Hyderabad has a distinct culture of its own. It is popularly termed as the “Hyderabadi Culture.” This culture emerges from the convergence of the Hindu and Muslim cultures. Two main factors that have contributed to this development have been:
- Since the times of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, the majority of the populations of the State comprised of Hindus but the rulers were Muslims.
- Hyderabad State acted as a bulwark, which sheltered South India from the turmoil it underwent due to the constant invasions.
- Under the British rule, Hyderabad was the only princely State that was allowed liberty in many spheres including maintaining its own currency.
- The capital city of Hyderabad was predominantly Muslim but with India attaining independence in 1947, the Telugu-speaking people of Andhra gained dominance.
These factors, among others, contributed to Hyderabad developing into a multi cultural society that is peculiar and unique.
One of the features of this separate identity is the local dialect that is a mix of Urdu, Marathi, Telugu, and some words from Persian, Turkish, and Arabic. The end result is that the dialect sounds different from the usual Urdu spoken in India and Pakistan and is unique only to Hyderabad
Talking about food, Hyderabadi cuisine is unique and is distinguishable from any other cuisine in India. Hyderabad’s cuisine comprises of dishes created with an elusive blending of spices. The famous local Biriyani (a dish made with rice and meat) with its distinctive aroma and taste, the Kulcha (baked bread), with a legend behind it to add romance to the flavor, Shikampur kebabs, mutton kormas and salans, tamatar-ka-kat (tomato curry) and baghare baigan (spiced brinjals), haleem (meat and pounded wheat) all carry a distinctive taste with a pronounced emphasis on fiery chili.
Desserts like sweet almond flavoured badam ka jali, exotic varieties of halwas and the elaborately prepared paan (betel leaf) make a perfect end to a spicy treat. Typical Andhra food, which is a part of the menu in most restaurants in the city, includes the delicious gongoora pachchadi (chutney), the avakai (mango pickled with mustard powder), appalams (rice bread), dals (pulses) and rasams (appetizing soup). The bakeries of Hyderabad are known throughout the country for their biscuits that are made from pure clarified butter.
The traditional clothing of the Muslims of Hyderabad has faded out to a large extent, especially among men in the metropolis. The tight collared coat-like tunic has long been replaced by a trouser and shirt. Most women, however, continue to adorn the traditional Indian dress – sari. Muslim women wear a different style of veil known as a “standing veil”.
Despite a predominantly Muslim population, Hyderabad is a city where there is an exemplary amalgamation of Hindu and Muslim cultures. Present day Hyderabad is a healthy mixture of diverse religions, castes, and creeds, which has a noticeable history of communal harmony, a claim that not many cities can boast of.
Hyderabad offers the opportunity to sample a variety of performing arts that are unique to Andhra Pradesh. Kuchipudi, a classical dance form, derives its name from a village just north of the Krishna delta. The dance form depicts Hindu epics and mythological tales through dance-dramas that combine music, dance and acting with lyrics mostly in Telugu, although Sanskrit is also used at times.
The city has a reputed background of art and crafts that are unique. Some of the world-renowned painters like M.F.Hussain have been associated with Hyderabad. The crafts include:
- Jewelry made of jet black gun metal inlaid with fine silver wire in delicate floral and geometric designs
- Appliquéd patch work skirts
- Bags and belts with sparking mirrors and tiny beads
- Lacquer ware
- Brass from Pembarthi
- Kondapalli carved toys
- Leather puppets
- Warangal carpets
Hyderabad is known as a shopper’s paradise that brings forth memories of the Nawabs who were connoisseurs of all that was associated with fine living and opulence.