“ Live with no Excuses and Travel with no Regrets”
I visited Hyderabad on the invitation of my dear friend Bharti(my roomie in the Valley of flowers trip). we became very good friends and I did promise her a trip to Hyderabad. My trip was meticulously planned by her and I thoroughly enjoyed her generous hospitality.This blog is a tribute to her generosity and kindness and our close friendship.This was my second visit to Hyderabad – I visited the city in 2012 to attend a Conference but due to lack of time did not find time for sightseeing. I had then promised myself that I will revisit the city and by God’s grace my desire was fulfilled
It would be unfair If I did not share the history of the city with the readers so here is a brief history of the city. Source: Hyderabad Tourism department.
History of Hyderabad.
Ruled by the Qutub Shahis, the city has a history of nearly 400 years. The capital Bhagyanagar was named after a royal beloved Bhagyamati, who later as the wife of Quli Qutub Shah became Hyder Mahal and thus was born Hyderabad.Hyderabad was founded on the River Musi five miles east of Golconda, the capital of the Qutub Shahi rulers in 1591-92 by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah.
The Qutb Shahi dynasty founded the Kingdom of Golconda, one of the five kingdoms that emerged after the break up of the Bahamani Kingdom. The Qutb Shahis ruled the Deccan for almost 171 years. All the seven rulers were patrons of learning and were great builders. They contributed to the growth and development of Indo-Persian and Indo-Islamic literature and culture in Hyderabad. During the Qutb Shahi reign Golconda became one of the leading markets in the world of diamonds, pearls, steel for arms and also printed fabric.
The glory of the Golconda kingdom ended in 1687, when Aurangzeb, the last great Mughal ruler, captured Golconda from Abul Hasan Tana Shah, the last king of Golconda. With the conquest of the Deccan and the South, Aurangzeb succeeded in expanding the Mughal Empire to cover the entire sub-continent. However, after his death in 1707, the Empire rapidly declined.
At that time, Mir Quamaruddin, the Governor of the Deccan, who bore the title of Nizam-ul-Mulk Feroze Jung Asif Jah, declared his independence from Mughal rule in 1724. He thus became the first Nizam and the founder of the Asif Jahi dynasty.
In 1769, Nizam Ali Khan Asif Jah II, shifted the capital from Aurangabad (The capital founded by Mughal rulers) to Hyderabad. The seven Nizams of the Asif Jahi dynasty ruled the Deccan for nearly 224 years, right up to 1948. During the Asif Jahi period, Persian, Urdu, Telugu and Marathi developed simultaneously. Persian was the official language up to 1893 and then Urdu up to 1948.
When the British and the French spread their hold over the country, the Nizam soon won their friendship without bequeathing his power. The title “Faithfull, Ally of the British Government” was bestowed on Nizam VI
The rule of the seven Nizams saw the growth of Hyderabad both culturally and economically. Hyderabad, under the Nizams, was the largest princely state in India.
Soon after India gained independence, Hyderabad State merged with the Union of India. On November 1, 1956 the map of India was redrawn into linguistic states, and Hyderabad became the capital of Andhra Pradesh.Currently it is the Capital of Telengana after Andhra Pradesh was divided on 2nd June 2014.
I took a morning flight to Hyderabad and was received at the airport by Bharti’s representatives and reached Jublee hills around 12 pm. After a refreshing cup of coffee and some snacks we headed to have lunch at her hotel Athithi Inn in Ameerpet which has 42 rooms including Premier, Deluxe, Business & Classic suites with all luxurious amenities.The hotel was started and is managed by Bharti with the help of her very courteous Managers and staff.
Hotel Athithi Inn
The hotel is located in the hub of Hyderabad’s business activity and a stone’s throw away from major business & commercial centers.The hotel has two restaurants including a roof top, AC multi cuisine Bar & Restaurant, two Banquet halls and a Conference room. The hotel has all modern amenities and lodging for children below 12 years is free. Having tasted lunch and dinner at the restaurant, I can vouch for the quality of food and services of the courteous staff.So next time you visit Hyderabad book yourself in Athithi Inn.After a lavish lunch we headed to Chilkur Balaji Temple which is an hour’s drive from the hotel.
About Chilkur Balaji Temple : Popularly known as Visa Balaji, the story goes that once a group of students who had their US visa application rejected prayed here which were answered. The majority of devotees come here for visa related issues, thus justifying the alternate name as Visa Balaji temple.The legend goes if you have a wish you must make the wish and then take 11 pradikshana of the temple.Once your wish is fulfilled you visit again and show your gratitude by doing 108 pradikshana. These 108 walks denote the gratitude and faith of the devotees, while the 11 circumambulations around the inner shrine denote the secret of creation.11 means “1 soul and 1 body”, and 108 means “1 represents the existence of Almighty, 0 represents creation and 8 represent the time taken by the human body to come into the universe”.
This is the only temple which is not under government control and does not accept any donations – there are no hundis for donation.I also appreciated the fact that there were no VIP queues and all must stand in the same queue as everyone is equal in the eyes of God.
After paying our obeiance to Lord Venkateshwara we headed to the Birla Temple which is about 30 kms and took us about 45 minutes to reach.
