Trekking Places near Hyderabad

July 29, 2008

Trekking used to be passion for me when I was in Bangalore. It also helped that Bangalore has so many scenic spots within 100 KM. Comparatively Hyderabad has fewer options, which are no less beautiful.

Let me start with the trekking options closer to the city..

Narsapur Forest

This forest is about 30 KM from Balanagar junction on Nizamabad/Bodhan highway.  This is a very small forest, stretching for 4-5 KM on the highway.  But is has everything, well almost, a mini-ghat section, thick forest, a hill some 4 KM inside the forest, a large lake, a good number of birds, and a lot of monkeys. This makes an ideal spot for trekking for 4-5 hours on a Saturday or Sunday.

Ananthagiri Hills

Located 75 KM from Hyderabad, just after Vikarabad, this mini hill range shrouded by thick woods is another trekking spot that can be motored down to at 100-120 KM speed. The road via chevella upto Vikarabad is flanked by beautiful grasslands and sunflower farms. Apart from “Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple” there is not much to Ananthagiri other than trekking down the hills.  APTDC is planning to build a resort here very soon.

Moving our attention to the other places in Andhra Pradesh, I feel we have quite a good number of quality trekking spots.

Srisailam

Srisailam is known more for its Mallikharjuna Swamy temple, one of the 12 jyothirlingas in India. But, Srisailam is also a beautiful place with thick forests, a large dam-cum- hydel power project  on Krishna river and a good number of waterfalls. Closer to the temple, you can visit the 512 meter-long Srisailam Dam on the River Krishna, that offers magnificent views of the ghats, cliffs and forests. You can also take a brief but exciting trip on River Krishna in an inflatable rubber “dinghy”.

Trekking lovers have 2 options –

1.       A visit to the Nagarjunsagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve that is spread over 356,000 hectares, and is the  largest tiger reserve in India. A little over 6 sq km in area, the Rollapadu grasslands near Srisailam are dotted with dry, thorny bushes and is home of about a hundred blackbucks. From a distance, one can observe families of blackbucks out on their breakfast trail, a couple of bustards gazing at the horizon while taking a tentative foot forward. At present, day visits to Rollapadu Sanctuary is permitted.

 Picture courtesy: www.flickr.com/photos/me_haridas/2265597847/

2.       Mallela Theertham –This waterfall is in the middle of dense forest. 40 KM before Srisailam, we need to take a diversion from Srisailam-Hyderabad highway and travel for 8 KM on a bumpy muddy road which is unmotorable during the rainy season. One has to walk down 350 steps to the stunning waterfalls amidst dense jungle. The water comes from a small rivulet and via this place it flows through the dense jungle and then meeting the Krishna River upstream. 

courtesy:   flickr.com/photos/99768206@N00/1257368794 

Talakona forest & waterfalls

Talakona is located in the picturesque Nagari valley, 45 kms away from Tirupati amidst verdant hills of Nallamalai range. The 60 meter perennial waterfalls is said to contain minerals that have curative properties. Talakona literally means head hill in Telugu (tala – head and kona – hill). However, Thalakona allegorically means “the head of the Seshachalam hills” as these mountains are believed to be the starting point of the Tirumala mountain ranges.  

Picture courtesy: www.chennaitrekkers.org/2008/07/talakona-june-21-22-2008_10.html

Talakona can be reached from Tirupathi, 76 KM away, or from Madanapalle (50 KM away) or Bakarapeta (nearest town, 20 KM away) by APSRTC bus or private transport.  APTDC operates a guest house in Talakona that has 12 non A/C rooms, and a very functional restaurant. APTDC also had plans for a tree-top restaurant and Machaan cottages. The Talakona waterfalls are about 45 minutes walk from the guest house. It would be great fun to trek up the hill in search of the origin of the water steam. The views from up the hill too would be breathtaking. There are a number of trek routes available in the forest, but it is advisable to take the help of trained guides who are picked up from local forest protection communities maintained by the forest department.

