Sunday, December 12, 2004

Eating @ Ohri's - Pickles

SD Road

Pickles is a 24 hour coffee shop located within Hotel Baseraa on Sarojini Devi Road in Secunderabad. This is also part of the Ohris group.

The best part about Pickles are its buffets. Ranging between 150-250, they are true value for money. The weekday lunch buffet is amazing as is the midnight biryani buffet.

Pickles gets its name from the following custom:
While you are having your meal the waiter will come around with a pickle trolley which has around 15-20 different varieties of pickles ranging from the spicy to the sweet. Punjabi, andhra, north eastern.. you can try as many as you want and as much as you want.

Their a la carte menu too is good. With the sandwiches and Indian shepherds pie being highly recommended.

Also, if you like a nice chilled beer with your lunch, you can get it here. Pickles has a licence to serve alcohol.

Golconda Fort

Location : Located 10 kms from Mehdipatnam in Hyderabad.

How to reach : Local transportation is available. Though you can reach it from Charminar, because of the chaotic traffic on that route, its better to take the Gandipet direction route. Its around 30 minutes drive from airport with regular traffic.

Food : The food outlets nearby are ok for snacks and bottled water and drinks but if you are looking for a meal, pack your own or drive back to the city or Charminar.

Best time to visit: It takes about 3 hours to climb to the peak and back down again. Try and avoid the peak afternoon time because the sun really beats down on the rocks. Winters area better bet for visiting. In the evenings when the sound and light show is organised, you will not be allowed into the rest of the monument only the sound & light show area.

Golconda Fort which lies on the western outskirts of Hyderabad city unravels 400 years of rich cultural heritage. Built by Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah in 1525, the Golconda Fort epitomises the opulent Nawabi culture of those times.Golconda known as "Shepherd's Hill" or "Golla Konda", in Telugu, has an interesting story behind it. One fine day, on the rocky hill called Mangalavaram, a shepherd boy came across an idol.This was conveyed to the Kakatiya king, who was ruling at that time. The king got a mud fort constructed around the holy spot.Over a period of time this was expanded by the Qutub Shahi kings into a massive fort of granite. By the 17th century, Golconda was famous as a Diamond Market, it gave the world some of the best known diamonds, including the Kohinoor.This fort was ruled by many dynasties and was of great strategic importance. In 1518, when the Qutub Shahi dynasty was founded, Golconda was made its capital. The subsequent generations saw Golconda being fortified further with several additions and the formation of a beautiful city within.

Some thing that bewilders the visitor is the modern acoustic system which was so designed that a hand clap sounded at the entrance gate of the fort could be heard right up in the citadel ! People keep clapping today too but I couldnt hear a thing while I was at the top because the topography has obviously changed. so the sounds wont work the same way. This doesnt stop people from clapping when they enter.

The Golconda fort is known for its magnificent acoustics, the structural grandeur of the palacesand ingenious water supply system. One visit to the fort, and you will be transported to that eventful age of the Qutub Shahi dynasty that speaks volumes of their glorious achievements. One is perplexed to see the meticulous details of the architecture and the fading gardens, which once had sprawling lawns and playing fountains.

Golconda is all this and more. A new attraction at the fort is the sound and light show that brings the legend of Golconda to life. With a spectacular interplay of audio and visual effects, the saga of Golconda unfolds over centuries of splendor. The show livens up the glorious past and it is an experience worth watching.

Advance booking at Yatrinivas : 10a.m. to 12 noon
Current booking at Golconda Fort from 5 p.m. onwards
Ticket : Rs.20/- per head
Children below 5 years are not allowed.
Coach facility from Yatrinivas for Sound & Light show and back.

Fare for Adults : Rs.45/- (inclusive of Sound & Light show tickets).Kindly reserve your seats one day in advance.Coach leaves Yatrinivas at 5.00 P.M. and returns from Golconda Fort at 8.15 P.M.
Coach facility subject to 50% occupancy.

