A Travel Diary- Chapter 5- Golla konda

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The Golkonda fort, situated in west Hyderabad, stands as a reminiscence of the rich Qutub Shahi dynasty and is the birth place for the famous Kohinoor diamond. We left unplanned from home at about 1 p.m. We hired a cab from home to drop us a the fort; it took almost an hour and a half to reach.

After a series of arches, we reached the gates of the fort. At this place, we bought the entry tickets for the fort and a few guides of Andhra Tourism flocked us asking if we need a guide to show us around. We were told that it is better to hire a guide after entering the fort than on the outside; it costs far lesser to hire a guide once you enter the fort. After entering the walls of the fort, we hired a guide after bargaining for Rs. 300 , up and down.

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Peacocks on the Balahissar gate

The Golkonda fort has seven walls, and is built and developed over a span of 62 years, under the Kakatiyas and the Qutub Sahi kings. The fort shined in glory till the Mughal emperor, Aurangazeb conquered the Qutub Shahi kingdom and destroyed most of the fort in 1687. The fort was built in a top-down approach starting with the king’s throne and then surrounding it with various buildings.

The first gate of the fort is the Balahissar gate, it has beautifully carved peacocks at the top, with blue stones and tiles. The way to the gate is curved and narrow, to make it difficult for the opponent’s army elephants to attack the fort through the passage. Also, it slows down the movement of mechanical devices which can be used to break down gates.

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The arches in the nagina bagh (front), the soldier barracks and the Silah Khana (at the back)

The Golkonda fort is popular for its water supply and acoustic systems. The signalling system to transfer messages in the form of claps from the gates to the top of the fort, is embedded within the construction of the fort walls and arches. The various buildings and edifices of the fort are constructed in such a way that the sound is reflected from the entrance to reach the top of the hill. This is used by the army to indicate invasion by other armies or any other important messages to the king so as to plan safety. This brilliant acoustic system can be tested by clapping from the center of the entrance portal. Just past the main gate, on the right, you can see numerous small arches, this place held the soldier barracks. There are projections in the corners of each arch so as to hold curtains that separated the place into rooms. On the left, there is the Silah Khana(the armoury). Beside the barracks, there’s Nagina Bagh, a garden where diamonds used to be displayed and sold in the open. The garden also as upto 10 arches for holding swings, where the royal women used to enjoy their evenings.

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Inside Ramadas’ prison

After Nagina Bagh, there’s the water tank. There are 4 water tanks all together to supply water within the fort, all of which get their water from a lake nearby, popularly called the Durgamma Cheruvu, through pipes and manual hand pumps. You can also get a sight of broken pipes embedded in the walls, near the tank, if you observe closely. As we climbed up the hill, we could catch a good view of the Hyderabad city, the Charminar can be seen from the fort.

Next, we came to the place where Bhaktha Ramadas was imprisoned by the Qutub Shahi Sultan. There are two holes at the top, one for light and one for food.  As the story goes, Ramadas was a devotee of the Indian Hindu God, Rama. He was appointed as a revenue collector by Akkanna, his uncle, who worked in the court of the Qutub Shahi Sultan, Abul Hassan Tana Shah.  When he visited Bhadrachalam, he was unhappy about the dilapidated state of Lord Rama‘s temple there and so, decided to raise money to reconstruct it. However, even after emptying his own pockets and collecting money from some others, he couldn’t raise enough for the reconstruction. So, the villagers asked him to spend the revenue collections on the temple and promised to repay the money after harvesting the crops. Ramadas did so. When the Qutub Shahi Sultan came to know about this, he wasn’t happy and imprisoned Ramadas till he repays the money. It is said that Ramadas composed and sang songs praising Lord Rama even in the prison. The story continues saying that, to free Ramadas from the grief, Lord Rama appeared in front of the Qutub Shahi Sultan in the form of Ramoji and Laxmoji, disguised as servants of Ramadas and repaid the money to the Sultan, asking to free Ramadas.

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The Kali temple

Next, there was a building meant for food storage. Then, there was Ibrahim Mosque, which has three arches with the central being larger than the flaking smaller ones. After the Mosque, there’s the Kali temple, probably built by the Kakatiyas. Opposite to the temple, the guide showed us a point from where we could hear the claps from the entrance of the fort. Then, we settled down there, a little ahead of the mosque for sometime and enjoyed the refreshments of one of the small ice cream shops, just a few steps below the top-most point. The highest point of the fort is the throne of the king. In the ground floor, towards a corner, there is a gated narrow arched passage through which cool air gushes throughout the day, we were told that its the natural ‘air conditioner’ that was used to keep the palace cool. On the first floor, you can see two other structures a little far away, which look like stages. It is told that the court dancers,Taramathi and Premamathi used to perform on those structures, and the king enjoyed the performances from his throne! Also, in the corner of this palace, there is a secret underground pathway that leads to the Gosha Mahal and is said to be 8km long. This passage is, however, blocked now, for the safety of tourists.

