Old City (Hyderabad, India)

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Old City, Hyderabad
Walled City
Panorama showing the Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Nizamia Hospital and surrounding bazaars.
Panorama showing the Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Nizamia Hospital and surrounding bazaars.
City of Pearls, City of Minars,[1] City of Lakes[2]
Old City, Hyderabad is located in Telangana
Old City, Hyderabad
Old City, Hyderabad
Location in Old City, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
Coordinates: 17°21′58″N 78°28′34″E / 17.366°N 78.476°E / 17.366; 78.476Coordinates: 17°21′58″N 78°28′34″E / 17.366°N 78.476°E / 17.366; 78.476
Country India
 • MayorBonthu Rammohan
 • CommissionerM. Mahender Reddy, IPS
 • Member of ParliamentAsaduddin Owaisi
 • Total260 km2 (100 sq mi)
536 m (1,759 ft)
 • OfficialTelugu, Urdu
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
500 xxx
Telephone code91–40, 08413, 08414, 08415, 08418, 08453
Vehicle registrationTS 07,08,09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 22, 23, 24
Planning agencyGHMC, Quli Qutub Shah Urban Development Authority
ClimateAw (Köppen)
Precipitation603 millimetres (23.7 in)
Avg. annual temperature26.0 °C (78.8 °F)
Avg. summer temperature35.9 °C (96.6 °F)
Avg. winter temperature23.5 °C (74.3 °F)

The Old City of Hyderabad is a walled city of Hyderabad, Telangana, India, located on the banks of the Musi River built by Qutb Shahi sultan Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 AD.

There used to be a wall surrounding the Old City, most of which is destroyed.[3] Mubariz Khan, the Mughal governor of Deccan Subah, had fortified the city in 1712 and was completed by Nizam of Hyderabad.[4]

At the center of Old City is the Charminar, and region contains major neighborhoods of the city including Shah Ali Banda, Yakutpura, Dabirpura, Afzal Gunj, Moghalpura, Malakpet and Falaknuma.

Today, Hyderabad has expanded far beyond the boundaries of the Old City, and the crowded Old City remains the symbolic heart of cosmopolitan Hyderabad along with HITEC City.[5][6][7] The area is a tourism hotspot, and the heart of Hyderabadi Muslim culture.


Dabeerpura Darwaza, one of the thirteen gateways.[8]

There used to be a granite wall surrounding the old city. The wall was constructed during the 17th and 18th centuries, during the Qutb Shahi, Mughal and Asaf Jahi periods. The wall had thirteen gateways called darwazas and thirteen smaller entrances called khirkis.

Much of the wall was destroyed during the Great Musi Flood of 1908, and also demolished by the Government in the 1950's and 1960's.[9]

Today, only two gates still stand — the Purana Pul Darwaza and the Dabeerpura Darwaza,[10][11] and nothing except a few portions remains of the wall.[9][12]


Charminar at Old City

As the historical region of Hyderabad, the old city contains many landmark buildings including Charminar (literally "four minarets"), a structure built on the spot where Quli Qutb Shah prayed for the end to a plague epidemic.

The Qutb Shahi era structures surrounding the Charminar include an ornamented granite mosque Mecca Masjid to the southwest, and the Gulzar Houz fountain to the north, which is surrounded by four arch-gateways called Char Kaman.

Asaf Jahi monuments near the Charminar include the Mahboob Chowk Clock Tower and Nizamia Hospital. The Chowmahalla Palace was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty where the Nizam entertained his official guests and royal visitors.

H.E.H The Nizam Museum, Purani Haveli. Home to the famous wardrobe of Mahbub Ali Pasha, who is said never to have worn the same thing twice, it is the world's longest wardrobe, built in two levels with a hand-cranked wooden lift. The device occupies the entire length of one wing of the palace.

The Purani Haveli was originally the palace of the Nizam's Parents, later renovated to become the quarters of the Nizam's son. It is a U-shaped complex with a single-story building in the European style.

Madina, a few hundred meters North of Charminar, is one of the oldest commercial suburbs in the city opened in 1947 on the premises of the Aladdin Wakf. Abdul Boot House was one of oldest and renowned shop at Madina Market. Before the discovery of oil in that country, Hyderabad was richer than Saudi Arabia and the rents received from the area's buildings were sent to Saudi Arabia to help poor Muslims in Medina.

