A walk through culture- Heritage town, Pondicherry

I was visiting my a town for my friend’s  wedding this week. The bus journey took me through many tiny villages which I used to see through the bus window as a kid. I started to realize that they changed as it happens to any place with time. Many new built houses which lost the ‘Telangana village house’ touch, youth wearing all the modern attire, shops with modern names written in abused Telugu. There were old people with wrinkled faces still wearing traditional Telangana attire and jewellery like those few old houses which almost looked hunched.

It is not bad to get along with the world, I am not against it. Learning new things,  following trends and imitating others is inevitable in this time. But my only worry is that once these old faces fade away, bodies with the traditional attire die and the house are demolished,  there won’t be any difference between the Telangana Village or some random village in North India or some place in western world ( except  the faces) .  The whole heritage will be lost in time. Traveling won’t be an experience any more. It would just be a task. You just go to this particular place, take pictures and come back. I really am not sure whether  thinking this way is proper, but I simply dislike Globalization.

Talking about heritage takes to me to the Heritage town, Pondicherry. When I was a preparing a list of places to be seen in Pondicherry, I came across walking/ cycle tours through heritage town, Pondicherry. Which made me wonder. As it happens our hotel was located in the heritage town itself. So one evening we wanted to explore the area by foot.

Those colorful french houses...
Those colorful french houses…

Heritage townHeritage town

Pondicherry used to be a french colony. Heritage town, Pondicherry is a kind of colony with planned and structured streets. There are many perpendicular and parallel roads and it is pretty easy to get lost. You can wander for hours in the streets without getting to your destination, if you are lost. The houses have this typical french or traditional tamilnadu building styles. Those buildings are now used as residential complexes, schools, offices and even heritage hotels. This is also a prominent shopping area where all major brand stores are located. You get various options for street food.

Early Tamilian houses , this one is used as a school now
Early Tamilian houses , this one is used as a school now
These kids stopped us and asked us to take a snap and posed
These kids stopped , asked us to take a snap and posed
I have spotted many 'mini towers'like this in Pondi
I have spotted many ‘mini towers’ like this in Pondi
I have never seen Police in any other city with this attire and a cap/ hat like this one.
I have never seen Police in any other city with this attire and a cap/ hat like this one.

As we got lost multiple times, a 1 km to the beach  walk took  more than 40 mins for us. But this was a worthy effort as we could see these beautiful buildings en route.

Gandhi memorial at beach
Gandhi memorial at beach
PROMENADE BEACH @ sundown
PROMENADE BEACH @ sundown

As I was emphasizing earlier, If you have a special heritage, it is crime not to preserve it properly. INTACH is doing that job in Pondicherry. Kudos to their efforts.

INTACH, Pondicherry
INTACH heritage center, Pondicherry

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Shore temple; Mahabalipuram

It is not just the temple, not just the architecture; It is the location, it is the background  music of the tide hitting the rocks, it is the breeze which lifts the spirit, it is the  view of  deep blue water merging with sky at some distant point which make you fall in love with the temple. The shore temple, Mahabalipuram is part of monuments which were recognized by UNESCO as world heritage site.

Shore temple
temple Late afternoon
Me at shore temple. This was in the compound garden outside the temple complex.
Me at shore temple. This was in the compound garden outside the temple complex.
He at the temple, Inside the compound. The one behind had Shiva and the one showing has Vishnu
He at the temple, Inside the compound. The one behind had Shiva and the one showing has Vishnu

This temple was probably used as a landmark for navigation for ships.  I do not want to go into too much  details  of history or  architecture as you can simply find them in Wiki. This is a  three temple complex located on the shore of Bay of Benagal  in Mahabalipuram, making it the shore temple. This shore temple  was built by  Pallava dynasty in 8th century AD.  A pair of temples were on the same platform. The one facing east is the temple of Shiva and behind there is temple of Reclining Vishnu. The temples are pyramidal in shape. Other interesting things are the miniature shrine in the complex and the Monolithic lion. There were numerous Nandi statues on the compound wall.  You don’t need much time to visit the temple but you can enjoy sitting on the rocks behind the temple overlooking sea.

Temple of Lord Shiva
Temple of Lord Shiva

Shore temple

Vishnu in reclining pose which is very uncommon to find in temples.
Vishnu in reclining pose which is very uncommon to find in temples.

You can also spend some time in the beach, but you need to walk a long way to reach the beach which is actually lying next to the temple as they blocked the  direct gates from temple to the beach.

Shore templeMonolithic lion

Nandiiii
Nandiiii

Shore templeShore temple

The beach had a small shopping area where you can buy some hand made sea shell things. In beach you can enjoy raw mangoes cut and sprinkled with chilli powder and salt, go on a horse ride or just enjoy a bath.