 Picture courtesy: http://csuvarna.sulekha.com/blog/post/2008/03/talakona-seat-of-sages.htm

Mamandur, located 20 km from Tirupati, is another trekking option available in the vicinity. There is a guesthouse here with two suites, one dormitory with 10 beds, 4 tent houses and two jungle resort double bed suites. Local Community based Eco-tourism project members are running a canteen for catering to the tourists. The spot is picturesque with panoramic view of the jungle spread over miles and miles. visitors stay here and trek downwards to reach a stream.. The tourist attractions near by include; Brahmadevunigundam waterfall, Kaliviletikona, Golladevuni gundam and Tumburu teertham, all situated in beautiful locales in Seshachalam hill ranges. Wildlife available includes spotted deers, sambar, panther, sloth bear and jungle fowls.

Horsely Hills

It’s a good idea to club the Talakona trek with a visit to Horsely Hills which is 20 KM from Madanpalle in Chittoor district. Picture courtesy: smrti.net/archives/105

Picture Courtesy: picasaweb.google.com/…/MmtBhZNEd0JWfKRXWdj9Ig

Horsely Hills has a variety of options for accommodation, incl. the forest bungalow, the P W D inspection bungalow and APTDC’s Punnami hotel. The narrow road to Horsely Hills from Madanapalle is very scenic. It is surrounded throughout its entire length with dense growths of eucalyptus, jacaranda, allamanda, and gulmohar trees. The major tourist places around Horsely hills are Lake Gangotri, Highview seeing place, Gaalibanda, Environmental park and Horsley hills Museum. This may sound a lot, but the fact is that Horsely Hills is a small, sleepy hill station where you can relax for a couple of days for dozing off in an armchair, or by taking short walks around the place, or shedding some calries in the swimming pool in the hotel.

Ananthagiri Hills, near Vizag

Ananthagiri is a breathtakingly beautiful resort sheltered in the lush undulating ranges of the Eastern Ghats.  Driving through picturesque coffee plantations the road to Ananthagiri with its ups and downs on the Ghat route is literally enveloped with mango groves, waterfalls that gush and flow into the ravines. The Eastern Ghats rail route on this stretch is one of the highest broad gauge tracks in the world. 

The journey from Visakhapatnam to Anantagiri offers unforgettable vistas ranging from thick forests to scintillating sunrise and sunset. The entire Anantagiri Hills has a lot of vintage viewpoints that offer enthralling views. Amongst the variety of flora in the forests of Anantagiri are many medicinal plants and herbs. Several swift streams flow through Anantagiri though it is the river Musi or Muchkunda that originates from Anantagiri. The Bhavanasi Lake Anantagiri is referred to as the Badrinath of the South.

Anantagiri is located of the top of the Elysian Tirumala Hills approximately 17 km from Araku valley, which is 112 kms from Visakhapatnam. Anantagiri is the located among the ranges of the Eastern Ghats at a distance of 40 km from Visakhapatnam.

Kondaveedu fort

Kondaveedu Fort is about 25 km from Guntur. It was built during the rule of the Reddy kings. Located on a hilltop, this historical fort offers around 21 structures to be seen. There are also many temples, residential structures, pillared halls and the entrance gate ways worth seeing here. The panoramic view from the summit is awe inspiring and is ideal for trekking. The Gopinatha Temple and Kathulabave at the foothill are other major attractions of Kondaveedu.

(You will find the above photos and an excellent travelogue at kunal.wordpress.com/category/travelogue/kondaveedu)

The road route from Hyderabad is via Narketpally-Miryalaguda-Piduguralla-Narsaraopeta-phirangipuram

While you are there, you may also want to visit Guttikonda bilam. 38 km from Narasaraopet town, Guthikonda caves are located amidst dense forest. The environment here is serene and legend has it that many Rishis meditated here for centuries. The place is also popularly known as Dakshina Kasi.


