Saturday, February 5, 2011 to har hyderabadi janta hi!

The host of this Numaish is the lavish ground of Kamala Nehru Polytechnic and Vanita Maha Vidyala, this historical and entertaining event opens to public from 1st Jan to 15th Feb of every year. This All India Industrial Exhibition is known to be the biggest in the country with more than 2500 shops, is the place for most common things to a variety of things which we do not see them in any regular shopping places. The list include readymade garments, bedspreads, crafts, kitchenware, spicies, handy crafts, decorative items, fancy items, home appliances and house hold items. You will see most of the government department stalls with the display of information about their programs (as they claim) they offer to the public of AP.
We normally visit Numaish on 19th of Jan every year as this has some significance to us but we visited on 29th of Jan this year. It is always good to be at the venue by 4:00 Pm as you will easily get parking and there won’t be much crowd. Being winter the nights get colder so it is better to finish it before 9:00 PM to avoid the dust and cold.
The first surprise this year is the car parking charge at Rs. 80/- and the second being Rs. 20/- for entry ticket. The second one did not bother us much as the proceedings from this goes to the society which is supporting 18 different educational institutes in and around Hyderabad. We entered with lots of enthu this year as we have special list of items to purchase. Rohit picked up few bags of popcorn for keeping himself busy for the next 5 hours...of course some cola and ice-cream is also there in the list for him.
The other big thing in the exhibition is the amusement part; you have whole variety of rides which gives kids, adults a lot of thrilling experience. Never tried them in the past visits because Rohit was afraid of them and there used to be a huge crowd but this time our naughty ‘buks’ showed lot of enthu in getting into many of the rides alone...of course the ticket charge will make you think if you want your whole family to get into...;-).  That being the first hour we are the first ones at every ride. Some where Rohit saw the giant wheel is biggest in AP so i also got some enthu in getting onto giant wheel. We could see good portion of Hyderabad, a glimpse of Charminar, High Court and Macca Maszid from the top.
As we got down we just found another Charminar at the bottom...don’t be shocked for not knowing about this second one, this is build by emperor Zinda Tilismath for hosting their great old sarva roga nivarini(one medicine for all diseases). Being a Hyderabadi, felt ashamed if we don’t have Zinda Tilismath at home, so bought one. Gussa mat karo, I know theesra Charminar is at hi-tech city.
More than 50% of the stalls are for either readymade garments or bed sheets. Every time our shopping list includes bed sheets as you find variety of them from all corners of India at a very reasonable price. We felt the price this time will be higher due to ever increasing inflation but for our surprise they were low...of course at the cost of quality, so dropped them from the list.
Four our surprise we did not find stalls from electronic giants like TMC, Samsung, LG, Sony etc., this time, where we can have a glimpse of new electronic products, so felt little disappointed. However our legs are moving forward with full enthu as the software folks rarely give work to them…
Rohit is eagerly waiting for a bicycle shop to have a glimpse of his dream machine which he is going to get for his next birthday. This time his brand is Hercules, he found the ship in no time. Our question bank started asking yes/no questions; fill up the blanks and multiple choice questions to find all the information he wanted. Now, he has all he wanted about his next bike and just waiting for 3rd class final exams to over.
It is almost 3 hours past and our engine gave a reserve indicator asking us to refill. As we moved little further found lot of chat, chai, north, south, telengana, Andhra food stalls..of course seema food varieties also, all at five star prices. Your pocket warns and your engine wants. One thing I never miss to have in the Numaish is the Junnu(special  variety cheese made of milk in villages) which you get in dwakra bazar.
As we crossed this area, found lot of dry fruit stalls where there are numerous varieties of dry fruits in every stall. In general you need to have good bargaining skills (kanjush if you don’t need them). You should start at 30% to 40% of the price the vendor quotes. If you feel shy, you will end up paying double the price. Never buy packed dry fruits as they will be very old, looks good from outside tastes bad...yah! This is from my experiments with truth....:-)
Time for another round of fuel filling before you get out of the mela...finally had kichidi and buttermilk as our dinner before our wheels signalled us saying enough of it and first couple of the family warned us saying time to get home.

While on the way home, along with all other nonsense stuff, we were just discussing the days when this is the only exhibition in Hyderabad,  and that to once in a year, it used to be a remembering thing for whole year. But with the rapid growth of the city in the past decade, other places emerged like  our great shopping malls, Shilparamam, Hitex, peoples plaza and Nizam college grounds where you see variety of exhibitions and genuine discount sale happening year round. Here you don’t need any bargaining skills but you should listen to your high command otherwise you will never be able to close your account with Mr. Kubera(your credit card company) bakwas bund it...;-) For amusement you have film city, mount opera, ocean park, Jal Vihar, NTR Gardens, Lumbini Park, Necklace Road. The parking at these places is reasonable and they are in the serene locations....don’t take me wrong, ï know yaro hamara laskar may konsa bhi galli may jao, apko circus dikayega hamara cab and auto driver bhaio”, i am just comparing with Nampally.
Let me end it here as we reached home...time to wind up the day and get charged for our company annual day the next morning.... good nights!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE - Bhubaneswar-Puri-Konark

