The core of man’s spirit comes from new experiences; I remember this quote from the movie ‘Into the Wild’, when I begin to talk on travel. The want for newer experiences which enlighten me beyond the written word in the textbook has been so compulsive that it made me gear up for 1800kms long solo side across the Indian West Coast on one instance and to the Western Ghats on another, with my tent. I pitched my tent at my will, explored places and without acknowledging the concept called ‘Time’, I freed myself. Do you know it is tougher to find accommodation in Nasik if you rode directly from Hyderabad while a village outside it offers you free food and lots of love?
This want has made me travel far and wide, and as I write this, I have just returned from leading a trek-in-snow expedition to some frozen villages in Himachal Pradesh. Here is a brief account of the places I had been to while I was in Hyderabad, which inspired the wanderlust in me with every trip. One can try out these travel destinations but remember that the world does not need a travel book to explore,rather an attitude to learn and that is why,destinations can be same, but experiences are always personal.
Architectural ruins, Hampi
Located 370 kms from Hyderabad, Hampi in Karnataka, houses the architectural ruins (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) of the great Vijayanagar Empire that once was. Lessons of history, boulders for trekking, scenic landscapes, best views of Sunrises and Sunsets, amazing food and the silence at the banks of Tungbhadra – Hampi has it all. Hop on a bus and reach there overnight, or ride, as I did.
Eastern Coast – Chirala Beach
Located on the East Coast, this is one of the closest beaches from Hyderabad (360 kms). I loved the local fish market there, set right on the coast where the fresh catch was put up for purchase for the locals while the baabus attended the bidding for the big catch. Suryalanka, Bapatla are some touristy beaches nearby while Ramapuram beach has some good accommodation facilities.
Lakes and temples, Warangal
Just 150 kms away, a weekend to Warangal exposes to beautiful Laknavaram Lake, Pakhal Lake, Thousand Pillared and Ramappa temples. Post monsoon, the water bodies are full and should make for even beautiful views, but then should invite crowd as well. 110 kms ahead of Warangal, Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary speaks of deers, Nilgai, Sambhar, Sloth Bear, etc. (on the Internet), we did not have any sightings though, maybe thanks to the scorching heat.
Ghats of Srisailam
Familiar to a lot of pilgrims and bikers from Hyderabad, Srisailam town (250 kms) in theNallamala Hills, AP, is known for Lord Mallikarjuna, one of the twelve jyotirlingas representing Lord Shiva, and for the “curvalicious” ghat (mountainous) roads. Also, it has India’s third largest hydroelectric project – Srisailam Dam. Though I missed the recommended boat trip to Akkamahadevi Cave temples, I enjoyed the ferry to the dam gates, the ropeway and a ride to Dornala (further ahead of Srisailam) for some more twisties to corner on.
Kala Ashram Kawaland the Nirmal paintings
As their website says, Kala Ashram in Kawal (300 kms) “is a melting pot of culture, heritage, India’s rural social-economics, art, science…”. The credibility of this space is evident in the fact that students of fashion, sociology, architecture, etc. from NIFT, IITs, etc find themselves there.The famousPochera and Kuntalawaterfalls come on the way to Kawal and so does Nirmal, which is famous for its paintings. I had also done some wildlife spotting in the Kawal Tiger Reserve on a wildlife safari on my bike (Jeeps are an option too!).
Trek the Hyderabad
With active adventure groups like GHAC and HTC in Hyderabad, I had tried my hands at trekking in Hyderabad to Maula Ali Hills, Khajaguda Hills, PeermacheruvuLake and Shamirpet Lake. Interaction with trekking enthusiasts on these treks and the thrilling experiences had me looking out for tougher and much longer hikes later on.
Forest, Waterfalls and Temples in Ahobilam
Located in the Nallamala hills, Ahobilam contains a series of nine temples dedicated to the Lion-Man Lord Narsimha which are reached by trekking into the forest through many a waterfalls. We had trekked approx. 34 kms in two days here with almost no mobile coverage. The trails are easy and marked, just follow the pilgrims. To reach here, we had boarded an overnight bus to Nandyal in the Kurnool Distt, and boarded another one for the remaining 40 kms.
Bhongir Fort – Ride and trek
The monolithic Bhongir Fort had been a good and easy trekking experience along with a beautiful ride of 60 kms on the Warangal Highway. Local trekking groups are often seen organizing rappelling events of 300 ft there, which seem quite inviting and adventurous.
Gandikota Canyon and the caves in Yaganti and Belum
Also known as the Indian Grand Canyon, Gandikota offers amazing splendid views of the 300 ft deep gorge of the Pennar River. We had camped at Gandikota and trekked the next morning to reach the river for an hour and half, through the bushes and wild shrubs while trying to avoid the thorns as much as possible. We had also visited Yaganti rock caves, and the second largest underground caves in the Indian subcontinent – Belum caves in the same trip over the weekend. Nandyal in Kurnool Distt had been our stop on the bus from Hyderabad from where we had commuted further by local buses.
Dudhsagar Rail Trek
There are not many places that I have heard of where one can camp by the railway track in front of roaring waterfalls, which is reached by walking on the rail track through many long tunnels. We had gotten down at Castlerock railway station and walked 14 kms on the rail track in the rains to reach the mighty falls. The torches definitely came handy while walking through the dark tunnels!
RajgadTorna Fort treks in the Sahyadris
An overnight train journey found us in Pune from where two bus’ rides later, we were in Gunjavane trekking the royal fort of ShivajiMaharaj, Rajgad. Difficulty level moderate, we had taken approx. 4 hours to trek to Rajgad fort where we camped for the night. We had carried our own tents from Hyderabad while others without the tents stayed at the temple there. Walking on the ridges for more than 6 hours, we had reached Torna Fort the following day after visiting the viewpoints in Rajgad. The trails were simple, however, knowledge of the terrain and local folks definitely helped.
Or if you get time, just try camping solo at Apsarakonda beach on the Western Coast.
If you’d like to know more details pertaining to these places, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jatin Adlakha is a BPHC alumni (class of 2009). He is an IT guy on the loose for newer experiences through travel. In his words, “Getting bored and lazying around on the weekends was not my thing, so I chose to be a traveler.”
A document of his travelling expeditions can be found on his personal blog: http://wanderingjatin.com/