Lesser known tourist places in Hyderabad

July 17, 2008

 

Hyderabad is home to so many historical monuments, parks, lakes and natural rock formations that the “Top 20” tourist attractions steal the lime light completely away from the other toursit spots. In this post I would try to throw light on some of the lesser known tourist attractions. I would be grateful if any of you could add to this list (by doing so in comments section). Here we go.

 

Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Park: The park is located in Vanasthalipuram, on the outskirts of Hyderabad city on the Hyderabad- Vijayawada road. Once the Nizam’s (former Hyderabadi rulers) hunting grounds, it is now home to the beautiful black bucks with their spiral horns along with several species of birds.   

The deer park maintained by the Forest Department, has an undulating terrain, of 189 hectares dominated by acacia trees and grasslands. The park looks picturesque in the monsoon with the golden and white flowers of these trees on the lush green carpet of grass. Besides Acacias, neem, Bauhinias, Buteas ( Flame of the forest) and a variety of thorny scrub species are found in this dry scrub forest. The main species of fauna found here is the endangered Black Buck, the state animal of Andhra Pradesh. There are over 400 black bucks (Amtelope Cervicapara), about 500 Cheetals and large herds of wild boar. Several species of birds like Partridges, Quails, peacocks, Doves, pond herons, egrets, kingfishers, cormorants and birds of prey like kites, vultures etc are found here.

balckbuck

balckbuck

  

 

 

 

There are rest sheds and observation towers for viewing the animals inside the park. There are facilities available for a van ride inside the park to see the animals from close quarters for a nominal fee. The park is open every day of the week except Mondays from 9.a.m. to 5 p.m. 

 

Update: A multi-cuisine restaurant named “Peacock” will be opened at the park very soon.

 

 

Raymond’s Tomb was built in the memory of the brave French General Michel Joachim Marie Raymond (1755 – 1798 AD). Raymond’s Tomb is situated in Mussaram Bag, Malakpet. He joined as an ordinary soldier in the service of the ruling Nizam of Hyderabad. He rapidly worked his way up and soon commanded the position of an army General. Not only was he respected in the army, he was also popular among the ordinary public. He was fondly known as Musa Ram among the Hindus and Musa Rahim among the Muslims. Now you know why the place of Ramond Tomb is called Musarambagh!

The tomb is open on all days except Friday. The timings are from 9:30 am to 4:30pm. While touring the tomb, you can also head off to the French Garden, which is located nearby. It is a beautifully laid out lawn with velvety green grass and lovely flowers. You can also spot military barracks of the army that were once bustling under the command of the valiant general Raymond.

 

 

Moula-Ali Dargah: This Dargah is built on a hilltop near Moula-Ali, in North-Eastern corner of Hyderabad. The bird’s eye view of Hyderabad city from atop the Moula-Ali hill would be breathtaking. Moula-Ali dargah is unique in a sense because it does not contain the buried remains of any sufi saint like in the case of other dargahs, it was built on the site of a miracle.  According to the legend, a Muslim princess experienced a recurring dream in which she saw Hazrat Ali’s handprint on the side of a mountain.  Hazrat Ali, in case you don’t know, is son-in-law of Prophet Mohammed. After years of searching for the handprint, she finally came to the area north of Hyderabad, inquired among locals about their knowledge of such a handprint, and found the image on a rock atop the hill where the dargah was later built. BTW, this dargah is one of the 11 heritage sites identified by “Heritage conservation committee” of HUDA. To make life easy for the visitors there is a long staircase to climb up the hill to reach Dargah.


e-auction for multi-year contracts: key learnings

July 16, 2008

The other day I participated in an e-auction on behalf of my company. This was for a 100+ Million dollar multi-year contract from a “Big Pharma”. The auction was conducted on the client’s e-procurement system. I am used to placing bids on e-procurement systems in the past, that were similar to any offline bidding, i.e. placing bids in a “sealed envelop” before certain deadline. In fact, even in the present case the client has previously asked us to place such bids online by responding to their RFQ. Thereafter, they went one step ahead and asked all short listed suppliers to participate in an e-auction. All suppliers were trained on the e-auction procedures by the client’s IT rep a few days ahead of the event. So, probably it’s a first time for them too. My company came out of the auction as L1 in most of the scenarios (we are to bid on several volume- contract term scenarios for a contract manufacturing project), mainly because of the cost advantage any Indian company enjoys, and because of the low operating costs of my company in that line of products. I was forced exercise my intelligence only a couple times, and that led me to note down the key tactics for such an auction that I intended share with my colleagues in other geographies, and now with you.