As we started walking down hill, we came across the ruins of the buildings where the queens lived a luxurious lifestyle, and also the Darbar of the king where he used to address and solve bourgeois problems. The king’s position in the Durbar is in such a way that if a commoner tried to through a knife at him, it will never hit him. The acoustics also plays a role here – stand in the Durbar and strike on your shirt, you can hear an echo. This is another way used to communicate through acoustics. So, ever wondered if the king and the queen eavesdropped into other conversations of the workers? Yes! Just before the Durbar, the buildings are designed in such a way that if anybody even whispered near the walls on the ground floor, the queen could comfortably hear the conversation by placing her ear against the wall in her room on the first floor!

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The fountain

We also came across the Zanaana mosque which was meant for the queens and a common room for all the queens with a fountain in the center. A diamond used to be kept on one side of the hall and a light is lit behind the diamond, the refractive property of diamond is used for lighting the place. At this same place, a light show takes place in some specific timings, at night in different languages. If you are interested, you can buy tickets and catch up with the light show. At last, we came across the Taramathi mosque and the guest house in ruins back at the beginning of the fort. The Golkonda fort is one of my favorite historic monuments with its beautiful architecture, gardens, pools and has its own fascinating story to tell. If you are ever in Hyderabad and you are someone that likes history or stories of lifestyle and architecture, you should definitely consider visiting this awesome place!

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View from the top -1

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Fort walls

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Looking at the throne

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The king's place at Durbar

The king’s place at Durbar

this view somehow reminds me of Game of Thrones!

this view somehow reminds me of Game of Thrones!

Ibrahim Mosque

Ibrahim Mosque

One of the minars

One of the minars

 

view from the top-2

view from the top-2

Taramani mosque

Taramathi mosque

the fort!

the fort!

that's all of us!

that’s all of us!

 

 

 

A travel Diary- Chapter 4- Tada falls

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tada

tada

 After a gruelling semester, it’s finally winter holidays! Seven of us planned to go on a trek to Tada falls, otherwise called Ubbalamadugu falls. Located at about 80 kms from Chennai, this place seems to be lesser known tourist attraction, but doesn’t fall behind any other nature-lovers’ or trekking destinations.

We boarded a local(sub-urban) train that goes to Sullurpeta from Chennai central station at about 7:30 in the morning. It took about an hour and a half to reach Tada, after which we took an auto to the falls.  We stopped in between for breakfast at a local eatery- the food wasn’t very good. But, we couldn’t help but fill our tummies there as there is no other source of food once we start the trek.

It takes about an hour to reach the falls check post by an auto and then we went through what seemed to be a never ending bumpy ride (I wouldn’t even call it a road) till we reached a bridge. From this point on, we walked. I would divide the track into three parts. One- till we reached the first stream of water, after crossing the bridge; two- till we reached the Shiva temple; three- the trek after that.

the bridge

the bridge

  The bridge was itself a beautiful spot with the pleasant stream of water running under it. At a distance, upstream, you can see the water spilling out smoothly over the rocks – it’s a beautiful view, good news – it’s just the first, there are lots more of those. We started walking in the only path. The place was deserted when we started. After walking a few meters distance, we arrived at a path branching out to the royal tub or the mango pool and took a few pictures there; we were all excited as this was the first place where we got to put our feet into the water. The rest of the first phase was through a path laid with pebbles and sharp pieces of rock and rubble till we reached a small stream of water peacefully flowing over rocks covered with moss. Watch out for the slippery rocks!

mango pool or the royal tub

mango pool or the royal tub

crossing the first stream was a circus stunt!

crossing the first stream was a circus stunt!

The second phase was quite simple. It leads to a Shiva temple by a stream of water. This is where many tourists stop and this is where the path ends. After this, there is no well-laid path and we just followed the stream, in a hope that it would ultimately take us to the falls. On the other hand, after this lies the real adventure.

We crossed the stream and the Shiva temple and decided to follow the stream. At some places, we could follow it on the banks- climbing onto rocks. At other places, we had to walk through the middle of the stream or cross it. The whole path is such an amazing one- the sunlight streams through the trees from above while swarms of yellow butterflies greet you every now and then. You may want to watch out for the monkeys though. After a few minutes of trekking, we arrived at this place- water parts into two small streams gushing from between the boulders, it appeared so breath-taking!

The whole place reminds me of one thing – Bridge to Terabithia!

