Private Historical Tour of Hyderabad
It is often said that Hyderabad is to cities what Taj Mahal is to buildings – a monument of love. Both were named to commemorate the respective beloveds – Taj for Mumtaz, Bhagnagar (the original name of Hyderabad) for Bhagmati. These tours are expertly curated by Jonty Rajagopalan, who will personally take you around the city.
Over several centuries, Hyderabad has become a place that epitomizes an enchanting mix of cultures and traditions. You can see this reflected in the architecture, taste it in the cuisine of the region and feel it in the pulse of the city. The city reverberates with stories of Persian kings falling in love with Hindu dancers, Sufi saints spreading their message of universal brotherhood, Muslim rulers granting jagirsto build temples and offering Hindu pujato placate a flooding river, a British Resident risking it all to marry a Muslim noblewoman, Parsis, and Arabs all celebrating Hindu festivals ….the stories are endless… In the time that you spend with us, we hope that this wonderful amalgamation of lives, hearts, and souls is the impression of Hyderabad that you are left with.
Chaminar Walk (2 hours)
No place can give you a glimpse of Hyderabadi life like the Charminar area can. It is a brilliant mosaic of history, culture, modernity, crafts, business and old world charm – a perfect slice of this city’s life. Walk through Laad Bazar and get dazzled by the shiny lac bangles that Hyderabad is known for, take the by-lanes and meet the craftsmen who create ‘bling’, one at a time. Walk into the chaos of fluttering pigeons in the Mecca Masjid courtyard to the simplicity of the Nizam’s tombs.
Golconda Fort (2 hours)
This tour will trace the history of the Qutb Shahi dynasty which ruled Hyderabad between 1518 and 1687 AD. The narrative will include stories of the rulers of this dynasty with a special emphasis on the love story between Mohd Quli Qutb Shah and Bhagmati. You will hear the story of Aurangazeb’s long and frustrating siege of the Golconda Fort which ended in his narrow victory.
The Golkonda Fort, originally built by the Kakatiya Rulers has amazingly advanced acoustics systems that were used for signaling approaching enemy as well as for detecting conspiracies being hatched in palace corners! The Fort also is unique in the use of the natural boulders (that date back to a billion years), distinctive of the Deccan plateau, as foundation stones for the structure.
The Fort was once a walled city to a large population. It has some very interesting features; a 900 year old temple in close proximity to almost as old a mosque, reflective of the healthy intermingling of different cultures of those time, an old prison that was used to imprison a Ram devotee, who converted the space into a temple, carving images with his hands and composing songs that are sung even today, spaces that were naturally air-cooled, remnants of a fairly evolved water supply system.
The climb up the Fort would be a sometimes steep, sometimes easy climb of about 360 steps and has excellent views of the Qutb Shahi tombs just outside the Fort area, the Charminar in the distance and the rest of the city’s landscape.
Qutb Shahi Tombs (1 hour excluding travel time)
The Qutb Shahi Tombs are probably the most magnificent of the tombs in the city. Built by the Qutb Shahi rulers prior to their death, each ensured that their tomb is better than their ancestors! This intense competition, of course, resulted in a more than happy situation for us today when we are able to stare at awe at their magnificence. The elaborate architecture in the hammams(or bath) is reflective of the rituals that were followed before the burial of the kings.
Walk around the complex where you feel dwarfed by the immense proportions and hear stories of the kings who ruled this region, the negotiations that they carried out with the invaders and the intrigues and politics that were such an integral part of those times!
The Asaf Jahi Tour (2 to 5 hours)
This tour traces the history of this region between the early 18th century and 1948. The Nizams of Hyderabad were well known for the grandeur and wealth.
Take a walk around the four palaces of the Chowmahalla Complex and see the opulence with which this dynasty lived and ruled. Hear the numerous stories about the seven Nizams of Hyderabad whose destinies and decisions shaped the history and culture of this region. Walk through the imposing Durbar Hall and the various rooms which have recreated a slice of life from the past.