 

Firstly, I feel that bidding thru an e-procurement system or an e-auction conducted by a client is heavily loaded in favour of the client. Unlike in an offline bidding system, the client is NOT legally bound to award the contract to the lowest bidder even though the supplier is legally bound to honour his bid/quote. Another disadvantage of e-bidding (of course, from the point of view of the suppliers) is that there is no visibility on the other bidders’ identities. If you know who are the other bidders, and if you know the strengths and weaknesses of each of those bidders, you can plan your bid well.

 

Coming back to the e-auction I participated in, the first key lesson is to understand that you need not exactly be L1 to win the contract eventually. Even if you are L2 or L3, you can still expect a call from the client for further negotiation if your bid/quote is very close to that of L1. The next lesson is that it is important to study and plan your tactics around the technicalities of different options available for reducing the bid in an e-auction. Well I know it sounds very cryptic but I can not elaborate on this point in less than 20 sentences J

 

The last lesson is to know that one of the other bidders (hidden, but whose bids are visible to you) could be the client’s dummy user who will try to lead the auction in certain direction……..

 

 


Summer special in Guntur

July 14, 2008

Guntur is 4th largest city in Andhra Pradesh. Well, its actually an overgrown town that pretends to be a city. But it definitely qualifies to be called as a city for the sheer size of its economy and population, and, of course, let’s not forget its contribution to Telugu literature and culture. For rest of the state the name Guntur is associated with chillies and heat. Justifiably so. While others may be looking back at that hot summer afternoon spent in Guntur with trepidation, we “Indians of Guntur Origin” recall those hot summer days with deep nostalgia.

Some of my memories of summers in Guntur are:

· Non stop cricket we used to play at “police parade grounds” through out the day (with temperature reading 48 degrees centigrade) taking breaks only for a glass of refreshing lemon soda. 15 years later, on a cloudy day in Hyderabad, I tried bowling 3 overs on the trot, and I was practically carried off the ground after collapsing with fatigue. Lesson learnt: You lose your fitness if you don’t spend at least a month every summer in Guntur.

· Watching matinee shows in theatres that barely have 1-2 ceiling fans that are in working condition. That too when 500 humans some how manage to cram into a 30’ X 20’ hall. But, it did not seem to matter in those days, especially when you are too relieved to buy a ticket after jostling near the ticket counter for 1 hour. Most memorable moment – watching matinee show of “Ben Hur” (that runs for 4 hours) in Leela Mahal (that has single asbestos sheet as its roof) on a day the temperature read 50 degrees centigrade.

· Mid night tiffins at Bombay Tea stall (in Lakshmipuram) during “combined studies” when preparing for Intermediate Exams or EAMCET.

I can go on and on like this, but I will spare you from the pain and will instead reproduce here a piece on the same subject by one of the best online writers of Guntur Origin I discovered recently.

Musing about hot sunday afternoons in Guntur, authored by Sri Kanneganti Rama Rao (www.kanneganti.com)

Thanks for the memories
” Danke Schoen, darling Danke Schoen.
Thank you for all the joy and pain.
Picture shows, second balcony, was the place we’d meet,
second seat, go Dutch treat, you were sweet.”

Turns out that those days were different. I was naive; I believed in the infallibility of youth; I even adored Tilak’s poetry. I was ever so wistful about “bhavishyadmukhangaa, sukhangaa, naDichipOyaam”

.

