What do you sell, O ye merchants?
Richly your wares are on display.
Turbans of crimson and silver,
Tunics of purple brocade,
Mirror with panels of amber,
Daggers with handles of jade.
from The Bazaars of Hyderabad by Sarojini Naidu
The city of Hyderabad, built in 1591-92 to reflect Sultam Mohammed Quli Shah’s splendour, was originally on the South side of the Musi river, the area now known as the old city; its most well known landmark is the Charminar. The city has the second largest mosque in India, the Mecca Masjid, which took 78 years to build and is reputedly the seventh largest mosque in the world (it can accommodate 10,000 people). The capital of Andhra Pradesh, an Indian state in the South of the country, Hyderabad is one of the largest cities in India. Attached to the city is its twin town, Secunderabad, separated from it by Hussain Sagar, an artificial lake constructed in 1562.
The city spreads over 260 sq. kms., with a population of over 7 million. Hyderabad is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in India with people from all faiths living in it. It has plenty of (Hindu) temples, mosques, gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship), Jain temples (Jains are members of one of the oldest religions in India), churches for various denominations of Christians, temples for the Zoroastrians (or Parsis, followers of the prophet Zoroaster; a religion originated in modern Iran. The Tatas are Zoroastrians). It also has a large Buddhist Vihara.
In the old part of the city you will find many bazaars that will keep you busy for many hours. The place is known for its pearls and other jewelry, but you can also get good silk, saris (the typical cloth worn by women in India, consisting of a single strip of unstitched cloth of four to nine meters in length, worn with a blouse or choli as upper garment), and other fancy garments. As is common in most of India, you will find good cotton clothes as well. Hyderabad is particularly famous for its pearl craftsmen.
As in all places in India, there is plenty of food to choose from in Hyderabad: samosas (fried patties filled with vegetables or meat), biryani (rice with lamb or chicken), kebabs (minced meat cooked on an open fire) and sweets. Continental food is also widely available in Hyderabad.
Several IT companies have a big presence in Hyderabad; these include Microsoft, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, Amazon, Dell, Google, IBM and Infosys Technologies. IT exports from the city crossed US $ 2.5 billion in 2005-06. A whole new township called Cyberabad, with state-of-the-art facilities, has come up to accommodate technology related firms. The Hyderabad International Convention Centre, the venue of the Congress is in Cyberabad.
The city hosts three Central Universities (funded by the Central Government of India) – the University of Hyderabad, the Maulana Azad National Urdu University and the English and Foreigne Languages University. Hyderabad is also home to another central institution that is internationally well-known, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology. Several other state universities supported by the State Government are also located in Hyderabad as also the privately funded Indian School of Business.
The city’s charm is captured beautifully by William Dalrymple in this excerpt from his gripping historical narrative, White Mughals, of love and intrigue in 19th century Hyderabad. The ICM organizing committee wishes you a happy stay in this welcoming Indian city, a fascinating combination of the old and the new.