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Old 5th December 2011, 11:02   #1
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Default Mesmerizing Andhra Pradesh - A Family Outing

Statutory Warning:
1. I am a newbie writing a travelogue, so it may be boring for some.
2. I use a point and shoot camera, so don't expect great shots.
3. The opinions stated are purely mine and not intended to hurt anyone.
4. I am at times very unpolished and my statements are very candid, hence my apologies if my posts seems offensive to you in any way.
5. English or grammar could be bad, suggestions solicited.



Bang!!! phat phat pat pat pat ,went off a series of loud crackers in midlle of the night. This was the topic of discussion the next morning at breakfast table. The month was August 2011.

The Travellers
1. My Mom – 75+
2. My Pops – 80+
3. My Wife – Women don’t want to reveal age
4. Me – I am 35

mom and Pops
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Wifey and Me
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My mom groaned at the thought of spending the days upto Diwali and post Diwali having to put up with cracker sound at all un-earthly hours. We live in a crowded part of old Bangalore, in Basavangudi, bang opposite Gandhibazaar circle. Our neighbors are mostly the business class and their spoilt brats.

Since my nephews and nieces had taken vows not to burst crackers at our house (sincere thanks to their school for giving the the environmental damage gyaan), We decided to break the tradition of having to relatives come over and us going to their place and discussion on mundane topics such as traffic jam,rising petrol cost and fate of telecom minister and love-hate topic of Metro rail in Bangalore. Mom said she is tired of cooking and wants a week break. Father says a change is necessary to motivate Mom’s culinary skills, wife has just quit her job and has taken a month off,to catch up with her friends, cousins and the like, and poor me is slogging in the office because September is supposed to be a good month for Auto sales and just the opposite is happening.

On a Sunday morning my septuagenarian mom just declares. “Please I want to run away”. To which my Octagenarian pop asks? “Run away?, Alone?”. Where do you want to go?

My mom replies, lets go where I don’t have to cook for you people for a few days. Then Pop suggested a few days of road trip to “somewhere”. The “where is that somewhere” destination eluded us completely.

While favourite destinations like Mysore,Udupi, Kukke, Tirupati, Sringeri, Madikeri, Hasan, were being considered as both religious and as tourist view point, my parents stoutly refused, refused to go to temples and visit God !!

Pops suggested Kerala, Mom said Jaipur-Agra-Delhi, wifey said Darjeeling,siliguri,shillong etc. I didn’t say anything; I just let the folks argue and arrive at a consensus. The subsequent everyday breakfast table turned into a tours and travel company office desk with brouchures,printouts and quotes from package trips offering the moon for your money’s worth. Many days passed and topic was getting diluted, there would be sudden burst of energy whenever our daily papers carried ads of travel company offering travel to exotic locations.

I suggested to the warring indiduals (each stuck to their choice of destination), to finalise date of travel plan as diwali was fast approaching. My family jumped in with lot more enthu and discussions ensued at a feverish pitch that would have put a politicians’s poll campaign to shame.

After many deliberations, and taking into considerations of time, logistics and hotel reservation availability, we decided to fly in and fly out of destinations save for short destinations less than 300 kms.

Among the places to visit,as a state or a union territory , following places were considered:

1. Rajasthan
2. Delhi-NCR region (including Agra)
3. Himalchal Pradesh
4. Lucknow-kanpur
5. Kerala (backwaters)
6. Pondicherry
7. Goa
8. Andamans and Nicobar
9. Stay home and save moolah option

As each of us stuck to our place of destination and ready list of places to eat and experience, we decided to toss a coin, literally. The decision to visit Andhra Pradesh came very unexpected but very unanimous. After a quick google and talk with our acquaintances that had lived there, we decided- So be it. It’s gonna be AP. We were also cautioned on the T factor but were later assured that it was happening in old Hyderabad only.

Of the mayhem that followed was both amusing and terrorizing. Andhra Pradesh as a state has oodles of tourist offerings. There are massive temple, architectures, beaches, greenery, beautiful roads and not to mention Andhra delicacies to choose from. The tourists places to visit in Andhra is one big un-ending list, we were quite confused on what we wanted to see. Even the food on offer is endless each of them delicious in that part of their town. While many of us know “Hyderabadi Biryani” very well. There are a lot of lesser known and equally delectable items on the menu (like Pesarattu Dosa) that can leave you licking your fingers.

The itinerary

1. One and half days in Hyderabad
2. Half day in Vijayawada
3. Two days in Vishakhapatnam

We had a total of 6 days at our disposal. Some days were allocated for on road travel.