Mahabalipuram hosts dance festivals every year at this temple . There was one when we went but we had to go back to Pondicherry by evening. This  shore temple along with other monuments makes Mahabalipuram an awesome place to visit.

For more places and monuments from Mahabalipuram and many more posts.. stay tuned. Like my Facebook page, follow me on Insta. Subscribe for regular updates.

A day out to Golkonda Fort

Helloo friends!! This in another proof to say I am too lazy. I started this series  with intention of writing at least one post a month and see now I literally forgot about it. However I  got a sudden impulse to make another post. This time I am going to write about the day out to Golkonda fort.

Golkona fort

The entrance with heavy doors
The entrance with heavy doors

Golkona fort

The official venue for flag hoisting on August 15 ( Independence day ) has been shifted from parade ground to Golkonda fort last year … and why not? Golkonda fort stands as a symbol of  Telangana history, power and prosperity.

Golkona fortGolkona fort

A hall
A hall
Rani Mahal Light and sound show happens here
 Open court
Light and sound show happens here
Some stone ruins
Some stone ruins
The never ending stone steps
The never ending stone steps
Don't ask me, what was I looking at
Don’t ask me, what was I looking at

The 800 year old fort stood watching the change of powers, withstood many battles and represents engineering marvels of earlier brains.

Golkona fort

City and fort view from the top
City and fort view from the top

Golkona fort

Baradari, top most place
Baradari, top most place

Earlier when I visited as a child the fort was in some distance to the city. Now with expansion of city, it became part of it. It is surrounded by a huge rock wall which protects an area with a 10 km circumference.

Golkonda name was derived from It was first built as a mud fort by Kakathiya dynasty. ( To read about other wonderful works by Kakathiya dynasty, read Ramappa ) .  

Later it was occupied by Bahmani dynasty and from them to Qutubshahi dynasty. The later developed the once simple mud fort to a massive fort with architectural wonders. The acoustic works are especially astounding. The fort is built in  such a way that sound made at a specific point near the entrance (lowest point of fort) reaches the highest point of the fort (Bala hisar pavilion). The mechanism is supposedly  made to warn the royal family in situations of threat.

I don’t want to write about the entire history and architecture for it would take up 2-3 posts. One thing worth mentioning is its relation with few world famous diamonds. The Golkonda fort used to harbor some famous diamonds found in Andhra pradesh. These include Koh-i-noor and Hope diamonds.

We spent some 4-5 hrs at this place. Climbing all the stairs took a lot of time, later we took some rest at the baradari. There is a mini canteen where you can get some drinks.

There will be a sound and light show which is enjoyable.

Tips

It is advisable to go only on some less sunny day.

Best to carry water bottles with you.

It will be very difficult if you take  small kids or very old people with you. The stairs are made with rock and it’s troublesome to climb them. Include Sound & light show in your plan.

Timings

9:00 -5:30 daily, Entry- Rs 5/- for Indians, Rs 100/- for foreigners.

Visiting time- 3-4hrs

Sound & light show: 1st Show English (All Days) 2nd Show in Telugu on Monday, Wednesday & Friday, and Hindi on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday. Show Timings: (Nov to Feb) 1st Show 6:30pm 2nd Show 7.45pm (Mar to Oct) 1st Show 7:00pm 2nd Show 8.15pm

Fee: Ranges from 80rs to 140rs.

If you see  itineraries of Hyderabad from any travel companies , you will find Golkonda Fort as the first place in a day.

I hope this is helpful, Don’t forget to visit this place on your trip to Hyderabad.

 

Gangaikonda cholapuram: Photo essaay on an ancient and amazing temple.

Gangaikonda cholapuram is an ancient Chola temple located in Tamilnadu which has been recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site as a group of  “Great living Chola temples” . To know more about it, read my article in Safari plus here.

Magnificient temple which catches your eye from the distance.
Tall and heavy sculpture at the entrance
Tall and heavy sculpture at the entrance
The grand Nandi statue
The grand Nandi statue
185ft Vimana
185ft Vimana

Gangaikonda cholapuram

Me eating, see how small I look with the statue behind
Me eating, see how small I look with the statue behind
Sculpture with very intricate craft work
Sculpture with very intricate craft work

Gangaikonda cholapuramentrance from the side

Unknown inscriptions
Unknown inscriptions
Small shrine on side
Small shrine on side
Mandapa on one side
Mandapa on one side

Gangaikonda cholapuramGangaikonda cholapuram

Excavated sulptures
Excavated sculptures

Gangaikonda Cholapuram

From behind
From behind
Gnana Saraswathi Devi
Gnana Saraswathi Devi

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Pride of Hyderabad -Charminar

hi dearies !!!!!!I am back with the post in the ‘Amazing Hyderabad ‘ series. The very first thing I am going to talk about is obviously ‘The Charminar ‘. The reason i said ‘obviously ‘ is that Charminar is the most famous spot in Hyderabad. In childhood whenever we got a question like ‘Write about the torist places in  Hyderabad ‘ ,the list would start with Charminar . In many Telugu pictures if they want to show that any actor arrived at Hyderabad ,they would show Charminar ( symbolism ) ; Forget that ,even if you Google ‘Hyderabad ‘ ,the first page picture is of ‘Charminar’.

