Inexpensive bars and dhabas in Hyderabad

September 13, 2008

 

This post is exclusively for the benefit of Hyderabadis who love their malt or pint. In the past 4-5 years I could not help but notice the steep rise in the liquor rates in all the Bars and Pubs in Hyderabad, and more so in so called “Cyberabad” area of Ameerpet, Panjagutta, Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills, Madhapur and Gachibowli. Agreed that the cost of living in general has increased steeply in Hyderabad in last few years. That still does not justify 3 to 20 times premium that these bars and pubs charge over wine shop prices. A.P. government apparently makes Rs. 30,000 crores per year from the license fees, excise tax and sales tax collections from the wine shops and bars in the state. The bars and pubs in Hyderabad are also doing their bit to complete this loot of poor drinkers.

 

Any ways, I for one never liked to spend large sums on drinking, especially if that means shelling out a few thousands of rupees for a night’s drinks.  I would rather spend that money on my family or on charity. For this reason I have stayed away from the up-market pubs or bars in the last 4 years (thank god I visited all those pubs in B’Hills and Green Lands before they became expensive). Because I drink at least 3 days per week, I have identified a few inexpensive places in the areas I or my friends live in.  Of course, nothing beats “binge drinking” at your home with your friends, when your wife is out of town J

 

Before I list out the inexpensive bars and dhabas that I frequent, time for some trivia. Do you know the name of bar at the Army Golf course in Bollarum? It is called 19th hole (because it is the watering hole you go to after finishing with the 18-hole golf course)

 

Ameerpet Area:

 

Bar One – clean and decent ambience, quick service and large seating area. A large peg of Blenders Pride costs Rs. 80, a regular sized KF beer costs Rs. 75

 

Pujitha Bar near Sanath Nagar Bus stand – simple ambience, reasonable service and large seating area. A large peg of Blenders Pride costs ~Rs. 85, a regular sized KF beer costs Rs. 75

 

Kukatpally/Miyapur Area:

 

Temptations Bar – simple ambience, reasonable service and large seating area. A large peg of Blenders Pride costs ~Rs. 80, a regular sized KF beer costs Rs. 70

 

Sarovar bhaba located on Miyapur-Bachupally road. Simple ambience and good food. Non veg snacks/curries cost Rs. 80-90 per plate, the veg ones Rs. 40-50 per plate. You, of course, bring your own booze.

 

Hamsafar Dhaba – near Bahadurpally junction on Nizamabad/bodhan road, very close to Satyam Technology Center (STC). Simple ambience, large seating area and good food. Non veg snacks/curries cost Rs. 80-90 per plate, the veg ones Rs. 40-50 per plate. Their biryani is yummy. You, of course, bring your own booze.

 

Secunderabad/ Bowenpally Area:

 

Palate Tulips Bar near Apollo-Vikrampuri – decent ambience, reasonable service and large seating area. A large peg of Blenders Pride costs ~Rs. 85, a regular sized KF beer costs Rs. 75

Gurmeet Bar, Diamond point – simple ambience, reasonable service and large seating area. A large peg of Blenders Pride costs ~Rs. 85, a regular sized KF beer costs Rs. 70

 

Bar One, at Tadbund and Suchitra Jn. (off Medchal Road) – clean and decent ambience, quick service and large seating area. A large peg of Blenders Pride costs Rs. 80, a regular sized KF beer costs Rs. 75

 

Basera Dhaba and Classic Bhaba, Medchal highway – Among the best on Medchal highway for quick service. I found the bigger ones (such as Sony Dhaba) to be very slow on service. The food and the prices, in my view, are similar in all dhabas located on Medchal highway. Non veg snacks/curries cost Rs. 140-160 per plate, the veg ones Rs. 80-90 per plate. You, of course, bring your own booze.