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We continued to trek, for about an hour or so before we came to a small stream of water forcing its way between two huge rocks into a silent pool of clear water. The place was heavenly. The water was crystal clear and small, skinny black fish swam underneath the surface. We had a dip in the pool – the water was freezing! We stayed here for about an hour before we headed back. On our way back, we saw three more groups of people like ours trekking to the falls. In no time, we were back at the Shiva temple, and the rest of the path seemed to be very well-paved after trekking through the wilderness.

We relaxed near the bridge for 5-10 minutes before heading to the bumpy ride back to the check post. It was 3o’clock and we figured out that we would miss the 3:20 sub-urban train back to Chennai. The next train wasn’t until 6:30. So, we took a bus from Tada to Gummidipundi, and headed back home in a local train from there.

Well, is it worth it? I’d say ‘ofcourse! Totally worth it! ’ For a first-time trekker like me, it’s not very usual to walk through uneven rocks barefoot or to pave way through the wilderness, so, the trip was very adventurous. If you want to go on an economy trip and want to have a good time, Tada falls is an awesome plan! How much did it cost us? About 200 bucks per person, yes, that is all we spent on the trip! Here are some tips from my side.

  1. There may not be any network on your mobile once you start the trek, so inform people about that, if you don’t want them to be worried.
  2. Start early and return back early. It’s not very safe to stay inside the woods after dark.
  3. Do carry a med-kit. We didn’t, but it’s advisable to carry one with you. There are no sources of food once you start the trek, so carry some snacks and water if you need. (Do not litter around!).
  4. If you decide to travel by train, check the train schedule beforehand, plan it out in such a way that you get to stay at the highest point you reach for quite a while, that’s the best part of it all.

Here are some pictures of the place! Photo courtesy – Sanjay Subrahmanyam

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A Travel Diary- Chapter 3- Italian Cuisine at Chennai- Pasta Bar Veneto

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The way to the restaurant

The way to the restaurant

This is the first time that we tried italian food at an italian restaurant. After a hectic day, my       friends and I thought of meeting up at the Pasta Bar Veneto to celebrate a birthday.

 Its located on the burkit road of t.nagar and pretty easy to find with the address. The   restaurant was deserted when we went (about 3 30 p.m.). We chose a table on the left and settled down.

European look

European look

The simple and elegant interior design captures your heart at the first sight. The walls are decorated with beautiful sketches of italian cities and italian ceramic wall plates. Lovely music keeps playing in the background as you dig into the delectable food.

The restaurant also has an outdoor seating (a quadrangle surrounded by indoor seating on three sides).  A giant tree in the outer quadrangle adds to the beauty of the place. I am guessing that the place would be even more appealing at night with the lighting.

the menu

the menu

The menu is one of my favorites. It has wide varieties of options like soups,salads,pasta, pizza, grills, sandwiches, smoothies, coolers and other drinks. It is exquisitely designed with a lot of trivia and interesting snippets about Italy and its culture. We ordered Pomodoro e Mozzarella, a choco shake and a kiwi soda. The food was delicious and simply amazing! Besides the food and ambiance, the prices are very pocket-friendly; the starters are priced about Rs.90, the main courses are priced about Rs.150-Rs.250 and drinks about Rs.75.

If you want to treat your taste buds with some Italian delicacies in a peaceful and serene ambiance without burning a hole in your pocket, The Pasta Bar Veneto is the right place for you!

pomodoro e mazzarella and kiwi soda

excellent ambiance

On the shore…

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White fine sand that slips off your fingers, fresh breeze of the ocean, sound of the waves, the orange sunset, the warmth of the sun and the chillness of the sea, delicious sea food, beautiful sea shells – Goa has them all!

These are some of my favorite pictures! Captured at Colva beach, Goa. Check them out!

on the shore..

on the shore...

through the skies

through the skies

waves make one of my favorite sounds!

waves make one of my favorite sounds!

shells wash up to the shore

shells wash up to the shore

holiday in the sun

holiday in the sun

Planning for a holiday in the sun? You might want to consider Goa!

Eclipse!

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January 15, 2010

There is nothing that can beat the view of an annular solar eclipse. Today was the first time I had experienced an annular eclipse – a very rare celestial treat. Well, if you are not aware, as the moon’s diameter is smaller than that of the sun’s, a fascinating annular ring is formed out of the sun, as seen from the earth, and thus the name annular eclipse. The sun radiation has its color more on the orange part of the spectrum and easily creates a head-ache. The shadows are blurred.The sun light, beaming through the gaps between the neem leaves, projects itself as spectacular crescents on the ground.

We had a chance to see the sun through the eclipse-glasses. Some enthusiastic minds of the college put together a telescope and we could also catch a view of the eclipse on a tile. Though I missed the annular ring, here are some pictures that I captured.