Discover India.....
For our wedding anniversary this year we thought of spending it in some memorable place.  We decided to visit Orissa especially the golden triangle which has both beaches and temples.  The state is known for its culture, architecture and Odissy dance.  Bubaneswar, Puri and Konark are equal distance from each other and connected like a triangle.  We travelled from Hyderabad to Bubaneswar in train and hired an indica cab for two days of site seeing.  Initially we felt Bubaneswar is like any other state capital may it also will have some shopping areas and couple of places to visit but for our surprise the experience was totally different. 
Bubaneswar is famous for superb Hindu temples and is also called the “City of Temples”. Bubaneswar means “The Abode of God”. Once the city was said to have 7000 temples but now there are 400 remained.  After almost a day and night journey checked into the hotel near by railway station and started our exploration.  Due to time limitation chosen to visit 1) Kandagiri & udaigiri 2) Dhauli 3) Lingaraj Temple 4) Mukteswar Temple 5) Rajarani Temple and 6) Iskon temple.  

Visited Udaigiri and Kandagiri first as exploring that will take some time and should better visit in a day light. This place is about 6 KM from city and they are two hills separated by a road. The hills are carved to make caves for jain monks to stay during 1st
century BC.  It was the monolithic stone made into several caves. The other hill has Jain temple on top of it. The caves were intact as they were created in a stone. It gave a nice feeling to the mind as we were seeing some thing created more than 2100 years ago.  From here we started to a place called Dhauli which is about 10 – 12 KMs from Udaigiri.  This place has a Buddhist stupa in the middle of green paddy fields and beside river Daya.  The place is once said to be a battle ground for the Kalinga war fought by greatest Mauryan emperor Ashok in 260 BC. He won the war and I think every one knows what happened after that.....started practicing non-violence and installed shanti stoopas in different parts of his empire.

While we are on the Udaigiri hills noticed a big temple greatly visible from almost 10 KMs, curious to know what temple it is and asked the driver, he said it is Lingaraj temple. The temple is said to be built in 11th century has 180 feet tall towering gopuram for lord siva who is prayed here as tribuvaneswar. It seems Bubaneswar got the name from it.  The temple complex also houses more than 100 small shrines along with the beautifully sculptured temple for Mata parvathi devi. The Lingaraj temple was a magnificent structure with great sculpture and a fest to the eyes. Every citizen of this country has great responsibility to protect these priceless marvels to show them to our future generations as they are still intact even after thousands of years. The whole project execution and management in building these wonders would have been greatest learning for this generation were we spend trillions of rupees for creating modern structures and hydro projects which collapse for one cyclone. These days it is easy to get a contract to execute a mega hydro project even though you do not have experience and expertise in building a 100 meter long drainage.....all that you need is blessings of a mantra or a beaerocrat....i am just deviating from our pleasant journey... let us get is not allowed here so missed to capture the pictures of the wonderful structure.  Just heard that there is a view point to have complete view to the magnificent structure and take pictures.  Explore this when you go there....

Our next place in our list is Mukteswara temple, another wonderfully crafted architectural marvel. Once nice thing is you can take pictures here. From here we visited Rajarani temple which also an architectural marvel and currently there is no deity inside the temple.  The temple is similar to Lingaraj temple in architecture and surrounded by a beautiful garden. You can take lot of picture but it was late in the evening our camera could not capture the pictures well. We wanted to wind up for the day and started back to the hotel but on the way we found ISKON temple and we could not resist visiting the temple.  Very nice prasadam is available for sale and tested almost every variety.

Our day-2 started in the morning towards Puri which is about 60 KMs from Bubaneswar and the road is very good. You travel alongside the sea for almost 10 – 15 KMs before you reach Puri. This was a great experience.  Puri is a most important pilgrim place for Hindus in India. Jagannath, Lord of the Universe, is an incarnation of Lord Sri Maha Vishu. While entering the town itself we get a sight of the towering structure raised to 213 ft high. It was only seen on TV during annual rituals, Ratha Yatra, but it is a dream come true to me and my family. We entered the temple complex which has a 20 ft high compound wall and a big entrance opened our spiritual gates. You need to have Luck and Lord Jaganath’s blessings to cross the scary crowd as there is no line and a low lying wooden gate, you will never notice until you hit it. Just managed to cross these and we were in the was a mesmerizing spiritual experience...the sight of Lord Jagannath, Balabadra and Subadra gave a fulfilling experience to my was an indescribable experience and I was not in this world for few seconds... The beauty is you are allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum where the deities are placed.  Luckily we had another round of darshan of Jaganthji which is very fulfilling.   

Thought of having lunch there and tried few restaurants on the temple road but none of them were good. The Puri beach is another wonderful attraction as it is very long and beautiful.  If you are lucky you can also sight the great sand sculptures by sudharshan patnaik on the beach. There are many hotels to stay in Puri on the side of the beach which has nice view to the beach. We missed this part as we booked our hotel room for two days in Bubaneshwar. We did not spend any time in the Puri beach as the driver said the Konark beach is also good and there is no crowd.