Sound & Light Show at Golkonda Fort
1st Show English (Daily) 7 pm - 8pm
Telugu (Mon, Wed, Fri) 8.15 pm-9.15 pm
Hindi (Tue, Thur, Sat, Sun) 8.15 pm-9.15 pm
Entry Rs.40/- for adults, Rs.30/- for children (5-12 years)

Spot Booking at venue: 5.30 pm onwards.
Bulk Booking:
1) Yatri Nivas Secunderabad
2) CRO Tankbund Hyderabad Tel.23451065/23453086 (10 am-12 pm)
3)Salarjung Museum Counter Hyderabad (10 am-4 pm)
Bookings at 23453036
For details call 27816375 / 27893100

Word of Warning : The Sound and Light Show isnt as impressive as its made out to be. Although the Big B lends his voice. Problem being, they have stretched out for 1 hour, what could be completed in 30minutes. If you have watched the Delhi Red Fort show, then this is nowhere close to that standard.

Falaknuma Palace

Location:It is located 5 km. from Charminar in Hyderabad.

How to reach : Local transportation is available.

You need to get permission from the Taj Hotels Group to visit because the property is now theirs. The Nizams jewls are suposedly located here. I havent visited it yet. Guests at Taj Krishna get immediate permission to visit otherwise you need a contact.

Best time to visit: Around the year.

Hyderabad boasts of many magnificent palaces among these, the Falaknuma palace is a remarkable edifice which stands atop a 200 ft. high hillock.It is located 5 km. from Charminar.Built by Nawab Vikar-Ul-Ulmara, the then Prime Minister of Hyderabad, it is a stupendous palace. It is believed that the Falaknuma palace was gifted to the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, Mehboob Ali Khan.

The palace was constructed over a period of seven years. It covers a total area of 9,39,712 The palace is laid out in the shape of a scorpion with two stings spread out as wings on the north. The middle part is occupied by the main building and the kitchen and harem quarters stretch to the south.

The Falaknuma palace is a rare blend of Italian and Tudor architecture.The palace has a library with a walnut carved roof, a replica of the one at Windsor Castle. The library has one of the finest collections of the holy Quran in India.The Falaknuma palace has other unique things like the Venetian chandeliers.The dining hall of the palace could seat 100 guests on a single table. The aesthetic furniture, rosewood chairs and tableware made of gold and crystal make Falaknuma Palace a attractive tourist location.The ballroom contains a two-ton manually operated organ said to be the only one of its kind in the world. This apart the palace has as many as 220 lavishly decorated rooms and 22 spacious halls.The palace has some of the finest treasures collected by the Nizam.

There is a story that the palace has proved to be fatal to those who have resided there for a long period. The scorpion-like structure is believed to be the cause of all deaths.


How to reach : Local transportation is available. If you are driving yourself, it is better to park at Salarjung Museum and pay the 10rs parking fee & catch an auto. Else you can try and park it at the hospital just beyond Charminar, opp Mecca Masjid.

Food : The best places to eat in the area are Madina, Nayaab, Shadaab & Pista House.

Best time to visit:During Ramzan when this part of the city is open till about 2 am& the Charminar is lit up. In the last week of Ramzan, everything here is open 24 hours.

Finally after quite a few years, you can climb upto the first level of the Charminar. Entry is Rs 5/person. Between 9 &6. Charminar is closed on Friday.

Location:Charminar is one of the principal landmarks in Hyderabad with four graceful minarets. The city is often identified with the majestic Charminar. It was built by Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah in 1591, two years after the founding of Hyderabad.It stands in the heart of the old city.This imposing four columned structure is enormous in size and stature. Built with granite, it is the example of the Cazia style of architecture. It stands 56 m high and 30 m wide and creates four arches facing each of the cardinal points. Each column has a minaret on top which soars to a height of 48.7 mts above the ground. It is often referred to as the “arch of triumph of the east”.Its central structure soars to a height of 180 feet. The minarets contain spiral staircases, with 149 steps which ascend to triple tiers of balconies from where a panoramic view of old city can be seen.The space in the upper floor between the minarets was meant for Friday prayers.There are forty five prayer spaces and the atmosphere there is calm and serene so as to infuse a sense of devotion.

