Travel

heritage along the hyderabad metro

One of the cool things about the metro rail is the new perspective it gives us of our city. Iconic buildings that we are used to seeing while on the road look entirely different seen from the train above. Plus, it’s the perfect way to at least catch a good glimpse of buildings that the public is not allowed into. Some time ago, I took a ride on the red line in the Miyapur to LB Nagar direction and took some phone photos (phone photos, so don’t judge them haha) of the heritage buildings on this route. Let me tell you about them.


1. Fakhr-ul-Mulk Tomb

The first building to watch out for on this route is a beautiful granite tomb on the Sananthnagar main road. This is the tomb of Nawab Fakhr-ul-Mulk II. I’ve photographed it a couple of times, but on both occasions it was locked, and I could only get a few photos through the gate. Thanks to the metro, we can now get a fabulous aerial view of this tomb.


Nawab Fakhr-ul-Mulk II was one of the Umra-e-Uzzam, the Great Nobles of Hyderabad, during the rule of the Nizams. He was related to the illustrious Salar Jung family, and was known for his lavish lifestyle as well as for his kindness and philanthropy. He died in 1934, and is said to have supervised the construction of this tomb along with his wife, before their death. Both of them, and a few of their family members are buried here.

Fakhr-ul-Mulk Tomb
FAKHR-UL-MULK TOMB

(Watch out for this tomb soon after the ESI hospital stop. If you’re going towards LB Nagar, it should be on the right.)



2. Erum Manzil

In 1870, Nawab Fakhr-ul-Mulk II built himself a massive palace on top of a hillock, called Erum Manzil. In its time, it was one of Hyderabad’s grandest palaces, with about 600 huge rooms. It had numerous gardens in the compound, a pond for boating, tennis courts and even polo grounds. It is currently a part of the Chief Engineer’s Office. The Erum Manzil metro station is right in front of the palace, and you can get a really good view of the palace from there.

The same Nawab also built another palace very close by in Erragadda – it is called the Erumnuma Palace and is a part of the government TB hospital today. The metro route does pass by the hospital, but I could not spot the palace from the train.

Erum Manzil
ERUM MANZIL

(The best view of this palace is from the Erum Manzil metro station.)



3. Bella Vista

The Bella Vista palace was built in an Indo European style by Muhammad Muslihuddin, who served as the Chief Justice of Hyderabad High Court between 1914 and 1916. The 7th Nizam Osman Ali Khan acquired it from him. In 1931, when the heir-apparent Prince Azam Jah married Princess Durrushehwar, the daughter of the Ottoman Caliph, this was the palace the newly-weds moved into. It was taken over by the state government in the early 1950s, and since 1957, it has housed the Administrative Staff College of India.

Bella Vista Palace
Bella Vista Palace

(Look for this palace soon after the Erum Manzil stop. If you’re going towards LB Nagar, it should be on the left.)



4. Y S Rajasekhara Reddy State Archaeological Museum

This museum was built in the 1920s by the then Public Works Department. It was built to be a museum. It is a pretty building with elements of Qutb Shahi as well as Mughal architecture. By the way, this museum is pretty cool – one of its artefacts is an Egyptian mummy – definitely worth a visit.

Y S Rajasekhara Reddy State Archaeological Museum
Y S Rajasekhara Reddy State Archaeological Museum

(You’ll see this immediately after the Lakdi-ka-Pul stop. If you’re going towards LB Nagar, it should be on the right.)



5. State Legislative Assembly

The pristine white assembly building is easily the most exquisite one on this route. It was originally built to mark the silver jubilee of 6th Nizam Mahbub Ali Khan’s reign in 1905, and the money for its construction was raised by the public. The Nizam laid the foundation stone himself, and the Indo-Saracenic building was designed by an architect named Khwaja Anwar Hasan. Construction was completed by 1913, and it was used as the town hall at first. Today, it houses the state legislative assembly.

Legislative Assembly
STATE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(This is adjacent to the museum above.)



6. Fateh Maidan Clock Tower

The Fateh Maidan Clock Tower stands across the road from the legislative assembly. It was built in 1903 by a Paigah noble named Nawab Zafar Jung. It adjoins the LB stadium, also called Fateh Maidan. The field has played a major role in the history of Hyderabad, right from the Qutb Shahi era. It was the site where Mughal ruler Aurangzeb pitched his camp during his attack on Golconda. Since he succeeded in bringing down the kingdom, the field came to be known as Fateh Maidan (fateh means victorious).

