Immersive Private Tour of local life in Hyderabad
The Faith Private Tour (3-5 hours)
Andhra has been home to several different faiths over the past several centuries. From being a very important Buddhist learning centre between 2ndcentury BC and 2ndcentury AD, this region has also attracted Sufi saints from across the world. These saints received royal patronage from the Kings and they left their mark in the way the society looked at the concept of universal brotherhood.
On this tour, you will get a glimpse into the different faiths of this region. We will visit Ananda Vihara, one of the most important Buddhist centres in present-day Andhra Pradesh which is trying to revive the teachings of the Buddha. This picturesque viharais situated on top of a hill in the northern part of the town and houses monks and also provides facilities for visitors interested in Buddhist teachings and culture.
We will then visit the beautiful hills surrounding the north of the city; a steep climb up to the Moula Ali Dargah that was built over 400 years ago and is one of the most important shrines for Shi’a Muslims but attracts visitors of various faiths.
Finally, we will visit an old Hindu temple in the Tolichowki area which is dedicated to Lord Balaji and know a little more about the Hindu faith and the significance of this particular God to this region.
The Banjara Private Tour
The Banjara or the Lambada community is traditionally a nomadic community that has now settled in the villages in some of Hyderabad’s neighbouring districts. They are known for their colourful clothes that they adorn with mirrors, coins, beads, and shells. Their heavy jewellery includes long heavy earrings, anklets, and ivory (replaced by plastic now) bangles till their elbows.
This detour will give you a glimpse into the simple village life that is representative of more than 60% of India. Mud houses with thatched roofs keeping the interiors dark and cool, rustic food cooked on outdoor fires, fields being tended to by the whole family, innovative techniques to store food in the absence of urban storage systems and above all, smiling and welcoming faces in the midst of all what to us are insurmountable obstacles
Faith Among the Rocks
Some of Hyderabad’s most stunning natural features are the granite rocks that dot the landscape some of which date back to over 2.5 billion years old! With the solidification of the earth’s crust, the top layers eroded, exposing them to the natural forces of wind and rain over millions of years shaping them into their present bizarre forms. These rocks have been used as the foundation stones of important monuments like Golkonda Fort and several popular religious shrines are also situated among these rocks. Due to the efforts of organisations like Save the Rocks Society that aims to preserve and protect these spectacular ancient granite formations, some of these rock formations have been given a Heritage status; a first in the country.
In association with Save the Rocks, we present a unique experience to get close to some of these rocks. We will take a walk in Fakhruddin Gutta that is an extensive outcrop of sheetrock. The climb is a beginners’ one and can be done by most people with basic fitness levels. We will walk up to the top for a quick visit to the 650-year old tomb of Hazrat Baba Fakhruddin Aulia that marks the highest point. Baba Fakhruddin was a Sufi mentor to the founder of one of the important 14th-century dynasties of the Deccan region. On the other side of the rock is a small Hindu shrine that is now being converted into a concrete temple. We will also explore the natural cave formations and make our way through narrow spaces between the rocks. The rocks stand majestically against the changing landscape and look silently upon the large-scale modern development on one side and lush green paddy fields on the other side highlighting the changing face of this city.
The Women Wonders of Hyderabad – Half Day Tour
It is an oft-mentioned comment that India is a country of contrasts. Amidst news of atrocities against women, we hear incredible stories of enterprise and courage displayed by them as well. The stories are not just in the present – Hyderabad, for example, has had several powerful women who strongly defy the stereotypes of them fading into the background. In fact, there have been some who have played a major role in shaping the destiny of the city hundreds of years ago making it evident that women empowerment is not just something of the present day society.
On this private tour, we will relive a bit of history – and also meet some incredible women of today. Hayat Bakshi Begum, affectionately called Ma Saheba, was the daughter, wife, and mother respectively to three of the Golkonda kings and is believed to be the force behind several decisions during the rule of those three kings. Visit the beautiful mosque and caravanserai (traveller lodging quarters) built by her and bring alive stories about her negotiations with Aurangazeb.
Another remarkable story is that of Mah Laqa Bai, the famous courtesan who apart from playing an important role during the rule of the third Nizam also shaped the lives of several women under her care. An exceptional poet known for her quick repartees and her wit, Chanda Bibi (her pen name) was the first woman poet to complete a full diwan(collection of poems).
We will also meet some present-day heroes – women working with NGOs who are fighting to end domestic violence and provide livelihoods for marginalised women. Learn more about the work involved in empowering women who face difficult situations in their lives. Get a chance to interact with the women and more importantly, feel the hope for change that is evident among them. These women are also involved in making beautiful bags, scarves and handcrafted gifts made completely from up-cycled silk sarees, proceeds of which go towards paying the fair wages to the seamstresses and handicrafters.
The Ashurkhanas of Hyderabad – A remembrance of the Battle of Karbala (Tour held only during Muharram)
In the list of the many hidden treasures of Hyderabad, the Ashurkhanas rank very high. While some of them are significant from a historical and architectural point of view, all of them play a crucial role in highlighting the cultural aspect of this city. Unlike mosques where the entry is restricted, Ashurkhanas in Hyderabad has become secular centres where people from all faiths congregate to offer prayers and seek blessings. But it is in the first ten days in the month of Muharram that these ashurkhanas come to life with the display of the ‘alams’ and the people congregating to mourn the family members of Prophet Mohammed who sacrificed their lives at the Battle of Karbala.
The Battle of Karbala that took place in 680 AD was one that irrevocably divided the Islamic world. Being an official Shi’a state, for the Qutb Shahi Dynasty ruling Hyderabad in the sixteenth century, the significance of the sacrifices made by Imam Hussain and his family members was obvious. But the Hindu population was affected by the grief as well. Influenced by both Telugu and Perisan culture, the narration of the stories of the martyrdom of Hussain, the display of the magnificent ‘alams’ in the Ashurkhanas and the expression of their personal grief became Pir lu Panduga and they mourned along with their Muslim brethren.
On this private tour, we will visit five of the important Ashurkhanas in the old city and know more about their history. More importantly, we will get a better understanding of the Battle of Karbala and its significance to Islam and the Shi’a community. We will also learn about the secular aspects of Ashurkhanas that make them unique to the Hyderabadi culture.