First trip to Hyderabad? You'll love the mixture of 'Cyberabad's' IT boom and Islamic and Hindu culture, on show at ancient Mecca Masjid mosque and modern marble Venkatesvara Temple. There's plenty to experience, from exotic jewel-filled bazaars and centuries-old tombs to colonial Indo-Saracenic architecture in this hospitable city.
The twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad have grown to blend seamlessly, with Islamic history in the once princely state in Hyderabad's old city. It's easy to see Hyderabad's past as a centre of the pearl, gold and diamond trade, with shops galore around Laad Bazaar, near to the landmark Charminar arch and Mecca Masjid mosque. Hyderabad also boasts a burgeoning IT centre, where the suburb dubbed Cyberabad houses several computing giants.
Climb the Charminar, a four-sided archway with soaring minarets in the old city's hub, and gaze down at Laad Bazaar, then head there to shop for pearls. Nearby, gaze at the mammoth courtyard of Mecca Masjid, one of the oldest and largest mosques in India, with some of the bricks made out of soil from Mecca. Outside the city, visit the graceful domes of Qutub Shahi Tombs, the resting place to Hyderabad's dynastic leaders, some in their own garden. From there, scramble around the ramparts of Golconda Fort, the excavation site of the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond.
Sip a refreshing cup of aromatic Indian masala chai tea brewed with milk while gazing at the Osmania General Hospital, built in ornate Indo-Saracenic style by the infamously rich ruler, Nizam VII in 1925. Also on the banks of the Musi River, pick out your favourite exhibits in Salar Jung Museum, with stunning Mughal miniatures, Shah Jahan's daggers and Aurangzeb's sword. Hindi film fans will love the plaster copies of famous monuments at Ramoji Film City, the world's largest film studio complex. Take a boat trip on Hussain Sagar lake, nicknamed Hyderabad's Riviera, containing the mammoth 197-foot-high, 386-ton monolith granite Gautama Buddha.