During Ramzan the entire place is fully decked up as a bride and is teemed with people who come to offer prayers and do some shopping.It is full of women who come for come to buy bangles, mehdi, garments with zardozi work and shoes.

Chau Mahalla was the principal residence of the Nizams located to the rear of the Mecca Mosque. It is a vast walled complex that can be seen from the roof of the mosque. It comprises a linear arrangement of state reception halls and residential suites, separated by formal gardens with pools and fountains.

The nearby Laad Bazaar is excellent for buying bangles, glass bottles for ittars, ittars, embroidery work, footwear & gun metal stautes. But bargain hard. Minimum of 50% of quoted price at least on the bangles.

Day trip - Ramoji Film City - night stay also possible.

Location:It is located near Hyderabad. Takes about an hour to drive from the airport.

How to reach : Daily tours from hyderabad. Or drive yourself. You have to use Ramoji's own buses within the Film city though.

Where to stay :Ramoji Film city provides accommodation which can suit all kinds budgets.

Sitara: An international standard, fully airconditioned luxury hotel, it can provide all the facilities and luxuries you may need.

Tara:A comfortable hotel. Joke goes that the hero gets to stay at Sitara, but the Villian in the movie has to be content to stay at Tara. and Sahara is for the extras.
Sahara:These are well maintained shared accommodation.

Food : You can eat buffets at the above mentioned hotels or visit one of the 4 restaurants at Eureka.
Treat yourself to a superb dining experience at any one of Eureka’s four theme-based restaurants.

Alampana: Authentic Mughalai cuisine from the royal house of Awadh.

Chanakya: Specialises in Indian thali-style vegetarian cuisine.

Gunsmoke: Fast-food that captures the spirit and fire of the Wild West. (Highly recommend this for continental food at decent prices. Have the chicken a la king)

There are shows put up every half hour like, "Best of Ramoji", "Stunt show", "Comedy show"....

There are 3 types of drives you can take. The garden drive which covers 10-12 gardens, the sets drive covering about 10 sets and a combination drive which covers both the above.

Everything closes by 5 PM, unless you are staying the night. On your way back, the "Sanghi Temple" located 5km away is definitely worth a visit.

Holiday and getaway packages.
Ramoji Film City offers a variety of holiday and getaway packages for you to refresh and recharge.From the very moment you check into the luxury of hotel Sitara, or Tara - star properties of the Dolphin Group of Hotels, You will find yourself surrounded by the real holiday spirit.Be it relaxation or an activity, an adventure or an amusement.

Day trip - Ocean Park

Location:It is located in Gandipet which is 12 kms from city.

How to reach : Local transportation is available. Otherwise take the route to Taramati Baradari and then its a little further from there.

Food : Food is available at Ocean Park which is of decent standard. They have a food court with South Indian and Chinese varieties of food at affordable prices. I also saw people carrying their own food in.

Best time to visit:No Holiday. Ocean Park is open all 365 days a year from 11 am to 8 pm.

It is a world of fun,fantasy and frolic.Ocean Park is a one of it’s kind water theme amusement park modeled on International standards. An amusement park that you haven’t seen the likes of yet in India. Forget about going to Disneyland or Sea World. Ocean Park situated at Gandipet just 15 kms from Hyderabad offers a spectacular mix of Internationally popular.
Water Rides and Amusement Rides for all age groups and provides full day entertainment to all it’s Patrons.
Promoted by the Aashraya Resorts Pvt Ltd, Ocean Park commenced it’s operations in May 1997 and attracts a large number of visitors on a daily basis. Spread over a sprawling 20 acres of lush landscaped gardens it offers a number of internationally popular water and amusement rides.

Some of the highlights of Ocean Park are:
Full Day Family Entertainment: Ocean Park is the only place in Andhra Pradesh which can give full day Entertainment for people of all age groups.
Safety: All the Rides including the Water Rides are very safe even for children. The water in the kids pool is just 18 inches deep. The water in the Landing Pool is 3ft deep. The Wave Pool is a special attraction. Artificial Sea Waves are created by using the latest technology. The Wave Pool slopes gently into the water with a maximum depth of 5 feet.
Clean Water: We use state of the Art Technology Filtration Plants for clean and Hygienic maintenance of the water. Water is continuously circulated through these Filtration Plants to ensure maximum hygiene.

