After Bangalore, I took a short train ride, in India terms, up to Hyderabad. This royal city is famous for its rich history, culture, cuisine, architecture, sites and more. While it’s another one of India’s big cities, it has its own atmosphere and look that distinguishes it. The old architecture really sets it apart, but it also has its booming tech industry that gives it an interesting juxtaposition. It’s a place that takes you back in time as well as any, all within one of the country’s fastest growing cities.
So here are my first impressions of Hyderabad, from my personal Street Photographer perspective…
7 First Impressions of Hyderabad, India
(From a Street Photography Perspective)
1. Charminar is the center of crowds and tourists
Built over 400 years ago, the Charminar is one of the most recognizable structures in India. The four towered monument and mosque is surrounded by traffic, bazaars and busy streets going in every direction. The foot traffic is more crowded here than anywhere else in the city. It also keeps this activity going well into the night.
This is by far the biggest draw in the city, even compared to other Indian cities. So it’s one of the more touristy areas you’ll find in the country. Depending on what you look for in street photography, that can be a good or bad thing. Either way, this is a must stop with your camera and will always give you plenty of activity in an interesting setting.
2. Less Color than Most Indian Cities
India is famous for all of its colors, but I will say Hyderabad is less colorful than most of the other bigger Indian cities. At the same time, with all the beautiful architecture, it still provides very pleasing backgrounds and scenery within the city. The older architecture is full of character and comes mostly in shades of tan, yellow, white and gray. Still, the people dress as colorful as always in India.
3. History’s Influence is Very Noticeable Here
Historically, Hyderabad is one of the most interesting cities in India, which is a big reason for its attraction for visitors. From the culture, food and people to the architecture, monuments and scenery, history has left a deep impact here. Where you’ll really feel this is in the Old City. Charminar is located here, but you really should explore the whole area. You can find narrow lanes, markets, ancient architecture that really shows its age, and much more by just walking around without a destination. Discovering some interesting scenes and activity shouldn’t be a problem anywhere here.
4. Food is Famous
Hyderabad is very well-known for their cuisine. All over India you’ll find Hyderabad Biryani restaurants, but in Hyderabad they fill streets. Food is a big part of the city here for good reason too. Not only is it part of their history and Mughal influence, it’s also really good. Personally, the best food I’ve had in India has been here and if I was to recommend a restaurant, it would have to be Cafe Bahar.
I don’t know how much this will affect your street photography, although you can find some nice scenes using the restaurants, but there’s nothing like finishing off a day of shooting with some local food in Hyderabad.
5. Hyderabad Doesn’t Feel like it has One Specific City Center
In Hyderabad, it doesn’t feel like there’s one specific downtown or city center like other cities. Here, it feels more like there are multiple mini-downtowns. The area around the old town is considered the “downtown,” but you also have other large neighborhoods like Secunderabad and Hi-Tech City. Secunderabad was once considered Hyderabad’s twin city, but has since become part of Hyderabad. Hi-Tech City is a neighborhood known for all of its tech jobs that have caused rapid growth in the area.
With large neighborhoods like these in Hyderabad, they help spread out the feeling of multiple city centers, instead of just one area that feels like the downtown.
6. A Lot of Walking
Outside of Charminar, there’s not much info online of good places to go for photography. There’s plenty of monuments and tourist attractions, but trying to find good areas for street photography involved a lot of self-exploration. This meant a lot of walking. The city can be very spread out too with how it’s set up. Combine that with traffic and you really need to focus on specific areas to explore for the day or you’ll waste too much time.
Around the Old City, you’ll find the most condensed area for street photography spots so it’s probably the most walkable, but if you want to check out other parts of the city, it’s best to not combine too many spots in one day.
7. An Urban and Royal City in One
Hyderabad has preserved its history and tradition about as well as you can in a city of its size and growth. At the same time, it’s become a hotspot for the worldwide tech industry. These opposites make for a unique experience if you really explore the city.
The old city of Hyderabad is something you’d picture a royal city to be like in India many centuries ago. The monuments, architecture, dusty streets, bazaars, and more keep this atmosphere intact very well today. But this is only one side of the city. On the other side, you have brand new office buildings popping up everywhere with young men in suits and briefcases going to their new tech job. It’s a city in rapid growth, but one that separates the old from the new very well.
A Royal City
Due to some travel problems that arose, which should always be expected when traveling around India, I had to shorten my time in Hyderabad compared to the other cities I visited here, unfortunately. I was still able to stay long enough to get a good feel of the city and explore a good amount of it on foot, though. It’s one of the more visually pleasing cities I’ve been to in India. Around the Old City, the history and architecture take you back in time and you get a feeling of the days of royalty. Then there’s the fast growth of modern buildings and tech industry to add the opposite atmosphere elsewhere. And then there’s the food. I still miss it. Best food in India, in my opinion. So bring your camera for the scenery and your appetite for the food.
If any of you have been to Hyderabad before, tell me about your experience and impressions of the city and country in the comments below! And stay tuned for more on Hyderabad, including some of the best Street Photography shots I captured while there.
(from a street photographer’s perspective)