Updated: 08 January 2008
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december 2008

Welcome to Hyderabad to 2 old friends flying into its new international airport. Hajnal (left) and Rebeka (right) eschewed troubled Mumbai and arrived straight into Hyderabad for a reunion since our last meeting in 1996 in Salzburg.

Rebeka is all grown up young girl on her last semester in Bologna University. She will complete in Zurich before joing the workforce.

Hajnal, an intrepid wanderer, has just settled there after various locations in Europe.
Hyderabad airport Cheers They arrived to a bubbly welcome reception of cold, cold Indian beers! This was served up with Tamara's home-cooked Briyani rice with chunks of local fresh mutton. Freshly made yogurt salad rounded up the lunch.

Our hosts,
Balaji & Tamara, have a very comfortable home in suburb Secunderabad, north of Hyderabad. It is nicely tucked away in a quiet residential colony just metres away from the bustling main throughfare into Hyderabad.
Indian Beers Indian wine shop Indian wines Wine haul
A selection of different beers made in India and available in our favourite "Wine" shop in Secunderabad. "Kingfisher", "Budwiser", "Royal Challenge", "Howards", "Knock Out" and "Fosters". Entrance to "The Riviera" wineshop, which is Balaji's favourite tipple house, where we dropped by to fill up with Indian beer brands and a few bottles of Indian-made wines. Here is a selection of made-in-India wines on the shelves of "The Riviera". Wine consumption is still  a curiosity in conservative Andhra Pradesh, where state taxes remain very high, allowing Indian products a clear advantage. We are saved! Straight from Zurich, a haul of some wonderful European wines, including Champagnes.
Briyani rice Enjoying Briyani rice Frying Samosas South Indian Talli
Close up of our many meals in India. Here is Naan with Chicken Briyani, slathered with spicy curry, downed with Mazza Mango drink & bottled water by Pepsi-Cola India. Hajnal relaxing royally during her first meal of Mutton Briyani, on the day of her arrival in India. Hand-made Samosas being fried merrily on a large wok of hot oil. I waited patiently as they cooked and "tah powed" a bunch of them for a mid-morning snack during our tour of Hyderabad's historical sights. Here is a talli vegetarian set meal of Southern Indian curries & salads, that wowed even our picky children. Starters, spicy Ressam soup, various vegetable dishes, chutneys, Pori and white rice and a couple of sweet desserts, all on a single plate. This is served on a per person basis.
Bananas a plenty Indian Chilliwurts Roadside meals Winter even in India offer a paucity of fruits. But trusty & delicious bananas is a year-round saviour. Far left, Balaji selects various species for snacking between meals.

My absolute favourite snack food is Chilliwurts. A large whole green chilli is wrapped in a spicy flour mixture and deep-fried. Yum!

Here is a road-side hawker serving up samosas, tosai and other delights with hot tea with fresh buffalo milk, a constant all over India.
Hyderabad vegetable market Hyderabad vegetable market We visited a huge vegetable/fruit market that cater to a largely vegetarian citizenry. A variety of greens, root vegetables, citrus fruits, melons and beans are all on offer for a pittance.

On right, is a typical butcher shop that specialises in mutton only. Take your choice of your favourite cuts. Trimming off the fat and mincing is part of the complete service offered here.
A meat shop
Plenty of fish Fish cleaner Hyderabad Fish market We arrived late at the fish market and look what they had left! Still plenty of fat, fat freshwater fish for the taking. There were freshwater prawns and sea shrimps and medium-sized pomfrets (6 for just INR160=S$6!). A specially designated area is dedicated to cleaning & dressing your purchases, including peeling the prawns off their shells. All for a fee of  INR10/kg.
Indian beauty Posing with Indian bride Indian dress for non-Indians Indian beauty-to-beAn assortment of Indian and less-than-Indian beauties. (From left) at a temple, at a wedding with the bride (2nd from left), all dressed for a night out in Hyderabad town, a new star to-be-born learning the art of posing for her dotting brother.
Trichy colours Roadside colours in Tiruchirapalli (Trichy), the first destination foothold for Air Asia in India.

(Centre) The elegant and relatively quiet Railway Station of Trichy. We took an overnighter from here to Chennai.