Fateh Maidan Clock Tower
Fateh Maidan Clock Tower

(This is right opposite to the museum and assembly, so it’s very hard to see those as well as this on the same trip)



7. Nampally Sarai

Just before the train pulls into the Nampally Metro Station, you’ll see a glimpse of a dirty pinkish building – the Nampally Sarai. It was built by the 7th Nizam Osman Ali Khan in the year 1919, in memory of the signing of the First World War Treaty (which ended the first world war). Built just outside the Nampally Railway Station, it was a resting place for travellers visiting the city, and had 54 rooms. For many years after independence, it was used as a guesthouse by the state government. Today, it lies in a state of neglect.

Nampally Sarai
Nampally Sarai

(You’ll see this on the left, assuming you’re going towards LN Nagar, just before the Nampally railway station stop)



8. Nampally Railway Station

The Nampally Railway Station was originally built in the late 1800s, and is the city’s oldest railway station. The present structure however, dates back to 1938.

Nampally Railway Station
Nampally Railway Station

(You can see this from the stop right outside Nampally railway station.)



9. Moazzam Jahi Market

This iconic market was built in 1935, by the City Improvement Board set up by the 7th Nizam Osman Ali Khan. He set up the CIB in 1912 to re-design the city after it was devastated by two deadly floods and an epidemic of plague. It was active for 45 years until it was disbanded in 1957. The outer circumference of the Moazzam Jahi market is roughly triangular, and the road-facing facade is decorated with a domed clock tower. The complex is named after the Nizam’s second son Nawab Moazzam Jah Bahadur.

Moazzam Jahi Market
Moazzam Jahi Market

(This will be on the left, after the Gandhi Bhavan stop.)



10. Mumtaz College/Asafiya School

For me, this is the most fascinating building on this trail. It is unmissable – you can see it from the Moosarambagh Metro Station, towering above the neighbourhood around it. It is a 4 storeyed building that is more than 140 years old – I think that itself makes it phenomenal. It was built in 1895 by the Nizam’s Chief of Armed Forces, and as a school for the children of personnel working for the military. Later on, it was thrown open to civilian children as well. It was designed by an architect named Abdul Karim Babu Khan, and even has a mosque on the third floor. Currently, it appears to be a part of a Mumtaz College, but information about this building is really hard to come by. I plan to try and visit it and get a closer look sometime.

Asafiya School
Asafiya School/Mumtaz College

(You can see this from the Moosarambagh metro station.)



11. Victoria Memorial Orphanage

The sixth Nizam Mahbub Ali Khan commissioned this building intending to use it as a palace for himself. However, while it was being built, he came down with typhoid. He decided that the palace was unlucky for him and almost decided to abandon its construction. The then British Resident in Hyderabad, convinced him to finish the construction, but donate it to an orphanage instead. That is how it became the Victoria Memorial Orphanage.

Victoria Memorial Orphanage
Victoria Memorial Orphanage

(You can see it from the Victoria Memorial Railway station, and also just before and after it.)

Food

how to build a yummy breakfast bowl

I’ve been posting some of my breakfast bowls on Instagram and Twitter. A few people DMed me to ask how I put them together, so I thought I’d do a small post here. These breakfast bowls really work for me because they take under 5 minutes to make, they can easily be made vegan (I’m avoiding dairy most of the time these days), I can quickly eat them even if I’m not hungry, they are FULL of nutrition, and they taste amazing.
 
These bowls typically have a base, and some toppings.
 

THE BASE

Some options for the base:
 
(1.) Oats or muesli, soaked overnight in a liquid of your choice – nut milk, regular milk, yoghurt, or even water.
 
(2.) Cooked oats – again this could be in water, nut milk, regular milk, anything.
 
(3.)  A thick smoothie – you basically make a smoothie that is thicker than the ones you drink, so you can eat it out of a bowl with a spoon. You can choose solid ingredients like fruits, vegetables (beetroot, palak etc work amazingly well and add a beautiful colour), oats, nuts, avocados etc. and blend them with liquid ingredients like nut milk, regular milk, yoghurt, fruit juices, coconut water, etc. Many people add acai, matcha, kale, protein powders and various supplements, but I haven’t tried any of those yet.
 
