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Hyderabad

The twin city of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, the Capital of Andhra Pradesh combines Hindu and Islamic influences. Known in some circles as Cyberabad, this city is embracing digital technology with a fervour. Hyderabad is unique among southern cities in that Urdu is the major spoken language. As Capital to a 95% Hindu State, its population is almost 50% Muslim. An important centre of Islamic culture, it's a charming blend of the ancient and the modern, and central India's answer to the Mughal grandeur of the northern cities of Delhi, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri.

Historically, Hyderabad owes its existence to a water shortage. It was founded in the late 16th century by the Qutab Shahi dynasty, a line of rulers known for their beautiful 'monuments, mosque and mistresses'. In 1589, Mohammed Quli Qutab Shah decided to shift his capital from Golconda to the banks of river Musi. Consequently, a city adorned with magnificent palaces and mosques, embodying a style of architecture that was unique to the place - the domes and minarets dressed with splendid stucco ornamentation - was born. In 1724 taking advantage of the waning Mughal Empire the viceroy of Hyderabad Asaf Jah, declared Hyderabad as an independent State and founded his own dynasty. So begun the dynasty of the Nizams of Hyderabad, a dynasty that would, for seven generations, rule the kingdom, a dynasty whose scions would be included among the 'richest men in the world', a dynasty under which traditions and customs of Islam flourished and a dynasty under whom Hyderabad developed into a focus for arts, culture and learning and the centre of Muslim India. The Nizams held sway over Hyderabad until 1948, when the State was merged with the Indian Union.