Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu

"The Lost City" as its been called was unknown under sea, which only got revealed when Tsunami unearthed the surroundings, the city called Mahabalipuram

Its 52km from Chennai and we started off on 9/21/2009 from West Tamberam (Hired Taxi for 100Km 10hr@ Rs 1310). Its an little above an hour journey and one can see plenty of upcoming resort construction just near the sea shore. There is Rs 25 as panchayat fee when you enter the temple area, plus 10 for parking and finally Rs 10 for temple entrance which can be reused to visit other temples in that area.

The temple (normally called shore temple) area is well maintained and is fenced surroundings. Its just few meters from sea shore and adjacent to the temple is local sea shops as it used to be in sea shore. Stones can be seen as melted by sea water and inside view of the temple is not open for public, the back side of temple has one room where one can see a big broken "Shiv Lingam". One side of the temple has this lion stone with a hallow gap in the chest, inside the hallow is another sculpture of some gods. The temple is surrounded by a stone wall on which a stone carved in "Cow" shape is placed.

Just a km from this temple is another area to visit "Panch Rathas" (Fine Carrots), you can use the same ticket which you have purchased for shore temple. These are said to be five Rath (Carrots) of Pandava's. All these five Ratha's are carved out of single stone and are named after five Pandava's. Pic on the left side shows the entrance of this area, four individual stones are visible and the one is on the back side counting to five Rath's. 

The first Rath is named after Draupadi, next to it is Arjun's, in front of it is Nakul-Sahdev's Rath The longest and the biggest one is of Bhima's Rath (see pic on right) which is said to be still incomplete. And the last tall one is of the Udhistar's Rath (bottom).

Half km from this site is a Arjuna's Penance place where you will find the following sculpture on single stone. There is a light house and a hike behind this stone.

There are plenty of things to explore here other then what mentioned in this blog.

For more information of this place, visit

Golconda Fort, Hyderabad

This fort was constructed on a hill which was once the territory of Kakatiya Kings of Warangal in 1143 A.D. During the Kingdom of Raja Pratap Rudra Dev, a shepherd sugggested to him the desirability of constructing a fort on this hill, the Raja welcomed this idea and constructed a "Kucha" bulwark calling it after the name of the shepherd "Golconda" (Golla means shepered and Konda means Hill, thus Shepherd's Hill), as the capital of the Rajas was Warangal. Raja Krishna Dev of Warangal handed over the fort to Mohammed Shah on of Bahmani dynasty under a pact Mohammed Shah called the fort Mohammadnagar. This name can be found in Governments record even today. Initial building wasn't as strong as we see today, its later when Sultan Mohd Quli Qutaub Shah (fifth King)  built it further to its fullest. He is also the founder of Mecca Masji Hyd and the Hyderabad city itself. Seven kings of Qutub Shahi dynasty ruled over Golconda and first three kings constructed the Golconda fort in a period of 62 years, the fifth king Mohd Quli Qutaub Shah laid a city Bhagnagar after the name of his beloved Bhagmati, it is the city which is now called Hyederabad.

I started off from Hitec City to Kondapur then to Golconda Road (45 mins by auto), from there we have direct auto to Golconda (15mins). The first pic above is taken just after the entrance gate. The right one here is from outside the fort boundry.

Ticket is around 10 Rs and soon after/near the entrance you will greeted with plenty of tour guides both locals and authorized one demanding Rs 250 (official rate) for showing the fort. Well I thought its more prudent to see around by myself, took pics and then google its history back home (but if you are with family/friends etc, its worth having the guide).

This is the entrance gate called "Balahissar", and opposite to this is a wall called "Curtain Wall" is built so that enemy don't get enough space in front to attack like using elephants etc to break the gate. This Balahissor gate has a oil hole from top through which they pour hot oil over the enemies entering the gate. Just after this gate is one notable construction, there is one particular square built on floor standing on which if you clap, the vibration generated through that propagates towards the top of the fort several feet away. Interestingly if you clap away from that square the vibration is not generated. 