Readers, please note here that while there were usual tourist spots available, we chose to do a little bit off the trodden path. No philosophy behind that. Just that two other travelers mom and pop are well beyond 75+ age and cannot walk much. So it had to be those places, where extensive walking to see places could be well avoided. For this very reason, we chose not to include the famous Salar Jung Museum Salarjung Museum. People, we know, informed us, that it would not be sufficient to view the museum in 2 days. Maybe next time …

The Travel

Travel to Hyd in Kingfisher ATR on a Saturday afternoon was very comfortable (My MM540 with a peugot engine vibrates less). Landing in Hyd at 4.00pm, and proceeding a to Mango suites, MG Road, Secunderabad, we decided to call it a day. Me and wifey decided to explore the surrounding area on foot. Must mention here that for Oct 3rd week travel, we did all air bookings in Sep last week. Bangalore to Hyderabad afternoon flight for 4 adults including all taxes was INR 6200.00.

We traveled around in Hyderabad in the scorching heat in a Red Innova extended to us by an acquaintance.
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Day 1 (City Tour)

1. Drive around Hussein Sagar Lake, & boating to the Buddha statue in middle of the lake.
2. Post lunch, visit to Birla Temple.

We drove around the lake 2-3 times and folks were not ready to get down from the air-conditioned interiors of the Innova. Soon we spotted ‘Boating Available’ board and that sent us hurtling to the main entrance.
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The area around the boating is well kept with marigold flowers and a tiny children’s park. After a prolonged wait, we were issued tickets of Rs 45 per head for a motor launch. The cynosure of all eyes was a Buddha statue in middle of the lake though not geographically.
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Locals informed us that statue had accidently slipped into the water, and had remained in the water due to red tapism, however the towering statue, area surrounding and joys of motor launch quickly occupied our minds. As we clambered aboard, we all took our vantage seating points.
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There was another family of four from Karnataka and they seemed to be praising Hyderabad for its cleanliness, we only nodded our heads in agreement. The drive/sail was great and we docked behind the statue.
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Everyone climbed onto the jetty and onto the concrete structure and motor launch crew announced: we had 30 mins. The urban developement authority has really worked to get this place spik n span, we had a nice time under the towering presence of Buddha.
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Soon the boatman's assistant announced: time's up !! and we all clambered down to the jetty and into the motor launch, the drive/sail back was uneventful and boating in Hussein sagar had come to an end.

Despite my many questions about the boat, all the driver/sailor could tell me that it has a tractor engine.
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Post lunch, we visited the Birla Temple. Since photography wasn't allowed there, could not click any photos there. All I can say is Mandir is well built in Marble, One must not miss it.

[Crass commercialism rears its ugly head. Atleast parks and picnic spots should be left alone.
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Family in action
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Day 2 (City Tour)

1. Ramoji Film City and Lumbini Gardens.
2. Post lunch, NTR garden and Charminar

We did not go to Ramoji due to time constraint but Lumbini yes. These are quaint gardens maintained and are very clean and great for a family outing, especially if you have kids, there is a laser show too, we enjoyed the display to the hilt.

There is a toy train too, with much difficulty I coaxed my parents to take a round in that toy car on rails, Man!! embarrassment was written large on their faces but I could get a glimpse of child-like joy momentarily on their faces too.
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The NTR garden is more of a theme park kind with various rides, and fountains and water bodies, plenty of snacks were available too, of which I made myself a large helping, the best time to visit NTR garden is 4pm onwards. The crowds are mostly family type with kids.

As we are on the way, my mother spots a handloom expo going on. As we stop ahead in the distance, the women folk beseech the men folk to dump the rest of the planned itinerary and go to this handloom expo (no offence meant, actually this turned out to be far more entertaining).

Lepakshi is the original cottage artisan and handloom promoter for Andhra rural folk; they procure the craft and market them. Consumers get fresh stuff and rural folk get instant money. The shop cum museum was of two floors and crammed with stuff, you will see the same in photographs. We stuffed ourselves with mementos to be handed over to our hapless relatives.

Showroom of LePakshi in full bloom
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The beauty of Pride of Hyderabad - The Charminar is awe inspiring in itself, the monument stands tall in silence watching humans race around in their toys, Once upon in time The Charminar was witness to humans racing around in horse carriage, love-lorn young turks and maybe a few British couples straddled on their horses. Though we made it to the place late evening, the last rays of sun were dying into the dusk and Charminar was standing tall probably thinking… Hyderabad will continue to shine on.
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Day 3 & 4 (Outskirts and City tour)

Travel by air to Vijayawada (by prebooking we paid only INR 3600 for 4 adults includes all taxes) and stay the night in Murali fortune hotel on MG Road. We planned to visit Durga temple in Vijayawada, but had to drop as bundh and violence called in by the T support group had us running for cover. Here we decided to proceed to Vizag.