The Salar Jung Museum at the bank of the River Musi contains the since augmented collections of Salar Jung III former Prime Ministers of Hyderabad. The museum is reputed to be the world’s largest one-man collection.[13] Nearby are the historic Hyderabad High Court (1920), Osmania General Hospital (1919), State Central Library (1936), Aza Khana-e-Zohra (1930) and City College (1921).

A few hundred meters east of the Musi is Malakpet. The Hyderabad Race Course was shifted here in 1886, by Asaf Jah VI near his palace, the Mahbub Mansion. The Asman Garh Palace and Raymond's Tomb are also located at Malakpet.

About six kilometers south of Charminar, is the Falaknuma Palace. Built by Viqar ul-Umra in 1872, the Falaknuma Palace is noted for its architecture and is the most opulent of the Nizam's palaces.

Other mosques in the region include the 300-year-old Toli Masjid renowned for its architecture, and Pahaday Sharif, where 400 stairs brings visitors to a place of worship built by the Nizams.

Falaknuma Palace
The Salar Jung Museum is reputed to contain the world’s largest one-man collection

At the far east of Old City is Mir Alam Tank, the largest lake in the old city and the site of the Nehru Zoological Park, a 300 acres (1.2 km2) area filled with various species of birds and animals. The tank is named after its builder Mir Alam, Prime Minister of Hyderabad, and comprises a one-mile bund with 21 semi-circular arches.[14]


Built during the period of the last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, the Osmania University has an imposing facade. After the Independence of India, the city has seen a rapid growth in educational institutions, providing many facilities for their students. It also has a number of engineering colleges with proper facilities for the students.


The city has a distinct culture showing Islamic influences and a courtly presence resulting from its period as the capital of the Nizams, which is more evident in the old city.


The old city has many restaurants offering Hyderabadi cuisine which is noted for its use of spices and herbs. The food is prepared using different types of spices, in which each spice adds a special taste to the food with a modern touch, while preserving the traditional quality of the food. The most famous dishes of Hyderabad are Hyderabadi Biryani and Hyderabadi Haleem, which are served with great delight. Pista House, Bawarchi, Cafe Bahar, Masterchef, 555, Sheraton Cafe are popularly known for Haleem. Shadab Hotel is famous for serving some of the best biryani in the city.


Urdu is the primary language spoken in the old city area, and was the official language of the Hyderabad State under the Nizams in 1884 AD.[15] The most common dialect of Urdu spoken by the largely Muslim population is known as Dakkhani or Deccani (meaning "language of the Deccan"). Telugu is also widely spoken and understood.


Old Hyderabad City is 65% Muslim majority.[16] 30% are Hindus.[17] As per 2011 Census, Christians number 9,687 while Sikhs number 7,166 in Old Hyderabad City.[18] The overall population of Hyderabad district is 39.43 lakhs, where Hindus are 20.46 lakhs (51.89%) and Muslims are 17.13 lakhs (43.35%).[19][20]


The old city is well connected by railway, road, and air. Auto rickshaws are available for getting around the city at reasonable rates while TSRTC city buses circulate within the city and also travel to the nearby towns and villages. Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station is in Old City, Hyderabad and the nearest railway station is Hyderabad Deccan Station, which offers good connections with the rest of India. The newly developed Shamshabad Rajiv Gandhi International Airport lies 6 to 8 kilometres (3.7 to 5.0 mi) from the old city.

Madina near Charminar


A store at Laad Bazaar selling bangles and jewellery. The Laadbazar and the Charminar market area are well known for pearls.

Sarojini Naidu describes the Bazaars of Hyderabad in her poem In The Bazaars of Hyderabad.[21]

Hyderabad has been a trading center for centuries and the bazaars of the old city are world-renowned for their pearls, diamonds, and bangles.