About Birla Mandir: The Birla Mandir is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu.The glistening white structure is located towards the southern end of Hussein sagar Lake.The temple was built in 1976 and like all Birla temples is well maintained.The temple combines the architectural styles of Orissa and South India.The temple has separate shrines for other deities like Shiva, Ganesh, Saraswati, Hanuman, Brahma, Lakshmi and Saibaba.The visiting hours are 7 am –12 pm and 3 pm- 9 pm.There is no entry fee. Cameras and mobile Phones are not allowed. After paying our obeiance to the deities we reached the top from where you get a spectacular view and with the sun setting the view was amazing, but since mobiles and cameras were not allowed I could not capture this spectacular view on my camera.
Next we headed for some shopping in Creative Bee Banjara Hills.You can get some exclusive stuff here.The studio was started by professional designer couple Bina Rao and Mr Kesava Rao in 1998.The rich and famous are her clients – the likes of Shabana Azmi, Sonia Gandhi to name a few.I bought a very beautiful top which I have carefully preserved for my next sojurn.By the time we reached home it was time for dinner which was very lovingly prepared by Bharti( she had prepared before I arrived).I relished the bajra rotis and the mixed vegetable besides other items.She is an excellent cook !!
The Ramoji Film City : At 2000 acres, it is the largest integrated film city in Telegana and the largest studio complex in the world. The film city was also certified by the Guiness Book of World Records as the world’s largest Film Studio complex. It was set up by Ramoji Group in 1996. The city offers a plethora of activities like Backlot tour which includes the many gardens and different shooting sets.Eco tour where you can sight Butterflies and Birds,an amusement park with many rides,separate fun for kids,there are restaurants,cafes(Outside food is not allowed),Shopping centre and facilities like wheel chair & baby feeding room. It is also a popular tourism and recreation centre, containing natural and artificial attractions.Around 1.5 million tourists visit the place every year.
Next day was the trip to Ramoji Film City.You can book your tour online. There are two types of tickets – the premium(Rs 2500) in which buffet lunch, tea, mineral water and soft drinks are included with AC bus and a tour guide, the other ticket is for Rs.1200 where you get to tour the city without these facilities. Bharti had booked the premium ticket. After having tasty dosas and chutney for breakfast, I was dropped at the pickup point Ameerpet at 7.30.am at it took about 1 ½ hours to reach the Film city.You have to pay Rs 250 which is not included in the ticket(To and fro)The Bus is colourfully decorated with Ramoji Film City written on it so you cant miss the bus.
The bus drops you at the entrance of the city.The ticket counters are located close to the entrance.After that you have to go to the booking counter, show your online booking ticket following which they issue their own tickets. With premium tickets you get an exclusive box of chocolates and a booklet with all the vouchers for lunch/tea/shows.Preserve it carefully as you have to hand over these vouchers at the time of availing the facilities..I was escorted by our guide to the coach. Our first stop was the opening ceremony – a dance and song show by the artistes of the city.
The Welcome Dance Performance
Later there were rides to be enjoyed -there were 3 free rides with the ticket. Self not being an enthusiast of rides, availed the time to stroll around the place, The entire city bore a festive look as the city was celebrating the Winter Festival.
The Amusement Park
The city has a square known as “Eureka” most of the activities happen here.There are buses of the city to take you around, if you book a premium show then you are taken around in AC coaches.The city also has 4 theatres Alampana,Fort Frontier,Movie magic and Dome Theatre where the shows are performed.There are regular announcements of the timings of the show so you can accordingly plan, so that you don’t miss out on any of the shows.We assembled at 10.30 near “Dil Se” restaurant and thereafter proceded for an orientation tour of the city.There are many beautiful gardens Mughal Garden,Siera Garden to name a few. The guide showed us many locations of shoot of popular Bollywood songs.We also saw the train which Sharukh Khan took in Chennai Express and the location of the song “lungi dance”.There are film sets of Gateway of India,Buland Darwaza, village and city railway stations,churches,temples ,mosques and gurudwaras.There are national highways and airports too 🙂
After the orientation tour we headed to the famous Bahubali Set.
The Birds of the Birds Park
Later we enjoyed watching Birds and butterflies at the Butterfly and Birds Park.By now it was time to enjoy the many shows of the city.We began with the thrilling Space yatra a 15 minute journey into space.It was then lunch time and we all made our way to “Superstar” restaurant where a delicious buffet both Veg/Nonveg. was laid out After lunch we made our way to another show “Dadajinn Live TV show” a show for kids with different cartoon characters.
Next was “Lights Camera Action” show where we got enthralled by seeing the process of movie making after which we headed for the”Stunt show” which was very interesting.
Performances at the Spirit of Ramoji Show
The last show was an entertainment show “The Spirit of Ramoji” where we enjoyed the various songs and dance performances by the artistes.After enjoying all the shows it was time to have tea and we all assembled at the restaurant “Dil Se”.
There was a live entertainment programme at 6.30 pm so we had some time in our hands and I headed to BORA BORA a kind of Bhoot Bangla – they tried to make it scary but it was actually funny.
I managed to get a seat in the front row of the Grand finale – an extravaganza of song, dance,stand up comedy to name a few..
After this was the Carnival where there were tableaus of different activities in the city.
The Tableaus at the Carnival
The Bus was to leave at 7.30 pm but some people as usual were late so it finally left at 8pm.I was picked up by Bharti’s driver from the drop point Hotel Green Park and it was 9.30 pm by the time I reached home.It was an exciting day full of activities.Bharti and her husband were waiting for me for dinner.The delicious dinner was cooked lovingly by my dear friend.After calling home I crashed in the bed and soon fell asleep.
“ Travel does not become Adventure Untill you leave yourself Behind”
To be Continued…………..