Thursday, May 12, 2011


A world in itself-of temples and turrets, mosques and monuments; of humming industrial monoliths and commercial conglomerates; of  gains dams and thundering thermal stations’ of genteel city dwellers and rustic  village folk; of swarthy tribals and progressive farmers - a medley of timeless tradition and jet-age modernity- long lonely beaches, river resorts, lake resorts, hill resorts and architectural historical and cultural tourism.

A Culture Varied and Wondrous:
The hills and valleys of Thirumala vibrate with the hymn- “Kauslya Supraja Ram Poorva Sandhya Pravarththe”- Oh Rama, wake up-its nearly dawn. Before dawn comes to Hyderabad, clad in its russet mantle- the cries “Allah Oh Akbar”  echo every  where... arousing and ushering people into their mundane morning chores.
At Nagrjunasagar, the unblazoned Buddha stands in his tranquil glory as a timeless testimonial to man’s spirit  of excellence. At medak, the bell tool at the ancient Church, to bring a sleeping town to life. The azure undulating waves of the Bay of Bengal whisper to the sands as they gently caress them. Rivers rustle by as rustic folk work  in the ubiquitous green fields, humming happily.
Andhra Pradesh, geography gives it a dimension in space. History gives it a dimension in time. But this State has that quality of timelessness  about itself that makes it at once infinite  and immemorial. Because  it is a story that rises above kings  and chronicles. It is story of a mélange of the ancient and the modern. A pot pourri of rich religions and  diverse cultures.

                The City ‘Nawabs and Kababs’, The  meeting  point between north and South India. A Muslim town. But a capital with Hindu majority. You get historical heritage aplenty. And for your palate, some of the most breathtaking culinary delights.
                Hyderabad was founded in 1591 by Sultan Mohammed Qutub Shahi who felt stifled in his Golconda citadel. He chose a site south of Musi river and in the centre of the town built the monument the city is known by-the Charminar- connected by a 7 kms underground tunnel to the Golconda Fort, it is believed.

The 53 meter tall monument of majestic  splendor with its four minarets, stands amidst baroque bazaars and a maze of mosques-blending culture and commerce. As busy streets buzz with activity, pearls, precious stones and colorful bangles change hands, silently, yet another cultural exchange is taking place-between the past and the present.

Jama Masjid:
Beside the Charminar, is the  oldest mosque in Hyderabad.

Mecca Masjid:
The largest mosque in town, it can accommodate 10,000 worshippers.

Golconda Fort:
Apart from the Charminar and the locality around I, the most interesting sight in Hyderabad is this  fort, it is 8 km west of the town. Sultan Quli Qutub Shah began to build a huge citadel on the site of an old, mud-walled fort, While he ruled from 1512 to 1543, the fort was finished only in the late sixteenth century.

Qutub Shahi Tombs:
The mausolea of the Sultans of Golconda stand beside each other in a silent garden, outside the fort.

Salar Jung Museum:
Particularly appreciated by Indians, this museum has an incredible collection of 35,000 articles from all over the world. This is the work of Salarjung III, the Nizam of Hyderabad’s prime minister.

Archeological Museum:
Prehistoric articles, Satvahana era sculptures, arms, illuminated manuscripts, etc. fine collection of ancient coins. The museum is in the public garden lying south west of Hussainsagar lake.

Nehru Zoological Park:
7kms from  the centre of Hyderabad railway station, besides the Mir Alam Tank. A very fine zoo where nearly 250 species of animals can be watched in enclosures simulating their natural habitat.

The two Himayatsagar and Osmansagar lakes are 20 kms south West of Hyderabad. Himayatsagar is large  985 but Osmansagar is a pretty place for those wanting a brief respite from the din and bustle of the city. Parks and picnic spots, and lavish restaurants complete  the scene. And  as time ticks away, from moments to moment, history lives on in Hyderabad. 

A humming harbor and bustling beach resort, Visakhapatnam is  yet another blend of culture and commerce, for the  pilgrims, there are a myriad temples around including the famous “Simhachalam” temple. Less than an hour away from Visakhapatnam… you get an exclusive world of virgin beaches, untouched by the  ravages of civilization and the Araku valleywhere the streams sing the sons of nature. The palms sway to the sea breezes and the waves caress the golden sands. Time stands still. As a timeless spectacle goes on.
Those interested in modern India’s economic achievements can see the Hindustan Shipyard at Gandhigram, the  largest shipyard in India. A beautiful beach at Lawson’s Bay. Araku Valley.. a vibrant world in itself and Riskonda beach. Where the unvintageable sea backons in its blue splendor. The costline is dotted with beautiful beaches and fishing villages.