You require 2-3 hours to look around the whole area, you start from your right side path, goes to the top to Baradari Place (General Assembly Hall) and came back from other side back to entrance gate. There are 360 steps (usually called Baradari Steps) which leads to this hall, I am not sure if this count is one sided or total from start to end (back to entrance)

This is Qutub Shahi Mosque. This is built by Sultan Ibrahim Qutub Shah and is believed to be very old construction in this fort. This lies on the way of Baradari Place (Assembly Hall). The steps will tire you up but then forts are all like this. There is one temple of Maa Durga (Hindu Goddess) past this tomb on right side. A fair is held every Ashsd month where pilgrims come here in thousands from twin cities of Hyderabad and Secundrabad. 
Also few steps away from this mosque on your left side (down stairs), there you will see a room where RamDas (Tahsildar of Bhadrachalam during the rule of Abul Hasan Tana Shah), he was a founder of Ram Mandir (Ram=> Hindu God, Mandir=>Temple) He was kept at this jail and one can find the hand drawn idols of Hindu Gods on walls inside. A great fare takes place at Bhadrachalam were pilgrims comes to see idols at the time of Ram Navami.

On the top of the fort is the Baradari Place. This is two storied building with open terrace on the top, where Qutub Shahi Kings used to enjoy the surrounding view of the country side. There is an audience hall and open space fo the erection of pandal. An opening is said to be the mouth of an underground secret passage to Goshamahal at the distance of 8 km was used by the Qutub Shahi Kings on occasions of emergency and danger.

On ground floor is the canteen with some refreshments.
Country side view from this place.

Each evening Admins organize a laser show in the downhall (ticket Rs 50), I didn't waited that long to see it but hope its worth watching as it will brief you the history of this fort in audible way. You can see the light equipments mounted on the walls.

Most of the fort walls are ruined now, where admins are trying to reconstruct some of them. We are now the other side of the steps and this side contains few other ruined palace and buildings where arms and ammunition were kept, security lines, water storage blocks etc. Body gaurd line is shown in the pic on right side which you will find while getting down from Baradari Place. Baradari Place is in top in the pic (right)

Passing this and the place where laser shows are held will lead you to Taramati Palace, in front of this building is big garden and a path which will lead you back to the entrance gate. There few others (in fact plenty) of buildings to see but then you know without guide you are on you own, as already burned out, I decided to head back. This is just on the entrance gate and right to this is from where you start and left to this is where you end up after seeing the fort.

See complete pics at

Chowmahal, Hyderabad

There are several places to see in Hyderabad one of them is Chowmahal. The "Chow" means "Four" and "Mahal" means Palace, therefor it means Four Palaces. The Chowmahalla complex which is a replica of the Shah’s Palace in Teheran, Iran today consists of two courtyards with elegant palaces, the grand Khilwat (the Durbar Hall), fountains and gardens.
Its just 15min walk from "Charminar". I visited this palace the same day when I visited "Charminar" (see my previous blog entry). From Charminar you have Mecca Masjid, just after the Masjid is a path on the right hand side, just follow it, that will lead to this palace on your left side. I should have covered this palace first then the Minar as closing time of this palace is 5.00 pm IST and there are plenty of things to see inside.The entry fee is Rs 25 per person and they charge Rs 50 for camera (well I don't go any where without my camera so if it was Rs 100 I would have paid it.). 
Bara Imam - a long corridor of rooms on the east side that once housed the administrative wing. And the Shishe-Alat or quite literally, the shishe or mirror image which was once used as guest rooms for officials accompanying visiting dignitaries, in the same line we have canteen where you can purchase some snacks/water bottle. Continuing to this path will lead to Durbar Hall. Shown next

This is outer part of Durbar Hall (Conference Room). Its worth seeing and is splendid. The only regret (big) I had is I didn't carried camera Tripod.
The grand pillared Durbar Hall has a pure marble platform on which the Takht-e-Nishan or the royal seat was laid. 

The 19 recently reinstalled chandeliers made of spectacular Belgian crystal recreate the lost splendor of this regal hall. Chowmahalla, which in its heydays had more than 7000 attendants, has been compared to the ‘Enchanted Gardens of the Arabian Nights’.  Chowmahalla, where the Nizams held their durbar and other religious and symbolic ceremonies also hosted popular banquets in honour of their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales in February 1906." These chandeliers are worth seeing. unfortunately its closed for public after 5 pm and thus won't be able to see it lit. Few more pics again wished I could have tripod to shoot it clear :-(

This building is multistory (both the pics were shot from first floor). The upper floor has room to showcase few furniture's used by Nizams and some clothes. One must see the decorations done on ceilings and walls (though I missed to shoot it)
All the four mahals are placed one after another. 