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solar eclipse

down from the sky, through the telescope, onto the tile

the light through the gaps between the neem leaves appears as a crescent on the ground

shadows

a rare celestial treat

A Travel Diary Chapter 1.2 – Udagamandalam Day2

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10:00 pm,17th December 2011

behind the guest house

behind the guest house

Dear diary,

We weren’t expecting the sun till 9. But, we had the dawn greeting us at about 7. It   was still cold outside; the woods behind the guest house were beautiful. The creepers bearing orange, red and white flowers at the entrance were very welcoming. We hired a taxi to go around the city and visit some site-seeing places in three hours. We had to take the train back to metupalayam at 2pm.Everything in Ooty opens at 9. We had breakfast at the Ooty Saravana bhavan at 8:30am and then set off to the botanical garden.

The botanical garden is a must-see for nature lovers. The green lawns are very

mom and dad at the botanical garden

refreshing. The trees, around, reach high to the sky. The serenity of nature can capture anyone’s heart. The photographers flock you for instant pics. It takes a whole day to enjoy the garden to the fullest. We skipped the major part of the garden as we didn’t have any such time. There are rock garden, sunken garden, conservatory, glass houses, top garden, picnic spots and many other attractions at the garden to enjoy. You can also buy seeds and plants at the nursery.

Italian garden at the botanical garden

Next in our list was Doddabeta.   It’s the highest point in Ooty and the second highest in South India. On the way, the taxi driver showed us small blue flowers – locally called ‘Neelikurinji’, these blue flowers bloom once in 12 years. The local tribes used to use these flowers to tell their age. These flowers are found only in Ooty, Coonoor and Munnar.   It is after these flowers that the hills are named ‘Nilgiris’. You can catch a telescopic view of movements in Ooty city and also Coimbatore (on a clear day). The view from the peak is like ‘heaven on earth’. The far-away hills seemed to be elegantly submerged in a sea of white clouds extending forever.  You can see the serene waters of the avalanche dam form the tower. We had some hot boiled groundnuts from a street vendor, a perfect food for the crisp weather.

a view from Doddabeta

tea estates

After Doddabeta, the taxi driver suggested going to the tea museum and the tea factory as mom was determined to do some tea shopping. You get to see the process of tea powder making in the factory.  Inbetween the lush green estates, the tea factory is one place where you can do quality tea purchases. You can get various kinds of flavors – chocolate-flavored tea, cardamom flavored tea, green tea and silver tea are the favorites. There are also Silver  tips that are hand-picked, sold

at the rose garden - the language of roses

here. Though a little costlier, silver tea is said to have many health benefits. They sure have a great business going on; none who visits this place leaves without making purchases. Besides tea, you can also find stalls selling chocolates, oils and balms, spices and leather. Then, we went to visit the rose garden. It is not the season for good rose blossom. That is one of the reasons why it seemed a waste of time. Once we have seen the botanical garden, the rose garden didn’t seem very exhilarating. Rows of rose plants of different colors- that is all there is. But, if you are a rose-lover, which I am not, you may be able to appreciate the beauty. If you happen to go there, do not miss the green rose, right next to the entrance. After the rose garden, we visited the lake and the thread garden which are next to each other and also near our guest house. The thread park can be visited to appreciate the hard work of 50 women over 12 years. The work involves making real-seeming plants or flowers without the use of machines, needles or colors. We didn’t have time to boat in the lake. We had to catch a train at 2 back to Mettupalayam. The taxi driver told us that the Ooty Lake is an artificial lake. There is another natural lake 30km away from the city known as the Pikara Lake, which has serene waters and scenic spots.

lush green tea estates- a view from the train

It was already past 1. We hurried back to the guest        house and packed up to leave. We had lunch at VRR canteen attached to the railway station. The Ooty train, popularly called the ‘Toy train’, is something no tourist should miss. The train goes on a narrow gauge line from Ooty to Mettupalayam through lush green tea gardens, dark tunnels and scenic valleys. The train has large windows; so stick your head out and experience the nature.

Every turn around a rock reveals pristine beauty of forested hill slopes and valleys filled with pine trees and here and there, a brook runs through the woods. The train ride is a three and a half hour breath-taking experience and something without which the trip to Ooty is never complete. We arrived at Mettupalayam at 5:30 pm and caught the Nilgiri Express to Chennai. This Ooty trip has been a very memorable tour and served as an excellent get-away from a mundane urban life. This is, indeed, a miracle of a God’s work of sublime beauty.

 

a view from the train- exquisite beauty

 

here and there, a brook runs through the woods

 

the toy train on narrow gauge