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Eat, Shop, Love: Here's Your Guide To Spending An Entire Day In Old City

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Much has been written about Charminar, its beauty and significance to the city of Hyderabad over the decades so we'll spare you the history lesson. What holds true even today, however, is the 431-year-old monument's role in keeping the city's cultural fabric thriving over centuries. While we do recommend visiting this iconic heritage site during the holy month of Ramzan, if you'd like to skip the bustling crowds, most places mentioned can also be visited leisurely, or as we like to call it here, fursat se. Hyderabadis, here's your guide to Charminar, starting with the iconic places to visit!

Iconic Places to Visit - Charminar

Walk to this glorious monument and get some picturesque views, admire the intricate architecture and pure genius in its design. You can climb the steps of Charminar for a thrilling experience and enjoy the beautiful view of the entire Old City. Take time to soak it all in, it is only the most iconic spot in Hyderabad! 

Chowmahalla Palace

For some sightseeing and a dash of royalty in your schedule, travel to Chowmahalla Palace in Motigalli (10 minutes by car) and witness true luxury. Feel like a complete tourist here, as you understand the history, architecture, and lifestyle from the Nizam’s era. You will also spot some pretty cool vintage cars, photographs of the Nizam's family, armour and other items from their household on display, here. 

Mecca Masjid

This beauty of Mecca Masjid increases sevenfold during Ramzan or at the nights with all the lights, and the crowds. There is no way a day in Old City would every be complete without a visit to this grand mosque. Just a visit to the spot, complete with a large courtyard and pigeons flying around is enough to fill you with peace! 

Best Places to Eat - Haleem and Biryani


Pista House

Pista House claims to be the world's biggest maker of Haleem, made with fresh meat, choicest dry fruits and pure ghee. While we can gorge on their biryani all year round, don't miss their haleem during the season!

Hotel Shadab

Hotel Shadab features on our must-visit list of restaurants, for their melt-in-your-mouth meat and double masala Biryani. Their Haleem and Chicken 65 have staunch loyalists too, so don't miss out! 

Kebabs

You may have heard from your grandparents or elder family members that Hyderabad had a lot of kebab bandis decades ago that served up some of the best meat-based snacks. While the trend has fizzled out, and been replaced with other street food, these Kebab places still serve some mean street food-style snacks that can give any high-end restaurant a run for its money!

Al Akbar Fast Food Corner

Must Try: Chicken 65 with Rumali Roti

Al Farooj Sonu Kabab

Must Try: Marag and Kebabs

Kabab-E-Jahangiri

Must Try: Seekh Kebabs

Hotel Deewan

Must Try: Beef Patthar ka Ghosht

Beverages

Spices from all the kebabs and biryani getting to you? Cool it off with Old Delhi style Mohabbat-E-Sharbat with chilled watermelon, Lassi or Faluda at these joints!

Matwale Doodh Ghar

Must Try: Lassi and Faluda

Mohabbat-E-Sharbat

Where: Street Vendors near Al Farooj Sonu Kebabs

Hotel Shadab

Must Try:  Ask for their summer special Lassi with Rooh Afza and Malai

Desserts

If you'd like to skip to the good part and indulge your sweet tooth first - here are some of the places that should be on your radar!

Milan Juice Center

Must Try: Shahdood Malai & Himayat Malai.

Tawakkal Nazeer Juice Center

Must Try: Mango Malai

Breakfast


Hotel Nayaab

While a lot of old joints here serve some of the best Khichdi-Khatta-Keema, Hotel Nayaab is our pick for an authentic Hyderabadi breakfast and their amazing Paya!

Govind Dosa

If crispy dosas with yummy fillings with cheese are your thing, you can't miss out on Govind Dosa! There's always a crowd around this bandi so we recommend you get there early! 

Must Try: Tawa Idli, Rava Dosa

Irani Chai and Other Snacks

Dahi Vadas Near Hotel Shadab

Ramzan is the best time to get your Dahi Vada fix in the Old City! You'll find multiple vendors selling the cooling dish right near Hotel Shadab. 

Nimrah Cafe

Begin your day by sipping on some hot, creamy chai with delicious biscuits at Nimrah Cafe in Ghansi Bazaar. With a view of the Charminar and not too much of crowd, this little act is so peaceful and refreshing and will gear you up for the rest of the day. You can pick from different varieties of chai and biscuits, as well as choose to stand outdoors or sit indoors and spend a good one hour here, learning about the interesting history of the café too.

Best Places to Shop - Women's Apparel

Charminar and the adjacent neighbourhoods in the Old City are filled with hidden gems and tiny stores that are a haven if you're into shopping and don't mind taking the time to look for that perfect piece of fabric or dress. Lucky for you, we've already scouted some unique places that have you sorted - right from wholesale stores, fabric stores, accessories to ready mades. Bring your A-game to bargain here!

