History & Culture
The culture of Hyderabad is a diverse one. Not only does it have an amalgamation of different cultures, Hyderabad boasts of a rich cultural heritage too. Being ruled by the Asaf Jahi dynasty, it came to be known as the “city of Nizams”. As this dynasty crumpled, the Mughals took over and brought about a sea change in the cultural outlook of the people. Today Hyderabad flourishes in its rich cultural history.
The contemporary world sees this city as a blend of unique cultures with a touch of modern lifestyle. In general, Hyderabadi people are regarded as very friendly and hospitable. As a matter of fact, generosity is the other name of the Hyderabadis. They take immense pleasure and pride in conversing in their local, characteristic and vibrant Hyderabadi language, which is a mix of Urdu, Hindi, and Telugu. The Hyderabadi Urdu is more like the city’s vernacular of Hindi language. It thrives in a world of its own. Like the Mumbai ‘tapori’ language, Hyderabadi lingo too has its own dissimilar resonance and flavour. It is more assorted as it has its own dialects in different parts of the city. If the actual Hyderabadi has a manifestation of Urdu language and is archetypal to the old city, the new city has a fair mix of English and Telugu to it. In Secunderabad Cantonment region, there is a typical Tamil touch to it, due to the proximity of Tamil Nadu to it.
You will find a very surprising element in these people. They wear the latest branded stuff, flaunt attitude and drink gallons of beer in the most happening bar. But when it comes to culture, no one can beat them nor question their traditional beliefs. You will find the most pretty women wearing shorts and tank-tops one day and at a temple in a nice traditional saree the other day! So be prepared to contact the blend of tradition and modernity in the unique city of Hyderabad.
Hyderabad emerged as the foremost centre of culture in India with the decline of the Mughal Empire. After the fall of Delhi in 1857, the migration of performing artists to the city particularly from the north and west of the Indian subcontinent, under the patronage of the Nizam, enriched the cultural milieu. This migration resulted in a mingling of North and South Indian languages, cultures and religions, which has since led to a co-existence of Hindu and Muslim traditions, for which the city has become noted. A further consequence of this north-south mix is that both Telugu and Urdu are official languages of Telangana.
The mixing of religions has also resulted in many festivals being celebrated in Hyderabad such as Ganesh Chaturthi ( Khairtabad Ganesh is one of the tallest Lord Ganesh Idol installed at Khairtabad, Hyderabad, India ), Diwali and Bonalu of Hindu tradition and Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha by Muslims. Traditional Hyderabadi garb also reveals a mix of Muslim and South Asian influences with men wearing sherwani and kurta– paijama and women wearing khara dupatta and salwar kameez. Muslim women also commonly wear burqas and hijabs in public. In addition to the traditional Indian and Muslim garments, increasing exposure to western cultures has led to a rise in the wearing of western style clothing among youths.
Hyderabad has continued with these traditions in its annual Hyderabad Literary Festival, held since 2010, showcasing the city’s literary and cultural creativity. Organisations engaged in the advancement of literature include the Sahitya Akademi, the Urdu Academy, the Telugu Academy, the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, the Comparative Literature Association of India, and the Andhra Saraswata Parishad. Literary development is further aided by state institutions such as the State Central Library, the largest public library in the state which was established in 1891, and other major libraries including the Sri Krishna Devaraya Andhra Bhasha Nilayam, the British Library and the Sundarayya Vignana Kendram. South Indian music and dances such as the Kuchipudi and Kathakali styles are popular in the Deccan region. As a result of their culture policies, North Indian music and dance gained popularity during the rule of the Mughals and Nizams, and it was also during their reign that it became a tradition among the nobility to associate themselves with Tawaif (courtesans). These courtesans were revered as the epitome of etiquette and culture and were appointed to teach singing, poetry and classical dance to many children of the aristocracy. This gave rise to certain styles of court music, dance and poetry. Besides western and Indian popular music genres such as film music, the residents of Hyderabad play city-based Marfa music, dholak ke geet (household songs based on local Folklore), and qawwali, especially at weddings, festivals and other celebratory events. The state government organises the Golconda Music and Dance Festival, the Taramati Music Festival and the Premavathi Dance Festival to further encourage the development of music.
Films in the local Hyderabadi dialect are also produced and have been gaining popularity since 2005.The city has also hosted international film festivals such as the International Children’s Film Festival and the Hyderabad International Film Festival In 2005, Guinness World Records declared Ramoji Film City to be the world’s largest film studio
The region is well known for its Golconda and Hyderabad painting styles which are branches of Deccani painting. Developed during the 16th century, the Golconda style is a native style blending foreign techniques and bears some similarity to the Vijayanagara paintings of neighbouring Mysore. Significant use of luminous gold and white colours is generally found in the Golconda style. The Hyderabad style originated in the 17th century under the Nizams. Highly influenced by Mughal painting, this style makes use of bright colours and mostly depicts regional landscape, culture, costumes and jewellery.
Cuisine Hyderabadi cuisine comprises a broad repertoire of rice, wheat and meat dishes and theskilled use of various spices. Hyderabadi biryani and Hyderabadi haleem, with their blend of Mughlai and Arab cuisines,have become iconic dishes of India. Hyderabadi cuisine is highly influenced by Mughlai and to some extent by French, Arabic, Turkish, Iranian and native Telugu and Marathwada cuisines. Other popular native dishes include nihari, chakna, baghara baingan and the desserts qubani ka meetha, double ka meetha and kaddu ki kheer (a sweet porridge made with sweet gourd).