I think entry is around Rs150/person. Once you get in, most of the rides are free, except for specialised ones like cable car ride, water scooter, horse & camel rides. You will need to pay between 10-25 rs per person for these rides, but the others are free, including 10 dry rides and about 10 water slides and the wave pool.

Women can rent or buy 3 varieties of swimming costumes here. one piece swimsuit, 2 piece-shorts n a top, 2 piece full length tights & long top. Cost about 40-50rs for the day to rent. Around 300 to buy. You can also carry in your own swimsuit.
Men can buy bermudas for 30-50 bucks each.

There is also a seperate enclosure with water rides for women & children only, if you want privacy but the water scooter ride takes a trip around this island and water body.

Birla Planetarium

Location:Situated in Adarsh Nagar near Secretariat in Hyderabad.

How to reach : Local transportation is available.

Auto Charges from:
Secunderabad Rly. Stn.: Rs 20.00
Nampally Rly. Stn.: Rs 10.00
Kachiguda Rly.Stn.: Rs 20.00
Air Port: Rs 20.00

Best time to visit: During solar eclipse, lunar eclipse and other celestial events.

Birla Planetarium is a beautiful dome-shaped monument.Opened for public view on 8th September 1985 by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Shri N.T. Rama Rao.Visitors are awed by watching the show which looks almost real,with open dark sky and shining stars looking down upon them combined with the sound effects.The planetarium presents daily sky shows (both in Telugu and English) unfolding various aspects of the Cosmos,Universe and the very recent clash of the Titans.

Apart from the planetarium you can visit:

Enter the Interactive Science Hall and you can explore the wonders and magic of Science through hands-on participatory exhibits which cover a wide range of topics from perception, mechanics, optical illusions, mathematical puzzles, optics, vibrations and sound, computers and robots to environment and many more. These exhibits are great fun for students and lay persons alike and are very educative too.

Science Museum:
Another attraction is the Science Museum. Having started entertaining visitors since 1990, the museum boasts of a fascinating piece of architecture with very unique and beautiful interior decor. Designed by reputed architects from Calcutta and Bombay with ideas and concepts incorporated from Japan, Hongkong and Singapore, the museum covers an area of nearly 10,000 sq. meters."Discover the magic of Science" - this motto of the museum is ideally revealed in its highlights of science, technology and industry.

Mind Games:
In the section on perception, illusions and optics, you could see how vulnerable the human mind is in perceiving phenomenon through exhibits like a spinning multi-colored disc which is really black and white, or, you could watch shadows appear after the light is turned off !!

Know about computers :
Another interesting section is on computers which enables you to play games. A unique feature for the first time in India is the introduction of the Interactive Computer. This section provides detailed information about computers, their evolution, all aided by colorful graphics. It also explains the gradual sophistication of the computer from a large piece in the seventies to the latest version, a tiny chip, which is viewed through a powerful microscope.

The Birla Temple in white marble, located nearby is a wonderful place to unwind after a tiring day

Timings :
B.M. Birla Planetarium, Adarshnagar, Hyderabad
'Mars-The Final Frontier' Daily -
English 11.30 am, 4pm & 6 pm
Telugu 12.15 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm, 6.45 pm,8.15 pm
Hindi 7.30 pm

Exhibitions on - 'Space and Remote Sensing'Dinosaurs - See the
fossils of 160 million years old dinosaurs.

B.M. Birla Science Museum
Open all days from 10.30 am to 8.00 pm
Closed on last Thursday & Friday of every month
For details call 23235081 / 23241067

Hyderbadi Cuisine - A Gourmet's Paradise

The City of minars, domes, modern buildings, and pearls is also known for its tasty cuisine with its ancient tradition. Though the glittering days of courts and courtiers of Hyderabad are over the twincities are still famous for its Nawabi cuisine.