So I think it is appropriate to start the list with it.

Charminar

Charminar literally means ‘Four towers’ ( Char =4 ,Minar =towers )

History

charminar

Charminar was constructed in 16 th century by Mohammad Kuli Kutubshah. ( You can read his love story  & story of Hyderabad here ) . There are various theories circulating as of why it was built .Mostly accepted theory says that Charminar was built at the center of the city, to commemorate the eradication of plague”, a deadly disease which was wide spread at that time . Another theory says that it was built to celebrate the Second Islamic millennium year.

charminar

Architecture and Structure

charminar

It is of Indo-Islamic architecture style, incorporating Persian architectural elements. The main part of the structure is square with of 20 mtr height with 4 towers,each of 56mtr at each corner. The central structure has a small water body with a fountain.

The towers have steps (It is very much  strenuous to mount those steps  ,it is an extremely  dark,cozy and tight place . If one misses a step ,you can not imagine how much damage that can cause. )

The minars and the interiors at many places offer a visual feast with delicate ,fine carvings . I really advice you to visit at sunset as you can get a spectacular view of sunset over the old city of Hyderabad.

charminar

charminar
Roof

charminarcharminar

 

 

charminarcharminar

 

charminarcharminar

 

 

charminar

charminar

How to reach

Being a metro city ,Hyderabad offers many means of transportation . I am planning to dedicate one entire post for this in future.

 Never understood why people do this
Never understood why people do this

Timings

9 am t0 5:30 pm,Open on all days of week.

entrance fee

For Indians a nominal fee of 5rs.

charminar
Busy Old city from the top of Charminar
Temple on the lap of Charminar
Temple on the lap of Charminar

Things to do

charminar
Mecca masjid from charminar
  •  Visit Charminar and enjoy the beauty ,which takes around 1 to 1 and half hr.
  •  Visit Mecca musjid ,which is just few steps away.
  • Shop : Charminar is one of the prominent street shopping areas of Hyderabad. You can find jewellery ,clothes,bags and much more.
  • Pearls : Remember Hyderabad is known as pearl city . You can find many Jewellery shops around Charminar, some of them are exclusive for pearls.
  • Food  : Street food is very tasty here. In Ramdhan month ,you can find many Haleem stalls . You can also find famous Osmania and Nilofer biscuits (cookies) in bakeries around Charminar.
    Street shopping
    Street shopping

    charminar

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SUNSET @ WARANGAL FORT

Bathukamma : a history , a heritage , a childhood

The colorful ones
                                            The colorful ones

Happy sunday friends !! Since the beginning of Navarathri my heart i have been brooding over the fact that i could not be part of ‘ Bathukamma celebrations ‘ this time . I f you do not belong to Telangana or AP states , there are few chances of having heard about ‘Bathukamma ‘ .But for us it’s a part of our lives . No one can separate Telangana and Bathukamma from each other . No wonder when the Telangana movement ( Before separation from AP ) was in full bloom Bathukamma was played everywhere regardless of season .President of an organization ‘TELANGANA JAGRUTHI’  MP Kavitha has penetrated the masses ,could reach and flatter many women hearts during the movement by organizing many nonseasonal Bathukamma events and encouraging local women to participate in them. Then the events were organized at many temples, schools ,colleges even offices .Her gracious presence in each of those places with Bathukamma had won  crores of hearts  .There was no meeting , no rally or strike where Bathukamma was not celebrated .Bathukamma has almost become an icon for Telangana .

I know I am going into too much of politics . I have no interest in them . My love for  Bathukamma began in my childhood . As by the age of 4 or 5yrs ( as far as i remember )we are allowed to and ordered to take part in it. Before going into all the things let me give you a short   (hi)story .

Bathukamma is not just a festival for women. It is a festival to worship feminity in the nature ,where flowers represent women.Mythological story tells about Goddess Gouri after feeling humiliated by Lord Shiva’s comments on her dusky complexion , prayed for Brahma who eventually gave her a golden color . That is why in the center of every Bathukamma there will be a turmeric lump representing her . There is another story of a King who was desperate for kids but all his male new born babies end up dying . He requests all nearby saints to bless him with a heir .So when the Queen gives birth to a baby girl ,all saints come to bless her ‘Bathukamma’ ( literally means ‘long live amma’ ) .

