Technology is reshaping India’s new Telangana state and redefining its capital Hyderabad as India’s new cultural epicentre.
South India has culturally and commercially thrived as a result of globalisation. Its attractiveness to leisure and business travelers is at new heights and Hyderabad with it’s ancient Indo-Islamic heritage has much to showcase. Writer Sonia Komaravalli, takes a closer look at luxury accommodation option, Taj Krishna, the perfect base from which to explore this spectacular city.
Deep within the hubbub of Hyderabad lies the majestic Taj Krishna Hotel. Surrounded by lush fragrant gardens and filled with polite professional staff, the hotel embraces the rapid technological class progression of the newly badged Telangana state, while staying true to it’s deep Indian roots. Marble corridors, female staff wrapped in beautiful deep red patterned saris and a luxurious water feature defining the lobby are all Taj Hotel trademarks. The iconic Taj Hotels brand was affixed to this luxurious hotel (owned by GVK) in the early 2000s and it subsequently entered the world’s elite hotel list in 2004 alongside many of Taj’s other world-class hotels (think Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai and the romantic Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur).
To understand the beauty of the Taj Krishna, it’s best to understand its context. Firstly the history, Hyderabad has a rich and diverse past. For two centuries it was ruled by the incredibly wealthy Nizams who had about billion dollars of jewels and another $200 million of gold and silver bullion. At its peak, Hyderabad was one of the grandest cities in India and one of the richest. Indo-Islamic architecture in buildings such as the Chowmahalla Palace and the Taj Falaknuma Palace were made even more magnificent with rich textiles, mosaics, antiques, detailed artworks, sculptures and bespoke furnishings.
The opulence of the city eclipsed all the smaller Rajput kingdoms (somewhat mistakenly included in India’s must see itineraries instead of Hyderabad). In his book, White Mughals, William Dalrymple explores Hyderabad’s seductive appeal. He was struck by Hyderabad’s many layers, particularly its people, its heritage and its economy. Like the veiled woman, her many charms are visible only to those that appreciate discovery and depth. He chronicled the British East India Company’s arrival in Hyderabad (one of world’s first corporate invasions). Today, the Hyderabadi workforce is employed by corporate giants like American Express and Citibank. Their human capital investment has enabled the transformation of Hyderabad from the City of Pearls (a trading centre for pearls and diamonds) to Cyberabad (a trading centre for data and software engineering).
Add to this vivid backdrop the Taj dynasty story. Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, known as the father of Indian Industrialisation and founder of the Tata Group, opened the first Taj Hotel in 1903. Now The Tata Group is a multinational conglomerate worth billions of dollars and includes companies like Tata Steel, Tata Power, Tata Global Beverages (owners of Tetley Tea), Tata Chemicals and more. One arm of the business, Indian Hotel Company Limited owns and manages the Taj Hotels brand. Tata’s vision was to create hotels that would appeal to a global market. There are now 165 hotels and over 33,000 employees in 80 locations. The Taj brand is synonymous with quality hospitality, warmth and striking hotels that showcase Indian architectural grandeur and heritage.
So Hyderabad has found its perfect partner in Taj Hotels. With five Taj Hotels now established within the city, each with their own boutique appeal, the “unchained” hotel chain has set a high benchmark for the South Indian hotel industry.
Taj Krishna is known for it’s glamour and celebrity status. With a guest list that includes everyone from Princess Diana to the Indian Cricket Team, Taj Krishna makes everyone feel like a star. From the moment you walk in the door you are greeted with a hearty “Namaste” and a rich warm smile from staff, who then carefully adorn you with a garland called Tulsi Mala (made from basil seeds) which has medicinal benefits and will keep you safe during your stay. The 260 rooms are beautifully appointed with sweeping views of the serene Hussain Sagar Lake or the bustling cityscape. The hotel is currently renovating some of its older rooms to embed on-trend furnishings such as “smart” blinds without losing any of its traditional interior charms.
Rooms range from deluxe rooms that are as luxurious as they are economical to luxury suites that are over 100 square metres with private patio. There are also the famous Club Rooms on the upper floors that include breakfast in the Club Lounge, airport transfer (one way) and butler services. All rooms have stunning bathrooms with cosy robes and signature Taj Hotel toiletries that smell divine and have Ayurvedic properties. The furnishings are classic Indo-Islamic in style with deep red and golden hues, dark timber bedside tables, daintily embroidered linen, smart entertainment systems and tea/coffee making kitchenettes.
The Luxury Room at the Taj Krishna
If you can tear yourself away from your comfortable room, the Taj Krishna grounds, pool and cabanas and restaurants are all worth the adventure. The swimming pool is chlorine free and caters to everyone (even females can feel totally comfortable with no gawking permitted). In the balmy 30 degrees plus heat common in Hyderabad, the pool is a welcome respite.
Dine at Taj Krishna’s authentic Hyderabadi Firdaus restaurant which specializes in many of South India’s famous dishes like Nalli Gosht, Haleem, Pathar ka Gosht, Hyderabadi Khatti Dal and Khubani ka Meetha. You can also try one of the tasting menus series such as the much in demand Shahi Dawat which is a perfect sampler of legendary Hyderabadi delicacies. While there make sure you check out the amazing peacock wall painting by famed Rajasthani artist Naval Kishore. Other dining options include The Golden Dragon, a pioneer in Cantonese and Sichuan cuisines in India, Seasons Bar and Lounge which showcases one of the largest whisky collections in the country and is enlivened with performances by excellent jazz crooner, Sonia Saigal. Also experience Encounters which has an exquisite daily breakfast buffet. Don’t miss the Mysore Bonda, the freshly made Dosa or Idly. Despite the many continental offerings (think chocolate croissants, scrambled eggs and bacon) indulge in a quality South Indian breakfast first!
Taj Krishna is in a centrally located but peaceful part of Hyderabad called Banjara Hills. Within walking distance try visiting the Kalakriti Gallery, which has some fabulous contemporary exhibitions and a cool cafe. Also check out Lamakaan, an inclusive cultural space with movies, installations, lectures and an Irani cafe with great snacks. To get around, “auto” is effective, cheap and immerses you into the streets of India; cows, incessant horn blowing and the smell of roasted corn. Other key sights include the Salar Jung Museum, Laad Bazaar and Golaconda Fort.