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In 1590 Quli Qutub Shah started to plan ‘a replica of Paradise itself’ and Hyderabad, the pearl of the Deccan, came into being. Legend has it that Qutub Shah, the poet-king, dedicated the city to his great love, a dancing girl called Bhagmati, who later chose to be called Haider Begum after her conversion to Islam. Hyderabad became the centre of a cultural flowering known as the ‘Dakhni’ – a blending of the Hindu and Muslim traditions. The city still embodies this culture of gracious living, gourmet cooking and stylish dressing, which is visible in the lifestyles of the Nawabs of the Deccan, descendants of the Nizam whose wealth once made him the richest man in the world.

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