Next, we will visit the Nizam’s Museum at Purani Haveli and marvel at the luxurious wardrobes of the sixth Nizam and the riches gifted to this dynasty by the various kings across the world. Experience how it must have been to have a lifestyle where one did not have to wear the same clothes a second time.
During the Nizam’s rule, the family next in nobility to the rulers was the Paigah Family. The Paigahs were a family second in nobility only to the Nizam’s family. Apart from playing an important role in the politics of the region, they also left behind their marks in the palaces they built for themselves. Some of them have been converted into clubs, resorts, and other important buildings. In the late 18thcentury and early 19thcentury, they also built some magnificent tombs. The Paigah tombs have a unique architectural style with a combination of Turkish, Mughal, Persian and Rajasthani style of architecture.
The White Mughals Detour – 2 to 4 hour
This private tour traces the late 18thcentury tragic love story of James Kirkpatrick, the British Resident, and Khair-un-Nissa, a Muslim noblewoman. Walk through the gardens of the British Residency, which was one of the most impressive British buildings in the country of those times and weave your way past the old graveyard and end up next to the ruined Residency model that Kirkpatrick built for his wife.
Next, we will drive down to Raymond’s Tomb and hear the story of how the French dominated this region for a few years. Hear about the Frenchman who played such a remarkable role in the history of this place and his popularity which led to him being ‘adopted’ by the Nizam and even have a locality named after him.
Hidden Heritage of Hyderabad (About 3 hours)
There is a hidden heritage of every city and this is very true in the case of Hyderabad where modern buildings and structures have super-imposed themselves on the architectural past of the city. But a walk in some of the bye-lanes of the Old City will reveal a slice of the magnificent past that was Hyderabad. This walk will take you to some of the old deoris (or havelis) that were home to the noblemen of the past. Some of them have been converted to public buildings and some are holding on tenaciously to the spirit of the old Hyderabad that was. If you are a lover of things of the past and want to discover glimpses of the glorious architecture of the past, spend a couple of hours with us exploring the hidden Hyderabad.
The Hidden Golkonda – (About 45 minutes excluding travel time)
This is for those who prefer to experience the Fort with a difference; away from the hustle bustle of tourists. Built in the latter half of the 17thcentury, the Naya Qila is the extension of the already existing structures of the Golkonda Fort and provided an added resistance to the attacks by Aurangazeb’s army in 1687. In the past few years, amidst various controversies, the Hyderabad Golf Association has created an 18-hole course in the adjoining area.
On this private tour, we will walk around the impressive 400-year-old “Elephant Tree” whose trunk is over 90 ft in circumference and has a natural cave between its branches. We will also climb up a short way to one of the ramparts and get a view of the main portions of the Golkonda Fort. We can also arrange for a round of golf followed by lunch in the clubhouse. After all, a round of golf with the backdrop of a 500-year-old Fort is not an experience you can get in too many places in the world!
Bidar (Full Day)
Bidar shares a history that is similar to Hyderabad especially after the 14thcentury. After the Bahamani rulers held sway over the complete region, the Barid Shahi rulers made Bidar their capital. In 1686, Aurangazeb conquered this region and made it a part of his Deccan kingdom. Subsequently, this came under the Hyderabad state under the Nizams’ rule until the former became a part of the Indian state in 1948. About a decade later, with the reorganization of states on linguistic lines, Bidar became a part of present-day Karnataka.
The day at Bidar will be spent exploring the magnificent Bidar Fort, the tombs of the Bahamani rulers, the Madarsa dedicated to one of Bidar’s most beloved ministers Mohammad Gawan.
See the splendour of the Rangeen Mahal with its fascinating tiles with mother-of-pearl inlays and architecture that symbolises the beautiful amalgamation of Persian and Hindu styles so typical of the Bahamani rulers.
Experience the simple yet striking architecture of the Solah Khamba Mosque within the Fort and walk along the magnificent tombs of the Bahamai rulers, the Sufi Saints, and the Barid Shahi rulers.