Bathukamma                         The typical bathukamma

Bathukamma

Bathukamma                     various sizes and shapes

 

 

 

 

 Foreign Bathukamma , made with atypical flowers as the routine one's are not available there.This just shows how seriously our people take the festival
Foreign Bathukamma , made with atypical flowers as the routine one’s are not available there.This just shows how seriously our people take the festival

 

 

 

 women ready to play
                                women ready to play , see the  creative decorations and the glowing faces

BathukammaIt is celebrated for 9 days .The first day is called ‘Boddemma’, the last day is ‘Saddula Bathukamma’ . Everyone of the household will be busy for those 9 days. It starts in the morning all old children and teenagers are sent to market to buy heaps of flowers . After a short  siesta the real work starts . First thing is preparing Bathukamma ;it is an art . Flowers arranged in various rows in a cone shape.It actually takes more than 2 hrs .Second stage is making a snack. It is not that simple cause you have to for at least 20 people and you have to make one special item each day . Third is getting ready for celebration. In childhood it was almost like a fashion parade for me. Mom used to pick one kind of dress for each day like midi one day ,parikini one day ,frock ,saree,half saree etc etc .

Once everything is done by around 5 in the evening , women and children with Bathukamma and snack boxes in hands start for the venue .In our place it is the bank of the river’Godavari’ . Where everyone will gather to divide themselves into small groups who arrange all their respective Bathukammas and snack boxes in a circle ;start playing around it singing lovely songs.

The songs seemed to me really playful in childhood but now when i think about them i can find stories , histories (mainly of Kakthiya Dynasty) ,mythology ,anthropology in them . They pass from one generation to other . My grandmother taught me few.

While the women sang songs and played ‘Bathukamma’ in circles , kids run and play in sand. With the creeping darkness , they would declare end of that day’s session . That would be a great news for us as we get to have snacks . Women with help of elderly children walk into the waters of the river ‘Godavari’ to release ‘Bathukamma’ ,then they ask children to go in batches to distribute the snacks they prepared . Everyone gets chance to taste snacks of everyone else . Boy!! It was like a huge feast . And this happens daily . No wonder used to get craving for the festival throughout the year .

 

It is so sad to say that becoming a doctor has ruined my festival. These days i hardly get chance to go down to my place.

I spent all these navarathri days in guilt and gloom . I really hope to participate at least in next ‘Bathukamma’

 

Photo courtesy – my buddies Manasa and Kavitha .Thank you babies!!!!!!!

If you guys are interested in watching a visual on Bathukamma there are many videos.One of it is linked below

.Bathukamma song

 

SUNSET @ WARANGAL FORT

IMG_0120After living in WARANGAL for so many years , if I do not write about it ,that’s an absolute stupidity. Because there is always so much to tell about our place. WARANGAL has so many historical places which are still alive. WARANGAL FORT is one of them . Everyone who comes to Warangal wants to visit that . I myself took almost 50-60 of my friends & relatives . It took around 15-20 visits.

warangal fortWarangal fort is located near the city of Warangal . A thick stone built wall is seen surrounding it which looks pretty strong still . When we enter through the gate , there is a small town . Penetrating the town will take you to a huge stone built hall which is said to the DARBAR of KAKATHIYA DYNASTY .  We can go to the top of that building . ( But the stairs are soooo uncomfortable ).History says it was built in 13th century.

Ruins at Warangal Fort, Andhra Pradesh43543Further expeditions will take you to the ruins of what once had been  a structure of beautiful art of KAKATIYA time . There are some temples , single stone elephants , pillars carved from head to toe. There will be a LIGHT & SOUND SHOW  in the evening for 45 mins.

IMG_0173Opposite to these ruins there is another complex with a kids park & a temple on the hill. It has a separate entrance fare.  The first picture was taken on the hill top . This is supposed to be a surveillance spot for the protection of fort. Rumors about a secret passage from here to RAMAPPA are widespread. It would be soooo exciting to find that .

IMG_0184HOW ?

Reaching WARANGAL is simple. It has bus  connections from many cities . KHAJIPET JN which is a major railway junction is like a twin to WARANAL. Nearest airport is in HYDERABAD. But soon there going to be an airport in WARANGAL itself.

WHERE ?

Fort is located just next to WARANGAL city.

WHEN ?

Throughout the year.

WHAT ?

WARANGAL FORT  has a entertainment zone for kids. ( Which was inaugurated on my birthday ). Warangal city has famous temples , monuments, theatres , shopping zones . You can go & visit RAMAPPA & LAKNAVARAM as well.

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