August 21, 2011

Bidar

A week day, an Innova, a good driver, and four like-minded, fun-loving friends. It is perhaps the best way to do a trip. We went to Bidar last week, and discovered that it makes a great 2-day outing from Hyderabad.

For the record, we saw the following: Chaubara clock tower, Madrassa (Mahmood Gawan), Bidar fort (Sharza gate, Gumbad gate, Rangeen Mahal, Tarkash mahal, Diwan-i-am, mosque); Barid Shah tombs; Ashtur --Bahamani Sultan tombs; Gurudwara; bidri workshop. Towards evening, we visited the Blackbuck Resort---the newest Jungle Lodges branch---and on our way back from there, we were rewarded by the sighting of a hoopoe taking a leisurely stroll and a kingfisher at work.

I was amused by the pink facades of houses on the Chaubara street; I was touched by the vastness and quiet of the fort; felt the sincerety of the people at the gurudwara as we partook of the 'langar' (the free lunch); and was amazed when I saw the making of bidriware, and at how one of the ingredients in the process was soil from the Bidar fort! The langurs of Bidar charmed us, as they jumped up and down, ran and climbed, generally going about their monkey business.

At the fort, in the Rani's mahal, there was a mixture of Kerala (carved wood), Islamic (mother of pearl on granite) and Kakatiya styles, which I thought was unusual.

At the Narasimha temple, one has to go through a cave, wading through above waist-level water to get to the sanctum sanctorum, with bats on the ceiling of the cave, and occasionally flying out at you. Exciting, huh? However, what touched me was the 'sparrow wall' I saw there (photo below). Great idea for the conservation of sparrows. Inexpensive too.

Hotel Shiva International on one of Bidar's main streets (where we stayed) was great value for money, and we were delighted to find an authentic Kamat right across the road. What more does one want on a holiday?

A few unusual glimpses of the trip are posted below. For the more cliched ones, one can always look at Google images!

My favourite photo from the Bidar collection. This was taken near the Chaubara clock tower.

The neighbour doesn't want to be left behind...!

At the Madrassa...

The playful langurs...

The langurs on the fort wall

A view of the Bidar fort from the car
One view of the fort

This banyan tree had at least five parasites growing from its hollow, including a flowering lantana and a neem tree!

A Hindu saint (Panduranga, I think) apparently visited the sultan at the fort and left his footprint here. We saw people worshipping this spot.

Signs of Independence day celebration in the fort!

A view of the new from the old...present Bidar is conspicuous by its brightly painted houses...mustards, shades of pinks, blues and violets, even.

The Gurudwara

One of the Barid Shah tombs was apparently struck down by lightning.

These are nests of birds I could not identify. They fly around swiftly and keep going to the ceiling to deposit feathers and other material to add to the nest. They never stopped so I could not get a closer look at them!

A sparrow peeping out from its nest on the sparrow wall at the Narasimha temple.

The sparrow wall...why can't we do this everywhere?!

The tranquil Blackbuck resort at Vilaspur, about 20 km from Bidar

Sorry, no photo of the Narasimha temple wade-in-water scene. I would like to leave that undisclosed, so you can imagine the cave, the water, the bats. If you get too curious, ask Google.

August 14, 2011

India@65

What do ordinary people do on 15th August? Is the day just like any other day? Is there still the pride and patriotic fervour we used to see as children?

Around where I live, I see a lot of activity on the morning of 15th August. The office next door has a formal flag hoisting on the terrace, so we wake up to a choice of patriotic songs (no dearth of those!) from their loudspeaker. Along the road, every basti hoists its own flag; in some places, one can see 3-4 flags with a few metres of each other! Mornings are hectic as children wake up early and go to school, dressed either in nicely pressed uniforms, or in formal Indian wear. Malini proudly wore India colours this morning. In her school, this is an occasion for earlier batches to meet up and re-live happy times in school.

In our apartment complex, we gather on the terrace, hoist the flag and then sing Jana gana mana. It is a beautiful moment, always, and a simple, symbolic gesture to show our respect for the country we live in.

Last night, passing by the Secretariat and Legislative Assembly, we gasped at the breathtakingly beautiful illumination of the monuments. The city looked decked up and special. A friend told me Charminar looked great too. In a shop window I saw a row of mannequins dressed in white, holding little flags...a very interesting sight, indeed! I am happy that despite all the problems and the criticism, there is still this spirit, which is evident every Independence day, and of course, each time India wins a cricket match!

India is 65, and certainly moving forward, in spite of politicians! I pray that this year, the rich in India get slightly poorer and that the poor get a lot richer.

Jai Hind!

August 08, 2011

Seven nests and seven chirpy, house-proud, yellow-brown weaver birds...

On the outskirts of Warangal, amidst fields, near a well...seven nests and seven chirpy, house-proud, yellow-brown weaver birds made my day! These are not great shots, but it was exciting looking through the trees and watching the birds!