The city of Hyderabad has a sort of duality to it that's quite typical to cities steeped in history but also rapidly modernising. At the moment there still exists an old world charm in the crowded by-lanes of the old city. The rest has given way to international brands and chains that make you feel at home no matter where it is on the globe you've travelled from. If you haven't visited the city, you better see it before it goes the way many other great cities have in the past. For now, it still offers travellers a lot to see, smell and taste in the old city while the modern parts offer the kind of comforts we've become accustomed to.
Speaking about comforts brings me to our ride for the weekend - the super comfortable Hyundai Verna. It was a great companion on the streets of Hyderabad with its super comfortable and luxurious interiors completely isolating us from the hustle and bustle of the noisy streets in the old city. The beautifully smooth and powerful 1.6 CRDi U2 diesel engine was perfect for the long, straight ring road that runs around the city. With a speed limit of 120kmph, we were really able to stretch the legs of the Verna on our way to our getaway for the weekend.
The beautiful wooden statue of Mephistopheles and Margaretta in the Salar Jung Museum represent good and evil and is a must see for art buffs
Our home away from home for the weekend was the Leonia Holistic destination. It's on the outskirts of the city and is a complete one stop destination away from home as we found out.
The luxurious suites in the Leonia Holistic Destination really do pamper the senses
There are loads of activities to keep everyone occupied, from a multi level spa with every imaginable treatment to countless activities catering to every age. There's even a multiscreen theatre playing the latest hits so you won't miss your weekend flick. But where the resort really excels is in its luxurious accommodations. Choose from either the Celestial Suites or the Lagoon Villas and you won't be disappointed. These large suites either will open out to direct pool access or feature your own private cascading waterfall and outdoor shower area. The opulent interiors feature all the luxuries you will even need, including a state of the art audio system and high definition screen. It's so good that it might just have you spending most of your time indoors watching all your favourite movies all over again.
After spending a complete day of rest and relaxation in the resort we headed back into the chaos that is the old city of Hyderabad to experience what this ancient city has to offer. As we walked through the streets, we marvelled at the ancient walls that line the road on the way to the centre of the old city and also the home of the magnificent Charminar that has become the city mascot across the globe. The streets are also home to some of the best pearl and bangle shops in the country, although this was of little interest to us. We were more interested in the source of those delicious, mouth-watering smells and so we followed our noses right up to the nearest kebab counter for some delicious mutton kebabs. The street food in the city is really to die for and we ensured we left no stone unturned. Another famous city establishment is Paradise Food Court. It's grown over the years from a single restaurant to a city-wide chain and serves authentic Hyderabadi cuisine in addition to lip smacking plates of biryani.
We then headed to the Salar Jung Museum, one of the three national museums in India and notable for being almost entirely comprising of the private collection of the Nawab Mir Yusuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III. The highlight is certainly the Veiled Rebecca, an Italian stone sculpture carved from one single piece of stone showing a woman wearing a transparent veil. Such was the artistry of sculptor G B Benzoni that it really looks like you can see the woman's face through a thin veil of stone. The Museum houses many more remarkable sculptures, weapons and paintings - it really requires the better part of a day to explore it completely.
The beautiful Leonia Resort offers a lot of activities to keep you occupied
As the sun set and we headed back to the resort via the outer ring road, we were again wowed by the brilliant new projector lamps on the Hyundai Verna. Another night in luxury awaited us back at the resort and then our weekend would be over. It was a great city to explore, capped off with the luxurious resort and an exhilarating and totally legal 120kmph drive.
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