"The Spirit of Hyderabad" - through my eyes!!!
Life was gyrating towards a very monotonous direction as well as work life. So my buddy & I, decided to plan a forced holiday (or you can say forced a planned holiday) out of the blue! In order to surprise our travel buds, we immediately started google-ing, scheming and budgeting out tricky holiday package of just two nights J. While discussions were going in and around my mind, as to where should we head—a place that is not only worth visiting, but also nearer to Bangalore (& within budget of course!). “Hyderabad”, I heard someone whispering. Yes it was the name of the “Hi-Tech” city that echoed around. Without wasting any time, called up our friend in Hyderabad and literally ordered him to make our staying arrangements for the coming weekend. And there we are, no stopping any further, with lots of excitement filled inside, packed our bags full and headed towards the city of pearls.
This was my first visit to this “Hyder's Abode" or "Lion City" as is named.
Now here I am going to prescribe you a worthwhile yet amusement-filled explicit itinerary for 2 nights and 3 days in Hyderabad.
And the journey begins...
Paradise Food Court
For a foodie like me, my first exploration destination was at one of the most popular restaurant in the city—The Paradise Food Court. After a 12 hrs long overnight journey a hearty lunch is a must, before any other adventures. And my generous lunch was obviously the world-famous Hyderabadi Biryani. We ordered for both chicken and mutton biryani, both were extremely delicious, the latter bagging precedence over in terms of taste. The ambience was quite hygienic and the quantity of food was ample. The taste was so lingering that three of us were surviving literally on biryani for all the three days of our stay. Quite satiated a story!!
My next stop, but the first tourist destination was the world-famous centerpiece of Hyderabad, the “the 400 year old monument Charminar”. Translated as “four” for char and “minar” for towers, it is the Mosque with Four Minarets/Towers”. It is situated in the very heart of the city, a majestic monument that allows us to have bird’s eye view of the dynamic city of Hyderabad from atop it.
With the amazing cool breeze blowing, surprisingly only within the Charminar, you can gaze at the festive crowd of Ramzan all around the bustling city from above.
Tucked away in one of the various “galis” emerging from the charminar is the famous Laad Bazaar. Also known as “Choodi Bazaar”, this one is renowned for its much-publicized lacquer bangles studded with artificial diamonds, semi-precious stones, Hyderabadi pearls, perfumes, gold embroidered fabrics, traditional saris and Khara Dupattas etc. The motto of this market is—everything is cheap only if you are well-conversant with bargaining.
Bilal Ice Cream Parlour
If you are a crazy ice-cream fan like me, just don’t miss going to Bilal Ice Cream parlor, opposite Karachi bakery in Mozamjahi Market. A chilled-out place, with an authentic look inside provides really good ice-creams at economical prices starting only with 25 bucks (two scoops)!!. The pot creams available in various flavors—fresh mango, pista, litchi, karbuza etc. will surly mollify your appetite.
Next we three musketeers headed towards the holy Hindu temple “Birla Mandir”, dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara. Before entering you will be departed from even your mobiles and cameras, as per its high tight security. This temple is situated on one of the highest peak point of Hyderabad, and so you can have an appealing view of almost all the prime spots of the city such as Golconda fort, Charminar, GVK one, Hussain Sagar lake, Snow world and the magnificent tank bund with Buddha statue. The entire temple is made of white marbles, from the steps to the idols, providing a serene and peaceful aura all around.
Inorbit Mall & Shilpa Park
After a tiring day of sight-seeing around, while on our way back to hotel we decided to peep in to the largest mall in South India, the Inorbit Mall. The beautiful water fountain in the entrance of the mall gives an elegant touch to its photogenic features. A spacious one but crowded shopping center in Hyderabad, making it a perfect hang-out getaway for the evenings.
After an all too short half hour there, we headed for Shilpa Park, the place where I and my friends were staying. Shilpa park, in Kondapur is one of the recently-developed residential area. It is only 2 kms away from Hitec city and far away from the crowd and pollution of the city, making it more popular amongst the non-local professionals working there. A fun-filled night with naughty chats, nonsense talks, friendly insults, moody booze, snaps-in-the-midnight-along-roadside and delicious food, really made this holiday trip worth paying for.
GVK One Mall
This one I would say is the best place to hang-out with numerous options available at one stop. The huge water aquarium at the very entrance of GVK One Mall provides a mesmerizing view for the visitors. It is India’s largest standing salt water aquarium; with colorful varieties of fishes dancing inside, it is a must-see place for the tourists.It is quite photogenic too, so don’t forget to click some awesome clicks with the stunning background.
I had never experienced any 4D effect before, so I opted to go for their short 4D movies. 100/movie for 15mins was quite reasonable I guess. Then after a hearty lunch at kfc, we headed off to our next destination.