If these smoothies sound like a lot of work, that’s only because I’m listing so many options. Most of the time, I stick to oats, coconut or almond milk and one or two fruits. But you can make your smoothie as simple or as elaborate as you like!
 

TOPPINGS

And now the fun part – the toppings! Here are some ideas:
 
* Fresh fruits
* Nut butters
* Chia seeds (a friend on twitter pointed me to this article that says there’s a choking risk with chia seeds – I thought I should just put it here. I continue to use them in my bowls, but you should make your own choices)
* Goji berries
* Flax seeds
* Melon seeds
* Pumpkin seeds
* Dry fruits and nuts – cashew nuts, almonds, pistachios, figs, dates, apricots
* Coconut flakes
* Chocolate chips
* Bee Pollen
 
I don’t add sweeteners to my smoothies because the fruits are sweet enough for me. If I am making cooked or overnight oats, I add a pinch of coconut sugar. You could also use honey, jaggery, palm sugar, stevia, etc.
 
Hmmm that’s all I can think of. Just get creative, put whatever you want together, and enjoy! Here are some of my breakfast bowls that I’ve shared on Instagram.
 
1. Oats cooked in almond milk with a pinch of coconut sugar. Toppings: goji berries, bee pollen, chia seeds and pistachio butter.

 
2. Blueberry, Custard Apple and Oats smoothie. Toppings : bee pollen and chia seeds.

 
3. Banana-Oats smoothie. I added a small piece of beetroot to get this colour. Toppings :  pomegranate, chia seeds and mixed dry fruits and nuts.

 
4. Oats cooked in Almond Milk. Toppings : drizzle of pistachio butter, bee pollen and goji berries.

 
5. Millets Muesli soaked overnight in Almond Milk. Toppings : banana slices and chia seeds.

 
6. Pineapple, Banana, Oats and Coconut Milk smoothie. Toppings : banana, chia seeds and a drizzle of coconut milk.

 

The best way to find cool recipes for your bowls is to scour Instagram and Pinterest. Let me leave you with a link to this board where I’ve pinned a few ideas I’ve come across. Happy eating!

Travel

Bhongir : where history meets geology

A pleasant 50km drive from Hyderabad takes one to a small town called Bhongir, where history meets geology. Long before you enter the town, its trademark egg-shaped hillock looms into view. The hillock is actually a giant rock, called a batholith. A batholith is a huge igneous rock that is formed when molten magma cools and solidifies, often running kilometers deep into the earth. The Bhongir batholith is said to be comparable in size to the one in Uluru, Australia, a World Heritage Site.

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir was named Tribhuvanagiri after the Chalukya ruler Tribhuvanamalla Vikramaditya, who is believed to have built a fort on top of the rock in the 12th century. Tribhuvanagiri became Bhuvanagiri, which eventually became Bhongir. Later, the fort passed through the hands of the Kakatiyas, the Bahmanis and the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda. Most of the present structure dates back to the Bahmani and Qutb Shahi era, and you’ll notice similarities with the forts at Golconda, Bidar and others built by the various Deccan Sultanates.

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir FortBhongir Fort

The climb to the top was lovely the day we went – there was a light drizzle throughout, like a gentle spray. On a blazing hot day, I’m not sure how fun it’ll be! There are steps hewn into the rock for the most part, and railings for support when the slope gets steeper. It takes about an hour, plus or minus, maybe longer if you stop frequently to take pictures.

 

At the very top, there is a pavilion that looks strikingly similar to the Balahisar Baradari, the topmost pavilion in the Golconda Fort. When you reach it, you realize it’s a bit larger than it appears from below, dwarfed by the huge hillock. The panoramic views of the countryside are breathtaking, and you can’t help wondering what it must have been like to be a ruler standing up here and surveying your kingdom. In reality though, the Qutb Shahi kings did not actually stay here. They stationed a governor in Bhongir, and used this fort to imprison people who tried to grab the throne.