Hyderabadi cuisine is a distinct dialogue in food based on the traditional method of combining sour and the sweet, the hot and the salty. One of the India's finest foods, the biryani is closely associated with Hyderabadi cooking. The kitchens of the Nizams served the rulers well and combined the Muslim influence of the Mughal court with the predominantly Hindu subculture, to cook up a cuisine that is the ultimate in the fine dining. So much so that even brinjal take the form of baghare.

Many restaurant and cafes offer these succulent dishes at the taster's choice. Tasting the Hyderabadi cuisine is an exquisite experience and its a gastronomic adventure that is distinct and selective. It is not wise to close on without mentioning the common man's all time drink - 'Hyderabadi Chai alias Irani Tea'.

The must try of all in Hyderabadi cuisine is the Ghosth Dum Biryani or the Kucte Ghosth ki Biryani - well done Basmati rice cooked with succelent pieces of meat laced with saffron and pure ghee, fresh out of the clay handi and Haleem. The Biryani is aromatic flavoured with saffron. It is presented with great flair in the clay pot itself to the eaters.

The Shikampuri Kebab ( Lamb minced Kebabs stuffed with yoghurt and onion) or the Chind tikka ( two sheek kebabs) served with a boti in between). For vegetarians - the Hera Kebab (spinach mixed with red gram and laced lightly with spices and cream). The succulent also, the Kebabs of potatoes with lot of vegetables and dry fruits.

For those who love fish is the mahi Dum Anari - fish filled rolled in pomegranate and cooked in pomegranate sauce and cooked on steam

Boating Facilities in Hyderabad

AP Tourism has introduced boating facilities at various tourist places. The detailed information is as follows:

1. Lumbini Park (phone: 3455315)

Type of the boat Tariff
Mechanised Boat Adult: Rs. 20/- Child Rs. 15/-
Speed-Boat (per Trip) (4 persons) Rs. 120/-
Water Scooter (Per Trip) Rs. 50/-
Steering Boat Adult: Rs. 20/- Child Rs. 15/-
Pedal Boat (per Head above 10 years) Rs. 20/-
Ferry Service to Buddha Statue Adult: Rs. 20/- Child Rs. 15/-
Bhageerathi Pleasure Cruiser Adult Rs. 50/- Child Rs. 30/-

The tariff for Bhagamati Pleasure Cruiser (Attached with Restaurant cum Beer Bar) is as follows:
(Day Time) 11 a.m to 3.00 p.m Adult Rs.50/- Child Rs. 30/-
(Night Time) 6 p.m to 8.00 pm Adult Rs. 100/- Child Rs. 60/-

The tariff for 48 Seater Mechanised Boat that is available for hire is Rs. 1,500 per 2 hours.

Charter Booking for Bhageerathi:
Rs. 3,000/- for 2 ½ Hours between 11.00 a.m to 4.00 p.m
Rs. 5,000/- for 2 ½ Hours between 8.30 p.m to 11.00 p.m
Rs. 500/- per Extra Hour
Rs. 2,000/ for Film Shootings per Hour before 5.00 p.m.

Charter Booking for Bhagamati Cruiser with A.C. Restaurant
Rs. 4,000/- for 2 Hours between 11 a.m to 1 p.m & 1.30 p.m to 3.30 p.m
Rs. 8,000/- for 2 ½ Hours between 8.30 p.m to 11.00 p.m for Hire
Rs. 10,000/- for 7 Hours between 9.30 a.m to 4.30 p.m for Conferences
Rs. 15,000/- for 7 hours between 9.30am to 4.30 p.m for Film Shootings
Rs. 4,000/- for T.V. Serials (in Non peak Hours for 2 ½ Hours).
Outside food not allowed in Bhagamati Cruiser.
The Charter Booking does not include the Entry Fee & Parking Charges in Lumbini Park.