(Right) Rain droplets obscure our view of Rockfort, Trichy. a solitary outcrop in a largely flat land of central Tamil Nadu. This was the only day where we experienced rain throughout our entire trip in India.
Trichy Railway Station Rockfort, Trichy
The famous Charminar gates of Hyderabad and the next picture is a glimpse of their heady bazaar filled with people, shoulder-to-shoulder & vibrant colour, throughout the entire day.

The huge lake right in the middle of Hyderabad, where a statue of Buddha is installed. These railings are also a jump-off point for desperate souls bent on ending their earthy lives in his embrace.
Charmina gate, Hyderabad Charmina bazaar, Hyderabad Bhudda statue, Hyderabad
Galconda fort gate, Hyderabad The Golconda Fort, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, was a centre of military control of the region. It has seen many wars and conflicts over the centuries but much remain of its fearsome reputation and its extensive grounds are now trodden upon by a continuous stream of visitors both near & far. Galconda fort outer fortification Galconda fort ramparts
Galconda inner city Watch tower at Galconda fort The grounds within its walls are certainly extensive as you can see from these photos. It also provides a commanding view of the surrounding plains that it used to command from this site.

Life continue to thrive outside its main fortress walls with locals doing roaring tourist-related businesses. Even then, just a short distance away, I chanced on a local eating shop that served up some very delicious snacks like the samosas and chilliwurts, mentioned above.
Residentials at Galconda fort
Outer buildings, Chowpatty Palace Throne room, Chowpatty Palace Inner views, Chowpatty Palace The next stop is right in the heart of the city, close by to the famous iconic structure, Charminar with its bustling bazaar. This is the Chowpatty Palace of the last royal rulers of Hyderabad. The Palace grounds are extensive and may rival the royal palaces of Europe in splendour.

On this row of photos, you see the different architectural styles. Minarets of Islamic influence, a grand Throne room lit by giant chandeliers and sparkling granite floor and raised dias. Further, within the palace grounds are French-influenced windowed structures and towers.
Inner sanctum, Chowpatty Palace Black Mosque beyond Chowpatty Palace A very well-preserved garden with fountains lay in the central part of the complex. This probably provided respite from hot sunny days for its many residents and visitors.

Just outside its walls, is one of the world's largest mosques, Mecca Mosque, which leads to the bazaars and arches of Charminar.

A quick glimpse through the huge entrance of the mosque just after twilight prayers (right).
Mecca Mosque
Finally, we arrive at the final resting place of the 7 rulers of this ancient empire. The Tombs complex consists of seven masoluems in the style of Taj Mahal, complete with gardens, prayer-echo chambers. The larger ones were of several levels. The unfortunate thing about this "Valley of the Dead" is that almost all of the original painted colours and probably gold-guilded domes have all been destroyed.

Nevertheless, the itricate work may still be seen from what are left. As a slight departure from strictly Islamic designs, hidden within these inanimate carvings, birds and other animals are found, if one looks carefully enough.
Royal tombs, Hyderabad Intricate designs on mosoleums Design closeup
The last photos in this collection, below, are of a typical ride in the iconic "Auto-rickshaw" of India. Powered by a surprisingly powerful motorcycle engine, these little vehicles carried our amazing luggage of 2 suitcases, 4 backpacks, my laptop case, 2 adults and 2 children, without breaking a sweat!

Rates, however, vary greatly depending on your ability at bargaining and whether you are local or obvious foreigner. Opening rates can start at INR200, where ever you are headed - 1km or 5km. The final price achieved could be as low as INR50!
The next photo is a little party with some of our hosts close friends, including a Member of the Indian Parliament. Here, we proffered a decent range of wines to accompany the home-cooked dishes churned out of the modest domestic kitchen.

If I remember correctly, 2 whites, 3 reds and a delicious Sauternes to finish the evening.

St. Thomas martyred by locals just outside modern-day Chennai, has a Basilica erected over his tomb. This is only one of 3 such Basilicas in the world.

Just down the road from it are the slums of Marina Beach, where the fisherfolk ike a living from the sea.
Decorative design closeup The tombstone
Autos, local public transportation Enjoying wine Matyurdom of St. Thomas, Apostle Out-of-sight slums of Chennai




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