A buzzing never centre of commercial activity, Vijayawada on the banks of the Krishna, is a unique blend of culture, craft and commerce. It was the cradle of ancient civilization during the  Satavhana rule from 2nd  century BC  to 2nd  Century A.D., when their capital was Amaravati, 96 kms from Vijayawada, when Buddhism flourished.
Kanka Durga Temple, on a hill near town, Mogalrajapuram cave temples of the fifth century. Victoria jubilee Museum of Archaeology, Bandar Road. Hazrath Bal mosque contains a relic of the prophet, which is shown to the faithful once a year.

Amaravathi: 96 kms west of Vijayawada. The ancient Buddhist centre±there’s 2000 year old stupa here.

Ghantasala:  21 km before Machilipatnam; remains of an ancient Buddhist stupa. Manginipudi beach, Panduranga Swamy Temple at Chilakalpudi near it attracts many devotes.

Mangalagiri:  12kms south of Vijayawada, on the Guntur road. A temple dedicated to Vishnu in his Narasimha form (half-man, half-lion), on a hilltop, is a Hindu pilgrimage place.

Tenali: Small town near Guntur. Villages hold a fantastic bullock-cart race during the Pongal festival in mid-January.

Kondapalli: 16 kms from Vijayawada, a toy making centre several Buddhist stupas were discovered here.

Kolleru: Large fresh water lake, 95 kms from Vijayawada.

Ardu: The most important assembly point for pelicans in India.

Kuchipudi: The village from where the Classic dance originated.

Now inundated by lake water, the capital of the lkshuvkus, Vijayapuri  (town of victory), was brilliant centre of Buddhist culture from the second century AD onwards. The sage Nagarjuna founded a school of thought there, and Mahayana Buddhism flourished. Vijayapuri gradually came to be called Nagarjunakonda, Nagarjuna’s town, so great was the prestige of this religious centre and its founder.
The town was forgotten after AD 1000, and only in 1926 did excavations uncover the vestiges of tis ancient Buddhist civilization, at its zenith in the third and fourth centuries. Today, a large dam holding back the Krishna water has created a huge artificial lake, the Nagarjunasagar. The site of ancient Nagarjunakonda has vanished underwater. Its monuments have been housed at an island museum.

Nagarjunasagar Lake:
With and area of 380 its has a 124 m high dam. The water  irrigates the Krishna Delta, a great rice and Sugarcane producer. A hydro-electric plant also operates.

Ruins of Nagarjunakonda:
11 km upstream from the dam, the ruins of the ancient city have been gathered on an island on the lake. A museum at the foot of a hill on the island has a 4m high statue of the Buddha, and an interesting collection of Roman Coins with the heads of Tiberius and Hadrian, showing that south India and Rome trades at the beginning of the Christian era.

The biggest pilgrimage centre in South India, one of the most important temples in the  whole of India, certainly the richest. Lakhs of pilgrims come  here daily to have the darshan of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumalai Temple.
An incredible crowd queues up for a momentary glimpse of the idol of God, a 2m high raised stone to which four arms have been fixed, representing Vishnu. Here he is called Venkateswara. Tirumalai Temple is on the hill of the same name. It is  one of the seven hills compared with the seven heads of the God Adisesha, who protects the sleeping Vishnu.

Tirumalai Temple:
Built a long time ago, it was particularly revered by the Vijayanagar emperors, who enriched and embellished it in the sixteenth century. Fine statue of Krishna Deva Raya. Dravidian architecture: high gopurams and a gilded vimana above the shrine. Symbolic of its wealth there is a lot of gold in its temple. Ceremonies continue throughout the day. The big temple festival, Brahmotsavam, is held in September.

Govindarajaswamy: At Tirupati, dedicated to Lord Venkateswara’s brother.

Padmavathi Temple: At Tiruchanur, 5 km south-east of Tirupati. Dedicated to the goddess Padmavathi, wife of Venkateswara.

Sri Kalahasti: 36 kms away from Tirupati –an important temple of Lord Shiva.

Chandragiri: This was a prominent citadel during the last days of Vijayanagar empire.

Horsley Hills: 144 kms from Tirupathi-the only hill resort in Andhra Pradesh-sylvan spectacle of teak, red sanders and eucalyptus.

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