Those days I spent my summers in Guntur. Coming from Sowpadu, Guntur appeared to be the center of earth. Early in the morning, at 5 AM, you could wake up and lie still in the bed, and listen to the city waking up with you. The milk men, the villagers coming into town, people setting up Dosa and tea stalls, bicycles ringing bells, a stray car going on the streets — the city has its internal rhythm of waking up.

In the mornings, after the city stirs itself up, you could walk outside, say in Lakshmi puram, and see the city as an overgrown village. People from the same village live in the same neighborhood, and in the morning they get up and do the same things — tend to their livestock, clean in front of the houses, and sprinkle water to keep the dust down. I suppose we all carry some of what we leave behind (Cf: TANA and ATA conferences).

Guntur has only two seasons: hot and hotter. By the afternoon, the roads get unbearably hot. The main ring road resembles a western town at high noon — not a single soul stirring, except an occasional rickshaw passing by. The dusty streets stretching endlessly into the horizons, and the sound of wind whistling by — one could expect Gary Cooper and Krishna to duke it out on the streets.

The evening brings the cool air, whispering possibilities mixed with mystery. Just step out near to Sankar Vilas(now non-existent except as a name for a bus stop), and closeyour eyes and ears. You could feel yourself in the halcyon gardens with all the smells of flowers wafting over in the cool, humid air. But then, open your eyes and ears and prepare yourself for the cacophony of flower market, the crowded roads, and the smell of gasoline. I wonder, if they write a “prabhandam” about Guntur, would they describe the “pushpalaavikalu” of Sankar Vilas?

If you really want to find out the answer to that question you could visit Navodaya, just a stones throw away. You could browse, buy, or even borrow, if you belong to the literati of Guntur. As it happens, Guntur was famous for its writers — even Vi.Saa. was there for a while. Koku, being from Tenali, immortalized Guntur in several of his books.

If you are not into books, you could hang out with people. You see them in every street, each group staking out their own corner. You could talk politics endlessly, or better yet talk about the other groups hanging around other corners. If you are inclined, you could hang around the medical college canteen with people dreaming of Mass. general hospitals.

Of course, you could always go to movies. You could go early and get two tickets. If you are lucky, your eager wait at the movie hall is rewarded with the glimpse of anxious ankle getting down from the bus. Possibly, you may even see a shy conspitorial smile. You should avert your eyes from the carelessly exposed mid rift because of that cool breeze. The sweet smell of jasmine, coconut oil, cinthol soap, and perspiration may even take your breath away. But you all are from respectful families. You keep respectful distance. If the fingers touch in a brief exciting moment of exchange of money, it is a mere accident. Once on the second balcony, next to each other gazing at the gyrations of geriatric actors, what would you talk anyway? If you are young and artless you could talk of Tilak. May be you could listen to Koku and at least take her a brooch as a gift. Or, in jaded sensitivity, you could talk of “Prufock”. Or, you could look into the heart of silence.

Years later, may be you would feel thankful for the mere memories.

“Danke Schoen, darling Danke Schoen.

Thank you for seeing me again.

Though we go, on our separate ways,

still the memory stays, for always,

my heart says, Danke Schoen”


Weekend getaways from Hyderabad – Part 3

July 11, 2008

Concluding my posts on this topic, the following are the tourist spots that will take more than a weekend to visit, but are highly recommended if you are truly interested in exploring this part of the country: 

 

