It is wise to get to know the culture and festivals in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh before you get on the plane that will take you to the city. The colours of Hyderabad, even more than in the rest of India, run the full gamut of the cultural rainbow. This is a place with rich history, and indeed, it was recently named the Best Heritage City in the India by the Tourism Ministry. While that accolade also generated quite a bit of debate in the country regarding whether or not the city deserved top rank in that evaluation—debate encouraged by the presence of cities such as Delhi, Udaipur, and Jaipur in the list of other candidates—no one is denying that it nevertheless deserves to be among the choices for that award. The site of Chowmahalla and Golkonda Fort, it is also the seat of Tollywood, as well as one of main nerve centres for the spreading IT industry.
The first thing to note is that Hyderabad is a fairly developed metropolis, as well as one that comes into regular contact with people from other places. This means that there is sufficient modernity here to warrant your expectations of all the amenities of the modern world. You shall also find people wearing the traditional Indian garb amidst clothes closer to the modern Western styles. That having been said, keep in mind that conservative forces still exert sufficient pull on the local culture for you to be better off erring on the conservative side of the behavioural spectrum. In other words, do not be too outrageous in your actions, dress, or attitude.
As in the rest of India, Hyderabad boasts of a good array of festivals for those seeking local festivities to experience. It helps with the diversity that the city has several religions, in fact. Lumbini, for instance, is celebrated here because of the Buddhist roots of the region; Moharrum is celebrated as a result of the Muslim heritage of the city; Vinayak Chaturthi is celebrated so famously here that Hussain Sagar Lake has long been associated with the submersion of Vinayak’s (Ganesh’s) idols. The typical Indian festivals are celebrated too, such as Diwali.
There are still many things that the culture and festivals in Hyderabad share with those of the rest of the country, and it pays to remember that. For example, travellers are advised to remember their basic Indian etiquette and customs, including the custom of removing footwear when about to enter someone else’s abode. In the absence of any indication saying you may keep your shoes on, it is best to assume that you may not. You should also avoid acting like one of the “tourists of the world” by simply snapping photos of everything you see, especially when the frame shall include people: most Indians take exception to this sort of casual assumption of permission. Basically, just remember to be as polite as possible, since being too polite is something that no one shall ever be able to scold you for anyway.