Irfan Textiles

One of the best things about Irfan Textiles aside from their large selection of bridal and occasion wear is their price point. Expect to find great ghararas, khada dupattas and other traditional wear for a steal here. We love their prompt service too!

City Plaza Moosa Estates

If your budgets are tight and you'd like to buy sarees and traditional wear for wholesale prices, head to Moosa Estates. You'll find a plethora of stores selling sarees and other occasion wear at great price points.

Laad Bazaar

At Laad Bazaar, you can shop for the famous lacquer bangles, studded with artificial diamonds. No matter how modern your style might be, you know you need a bunch of these colourful, pretty bangles. You can also shop for more trendy items here like potlis, sling bars, desi crop jackets, and ear-rings too. Nothing can prepare you for a shopping spree quite like this one - here are some unique shopping spots you must visit here!

Saree Borders and Lace Stores: 

Abdul Rahman Zari Traders

Meena Lace Shop 

B Laxmichand Jariwala 

Fabric Stores:

Nazakat Creations

SS The Designer Fabrics 

Farhan Silk Creations 

Mohammed Ali Baig Traders 

Perfumers

Charminar is home to Ittar shops that have been around for decades, run by generations of perfumers. While you will find a lot of hole-in-the-wall perfumers selling replicas of high-end perfumes, we recommend trying some of their original Ittars. Remember to ask for subtle one-two note fragrances if the potency of Ittars bothers you.

Hyderabad Perfumers 

Great for: Ittar, unique fragrances

Famous Perfumery

Great for: Arabic Scents 

Men's Wear and Accessories

Shahi Libas

Great For: Men's Traditional Wear, Sherwanis

Sana Shoe Point 

Great For: Kolhapuris 

Deccan Bangles 

Great For: A range of traditional, festive and everyday wear bangles 

New Bright Shoe Mart

Great For: Juttis 

Street Vendors near Gulzar Houz

Great for: Junk Jewellery 

Hidden Gems

Badshahi Ashoorkhana

The Old City area is home to many Ashoorkhanas of Shias. However, Badshahi Ashoorkhana remains on our must-visit list owing to its stunning architecture with huge arches, enamelled tiles with verses from the Quran. The Ashoorkhana is a site of mourning for worshippers so we recommend dressing modestly.  

Mahboob Radio Service

Set up in 1948, Mahboob Radio Service is one of the very last Radio repair centers left in Hyderabad. The service center was frequently sought out by nobility of the yesteryears and the Nizam's royal family as well. While you may not have a radio on your hand to fix, we recommend visiting the shop to check out some rare vintage radios that have now gone out of production. 

Haziq and Mohi Rare Books

If you'd like to keep a piece of history all to yourself, you must visit the tiny but significant shop - Haziq and Mohi Rare Books. They stock books that date back a couple of decades, some even a century! We also found single editions that only get sold via photocopies here. Make sure to look keenly among all the rare books here - finders keepers! 

LBB's Favourite Things to Do

Munshi Naan

170-year-old Munshi Naan is known for their naans that go with traditional Hyderabadi foods like Paya, Nihari and even Chai occasionally. While the fifth generation owners sell nearly 2000 naans everyday, we love their unique, subtly sweet naans over every other naan shop in the area. What's sweeter - they're just Rs. 15 a pop! 

Ramzan Food Walks and Night Market

The holy month of Ramzan is hands down the best time to visit Charminar in all its glitz, bustle and chaos. Almost every eatery starts dishing out special offerings for the season. Thanks to summer, we even get to taste delicious desserts like Shahdood and Mango Malai. Several bloggers organise food walks to explore the food scene at Charminar once the season begins. If you love shopping, please be prepared to get overwhelmed with options at the various bazaars and shops - some of which we've mentioned on this guide! 

Sunday Market

If you've missed visiting the city during Ramzan, fret not! The Sunday Markets here nearly replicate the experience with fresh street food, vendors and a barrage of lanes filled with tiny stores all waiting for you to step inside! From apparel, accessories, home decor, jewellery, beauty stores - the Sunday Market has got it all. The lanes are tiny so we recommend using public transport to get here, and explore the place on foot. If you're unable to do that, you can trust the auto drivers to drive you around. 

Telangana State Central Library

Previously known as Asafia Library, the Telangana State Central Library is a 72,247-square-yard-building with two reading areas. The library set up in 1891 has a vast collection of literature including Telugu, Urdu, French, Italian, Portuguese, Bengali, Tamil and other translations as well! While the library is frequented by researchers and students, try heading here during the National Library Week to attend various events.