Oct 15, 2013

Golconda Fort

It is said that Golconda gets its name from Golla Konda or Shepherd's hill. Discovered by a shepherd boy in the 13th century, a simple mud fort was built on the hill by the reigning Hindu Kakatiya ruler. About a century later, Alauddin Hassan Bahman Shah revolted against the Delhi Sultanate and founded the Bahmani Sultanate, the first Muslim kingdom of the Deccan with Gulbarga, and later Bidar, as its capital. In the 16th century, Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk, soldier and scholar in the Bahmani court, was sent by the then Bahmani Sultan to Golconda as a governor. He established his base here, strengthened and expanded the existing mud fort and assumed independence from Bidar. That marked the beginning of the Qutb Shahi dynasty. Read about the rise and fall of the dynasty here.

With that brief background out of the way, let me share some glimpses of the Golconda Fort that I shot on a sunny morning.

Sep 27, 2013

Lotus Pond

Some greenery from the Lotus Pond (read about it here) to end the week with :)

Sep 18, 2013

Bye Ganesh ji, See you next year!

On the tenth day after Ganesh Chaturthi, Ganesh idols from all over the city, right from the tiny ones used for pujas at home, to the gigantic community ones are immersed in the Hussain Sagar Lake. Early this morning, we went to the Tank Bund road over the lake, to watch the immersions. They had just started, but it was already quite crowded and VERY colorful!
A steady stream of idols pulling into the Tank Bund road
Multiple cranes are stationed along the lake, to lift the huge idols off the road and lower them into the water. A few men get on to the crane along with the idol to nudge it into the water.
All set!
It was awesome fun and I came home with lots of pictures. I had a hard time deciding which ones to share here, because I didn't want to overload the post :)

Sep 10, 2013

One day in Hyderabad

When I read this post on one of my favourite blogs recently, I thought it would be fun to make a similar list of things to do in Hyderabad if you have just a day to spend here :) Obviously, it is full of things I personally enjoy, and I hope you will enjoy them too!

6:00 AM: Start your day at the gorgeous KBR National Park.The perimeter of the walkway is about 5 kms - walk around it and see if you know the names of the exotic flora and fauna that the park is home to. If you tend to get tired easily, don't walk about too much - just hang out on one of the benches, because it is going to be a long day.
(Photography is not allowed inside)

7:30 AM: Enjoy an awesome South-Indian breakfast at Chutneys. They are famous for the assortment of SIX different chutneys they serve - the sweet white one is THE BEST! I invariably finish at least a cup of it even before my food arrives :) My favourite dishes are the 'Babai Hotel Idli' and all the dosas.
Six kinds of chutneys - sorry about the crappy phone picture!
9:30 AM: I hope you've managed to squeeze in a shower by now :P Go straight to the Golconda Fort, the seat of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty that ruled this region for close to two centuries. Wear sensible shoes, because you'll want to climb up to the Bala Hisar at the top! The view from there is breathtaking - try to spot the golf course, Taramati Baradari and Premamati Mosque nearby.
During or right after the monsoons, the Golconda Fort is at its greenest :)
11:30 AM: Although the Qutb Shahi Tombs (very close to the fort) deserve at least an afternoon to themselves, make do with a quick visit to these stunning examples of Qutb Shahi architecture. Read about the tombs and the Qutb Shahi dynasty in my earlier post here
One of the Qutb Shahi Tombs
1:00 PM: Head to Charminar taking the Karwan route. This ancient highway is dotted with very very old buildings on both sides, including some beautiful mosques. So keep your eyes open and enjoy all the colours and the beauty. You will reach Charminar via the historical Hussaini Alam road that I described at length here and here:) Buy a ticket and climb up the Charminar and check out the view of the surrounding monuments (the government Unani hospital, the Jama Masjid, the Mecca Masjid) from the top. If you'd rather shop, Laad Bazaar (Hyderabad's famous bangle bazaar) is right there - go play :) Orrrr do both if you are super-fast.
Hyderabad's symbol
2:30 PM: Half a day in Hyderabad and you haven't had any biryani yet! I recommend Hotel Shadab for a late lunch. Their biryani is sensational, and you'll enjoy the local dining experience. But remember, the place is NOT fancy, so skip it if you are fussy!
Hotel Shadab
3:30 PM: The clich├ęd thing to do now would be to go to the Salar Jung Museum, but I totally think you should go to the Chowmahalla Palace instead. The museum in the palace is definitely not as impressive as Salar Jung, but the sprawling palace is so so so so beautiful! Also, photography is allowed in the Chowmahalla Palace but not in the Salar Jung Museum - that makes the choice easy for me :P Here is a post I wrote about it long ago.
Chowmahalla Palace, the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty
5:00 PM: I didn't explicitly mention it because OF COURSE you stopped several times for Irani Chai, right? Good. Now stop for one more and then head to the Hussain Sagar and walk about Tank Bund and Necklace Road and watch the sunset. If you want to ride on a boat to the Buddha Statue in the middle of the lake, the Lumbini Park nearby is where you need to go, but it might take a long-ish time.
The iconic Buddha statue in the Hussain Sagar Lake
6:30 PM: It's been a long day, and you probably cannot wait to unwind. Hang out at the Hard Rock Cafe in the GVK1 Mall in Banjara Hills and follow it up with dinner at one of the fab restaurants in the area - Khan Saab, Saheb Sindh Sultan, Tadka, Angeethi, Ruci & Idoni, Our Place - the list is endless, and they are all awesome.
Hard Rock Cafe
So this was my list of things to do if you have just one day to spend in Hyderabad. I tried to choose a mix of Qutb Shahi (Golconda Fort, the tombs and Charminar) and Asaf Jahi (Chowmahalla Palace) monuments and also some newer parts of the city.

Please note that many tourist places in Hyderabad are closed on Fridays and the rest on Sundays, so this list doesn't apply to those two days and national holidays :)

Do you agree with the places I have chosen? What would you pick instead? Let me know in the comments!

Sep 9, 2013

On the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in Hyderabad. I remember insisting on visiting all the puja pandals in the neighbourhood everyday until the day of immersion when I was a little kid - so much fun :) On the evening before the festival, tons of stalls pop up everywhere, selling Ganesh idols, decorations, leaves of different kinds, flowers and lots more. Some pictures I took close to my home:
Eco-friendly clay Ganesh idols
Colorful plaster of Paris idols
Colorful plaster of Paris idols
Accessories :)
Fruits and leaves because Ganesh is the elephant God