2.Necklace Road
Mechanised Boat Adult: Rs. 20/- Child Rs. 15/-
Speed-Boat (per trip) Rs. 120/-
Water Scooter (Per Trip) Rs. 50/-
Steering Boat Adult: Rs. 20/- Child Rs. 15/-
Ferry Service to Buddha Statue Adult: Rs. 20/- Child Rs. 15/-

3.Sanjeevaiah Park
Mechanised Boat Adult: Rs. 20/- Child Rs. 15/-
Pedal Boat (per Head above 10 years) Rs. 20/-

4.Durgam Cheruvu (Phone No: 3110523)
Mechanised Boat Adult: Rs. 20/- Child Rs. 15/-
Pedal Boat Per head Rs. 20/-
Water Scooter Per trip Rs. 50/-
Angling Charges (3 fish allowed) Per 5 hours Rs. 100/-

5.Public Garden
Pedal Boat (per head above 10 years) Per head Rs. 10/-

6.Mir Alam Tank inside Zoo park (Phone No: 4460007)
Mechanised Boat Adult: Rs. 20/- Child Rs. 15/-
Steering Boat Adult: Rs. 20/- Child: Rs. 15/-
Speed Boat (per trip) Rs. 120/-

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Drinking @ Dublin

Dublin - Welcompub
ITC Kakatiya Sheraton & Towers
Hyderabad - 16
040 2340 0132 *2502

ITC trumpets their pub as : The Original Irish Pub, which offers an exciting array of drinks & cocktails.

Located in the basement, the décor is reminiscent of the Irish pubs in the US, but since Ive never been to Ireland, I cannot comment on the genuine authenticity of the décor. There's a pool table near one entrance where you can while away some time, if you so wish.

The crowd here is very mixed. You have some expat crowd, couple of sons of rich businessmen, some junta that troops in after or in the middle of attending functions in other parts of the Kakatiya. I guess the only uniting factor of this crowd would be that they are **Moneyed**

Which brings me to an important question - "Just what the Heck was 'I' doing there ?" Waiting for a friend who was on a Company Business Account, is a good reason and I thank the company in question for sponsoring our evening.

We ordered a Margarita Pitcher for 700 bucks. Decent amount of alcohol in the pitcher, though the glasses were oversalted. It’s a small Pitcher, so just about filled 4 margarita glasses. Don’t go expecting beer pitcher quantities. BOB is 150. MOB is 125. Pitcher is 425. + Taxes of course... They served Potato chips with tomato sauce dip and roasted peanuts complimentary on every table and you can keep ordering refills of this. Harder stuff is about 250 per 30 ml unless you are considering the higher premium brands. Mocktails / Cocktails are in the 250+ / 275+ range. We have no idea what the snacks cost. You will see why as you read further.

Music is fairly good for most part of the time. They usually have a live band with North Eastern women doing the normal song and dance routine and they are fairly good at it. But the kind of music played keeps varying based on who's requesting what and whether it’s the live band or a DJ.

The service absolutely sucks. Unless you have a fair skinned foreigner, who speaks accented English sitting at your table. When the 3 of us intially reached there, it took 20 minutes before a waiter brought us the menu. Drinks took another 30 minutes to arrive, once the order was placed. The waiter then took, over 40 minutes to revert when we asked him for the snacks menu. By the time he reverted to us, he said the kitchen was closed ! ! ! When an Amercian friend walked in and came over to our table to say hi, the same waiter who had waited for the kitchen to close before even getting us the snacks menu, mysteriously conjured up an extra chair, before the new arrival even turned around and requested one. Barely were the words "Fosters" out of his mouth and a well iced bottle materialised in his hand. We then told our American friend to ask for a water pitcher and lo & behold, it was placed in the centre of our table with a flourish and a dose of TLC. (We had been pleading for a pitcher of water for the last 4 hours and the waiter insisted he did not have a pitcher in the pub, inspite of serving us the Margaritas out of a pitcher)

Don’t visit unless you are a fair skinned foreigner, a high roller who is well known by the waiters, or have been sucked into attending a formal function at the Kakatiya, where no alcohol is being served, and you absolutely have to have your evening fortification, no matter how long it takes !