Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane - Bangalore to Hyderabad

(Part of a series of posts starting with "A Trip Down Memory Lane")

Distance from Bangalore to Hyderabad is roughly 550kms. We started from Bangalore in the evening at around six and intended staying overnight either at Anantpur or Kurnool. The roads were getting constructed (being upgraded to six lanes), which made us shift lanes every few kilometers. But there was not much traffic on these roads and the drive was enjoyable... till there was light, that is. Once it became dark, it actually became a bit dangerous driving on the unfinished roads. Actually at one instant I almost drove into the ditch of an unfinished bridge!

Though on one hand we liked the empty roads, but on the other hand less traffic also meant very few eating places and fueling stations. Actually we didn't find a single decent eating joint that evening, and were starving till late night. Though we did get a few small fueling stations, we held back thinking of filling up at some good place in Anantpur. I would recommend you to pack enough food on this stretch and fill up your tank to the brim.

Anantpur came at 200 kms from Bangalore. It was a disappointment as per our expectations (though if I look back now, it was not all that bad after all). So we decided to drive fast and reach Kurnool (150 km further). Kurnool is a bigger city than Anantpur. We reached Kurnool quite late just before midnight. Luckily we got a place to stay at the Mourya Inn, Kurnool. It had a good parking place. The rooms were also grand (sadly because we were there only for a few hours). We had a very sound and relaxing sleep though.

We started early next morning at 7 to beat the city traffic. Our car was cleaned nicely by the hotel personnel (probably the guard or the gardener) and we filled it up at a good fuel station nearby. The restaurant of Mourya had not opened yet, so we started off and had some idli and dosa at a small place just before exiting the city. It was not that great a place. If we had more time to relax, we would have had a nice breakfast at the hotel itself.

The 200 km drive from Kurnool till Hyderabad was memorable. The roads were fully double laned, though some toll gate constructions were still underway. There was not much traffic. I could just zoom... Driving at 120 was a breeze and I even reached my record speed till date of 170! We even took a shaky pic when I was at 160. On the way we glimpsed some very colorful temples, and a village called Bhootpur (bhoot in one sense also means ghost, so this translates to ghost town). We reached Hyderabad by noon.

Other attractions in this route:
If you can spare 2 full days for this stretch of drive, there are few more interesting places to visit on the way:

1. Nandi Hills. Just at the outskirts of (60 km from) Bangalore. A small hill with a fort that belonged to Tipu Sultan. We have visited Nandi Hills many times, and therefore did not include it in our trip. Daytime is crowded with tourists. We particularly liked an overnight stay at Nandi Hills. The misty and quiet mornings are beautiful.

2. Lepakshi. A quaint village near (just before when driving from Bangalore) Anantpur with old temples of Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Virabhadra. The temple belongs to the era of the Vijayanagara Empire. It has some beautiful paintings on the ceilings, the largest monolith Nandi and some beautiful stone carvings.

3. Penukonda Fort. An ancient fort near Anantpur (between Lepakshi & Anantpur when driving from Bangalore).

4. Belum Caves. Almost 3km stretch of underground caves caused naturally by water. Some parts of this caves are still live, though most of it is dead.

Suggested Alternate Route:
So if you have the time, you can cover Bangalore to Hyderabad as:
1. Start from Bangalore in the afternoon
2. Reach Nandi hills in afternoon. Stay overnight. Start from Nandi Hills in the morning at 8.
3. Reach Lepakshi by 10. Visit around the temple, have lunch at Lepakshi. Start from there around 12.
4. Reach Penukonda Fort by 1 PM. Be here till evening before starting for Anantpur.
5. Halt for the night at Anantpur. Start for Belum caves next morning.
6. Reach Belum Caves before 10. You need at least 3-4 hours to get a good look at the caves. Start for Kurnool after that.
7. Stay overnight at Kurnool. Start for Hyderabad next morning.

If you can spare one more day, you can extend your stay at Anantpur for one more day and visit another nearby fort called Gooty Fort as well. Plan out this stretch based on your liking and where you want to spend more time. Each of them can take a full day if you get to like it!

Update: We did finally go to some of these places nearby - Belum Caves, Lepakshi and few places near Penukonda Caves. Check out my post about this trip here.

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