Planning a Trip
Getting There & Away
Hyderabad is pretty much slap-bang in the middle of very little else, so you're best off flying in, not least because you're unlikely to spend much time in Hyderabad proper (unless you plan to shop endlessly for pearls and eat yourself stupid). International flights (British Airways, Air-India, Lufthansa, Northwest Airlines, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines) connect Hyderabad to the rest of the world. There are daily 2-hour flights from Delhi and 1-hour flights from Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Tirupati. Begumpet Airport (off Sardar Patel Rd.; tel. 1407 for Indian Airlines inquiries, 142 for recorded flight information) is 8km (5 miles) north of the city; a taxi into town should cost between Rs 150 ($3.65/£1.85) and Rs 300 ($7.30/£3.70). Trains to and from Bangalore, Tirupati, Chennai, and Mumbai take at least 14 hours; book an overnight journey several days in advance. There are two main stations: Nampally (also known as Hyderabad Station) and Secunderabad, with most longer-distance trains arriving at the latter. Call tel. 1345 for specific information about outbound services.
For the lowdown on sights, tours, and events, visit Andhra Pradesh Travel & Tourism Development Corporation (tel. 040/2345-3036 or -0444; open 24 hr.), on the corner where Secretariat Road becomes Tank Bund. Avoid Andhra Pradesh Tourism right next door; the stench that hangs in the air from the fish market nearby competes with the staff's incompetence. The railway stations also have information counters. Channel 6 (Rs 15/35¢/20p) is a monthly booklet listing a wealth of information about the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Hyderabad CityInfo (Rs 30/75¢/35p) appears every 2 weeks and provides extensive information about hotels, restaurants, and current events. Primetime Prism (monthly; Rs 10/25¢/15p) is filled with useful information about destinations all over the state.
If you want to do some serious reading up on Hyderabad other than the brochures supplied by the Tourism Department, then try two of the bigger and better bookstores in the city -- Walden (6-3-871 Greenlands Rd., Begumpet; tel. 040/2341-3434 with a branch at Trendset Towers, Road No. 2, Banjara Hills; tel. 040/2335-1613; open daily) and A.A.Husain & Co. (5-8-551 Abid Rd.; tel. 040/2320-3724; closed Sun).
Useful numbers: For 24-hour pharmacies call Apollo (tel. 040/2360-7777) or Newciti (tel. 040/2780-5960). The local telephone search engine (tel. 040/2444-4444) can be quite helpful.
Actually comprising the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, Hyderabad is spread over a vast area, and its few sights are scattered, so you're best off renting a car and driver for a half- or full day. See SOTC for 24-hour car-hire service; or call Cosy Cabs (Karan Apartments, Begumpet; tel. 040/2776-7146 and -0409). Note that the Old City is best explored on foot.
Guided Tours & Travel Agents
The Andhra Pradesh Travel & Tourism Development Corporation runs full-day guided tours of the city (Rs 230/$5.60/£2.85) and 3-day trips to Tirupati (Rs 1,600/$39/£20 including a night's accommodations). There are also daily tours to Nagarjuna Sagar (150km/93 miles away; Rs 350/$8.55/£4.30), where excavations during the construction of a dam revealed an ancient Buddhist site. All the salvaged structures and antiques are now housed in a museum on an island. SOTC (3-5-874 Hyderguda Rd.; tel. 040/6699-9922; Mon-Sat 10am-6pm) can make all your travel, sightseeing, and car-hire arrangements. For alternate quotes, call Mercury Travels (tel. 040/5520-2200 or 040/2781-4399). You can also try Sai Bon Voyage (tel. 98-8562-8111 or 040/6684-3333). For short-distance commuting, contact City Cabs (tel. 040/6631-6001) or Cab Services (tel. 040/6631-6000)