Crossing this Durbar Hall is another mahal "Afzal Mahal" (pic on right). Here one can see the acutal furnitures used by Nizams at that time. In front of this mahal is the fountain (not shown in pic). The opening in the left side of this building leads to "Gadi Khana Mubarak" (Royal Vintage Cars). This I have missed due to closing time.

Inside this mahal, we were not allowed to step inside and see the furniture's closely but got a glimse of the same not from far.This is actually being called "Crown of the Palace", since it was hand held shot it's little blured. (Lesson learned, one must have Tripod).
This is back side of Durbar Hall, splendid view, the only thing missing in the pic is myself :-) Its past 5.00 pm now and all security mens are hurrying us to outside, I though wasn't able to see much but then took snaps while running, guess what I was the last person and behind me were the 3-4 security men to escort me out (they are making sure no one left behind as they closes each gates which separates these four mahals).

Last but not the least Durbar Hall

Please note, some of the facts were copied form www. site

Charminar, Hyderabad

This pic requires no introduction as its the first symbol/recognition of the City Hyderabad, India. It is Charminar

Its been nine months in Hyderabad and I still haven't seen Charminaar the name which identifies city Hyderabad, so I set my Nikon D80 SLR camera and set my voyage. I started from KPHB bus stop and catch 218 # bus to Koti (we don't have direct bus from KPHB to Charminar, should have gone past Koti to Afzal Bus stand as from here auto's goes to charminar), took 1.5 hr to reach Koti (late only because of traffic traffic traffic !!!). From Koti no auto wala's is keep to go to Charminaar because of heavy traffic flow surrounding the area, I some what got one biker help of my age and reached Afzal bus stand, from there took an auto to reach Charminaar. Once i reached the place then understood why auto wala's are reluctant to tread here. But its worth the pain as you can see the pic left side.

For almost 30 min I was trying to figure out spot from where I can take a splendid pic of this monument, the above pic was shot from Andhra Bank floor (interestingly this bank was on strike this day).

Script from sign board inside the building

"Charminar, which is Synonymous with Hyderabad is one of the magnificent Structure's built by Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutub Shahi dynasty and also the founder of the City, in Hijri 1000(A.D. 1591-92). This is a square structure measuring 31.95 mts. on each side with imposing arches spanning a distance of 11mts. there are four minarets, each having there storeys, rising to height of 56 mts. The spiral staircase inside the minarets has 149 steps leading to the top with 12 landings. The double screen of arches on the roof and ornamental arches on the miniarts add to the aesthetic value. The notable feature of Charminar is the location of mosque on the western section of the second floor, probably one of the most beautifull of this period. There are forty five mushallas(prayer spaces) with an open courtyard in fronts. The st
ructure is also known for its profuseness of stucco decorations and arrangements of balustrades and balconies. The floral designs are varied and delicately execute. It was synthesis of Mughal and Hindus architecture executed by local artisans. There are vanous theories regarding the purpose for which Charminar was constructed. However, it is widely accepted that Charminar was built at the center of the city, to commemorate teh eradication of plague. In the middle of the eighteenth century, Bussy the french Commander made Charminar his headquarters. The flour clocks were added later, on the four cardinal directions in the year 1899. At the base of charminar was originally a Vazu (water, cistern) at the center with a small fountain for customary ablutions, before offering prayers int he mosque."

One floor of Charminaar is open for visitors with the payment of Rs 5 (Non-Indians must have different rates) there are several floors in this building but only one is open for public, from there one can see the whole market surrounding this building, one can easily see thousands of people wandering the market and hardly any free space for even auto to move. See below pics shot from top (will you dare to drive your four wheeler here?)

Some of the
pics shot from top of this building. Traffic is coming from one side and goes to other revolving this building, there are four ways and this minaar is in center to that. The road is wide enough to afford this traffic but its due to due the local theleywalas (shops on four wheeled cart) who is occupying almost half of the roads, but then this is what people likes and the most convenient shopping by foot, one side of this road is fully occupied by wheeled shops having choodies (colored thin glass bangles), jeweleries, glass items etc. Other side is food market.

One side of the minaar has hospital "Nizam General Hospital (Unani)" I wonder how can an ambulance will make to hospital if there is an emergency in this traffic!!!, may be at the time of this built no one would have thought this much of rush. See the Hospital here in the left side of the pic.
Just opposite to hospital is Mecca Masjid (i just missed to take pic, but you can see the big courtyard on the front of Masjid.

A close pic of Charminar reveals splendid stone decoration as shown below guide-favorite blog 2010 Related Posts with Thumbnails