The street leading from Charminar to the square on the west is known as Laad Bazaar and is the bridalwear shopping market of the old city. Hyderabadi glass bangles known as Sona Bai are available here. This colourful shopping market of the old city is tucked away in one of the streets leading off from the Charminar. Bangles, bridalwear, pearls, Attar (perfume) and the traditional Hyderabadi glass and stone studded bangles are all sold here.[22][23][24] The Madina Market also known as Madina, Hyderabad is known for its wholesale cloth market providing goods from the regions of Telangana, northern Karnataka, and Maharashtra.[25]

The markets of Charminar's Gulzar House are favoured for the gold, diamonds, and pearls with which Hyderabad is synonymous. Cultured pearls studded in gold and silver jewellery of intricate design are a speciality. Pearls come in many shapes and of particular interest is the ‘rice-pearl’ – a tiny variety. There is also the precious "Basra"; a pearl unmatched in lustre, color, and price which is available in select stores. The pearls are sold in strings or raw by weight.[26]


As the Old City is the oldest part of Hyderabad, it has a crumbling infrastructure, and faces issues such as heavy traffic,[27][28] water scarcity,[29] poor waste management[30] and poor maintenance of buildings. Some heritage structures in the area are also dilapidated and in need of restoration.[31]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ababu Minda Yimene (2004). An African Indian community in Hyderabad: Siddi identity, its maintenance. cuvillier verlag. p. 1. ISBN 3-86537-206-6. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  2. ^ Rubén Camilo Lois González (2006). Urban changes in different scales: systems and structures. University Santiago de Compostela. p. 611. ISBN 84-9750-639-1. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  3. ^ "Tracing the Wall Around Hyderabad Which Took 4 Centuries to Build". The Quint. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  4. ^ K. Narayan Reddy. Urban Redevelopment: A Study of High-rise Buildings. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  5. ^ "The Old City". Hyderabad, India. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  6. ^ 585 Rani Sarma, Diwan Deodi
  7. ^ "Hyderabad: Colossal Gloss in City of Boom".
  8. ^ "The "Khidki" and "Darwaza" of Hyderabad | The Siasat Daily". archive.siasat.com. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  9. ^ a b Singh, T. Lalith (31 August 2015). "The vanishing walls of Hyderabad". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Dabeerpura Darwaza freed of encroachments - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  11. ^ Khan, Asif Yar (4 August 2014). "Dabeerpura Darwaza: a sentinel of the past". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  12. ^ Varma, Dr. Anand Raj. "Doorways to a rich past". Telangana Today. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  13. ^ "The glorious city of Hyderabad » Extraordinary Experiences". Experienceindiatravel.com. 18 February 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  14. ^ "Mir Alam Tank Hyderabad – Mir Alam Tank in Hyderabad India – Tour to Mir Alam Tank of Hyderabad". Hyderabad.org.uk. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  15. ^ 585 Narendra Luther, Bridging two cultures Archived 24 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "The Hyderabad Lok Sabha, with all of seven assembly segments, has an electorate of which 65 per cent belong to the minorities—Muslims chiefly".
  17. ^ "In Hyderabad, a tale of two cities".
  18. ^ "Christians third largest community in Old City after Muslims, Hindus".
  19. ^ "'Muslim population 'stabilizing' in Hyderabad'".
  20. ^ "Christian women outnumber men: study".
  21. ^ "In The Bazaars of Hyderabad: English Poems: English Poems for Kids". English-for-students.com. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  22. ^ "Hyderabad on the Net: Other Attractions". Hyderabad.co.uk. Archived from the original on 7 January 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  23. ^ "Lad Bazar..the bangle market near Charminar". Hyderabadspider.com. 15 December 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  24. ^ asiarooms.com. "Lad Bazar Hyderabad Shopping in Hyderabad India Shopping Malls in Hyderabad". Asiarooms.com. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  25. ^ "Top 10 Hyderabad Shopping Destinations – Hyderabad City Visitors Guide – Tourism". Hyderabadcityhotels.com. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  26. ^ "One Of The Greatest Jewellery Shop – Gold Jewelry,hyderabad,India Classifieds 5241052". Clickindia.com. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  27. ^ "Traffic slowdown due to Ramzan in Old city". Deccan Chronicle. 10 June 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  28. ^ "Peak-hour jams frustrate commuters in Old City - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  29. ^ "Hyderabad: Water scarcity haunts Old City". Deccan Chronicle. 27 April 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  30. ^ "Stink alert: Residents in Old City say street corners are dumpyards - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  31. ^ "Facelift for heritage structures in Old City". The Hans India. Retrieved 30 July 2018.

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