Not so good in Hyderabad

Hyderabad is the capital of the southern state of Andra Pradesh, which is known as ‘the rice bowl of India’.

I have to be honest and say I didn’t enjoy my visit here back in 2007. I experienced serious culture shock going to work in the traffic every morning. I either witnessed or saw the after effects of four accidents and with some of the stunts our driver pulled, I was convinced we were also going to have one.

We did have a little bump on the last day of my four week stay but by that time I was immune to it all and just took it in my stride. I have lived in India since and have got much more used to life there but this was an uncomfortable baptism!

The Katriya Hotel where I stayed wasn’t great by big city standards either. The rooms had connecting doors so you could hear your neighbour all too clearly, the staff overservice was a bit annoying and the swimmng pool was full of feathers and dead insects. Yuck! I did have an ok meal in their Indian restaurant though, although the waiter was convinced I was asking for Italian food when I asked if they could do me a thali!

In terms of tourist activities there isn’t a lot to see or do in the city. The Muslim old town was considered a no go area for me by my Hindu minders. We did go to see historical Golkonda Fort one evening after work but as soon as we got out of the car, every insect for miles descended on us so go in the day time if  you can. I lasted less than five minutes!

However, thankfully the food came to the rescue…

Hyderabad is famous for its biriyani which evolved out of a blend of Mughal and local Andra cuisine. Hyderabadi Biriyani is now an iconic dish in the whole of India.

Paradise Hotel (B+), on the Panjagutta crossroads in Secunderabad, its very famous, everyone will know it.

According to just about everybody I spoke to, the Paradise is THE place in town to eat biriyani. The classic options are chicken and mutton. I tried both and preferred the latter which was cut into small pieces, whereas the chicken came in a large chunk. Both cost 115 rupees.

I had Vegetable Manchurian to start (deep fried balls of mixed veg) which was nice too. Another good thing is this multi-level restaurant has a big terrace so you can sit outside.

The Minerva (A), 6-3-1110, ground floor, Amrutha Mall, Somajiguda, Hyderabad -16, Tel: 2341 8919, about 10 minutes walk from the Katriya Hotel.

GEM ALERT! I love this place!

Really wonderful vegetarian food, and that’s coming from a serious carnivore! At lunchtime you can get a choice of North or South Indian thalis (all-you-can-eat trays of about 10 little curries and other dishes) for 115 rupees (80 rupees to the pound!!). The waiters will keep refilling your tray until you beg them to stop.

In the evening I tried a ravva dosa (filled pancake, in this case with some kind of rice paste) which was fantastic. The butter naan is really exquisite too. The best place I ate in all the time I was here.

Thanks goodness for food, it really can make everything feel better! 😀

Another great thing you could do though is have an Ayurvedic massage. Ayurveda is a ‘life science’ from Kerala and is over 5000 years old, handed down from Brahma himself. My physiotherapist in the UK recommended Indian massage for an old muscle injury in my back as she didn’t have time to work on me before I went on tour. After four sessions the pain was totally gone.

I went to Ayurcare, which is a chain of wellness centres throughout Andrha Pradesh. Before treatment you have a consultation with an ayurvedic doctor who identifies the most suitable treatment for you. After a preliminary head massage, they put you on a table with upturned edges and continuously drizzle hot medicated oil on you (know what sardines in a tin feel like now) which they work into your body with long strokes. I had four massuers doing simultaneous synchronised massage on me which they kept it up for over an hour. (Masseuses were available for the ladies). Incense and a tape of Buddhist om chanting added to the atmosphere, and I didn’t know where I was by the end of the session. A great way to end a days hard work.

Make sure you are clear about what you are getting as a course of specialist treatment could get expensive (1000 to 2000 rupees an hour). Personally I found 45 minutes to be enough. They will want to sell you homeopathic medicines too.

The details that follow are for one of three branches in Hyderabad. Check their website for more locations in AP. Ayurcare Wellness Centre, #500, 1-10-98/32, Taatshree, beside Pantaloon Lane, Chikoti Gardens, Begumpet, Hyderabad -500 016, Tel: 66313179,

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