 

A.S.Rao Nagar

 

Regale bar – Though the pricing is similar to other bars in the area, this one is by far the best in terms of food and ambience. A large peg of Blenders Pride costs Rs. 100, a regular sized KF beer costs Rs. 80

 

Suraj Biryani point, in Moula-Ali Housing Board Colony – Try this out when you have a few friends with you: order for a jumbo mutton biryani here, and while he prepares the table for you (which takes 15-20 minutes) hop over to the wine shop next door, buy some beers, finish them in a large seating area behind the wine shop, and return to Suraj to dig into piping hot mutton biryani. Trust me this is a good package..

 

The list looks smaller than what I expected when I started this blog post. May be I should drink more often and visit more places J

 

Update:

Few more additions to the list, coutesy www.team-bhp.com

  • Blue King Bar, Sudarshan theater complex, RTC X Rd
    Maharaja Bar,  
    Paradise center, Sec’bad
  • Madhushala, next to haiking in Hyderguda : King of cheap and great food. Blenders Pride 1 Peg is 100 Bucks and you order 2, third is free. So effectively it is Rs.66/Peg
  • Little Hearts,  a Punjabi run bar which is bang opposite to Haiking in Hyderguda. Good Food and cheap booze
  • Gokul, Kacheguda, opp to old prabhat theatre
  • Host, at Daimond point, Sikh village, not very cheap, but amazing food and “Best Biryani in a Bar”.
  • Golden Deer , Ranigunj: before the bridge after crossing the tank bund road. Great Biryani and second best sambhar rice ( next to only Mega City, Basheerbagh)
  • Sudharshan Bar & Resturant, Naryanguda Crossroads. Great food and booze. 

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.


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.


What a month!!

July 6, 2008

Good to be back, after staying off the blog through out June. Noticed that the blog registered a good no. of hits, considering the baseline, because of the post on a popular topic like “weekend getaways from Hyderabad”. Though June was a non-event as far as my blogging is considered, it was a great month for me on personal front.

I have quit my current job that is by far the most disappointing assignment in my entire career. I will be moving back to the firm I shouldn’t have left in the first place. Like always there are a few lessons to be learnt from the traumatic 15 months I spent at my current job.

  • It is very important to understand what you really want out of your job. That helps you decide whether you should start looking out (from your current job) or whether you should accept that seemingly fabulous offer you received yesterday. What do people want in a job? It could be money and more money, or it could be money+recognition, or it could be money+great work place, or it could be an opportunity to gain exposure to a technology or function that could be very rewarding in future, or it could be just getting an opportunity to work on something you are passionate about. In my case I accepted my current job because I saw it as a great opportunity to gain exposure to many other areas of the industry I belong to.  What I did not bargain for was losing a great work place, a professionally challenging environment, and my favourite role viz. Business Development. Luckily my old firm welcomed me back wholeheartedly, but not many people could be as fortunate. Therefore, my advice to all those hi-fliers is to ensure that you don’t lose the goodies you already have when you set off in pursuit of a new thing.
  • Self-confidence. When you have it you can take on the world, you can take any no. of difficulties in your stride, but remember you can lose it too. Yes, very few people, if at all, can retain their self-confidence in the face of successive failures. And when you lose self-confidence you will slowly lose or start doubting in your abilities that have once made you very successful.  Therefore never doubt your abilities, I would rather you overestimate your abilities than underestimate them. The world loves confident, successful people, but please spare a thought for those among your near and dear whose confidence is on a low. You don’t have to provide any matrial help to them, just remind them about the good qualities they have and the successes they had in the past, and thereby inject a dose of confidence. It will work wonders for them.

