Hyderabad Part-1 - Exploring the Ruins7:24:00 PM
10th Jan 2008, Thursday (PROLOGUE): It was lunch break at the office. I was at the cafeteria on the 8th floor, waiting for Marc. Marc was an intern at Virtusa, from Portugal and a very good friend of mine. I could see Marc at a distance, hustling through the crowd of the girls, who stared at him with shy eyes and when Marc smiled back, they would blush crimson. As soon as he reached me, I blurted out -"Hyderabad tomorrow night? Let's give Sharat a surprise!" Sharat is another friend of ours who worked at Virtusa, Hyderabad. It didn't take even seconds for Marc to be 'in' for the trip. We forgot about lunch and rushed to book two tickets for the next night's bus to Hyderabad.
12th Jan 2008, Saturday: We reached Hyderabad city borders at 9am - almost an hour late. But even before we reached our dropping point, we saw Sharat following our bus on his bike. So we got down at the earliest point, from where he took us to Ameerpet, where we were supposed to stay.
Soon after, we met again and went to the Necklace Road. It's a beautiful road circling the Hussain Sagar Lake, with many parks and restaurants all along it. The Lake itself was a sight worth seeing, with a huge statue of Buddha erected at it's center. After a visit to the NTR Gardens and lunch at Eat Street, a fast food joint on the Necklace Road, we decided to visit the Snow World. But when we reached we found it closed for some reasons, so instead we did Karting at its basement. Kart Cave, presumably is India's largest indoor Go Kart area. Marc won the race and I beat Sharat to the second position. Basking in the glory of victory, I forgot to push the breaks near the end point, and I went CRASH!!! Though I was pretty unscathed, the instructor guy almost had a heart attack.
|Top left: Rainbow formation over a fountain at the NTR Gardens, Bottom Left: Kart Cave, Right: Eat Street|
Our next stop was Birla Mandir, which stands atop a hillock and is entirely built of pure white marble stones. We had to ascend through a narrow lane to reach the temple which looked like a mini Meena Bazaar to me. At the entrance, we deposited our mobiles and cameras, as electronic equipments were not allowed inside the temple. The temple was so enchanting, so pure and so serene that it took me a while to convince myself to return from that place.
|Birla Mandir, Hyderabad|
On the other end of the same hillock was the apartment of some of Sharat's friends. We spent a part of the evening there and then went to the Necklace Road again. The view of the Budhha statue at night was mesmerizing, with the necklace road twinkling at the back. The day ended with a dinner at Indijoe's in the City Centre.
|Left: Hussain Sagar during Sunset, Right: Hussain Sagar at night|
13th Jan 2008, Sunday: This was the day I had been waiting for long. Coz this was the day we were going to visit Golconda Fort - the place at Hyderabad that attracted me the most. The trip to Golconda was preceded by a drive through the Jubilee hills. It was evident from the houses that this was the costliest residential area of the city. We then booked a cab till Golconda Fort, which is in the old city. Sadly, on the way we witnessed the vast disparity of the city as we crossed the rich and affluents areas and entered the poor and decaying old city.
|Various parts of the Golconda Fort|
Our guide at the fort was Sharat himself as he had been to the place a numerous times. The first wonder we saw (and heard) was the dome above the portico near the main gate (Fateh Darwaza), under which if you stand and clap your hands, the sound reverberates at the top of the fort (Bala Hissar) situated on a 400 foot high hill. Imagine building up such fantastic acoustic system in those times, whose main purpose was to intimate the army in case of a sudden attack.
We came across a small stone in an alleyway, which was of great weight. It was used to test capacity in those days for army recruitment. Sharat couldn't even move the stone, let alone pull it up.
|Sharat trying to prove his heavy weight lifting skills|
The fort has three forts within the fort as lines of defense. We came across an area called Nagina Bagh, which was used by diamond merchants to buy and sell diamonds. The famous Kohinoor Diamond too belonged to this fort. It took us two hours to reach halfway to the top, where we saw the jail where Ramdas was imprisoned and the temple he had made there.
|Ramdas's mandir inside the fort|
We had to make several stops on the way to the top, sometimes to rest and sometimes to appreciate the beauty of the place. Every part of the fort spoke about its past glories. We went through various arched corridors, dark alleyways, long baradaris, gateways, cannons, royal halls, stables, mosques, beautiful gardens, etc. - some of them ruined and some of them still retaining some of their old charms.
|That's Marc :)|
Almost near the top, we saw a Kali Mandir, the co-existance of which inside a Muslim fort came as a surprise. After another gruelling hour, we reached the Bala Hissar Pavilion which is at the top of the fort. Its a huge open area, where we enjoyed the breeze for a while. One can see the Qutub Shahi tombs at the distance from the bastions on the top (Check top right corner pic in the collage) and the skyline, as the place offers a bird eye's view of the city. After quenching our thirst with a few coke from a nearby vendor and clicking some more pictures, we decided to make a move downhill.
|Clockwise from top right : Qutub Shahi tombs in the distance, Bird eye view of the city, a long alley and the Kali Temple.|
On the way down we saw the place where the light and music show is hosted during nights. We were so exhausted that we didn't care that we were about to miss that. We passed through another dark (and probably bat infested) corridor, where Sharat told us that there is supposed be a secret tunnel to Charminar from here, which is closed for the tourists. The place did look tempting for someone who loves adventures.
After a total of 4 hours, we reached the exit. We had chosen a wrong day for our Golconda tour as it was blazing hot, but I'll never repent that, as I loved every second of it. We were so famished that we rushed to a restaurant in the old city immediately afterwards and tucked into the so famous Hyderabadi Biryani. It was good, but I failed to understand what was all the hype about.
After an evening spent lazing around, watching movie at PVR and shopping, we left for the Begumpet airport. We had seen not even one-third of what's there to see at Hyderabad and I promised myself that I would come back again soon. As my flight took off for Chennai I closed my eyes to catch some sleep before another Monday at the office.