This blog post is about our travel to Hyderabad in Dec 2015
That year December arrived and we were busy assessing if we could do our winter ‘routine’. It is always difficult to execute a new trip. Couple of reasons, first the money crunch as always (:P) and secondly the uncertainty about getting those long leaves from work. As difficult and complicated as the job search process, we started zooming in on locations that could suit our pocket and the TASTE. After assessing loads of locations, the conclusion was made that this trip has to be different and we made it different (from our road-trip routine) by choosing to travel by Indian rail. Without losing a moment further I hopped on the IRCTC mobile app and to our surprise got the return tickets booked in Shatabdi express to Hyderabad. Shatabdi is one of the finest trains to be on Indian tracks. Frankly, we were more excited about getting delicious meals on wheels in Shatabdi.
The train journey to Hyderabad was a fantastic experience. We reached in time for lunch and activated our travel mode. We decided to step out of the hotel in the evening and visit the Hussain Sagar lake. The lake also has a beautiful, tall Buddha statue in the middle. Hussain Sagar approximately occupies about 5-6 sq km area in heart of the city. After taking a walk across the lake we reached Lumbini Park. Paying entry ticket on Rs. 10 was not a pain at all but seeing people loitering around by merely paying Rs.10 was really painful. Local authorities and Government seem to take a lot of efforts to keep the facilities at its best, and then unfortunately people do not value it. Being a Sunday, the park was full and had a long queue for special attractions like ferry trip to the great Buddha statue and the laser show. The queue for Laser show was frightening and hence we decided to step out of the park. We took a little walk around the big square. It was bustling with vehicles and people around.
We booked an Uber cab next morning, which arrived exactly on time and headed towards SalarJung Museum situated in Afzalgunj. The entry ticket was Rs. 20 PP and Rs. 50 for our camera. The small mistake we made was to carry a backpack, which is not allowed to carry inside, almost at every tourist point in Hyderabad. This museum is World’s largest one man art collection and home for the famous Musical clock. There are 38 galleries in the Museum spread over in three buildings viz., Central Block, Eastern Block and Western Block. A huge museum and galleries like Indian, Eastern and Western, truly worth a watch. The musical clock, we felt was over hyped and has shows every hour. There is seating arrangement for about 100-150 odd people to sit in front of the musical clock to enjoy the show.
After a very good show at Salarjung Museum, we took a 1000-1500 meter walk towards most awaited Charminar (Four Towers). Charminar is located in a busy and bustling area of Hyderabad. We did not miss an opportunity to click Charminar from every possible angle. The view of Charminar from a distance was equally appealing. About 30-45 minutes were good enough to capture best possible shots and storing the beauty in our hearts. Anyways it was difficult to get on the top of Charminar with hundreds of people already enjoying the view.
We then pulled out our smartphones for getting directions for Chowmahalla Palace, a lesser know place for many tourists which may be due to expensive entry tickets. About 1500m walk and we were there. As I said very few people were around. We paid Rs. 150 in total for the 2 of us and a camera, our best friend. The Mahal has a clean restroom and a café at the entry, very much needed for all the footwork we did. The palace was built over 200 years ago and is renowned for its unique style and elegance. The Darabar Hall, courtyard and vintage car collection were few coolest attractions of the palace. Indeed a place not be missed. The chandelier in Darbar Hall was my personal favourite, shining bright and elegant.
The sun was yet to set and we were yet to be exhausted. The GPS once again was on our handsets and this time the journey was 1400m approximately. Our feet very in unison and marching through narrow gullies of Hyderabad. The red dot on GPS said we arrived our destination “Purani Haveli” (sounds a little scary), but the Purani Haveli was nowhere to be seen. Determined we, walked past the red dot and got onto an Auto Rickshaw to find the exact location. After passing through 2 small gullys, we were at the Purani Haveli and were rushing towards the entrance, as it was almost 16:30. The Nizam museum, closes at 17:00, showcases the gifts that the last Nizam of Hyderabad state received on his silver jubilee celebrations. The museum was a bit pricey, had to pay about Rs. 390 for 2 entry tickets and a camera. The museum had awesome collection of artifacts made from Silver and gold with diamond studding on a few. What we found most exciting was the walking wardrobe, truly a concept. Other than the museum, there was hardly any time to discover the other parts of Purani Haveli, but trust me museum was almost all of it.