The second good news is that I have quit smoking. I began smoking when I was in engineering college, and have since tried a few times to quit. But, it never lasted beyond a week. This time it just happened without any advance planning. There are many days when I stayed off cigarette when I spent the whole day at home. I am not a heavy smoker, but I smoke at least 1-2 cigarettes a day when I am having a regular day (i.e. office, meeting friends, going out, etc.), the quantity goes up when I booze. So, on June 4 when I realized that I have not smoked at all the previous day in spite of it being a regular day, I just thought let me give it serious try this time. What I did differently this time was browsing internet and reading up the ills of smoking all over again (most of us any way know these facts), and more importantly the tips on how to encounter the urge during the initial few weeks. This really helped. The toughest urge would be the sense of loss (as if you have lost a long standing friend) just when you have successfully resisted the nicotine withdrawal symptoms in first 2 weeks. That sense of loss will be so acute that you will feel it is really not worth it if you have to forego all those sweet memories associated with your dear friend (who else, the cigarette). The second toughest urge would come when you booze and let your guard down. The final and everlasting danger would be the complacency you develop when you stayed off the cigarette for more than 6 months. You will feel that quitting was actually easier than you imagined and that you can do it any time you want. But if you know that very few people successfully quit smoking second time around, you will not let the complacency creep in.

Another good thing that happened to me in June was my wife getting a job as mentor/teacher in the school my little son is studying 1st grade. That makes life easy for both of them. Now that all three of us spending the entire day in our respective office/school, we are even more keen to spend quality time together in the evenings and during the weekends.

2 more additions to the reasons why I love Sainikpuri /A.S.Rao Nagar locality so much:

  1. HUDA has thrown open a new park in Sainikpuri, in the lane next to Poulomi hospitals. The park has a tot lot, walking track, and a lot of greenery.
  2. The 6th and latest branch of McDonalds in Hyderabad was inaugurated in A.S. Rao Nagar. This is also McD’s first drive-thru restaurant in India (?). It also has a large seating area in the first floor. I am loving it.

Weekend getaways from Hyderabad – Part 1

May 16, 2008

Deciding on the title of this post was the easy part, defining a weekend getaway was not. Should it be a place that has so many sights that you need to spend at least 1.5 days over there. Or, should it be a place far enough from Hyderabad that requires you to stay overnight? Warangal falls in the first category and Amaravati falls in the second category. In the end, I have decided to list both types in 2-day weekend trip category. The other categories could be the places you drive down from Hyderabad and return on the same day, and the clusters of places in the Andhra Pradesh/ South India that you may want do in a 3 or 4 or 5 day trip from Hyderabad.

Also, considering the tremendous interest of netizens in such information, I have decided to make it more elaborate, and spread it over 2/3 posts for easy reading. In this post I will talk about the places that can be done in a single day from Hyderabad.

  • Nagarjuana Sagar: A drive of 160 KM from Hyderabad on an uncluttered road. The sightseeing options are Dam, Ethipothala waterfalls, and boat cruise to Buddhist museum. APTDC-run Vijayavihar (guest house & restaurant) offers a beautiful view of the dam and good for overnight stay.

Views of Ethipotala waterfalls

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  • Ananathgiri Hills (near Vikarabad) – 60 KM from Hyderabad. The hills offer good view of the valley and trees, and not much else.
  • Nasrapur forest (on Medak highway) – 35 KM from Hyderabad on Nizamabad Highway. Good for bird watching and trekking. It also has a lake.
  • Shameerpet lake & deer Park  – 30 KM from Hyderabad. APTDC operates a guesthouse here. The sights are, of course, the lake and deer park.
  • Vemulawada near Karimnagar (Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy Temple) – 150 KM from Hyderabad
  • Yadagirigutta (Narasimha Swamy temple) – 60 KM from Hyderabad
  • Basar (Saraswathy temple) – 200 KM from Hyderabad
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Resorts/fun worlds near Hyderabad:

  • Near Gandipet Lake: Ocean Park, Dream Valley, Pragathi Resorts and several others
  • Vijayawada highway: Ramoji Film City and Mount Opera
  • Karimnagar highway: Alankrita Resorts and Leonia Holistic Resorts
  • Warangal highway: Srinidhi Resorts
  • Near Bhanur: Lahari Resorts