At the heart of the hustle-bustle of the old walled city, amidst all the congestion, is the Charminar – the massive arch built by Mohammed Quli Qutab Shah, in 1591 to propitiate the evil forces from destroying his new city with the plague. The symbol of the city, the Charminar, looming at a height of 56 m, is an impressive square gateway with four minarets. The arch is illuminated daily in the evening, an unforgettable sight indeed.
Near the Charminar is the Mecca Masjid , one of the largest in the world, said to accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers. The foundation of the mosque was laid during the reign of Mohammed Quli Qutab Shah, in 1614, but it was completed only in 1687, when the Golconda Kingdom was annexed by Emperor Aurangzeb.
One of Hyderabad ‘s prime attractions is the Salar Jung Museum , the world’s largest one-man collection, and the 35 rooms of which house around 35,000 exhibits. These include unusual collections of jade, marble statues, rare manuscripts, Persian miniature paintings, Chinese porcelain and other objects d’art. The credit for this invaluable collection goes to Mir Yusaf Ali Khan Salar Jung the 3rd, the Prime Minister of Nizam, a great connoisseur of art.
A short distance away from the city looms one of the most magnificent fortresses in India , the Golconda Fort . The fort dates back to the time of the Qutab Shahi kings, though its origin has been traced to earlier periods, during the reign of theYadavas, and later the Kakatiyas. The fortress is built on a granite hill 120 meters high, and is surrounded by massive crenellated ramparts, its gates studded with menacing iron spikes, intended to discourage elephants from battering them down. What is unique to this fort is its system of acoustics, whereby the sound of hands clapped at the entry gate, can be heard quite clearly at the top of the hill, at a height of 61 m.
The stately tombs of the Qutab Shahi rulers lie just outside the outer wall of the Golconda fort. They lie amidst beautifully – kept gardens, and a number of them have intricately carved stonework. Hyderabad also boasts of one of the largest zoos in India , the Nehru Zoological Park , with adjuncts like a prehistoric animal section, a toy train, and a lion safari. The Birla Mandir (Naubat Prahad), a splendid temple built entirely out of white marble, stands on a hill, which overlooks the south end of Hussain Sagar. The Birla Planetarium is, also, quite a crowd-puller.