takes place in the Ponchampally village. There are over five thousand looms producing this textile consisting of a cluster of 80 villages whose traditional looms produce patterns and designs that are centuries old.


This too has found its place in the UNESCO tentative list of world heritage sites as part of “iconic saree weaving clusters of India.”



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