As the name suggests it’s all about EAT your favorite food in a decorated STREET besides the lake (gonna write about the lake later) Fantastic concept and definitely a wow place for a great hang out!
Another great place on the banks of the huge lake; a beautiful park for people from every age group. Boating, jet ski, sailing is available inside the park. You can board and sail towards the magnificent statue of Lord Buddha that is situated in an island in midst the lake, from there. It was a very pleasant evening to relax there with friends, with cool breeze blowing and enjoying the scenic view of Hussain Sagar lake.
Hussain Sagar Lake
Flowing through the bosom of the city is this one vast lake that separates the two twin cities-Hyderabad & Secunderabad. The fascinating Buddha statue in midst of the lake is a treat to watch, especially when it changes its color of light in the evenings. The main entrance is through the Lumbini Park and it’s very enthralling to walk alongside the lake in the evenings. A very photogenic experience!
Prasads IMAX is the largest and probably the cheapest of all other IMAX(s) in the country. Tickets are just for Rs. 250/person as compared to Bangalore Imax (Rs. 550/person!!). If you want to confront a real-time big screen experience, this is a must-go and excellent place. Even the eatables are cheaper. Movie lovers, definitely go for this impressive and very economical 3D adventure if you are in Hyderabad.
Ramoji Film City
Our last and most awaited tourist destination was the great Ramoji Film City. Every single person who knew about our trip or who we asked suggestions to, had said only one thing “If you’re going Hyderabad, do not miss RFC!”. And I was quite determined to find out what the buzz is all about. Even if my partner was least interested, I know very well how to get my way always.
Ramoji Film City (RFC)—the world’s largest integrated film studio complex (Guinness’s world record holder) is undoubtedly a must-visit in this region. This huge entertainer is spread over 2,000 acres (8.1 kms) of land and is regarded as the most popular tourist spot of the state. The entry fees are 700 for general and around 2000 for special package. The tour includes guided tours in special vintage red buses. The guides were quite funny while describing various locations of RFC. This enormous recreation center contains both natural and artificial attractions for tourists including parks, rides, shows, games etc., providing a total fun-filled entertainment as well as adventure package for tourists.
The most impressive thing of this estate is its utter cleanliness and peaceful surrounding. You will be taken across different shooting spots. You can see the authentic but artificial Mughal Haveli, international cum domestic airport & flight setup, Indian mythological setup, city as well as village setup of railway stations etc. The fictitious multipurpose buildings presented as hospitals, libraries, and church, restaurants etc. will really make you think of all those films you have watched and how you have been fooled by the reel effect. In two minutes you will get to make a foreign trip across London/Paris road without any visa or passport! Amazing sets, beautiful locations and magical imitations I must say.
RFC is surrounded with plenty of trees, flowers and greenery all around. You will be literally tired after travelling across those various gardens with peculiar themes such as—Butterfly Park, Bonsai gardens, Leg garden, Japanese garden, Rock garden, Hawa Mahal and so on.
After visiting the whole area, the buses will leave you at the Eureka (the central court) and let you explore the city by yourself. But one thing you should keep in mind is that you should follow the show timings and directions as given in the RFC pamphlet. Usually the ones who messes up with the show timings and misses the shows/attractions, passes on horrible reviews about the film city. But, it’s nothing like that, follow the instructions, if any confusion the help desk is there in every corner to guide you and you won’t miss anything. Rather, if you go on the flow you would not even get an idle moment to waste. You require a full day to thoroughly enjoy all the attractions with your family/friends.
There are good hotels and food corners inside the city with varieties of food and snacks. Quality and quantity, both are reasonable enough. There is a mishmash of stage shows, street shows, and rides for kids as well as adults inside the film city. There are attractions trills like action theatre (to understand the making of a Film and cinematography), filmy duniya (get a glimpse of the various filmy locations of the world), Ramoji Tower (4D show with compelling effects of an earthquake) and borasura (the ultimate play zone).
The manifold of shows like the opening & closing ceremony, Movie-magic, Wild West Show (the stunt show), Spirit of Ramoji show, dome theatre show and other street shows is like a treat of your eyes. There were many complimentary as well as paid rides, but as am a scary head myself, I preferred only the Carousel.
Overall the experience was worth visiting (you should if you are in Hyderabad), but it would have been more superlative if the number of attractions were more and the shows were improved to a bit higher level. The entry fee seems to be increasing with time, but with the same amount of entertainment. Otherwise it is a good place to bring out the lost childhood in you. A worthy getaway, afar from all the tension & worries of your busy life, and a full-fledged amusement park.
The journey ends…
So this was it, the attainment of a memorable journey. It ended in a quite rush-hour mode as we had a bus to catch in 3 hrs the same day. But of course, we made it! Hurrying through a quick freshen-up at my friend’s place and another generous biryani dinner, we boarded the bus to Bangalore with my final shopping binge—the yummy “Karachi biscuits” that Hyderabad is famous for!