Bhongir FortBhongir Fort

Since the hillock is almost egg shaped, it has sheer drops all around,  attracting adventure sports enthusiasts. Bhongir even has a rock climbing school that teaches bouldering, rock climbing and rappelling.

Bhongir Fort

You can combine a trip to this fort with a visit to the famous Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple in Yadagirigutta, just about 14kms away. Also combinable is Kolanupaka, home to a stunning Jain temple, only 30 kms away.

 

Culture

Ganpati Bappa Morya

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of my favourite times of the year in Hyderabad – everything is so colourful and happy. I loved it even when I was a very small kid, except that I’d never let my parents immerse the idol we bought for our home because it made me too sad.

 

On the morning after Visarjan (for those who haven’t heard of this – the Ganesh idols are immersed in water on the 11th day after the festival) day this year, I took some pictures at the flyover near Tank Bund. These are the Ganesh idols that couldn’t/didn’t get immersed on the actual day of immersion. It was a really long line of trucks – we must have seen at least 50, probably more, in the 25 minutes or so that we spent there. The atmosphere was carnival-like, with drums, Bollywood songs and a LOT of dancing. And also a bit of napping, for those exhausted from all of this!

 

I’m always torn between enjoying the gorgeous idols and the vibrant atmosphere and feeling sad about what this does to the Hussain Sagar lake. Anyway, here are some pictures (shot with my phone). You can also check out Visarjan pictures from 3 years ago, on my other blog, Aadab Hyderabad.

Ganesh Visarjan in Hyderabad

ganesh-visarjan-7Ganesh Visarjan in Hyderabad

Ganesh Visarjan in HyderabadGanesh Visarjan in HyderabadGanesh Visarjan in HyderabadGanesh Visarjan Hyderabad Ganesh Visarjan in Hyderabad Ganesh Visarjan in Hyderabad Ganesh Visarjan in HyderabadGanesh Visarjan Hyderabad

In Photos, Travel

The Streets of Fort Kochi

Obviously, I’m not done with my Kochi posts. The pretty streets of Fort Kochi have quaint names like Princess Street, Burghar Street, Napier Street, Rose Street and Lilly Street. These cobblestoned streets are lined with beautiful colonial homes that have been restored and converted into heritage hotels, home-stays, cafes, boutiques and art galleries. Some pictures:Streets of Fort KochiStreets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi

Travel

The Colours of Mattancherry

Mattancherry is a historical neighbourhood adjacent to Fort Kochi, known for its Jewish legacy. Two communities of Jews are said to have migrated to the region – the Malabar Jews, who claimed descent from King Solomon of Israel, and the Sephardic Jews who came from the Iberian peninsula. The latter were white skinned, and locals referred to them as Paradesi Jews. Paradesi or pardesi means foreigner. Just like Fort Kochi, Mattancherry is Instagram heaven, and is best explored on foot. Here are some of the most interesting things in the area:

 

Jew Town, Paradesi Synagogue, Jewish Cemetery
The main point of interest in Mattancherry is the Paradesi Synagogue, built by the Sephardic Jews in 1567, on land granted to them by the Raja of Kochi. The area around it is called Jew town, and has a very pretty market selling antiques, ethnic clothes, hand embroidery and other such things. There is a Jewish cemetery nearby as well.

Paradesi Synagogue

Paradesi Synagogue

Jew Town
Jew Town
Mandalay Hall, Jew Town
Jew Town
Mattancherry Palace, or the Dutch Palace
This palace was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and gifted to the Raja of Kochi. When the Dutch took over the settlement, they occupied the palace and made some modifications to the structure. Today, it is a museum known for its collection of exquisite Kerala murals.

Dutch Palace

Dutch Palace/Mattancherry Palace

The Church of Our Lady of Life
A pretty 17th century church.

Church of Our Lady of Life

Church of Our Lady of Life

Bazaar Road
Without a doubt, my favourite part of Mattancherry. With its crumbling mansions and colourful spice warehouses (Kochi had a flourishing spice trade, which was what attracted the colonial powers here), this street is incredibly photogenic. This post was basically an excuse to share at least some of my gazillion Bazaar Road photos!
Bazaar Road
Bazaar Road
Bazaar Road
Bazaar Road
Bazaar Road
Bazaar Road
Bazaar Road