·      Srisailam, Mahanandi, Mantralayam and Ahobilam: I have clubbed these places together because one can plan to visit these places in single trip spanning 2-3 days. Srisailam is one of Jyothirlingas in India. It is some 250 KM from Hyderabad. Srisailam is also one of the most naturally beautiful lolcations in Andhra Pradesh. The drive from Hyderabad thru thick forest and hills would be very enjoyable. Apart from the temple, one can also visit the dam (on Krishna River) that abuts a huge Hydel power project. Mahanandi is about 120 KM south of Srisailam. Mahanandi is surrounded by Nallamala forests. About 15 km radius from Mahanandi, you can see nine Nandis known as “Navanandis” and Mahanandi is one of the Nava Nandis. From here, you have to travel southeast for about 65 KM to reach Ahobilam which another beautiful temple (Lord Narasimha) located on a hill in thick forests. Ahobilam is one of the 106 Divya Desams. From Ahobilam, you can return to Hyderabad (~380 KM) via Nadyal, Kurnool and Jedcherla. Or, you can travel to Mantralyam, some 160 KM to the west, to visit the temple/Mutt of Guru Raghavendra Swamy. The temple and “Mutt” complex is the main attraction here. Behind the temple the Tungabhadra river flows, if the rains are good in that year, which is also worth seeing. From Mantralayam, you can return to Hyderabad (~360 KM) via Raichur and Jedcherla.

 

·     Konaseema (in East and West Godavari districts): Konaseema area in Godavari delta is famous for its lush green paddy fields, coconut groves and, of course, its back waters. The major tourist attractions here are – 1) the Boat cruise that starts at Dindi  (near Narsapur/Palakollu) which also houses a brand new APTDC guest house and some private guest houses, 2) boat ride up to papikondalu (a hill range located between Bhadrachalam and Rajahmundry, through which river Godavari flows) from pattiseema near Rajahmundry, and 3) a host of temples near Amalapuram/Kakinada (Ainavilli, Muktheswaram, Muramalla, Draksharama, Kotipalli, G.Mamidada, Biccavolu, Pavivela, Mandapalli, Ryali, Vanapalli, Appanapalli, Antarvedi). Narsapur, Rajahmundry and Kakinada are accessible by train also. But I would rather you drive down to those places enjoying the greener parts of Krishna and Godavari districts. Decent hotels are available in Bhimavaram (near Narsapur), Rajahmundry and Kakinada, but at the other places you will have to make do with Panchayati Raj or forest guesthouse.

 

 

·      Visakhapatnam, Annavaram, Araku, Bheemili: Visakhapatnam is the most beautiful place in Andhra Pradesh, period. Within the city you have places like Simhachalam (Appala Narasimhaswamy temple), Kailasa Giri – beautifully landscaped hill that gives a panoramic view of Vizag city, Gangavaram beach (abutting Vizag Steel Plant) where many Telugu/Tamil/Hindi movies were shot, and, of course, the famous beach road that stretches up to Rishikonda (where a lot of resorts are under construction) that is the site of Kali Temple, Naval Museum and Dolphin Nose (a view point). The city tour can be completed in a day. You need one full day for driving down to Annavaram (Sathyanarayana Swamy Temple) and return by evening. Then you need one full day for visiting Araku valley, with stopovers at Borra Caves and Tyda. Bheemili a.k.a. Bheemunipatnam is a small Dutch settlement 25 KM from Vizag. Its beach is very safe for swimming. The other sights of interest at Bheemili are Old Dutch fort, Church, Cemetery and Light House.

 