The last place in our trip is Konark which is about 60 KMs from Puri. As the roads are good we reached this place in an hour from Puri. The beach part is not done yet, reminded driver about it. It is just about a kilometre before the Konark temple great bay of Bengal invited us for a chilling experience. We just jumped out of the car to have the fun...packed ourselves back to visit the architectural wonder the Great Sun Temple at Konark which has 230 ft high tower on the main sanctuary which is visible from far. 

The stone used to build the temple was having iron mix in it. The guide explained us saying the deity of Lord Surya was said to be standing in between the two hundred ton magnetic stones one on the top and other on the bottom.  We are not lucky on that part as tsunami hit the cost few hundred years back and the temple was fully covered under sand for couple of centuries. It was only in 19th century the mega structure was discovered again but by that time the damage has been done. Whatever is available now is also worth seeing for its beautiful sculpture depicting life in those days.  Every stone is worth spending some time as you wonder the sculpture shows the advanced medical techniques and life style 1000 years back. You can take pictures of these marvels and keep them part of your treasure.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Leisure Trip to Kurnool District

As part of exploring Andhra Pradesh....

To get out of hustle and bustle of city life, we started for a weekend trip to Kurnool to cover Mantralayam, Belum Caves, Banaganapally, Yaganti, Mahanandi and Alampur. Kurnool is a treasure trove of natural resources like rivers, reservoirs, beautiful mountains, belum caves and famous temples. It was 1000 Km round trip and the journey to and fro Kurnool like a cruise on the free way.... it was unbelievable...

When little Rohit heard that we are travelling to rayalaseema...he was little hesitant to accompany us....thanks to tollywood. I had to explain him the beauty of factionism compared to terrorism and naxalism.

It was a pleasent experience at Mantralayam as there was no traffic and tungabadra is flowing full and visible from the temple. In the last 4 trips I never saw water in the river. Instead of taking a Jadcherla, Palamuru and Raichur road thought of exploring it from Beechupally on the Kurnool road. Took a right at Beechupally and crossed Gadwal and for my surprise heard that the bridge after Ieeja got damaged for last year floods. Had to struggle a lot through village bulluck cart road to reach mantralyam which was a life time experience. It was a happy end as there is not much rush at the temple and could have very pleasent darshan of Sri Raghavendra Swamiji. I could recollect the saying of hardwork leads to success......;-). Returned back to Kurnool on the same day and found another hardwork opportunity.. all the hotels were booked by students who were appearing for PHD exams the next morning...however again the saying goes correct...could get some thing on the Bangalore - Hyd highway. Got up early to start our exploration.....whether was too good.. 

The whole idea of the trip was to visit Belum Caves as i heard great about it from many who visited this place. The Belum Caves is a must visit place in India. It is an indescribable experience. I have also seen Borra Caves but these caves are many times better. The caves are very well maintained, well lit and easy to walk around. We could explore 1.5 KMs long and 1.5 Km way back in 2 hours time. There are nine exhausts provided into the caves to take out CO2 and provide fresh air. The guide provided by APTDC will explain the things and take you to cover the full distance if you have patience and time.                                
                                                                                              On the way to Belum caves you will pass through Bethamcherla which is a place where mining of polish stone is done and banaganapally where Sri Potuluri Veerabramendra swamy lived in 17th century. Also visited the cave where Veerabramendra swamy written the Kalagnanam.... The road from Betamcherla to Banaganapally passes through beautiful mountain range...for a while I felt like being at Grand Canyon. Just before the caves you will also see a telugu ganga project which NTR started to provide drinking water to Chennai. The reservoir is in the middle of the maintains and the location is beautiful. Bethamcherla stone was ruling the flooring world before marble flooring become affordable. Even today it is known for its strength and beauty. The same evening returned to Nandyal to stay overnight and start in the morning to Mahanandi.  I would suggest staying in Mahanandi as there is very good accommodation available now. There is APTDC Punnami and other hotels available.

The joy of bathing in fresh water in mahanandi pushkarini is a different experience. Rohit and I took bath there and went for sivayya Darshan. The way from nandyal to Mahanandi is about 15 KM which is so green and covered with Banana plantation either side.  On the way back we found beautiful yellow rock formations about 15 KM before Kurnool. It was a place for taking beautiful photographs. Also there is APTDC restaurant..Haritha Rock Garden.. which serves food in the middle of this natural beauty. It is worth stopping for photographs. If you are adventurous can get into trekking was a sunny day so team preferred having ice cream instead of tea / coffiee...  From Nandyal the other option is to visit Ahobilam temple if you have time as it takes about a day to cover all the temples. We did not do as we wanted to reach home by evening.

Could get an opportunity to visit goddess Jogulamba temple at Alampur on the way back to Hyd from Kurnool. It is about 20 - 25 KM from Kurnool. This temple is the 5th shakti peetam and was built in 6gth century as per the history. However it was rebuilt few years back.  During Sept, 2009 floods this temple was submerged. As it happens to be Navratri time the wish of having durga matha darshan is also fulfilled. This is the place Tungabadra meets Krishna and is the starting of srisailam reservoir.

Next destinations....Kaleshwaram, Ramappa, Antharvedi.....