Hyderabad is surrounded with interesting places to enjoy a weekend with friends and family. Pack your bags for the ideal destination!
Kolleru Lake Bird Sanctuary
Even if birds are not your thing, the sight of a majestic body of water, swollen and expanded over a 260sq km area can make for an inspiring sight. A habitat to over 50,000 resident and migratory birds like Painted Storks, Glossy Ibises, Teals and Red Crested Pochards, the Kolleru Bird Sanctuary has seen a revival of sorts in the last couple of years due to conservation work and the sightings are now in gigantic clusters. Bring your binoculars! The town of Eluru (332km from Hyderabad) doesn’t throw up any great holiday options so it may be a good idea to check in at the Gateway Hotel, MG Rd, Vijaywada and take a drive (73km) to the sanctuary and return by sunset.
Situated 42km from Hyderabad, Pochampally is a weavers’ village, where ‘ikat’ like designs on cotton and silk are painstakingly woven on mechanised and pit looms. You can shop at Pochampally Handloom Park. Pochampally Handloom Weavers Co-op Society and Raj Kumar Handlooms are two of the best options. The latter can also guide you to smaller villages where weavers work on pit looms in clusters of 20–25. There’s also a spartan museum, Chenethakala Kendram and a temple dedicated to Vinobha Bhave Nagarjuna.
Blackbucks at Bidar
You may have been to the old walled city of Bidar (146km from Hyderabad) to see the Bidar Fort, or visit the ancient ruins from its time as the capital of Bahmani kingdom, but have you may not visited Bidar to see it’s blackbucks. The Black Buck Resort occupies a sweet spot between the Honnikeri Reserve and the Vilaspur Lake. As a result, the area is home to a healthy population of blackbucks and other fauna like peacocks, black-naped hare, wild boars and porcupines. Don’t go back without buying some exquisite pieces of Bidriware from Bidar. This metal handicraft from the Behmani era makes for a beautiful gift for friends and family.
Nagarjuna Sagar Dam
Drive out 165km to visit the largest stone masonry dam in the world, built on the Krishna River. You can book an overnight stay or stop over at the restaurant in the APTDC property, Vijay Vihar on the banks. Ahead lies the Launch Station of Nagarjunakonda, a small island with a Buddhist museum, with excavations dating back to the 3rd century. If you have time, you can visit the Ethipothala Falls, 22km from Nagarjunakonda.
River ride the Papi Hills
Located 400km from Hyderabad, this one may take a bit longer but the pay off here is bigger. Not only is Papi Kondalu or Papi Hills among the most beautiful places in the State with spectacular valleys and waterfalls, but this holiday will be unlike any other because it involves travelling by boat and sleeping in riverside bamboo huts. The boat tour meanders through the scenic hills and reaches the Godavari riverside camp at Kolluru Village for an overnight halt amidst a stunning combination of rolling hills and flowing water. The boat tour starts fairly early in the morning so it may be a good idea to get into Rajamundry the earlier night and check in at the Anand Regency
When a 3km long tunnel of underground caves usually found in hills, are instead found under a flat agricultural field just 5 hours outside your city, it is your duty to pack your bags and begin driving immediately. The Belum Caves (368km from Hyderabad) have long passages, spacious chambers, fresh water galleries and imaginative color illuminations but the highlight are the phenomenal stalactite and stalagmite formations. The government has provided a dormitory for overnight stays but you may be more comfortable staying at Kurnool (110km) and taking a day trip to the caves.
The heart of Andhra Pradesh, Warangal, 195km away, was the capital of the Kakatiya Dynasty from the 12th–14th century. Remnants of the unique architectural style of the era can still be seen in Warangal Fort. The Thousand Pillar Temple, dedicated to Shiva, and Bhadrakali Temple with many shrines in the large complex.
The article is an extract from Best Escapes South India, along with inputs from Sharan Saikumar.