     Bijapur-Badami-Pattadakal-Aihole-Hampi: This essentially is a trip for history lovers. We go thru the ruins of the capital cities/ temple cities built by Adil Shah dynasty (one of the 4 Bahamani sultanates), Chalukyans, and the great Vijayanagar Kings. Bijapur has many historical attractions, mainly related to Islamic architecture, such as Gol Gumbaz, Ibrahim Rauza, Asar mahal, Gagan Mahal, etc. The drive from Hyderabad to Bijapur is 400 KM (try to stop over at “Café Ethnic” near Zahirabad, a unique restaurant that prepares a lot of dishes by using only millets). After overnight stay, the following day would be entirely consumed by sightseeing in Bijapur. Bijapur has decent options for accommodation. The next day, we travel to Badami, the regal capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. It is famous for rock cut and other structural temples. The rock-cut Badami Cave Temples were sculpted mostly between the 6th and 8th centuries. The four cave temples represent the secular nature of the rulers then, with tolerance and a religious following that inclines towards Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Do you know that “Barso re” song in the film Guru was shot in Badami? From Badami we travel to Pattadakal, which is 22 km way. Pattadakal is the capital of the Chalukya dynasty of Southern India, who built the temples in the seventh and eighth centuries. There are ten temples including a Jain sanctuary surrounded by numerous small shrines and plinths. Four temples were built in Dravidian style, four in nagara style of Northern India and the Papanatha temple in mixed style. Remember, Pattadakal is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites, no less. We then travel to Aihole, which  was the first capital of the early Chalukyas. Here they built over 125 temples in various styles and is said to be a laboratory of experiments in rock cut architecture. Visit Badami’s cave temples in the morning and visit Pattadakal and Aihole in the afternoon/evening, and stay overnight at Badami/Bagalkot. Next day we travel to Hampi, a drive of 150 KM, and take in some sights in the afternoon, and go to Hospet for overnight stay. We continue the sightseeing in Hampi next day too. Hampi is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Vast stretches of boulder-strewn hills make the backdrop of Hampi unique. Dotted around the hills and valleys are 500 plus monuments. Among them are beautiful temples, basement of palaces, remains of aquatic structures, ancient market streets, royal pavilions, bastions, royal platforms, treasury buildings.., the list is practically endless. The return to Hyderabad, a drive of 350 KM, is via Gangawati, Raichur and Jedcherla.


Weekend getaways from Hyderabad – part 2

July 11, 2008

In continuation of the last post on the same topic, the following are the tourist spots that can be done from Hyderabad in 2 days:

·         Tirupathi and Srikalahasti: Abodes of Lord Venkateswara and Lord Shiva respectively, they are some 600 KM away from Hyderabad. Srikalahasti is a major shaivite temple, and is located 30 KM from Tirupathi. The best route to reach Tirupathi by road is via Narketpally, Miryalaguda, Addanki, Ongole, Nellore and Nayudupeta. This way you can avoid thick traffic on some parts of Hyderabad-Vijayawada and Vijayawada-Chennai routes. Decent accommodation is available in Tirupathi and Tirumala (hilltop).

 

·         Srisailam: Srisailam is one of Jyothirlingas in India. It is some 250 KM from Hyderabad. Srisailam is also one of the most naturally beautiful locations in Andhra Pradesh. The drive from Hyderabad thru thick forest and hills would be very enjoyable. Apart from the temple, one can also visit the dam (on Krishna River) that abuts a huge Hydel power project.  Decent accommodation is available in Srisailam in private guesthouses or APTDC guesthouse.

 

·         Vijayawada (Kanaka Durga temple) and Mangalagiri (Narasimha Swamy temple) located on banks of river Krishna – 270 KM from Hyderabad. The other sightseeing options available at Vijayawada are – Undavalli caves (built in 420 AD), APTDC resort on Bhavani Island, on River Krishna abutting Vijayawada city. Accommodation for all budgets is available in Vijayawada.

 

·         Amaravati (Shaivite and Buddhist center): Though it is a historically important place, being the capital of Satavahanas who ruled most of south India and Deccan between 2nd century BC and 3rd AD, this place is known more as one of the largest excavation sites of Buddhist heritage in India. Lord Buddha preached at Dharanikota/Dhanyakatakam and conducted Kalachakra ceremony, which takes the antiquity of Amaravati back to 500 BC. Some of the finds from the excavation are preserved a museum here. Amaralingeswara Swamy temple is a major shaivite center. Amaravati is immortalized by a compilation of short stories called Amaravathi Kathalu (that was later made into a Hindi tele-serial) and many Telugu films (most notably Saptapadhi by K.Viswanath). One can reach Amaravathi via Narketpally, Miryalaguda and Guntur. As there are no decent hotels in Amaravathi, one can stay at Guntur (30 KM away) where accommodation for all budgets is available.

