Posts Tagged With: hyderabad

India… The good, the bad, and the downright evil

Well India has provided some of the best and some of the worst experiences of our lives. In some areas the scenery, people and food are among the prettiest, friendliest and tastiest (respectively) we have seen, met or had…in other areas …not the same story. Despite this we covered a lot of the country, saw a lot of sights, places, cities and have some insights that may prove useful to future travellers.

India certainly has a lot positive to be said about it and there are some must see items that make planning a trip very worthwhile. There are also some places that quite frankly are ruined by the people that you are forced to encounter along the way. Our trip was more low budget that some but higher budget than the typical backpacking style holiday.

We spent our money on the food, beer, accommodation and transport…choosing to pay that little bit more for the extra space and comfort and things like private bathrooms. That said…accommodation was generally about $20 a night for both of us and at its cheapest was $10. For not much extra (than our allowance) per day you could plan a very nice Indian sojourn and by paying the little bit extra can avoid some of the shonks that we hit along the way. You will be overpaying for what you get but the extra money takes away some of the headaches and surely that is worth a little more.

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Indian Must dos

With the beauty of hindsight this is where I would go to if I was to plan a short (2-3 week) holiday in India (in no particular order).

Agra – Taj Mahal and the fort…this one is obvious but they truly are that good. I suggest that 2-3 days is about the right amount of time here.

Amritsar – golden temple and the border show. Can be done in a one full day journey if time is tight but the people and food are so nice you will want to stay more.

Aurungabad – Ellora and Ajanta caves…absolutely stunning. Two days is about right. This was the surprise for me, had never heard of them but were the highlight of the trip.

Hampi – absolutely fantastic with so very much to see, need about 2 full days but will want more as the people and place are so good.

Jaipur – this has 3 forts, temples, a palace and all the old city walls and is again worthy of about 3-4 days depending on your schedule and timings. Jaipur is in Rajasthan and most of Rajasthan is pretty similar with forts and palaces etc. They are all different but are also very similar so if time is against you Jaipur would be my pick.

Ooty – the Indian blue mountains (Nilgiris) with a toy train ride to boot. Stunning scenery and clean by Indian standards.

Udaipur – we loved this place. The water and lakes make it very different to the other sights you tend to see. If you come in early in the morning you could see everything in a day and a bit so one overnight would be about right..add an extra night if you want to hit the fort and Jain temples which are a bit of a way out. We stayed for 6 days and enjoyed it all but most people will not have as much time.

The end.

My list would leave out 2 key ones on almost everyone else’s list and they are

Goa – a must for beach goers…we could have skipped it. It was nice and we had a good time but unless you are in dire need of sand and water it could be skipped.

Kerala – the cruise of the back waters was nice and a good treat. Our cruise was probably a bit long and one to two nights would be about right. There are afternoon cruises but you stay in the main channel with all the boat traffic.

Great if you have extra time

Now if you have a little more time available then these are my choices for good second tier spots with nice attractions, people etc

Darjeeling – tea fields, toy trains and the Himalayas on a clear day.
Hyderabad – an Indian city that is really trying to get it right.
Jaisalmer – desert, fort, safari. Nice if you have the time.
Jodhpur – nice place..very Rajasthan with forts and palaces.
Kanyakumari – the southernmost tip at the edge of 3 oceans
Mumbai – beautiful architecture, the gateway to India and Elephanta island.
Pondicherry – the French parts

Nice if you have LOTS of time

Mangalore – still the best food I have eaten in India (just not much to see)
Cochin – a nice afternoon but not too much to see
Trivandrum – good zoo and some nice architecture
Bangalore – not too much going on here

Don’t even bother

Bhubaneswar – caves and temples…not that fantastic and the experience is wrecked by the lying and cheating of what feels like almost everybody in the town. The worst that India has to offer.

I have left New Delhi off this list entirely because my experiences in New Delhi were entirely terrible. I came to Delhi 4 times (including transits) and had an atrocious experience each and every time. I may have been entirely unlucky…or it may well be the worst capital city on the planet, full of lying cheating scoundrels. Alas as New Delhi is a major transport hub you may just have to stop here to get to some of the nicer parts of India. Should you wish to do such a trip then I will let you form your own New Delhi opinion and would be happy to hear it.

I will leave the India topic with a few of my favourite moments…

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And my all time favourite moment…was…

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Farewell India…it has been an experience…

 

 

 

 

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Hyderabad

Thank god for Hyderabad…our departing India was lass than auspicious, Kolkata was passable and Bhubaneswar was the worst place on the planet (that we have been to so far). We were seriously reconsidering our next 4-5 weeks finishing off north Eastern India and were thinking of bailing on India entirely.

But along came Hyderabad in the state of and Andhra Pradesh. This is a city that gets it. It is trying. It sees the errors made elsewhere and is actively trying to address them. An intersection has one police officer (rather than 10-15) and he is working (rather than talking or sleeping) as such traffic flows and wrongdoers get punished. The city employs cleaners and provides rubbish bins at semi-regular intervals) and has fines for those who litter. As such the streets are (relatively) clean.

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The waterways have dredges digging out the submerged rubbish of a bygone era. They have nets catching and corralling the new trash additions. The transport department has inspectors pulling over drivers and checking exhaust emissions. All of these things are VERY positive signs of a city that is learning from the mistakes around them. Despite this there is a long way to go but you truly must applaud the intent.

The first day saw us checking-in to a lovely hotel closely followed by Jill’s mandatory exploration expedition. This involved many kilometres of walking (normally around 12-15 but these numbers are in dispute) and exhaustion. This trip was made worst by Jill’s sniffles that delivered to her a blocked nose. Hence the idea of wandering along the lakeside was wonderful to her and saw me literally dry retching at one point (Hyderabad is better but not 100%).

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The next day we hired a driver through the tourist office who took us (in air conditioned comfort) to most of the big sites in town. We hit the Chowmahalla palace, the Laad bazaar, the Golconda fort, Charminar (city gate style thing built in the 1500’s), Mecca Masjid (big mosque), high court, Qutb Shahi tombs, Buddha statue, Hussain Sagar (pond) all in one day. Each one of these were quite wonderful and benefited from the city’s cleanliness policy.

We found many parks that were beautifully clean (only to find that they did not allow people into them). We saw a nice one and tried to enter but were told we had to leave our shoes at the gate (now let’s be serious…I spend my days watching Indians pissing and shitting everywhere and I wear thongs in the shower of my hotel…there is no way I am walking barefoot in an Indian open space). We did not enter but it looked nice.

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Our hotel was full vegetarian and alcohol free. Needless to say for a 3 night stay this proved challenging on both fronts. Jill found the Nilgrisi Kofta and the Haba Bara kebab which she loved and ordered every night along with some butter naan. I mixed it up but essentially a vego restaurant in India did not offer the steak in pepper sauce, washed down by a cold beer, that I was craving. I made do.

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We had to check out at noon on our last day but our train did not leave until 9pm so we found ourselves with time to kill. So we headed to the Nehru zoological park (Zoo). This had little or no write up but was by far the best zoo we have seen with the exception of the Singapore night zoo. The range of animals was good (with all the big ticket items) the pens were spacious, clean and seemed habitat appropriate where needed. You got to be very close to the animals and mostly had unimpeded camera angles. All things considered…excellent.

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