The capital of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad is twinned with neighbouring city Secunderabad and is the country’s fifth largest city.
Hyderabad was founded by the Muslim Qutb Shahi sultans of Golconda on the east bank of the River Musi in 1590. Intended to replace the town of Golconda as the capital of the empire, the old city had at its centre the Charminar, a prominent symbol of the status of the Qutb Shahi sultans. The town and surrounding region enjoyed nearly a century of peace and affluence until the downfall of the Qutb Shahi in 1685 when the Moghuls invaded. In 1713 the region was ruled by Asaf Jah who founded the Nizam dynasty of Hyderabad, a Muslim dynasty that was to successfully rule a Hindu community until 1948. Nizam Ali Kahn ruled independently until his death in 1748. It was then the turn of the British and the French to fight for the succession and in 1768, Nizam Ali Khan signed the Treaty of Masulipatam, agreeing to British demands. Territorial gains made by the Nizam were subsequently ceded to the British. In 1798 the Nizam accepted their protection, becoming the first Indian prince to do so.
The Nizam dynasty remained loyal to Britain throughout several wars, including the Indian mutiny of 1857–58. In return the British backed the Nizam dynasty though they retained the right to intervene if the actions of the Nizam threatened to undermine their position. With the partition of 1947, Hyderabad wanted to remain independent of India but despite calls for British intervention by the Nizam, India invaded the territory in 1948. In 1956 the state of Hyderabad was divided between surrounding regions, with the city of Hyderabad becoming the capital of Andar Pradesh.
In Aug. 2000 the city was hit by severe floods leaving 150 dead and forcing 500,000 from their homes.
Today, Hyderabad’s chief industries are the manufacture of transport equipment, textiles, pharmaceutical goods and cigarettes. The fastest growing industry is computer software. Known as the city of learning, Hyderabad has eight universities, including Osmania University (1918) and the agricultural university, Sindh (1947), 28 National Level Apex Research and Training Institutions, and several centres of excellence in areas such as defence research, chemical technology and molecular biology. This academic environment has produced an ideal climate for growth in the software sector with Microsoft further enhancing the city’s standing by setting up one of its centres there in 1998.
Hyderabad’s location makes it an important transport link between north and south. Its airport at Begumpet serves both domestic and international flights. Indian Airlines, NEPC and Jet Airways operate flights connecting Hyderabad with Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. The city is also covered by an extensive rail network and is situated on the crossroads of national highways seven and nine, connecting it with most other major cities in India.
Places of Interest
There are several major tourist attractions in the city, the most important of which is the Charminar. The four pillared monument was built as a celebration of the end of a plague and contains one of the oldest mosques in Hyderabad. There are several theories as to what the Charminar was actually used for, ranging from a gateway to a school, to an elaborate water pump designed to get water to the higher reaches of the palace. The Ashtalakshmi Temple stands on the outskirts of the city and is one of few temples to have the Goddess Lakshmi represented in all eight of her forms. Golconda Fort, built in 1143 is a relic of the period before the city existed. Falaknuma Palace stands towards the south and commands a view of the entire city. Built in the late nineteenth century by Nawab Viqar-ul-Umara, the temple was built using marble imported from Italy. The Cyber Tower is an example of Hyderabad’s position as a forerunner in software development. Not only does it act as a home for the city’s information technology industry, but it also houses a major IT training institute.