 

·         Warangal-Hanamkonda: Warangal was the capital of the Kakatiya dynasty which ruled most of present day Andhra Pradesh from the 12th to the 14th centuries. The Kakatiyas left many monuments, including an impressive fortress, four massive stone gateways, the Swayambhu temple dedicated to Shiva, and the Ramappa temple situated near Ramappa Lake. Warangal is also the home of my alma mater – REC, Warangal (now rechristened as NIT, Warangal) J. The major sights in Warangal are Thousand Pillar Temple (built by Kakatiyas), Bhadrakali Temple (near a huge lake with boating options), the Kakatiya fort, and Ramappa temple near palampet village (77 KM from Warangal). The drive to Warangal from Hyderabad, via Bhongir, is very conveniently short (2.5 Hrs), and decent accommodation is available in hotels in Hanamkonda and Warangal.

 

·         Medak, Pocharam Dam, Nizam Sagar Dam: Medak is a town 100 KM from Hyderabad. The church at Medak is built in Gothic style and is considered to be the largest in Asia. Medak also has a small fort on a hillock. 15 KM from Medak is Pocharam Lake with a dam, and Pocharam Wild life sanctuary which used to be a hunting ground for the Nizam. Nizam Sagar dam, 50 KM from Medak, was constructed across the Manjira River, a tributary of the Godavari River. The site is noted for its splendid scenic beauty. The most outstanding feature of the project is the gigantic masonry dam sprawling across the river for 3 km with a motorable road of 14ft width over it. The nearby Manjira wildlife & bird sanctuary comprises of nine small islands which are home to a number of resident and migratory birds in addition to Marsh Crocodiles and Muggers.

 

·         Suryalanka: This is a beautiful beach that has become popular recently with the weekend crowds from Hyderabad and nearby cities. This flat beach has a gradual slope with a wide shore. APTDC has built a few AC cottages that are just 50 yards from the undulating waves. One can reach Suryalanka via Narketpally-Miryalagua-Guntur-Bapatla. While you are there you may also want to visit vadarevu beach near chirala which is quite beautiful and quiet.

 

·         Faraharabad: It has a wild life resort nestled in Nallamala hills on Hyderabad-Srisailam route. In February 2004 Naxalites had blasted a dozen ethnic cottages with plush interiors and a hanging restaurant that presented a panoramic view of the area and a huge structure here. APTDC has revived the resort with the help of local tribal mean who will oversee the operation of the cottages. The spot is an eco-paradise, rich in flora and fauna, including tiger, neelgai, sambar and spotted deer.

 

      Belum caves and Alampur: Belum Caves is 320 KM from Hyderabad, located on Kurnool-Nadyal road. It is the largest cave system in the plains of India. The underground caves are located on a flat agricultural field, have 3 well like cavities with the centre one being the main entrance to the caves. Stalactite and stalagmite formations are the main attraction apart from the fascinating colour illumination. This bagged the award for the “unique Eco – Tourism Project” by Government of India. There is just an APTDC-operated dormitory in the viscinity and the food available in local canteen is paltry. Hence, one has return to Kurnool for overnight stay, if you are planning to extend this trip by visiting Alampur (near Kurnool) that is home to the very ancient Navabhramma temples dating back to the 7th century. The Nava Bhramma temples were built by the Badami Chalukyas, who ruled for about 200 years from the middle of the sixth century onwards. The Badami Chalukyas built several temples in Karnataka, and the Alampur temples in Andhra Pradesh.


Imported a few old posts from blogger

July 10, 2008

Back in 2005 I got excited by the idea of blogging, and started a blog where I wanted my self and a few classmates of mine (from RECW) to blog on a regular basis. I thought that would also help us stay connected with each other, considering that we are uniformly distributed in India and US. Alas, it did not turn out that way because the others did not bother to post. Slowly I too lost interest until it was rekindled in recent months.

I have imported the posts from my other blog into this. You will find that most of those posts are in a carefree tone, and on topics that were close to our hearts (i.e. my classmates’) when we were in college.