We're planning a four-day break in Hyderabad next month. Can you recommend a a top hotel that's not too close to the city centre? While we plan to take in a few important attractions, we also want to spend a day hiking or on a wildlife safari in a nature reserve.
Four days in Hyderabad, including a day trip to one of the many nature parks on the outskirts, might be just about enough time to enjoy the splendours of this historic, once-rich city.
The Taj Falaknuma Palace (www.tajhotels.com; 00 91 40 6629 8585) is a former nizam's residence that opened last November after extensive renovation. The heritage hotel boasts rare furniture, stunning architecture and a library that is the replica of the one in Windsor Castle. Sitting more than 600 metres above Hyderabad, it provides sweeping panoramas of the city below, and is about five kilometres from Charminar mosque, Hyderabad's most recognisable monument, and the equally famous Chaumala Palace. Also within reach are the ruins of the 13th-century Golconda Fort, the first capital of the Qtub Shahi dynasty. A standard garden view double room at the Taj Falaknuma Palace costs from 18,000 Indian rupees [Dh1,472] per night, based on two sharing, including taxes.
Mrugavani National Park, close to the town of Chilkur and about 30km from the city centre, has an area of more than 280 hectares and is home to tigers, peacocks, wild boar, sambar and chittal. Lush and green in the monsoon season but well worth a visit at any time of the year, the park has several hiking trails and arranges a number of activities, from early-morning birdwatching expeditions and nature trails to snake shows and tiger safaris. It also houses a small museum, a library and an "environmental education centre". The park is open from 9am to 5pm daily and entrance costs about 10 rupees (Dh1) per person. Call 00 91 40 2360 7663 for more information.
The smaller Nehru Zoological Park in Bahadurpura, about 16km from Hyderabad, is one of the city's oldest nature reserves, home to more than 1,500 kinds of animal, including tigers, several species of monkey, panthers, giraffe, gaur, deer, antelope and plenty of birdlife. It's especially popular for its lion reserve and museum of natural history. There's also a small train that runs through the park (15 rupees [Dh1.2] per person). The park is open from 8.30am to 5pm daily. Entrance costs 10 rupees (about Dh1) per person. Safaris can be arranged on request (00 91 40 2447 7355).
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