It was time for some snacks after the day of foot parade. We then decided to head straight to the famous ‘PARADISE’ biryani. Everyone who previously had been to Hyderabad was behind us to eat at Paradise as early as we can. We had a feast of Chicken Tandoori, Biryani and Double Meetha in dessert. With tummies full and aching legs, it was time for heading back to the hotel. Quick planning was done and it was decided that the next day belonged to Ramoji film city.
The pick up bus from Ramoji film city arrived exactly at 08:15 near Paradise Bakery in Begumpet. We boarded the bus and the 1 hr 30 min journey began. At 2000 acres, Ramoji Film city is the largest integrated film city in the world. I am sure all of us have seen a glimpse of it through several Bollywood movies. Rs. 1000 PP entry ticket sounds too much at the beginning, but you hardly take any time to feel it’s worth the more. With absolutely clean and well-maintained premise in addition to ample entertaining shows and rides for all, I doubt if anyone says it’s a boring place to be. Laudable efforts to make something as better as global standards, kudos to the team.
Shows at the film city were unique, the parks were clean as mirrors, staff was helpful and facilities were extremely pleasing. The winter fest had some added attractions as Light show, Parade and Illumination at several parks. I am sure of seeing such a beautiful illumination for the first time on such a large scale. The day was completely adventurous and full of activities. We started our return journey to the city at 20:30. The road was equally long this time. Energies were almost depleted. It was time to hit the bed for another long day ahead.
Next day, we reached Birla temple, pretty close to Lumbini park and spent about an hour at the temple. It was serene and the view from the top made it rather better.
Mobile phones were out for getting the path for next destination, the NTR park. The red dot was approximately 1800 m away and we were again on the roads of Nizam city. The garden is located near Hussain Sagar lake and spread across 36 acres. Besides a variety of plants, the gardens also houses a souvenir complex, a visitor’s train, restaurants and a waterfall. We took a train ride, which took us to almost every corner of the garden that was otherwise difficult on foot. At 13:30 we left the park and started identifying the next location. To our luck, we realized Prasada mall was not very far and we covered about 700m in 5 minutes on our feet. Prasada is a typical mall widely known for its inhouse IMAX theatre. It had a good food mall, little bit of shopping and gaming zone with few attractions like Ulta Pulta house. We satisfied our taste buds with salads, sandwiches and cold stone ice cream (it really was the best, but bit overpriced I felt) at the food hall on the ground floor. After a heavy lunch we had another attraction on our mind, the Golconda fort.
Golconda fort is situated about 12-13 kms from the city center, and hence the Uber ride was a hole to our pockets during peak hours. Thanks to surge pricing as well :P. There are many ways to reach but cabs turn out to be the quickest and energy conserving ride to this great monument. Golconda actually consists of four distinct forts with a 10 km long outer wall with 87 semicircular bastions (some still mounted with cannons), eight gateways, and four drawbridges, with a number of royal apartments and halls, temples, mosques, magazines, stables, etc. inside (Thank you Wikipedia :D). We marched through the various halls and apartments within the fort and were heading towards the top. This small walking tour was exciting for us as it offered several opportunities to click awesome memories. The topmost point of the fort gives a view of the city and the entire fort of course. Again the story was no different in terms of cleanliness with government trying its best to keep it clean and people with their birthrights to loiter as much as they can.
We also had a quick drive around Hi Tech City, the leading technology hub in Hyderabad. Owing to the IT companies, this area has developed into a glamorous suburb.
Hyderabad has its own charm with the mix of heritage and the booming developed areas. It has a lot to offer to genuine travellers and food-lovers. Such diversified experiences in one country, Truly Incredible India it is !
P.S. India is a magnificent country and we live on a beautiful planet. Please do not litter. Be a responsible traveller.