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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

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