Post lunch, saw us travelling from Vijayawada to Vishakhapatnam by a Silver Fortuner extended to us by an acquaintance;
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The route from Vijayawada to Vishakhapatnam is very scenic and we had a smooth journey on NH 5, which I believe is part of golden quadrilateral,the roads are beautiful but road discipline is severely lacking.

One has to see to believe the beauty of Andhrapradesh. The forests, the roads, the people and their foods, Needless to say the forest couldn’t have been more green, I especially suspect that Andhra greenery knew we were coming and adorned their best in the timeless beauty, wherever our sights went, we could see rich rice fields (meaning Toyo=rich rice, dah=field, Toyota, the Japanese are mainly rice eaters and worship rice).,

Andhrapradesh has been aptly name as “Rice bowl of India”, it is one single state that contributes 80% of rice cultivation of entire India.Many places, people were very warm and inviting and guided us in totality. The food served in the friendly “mess” was spicy, aromatic and healthy.

Please correct me if I am wrong, the people on roads in Hyderabad were in mad rush to reach their offices and we saw few bad traffic pileups maybe very much like Bangalore. But in places like Vijayawada,Rajamundhry and even Vizag, life was taking its own sweet time, meandering through time and the pace wasn’t maddening, People still had the time to come out of their homes in the evening and chat to their neighbors, I saw ladies and children shopping with much enthusiasm, children were playing on the road with makeshift wicket,bats and balls (reminded of my growing years in late 80’s). Menfolk as usual were seen comparing their mobile phones (sigh?). Old men and women were having the cuppa at 4.00 in the noon, wow I have not seen such leisure. Even places like Mysore,Hubli or Mangalore people are in a mad rush, maybe its the time, I just hope that Andhra remains as it is without falling prey to vagaries of time. It was as if time had stopped ticking and rat race postponed to another time to come. I openly envy you Andhraites. Back at the hotel my family members shared the same thoughts.

Last edited by Grace : 5th December 2011 at 15:46.
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Old 5th December 2011, 13:06   #2
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Default A Family Outing to Mesmarizing Andhra Pradesh

En-route to Vizag, we see a statue of Vivekananda mounted on a small hilltop overlooking the highway. It seemed to callout to drivers - 'Arise !, Awake! and sleep not till destination is reached'.
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We took our lunch break in brand new hotel in Rajahmundhry. We also visited the Toyota showroom there as my wife wanted to see the Etios LIVA.
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We were touched by the gesture of the tender coconut vendor. After serving the coconuts, he went in to the fields and got us fresh sugarcane to chew on, as he peeled them,he proudly announced this was his first crop from the newly acquired agricultural land.
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Thereafter enroute to vizag, there is a temple town of Annavaram. Mom and Pop finally sensed the need to go temple to offer prayers, and at this place, we spent considerable time. Apparently the main deity of the temple was shifted as renovation was underway, thankfully there was nil crowd, we had a great guided tour by the temple priest himself.
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we also visited their Gow Ashrama (Temple’s holy cow shed),chatted with the cows literally, most of the cattle have been donated by temple devotees and inbreeding has increased in numbers. The cattle were all in healthy shape and their place of resting was spotlessly clean.
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The temple courtyard in dusk. The sylvan surroundings with nil crowd were so much soothing and peace was available for the inner mind to soak up, in abundance.
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As the dusk was falling, we decided to move to Vishkhapatnam as planned, reaching Vizag at 9.30pm and had our dinner by 10.30pm. Since booking was already done on phone, we had a seamless checkin at RR Grand in Daba Garden, LIC circle. This hotel is atop a Honda two wheeler showroom and only 2 kms away from the railway station, they also have a rooftop bar/discotheque which was emitting loud music. Rooms were quite cozy with most of the walls finishing in wood and flooring in marble. The restaurant is also entirely done in wood and givens a musky wooden smell. Breakfast choice is very limited but good crowds throng for lunch and dinner times. My humble submission is that hotel needs a new management.

Day 5 (Vizag outskirts tour)

Our mode of travel was a white Corolla Altis extended to us by an acquaintance.
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1. Araku Valley and Borra caves.

We did not visit Araku valley due to time constraint. As one reaches Araku, there are many beautiful spots to be seen. Unfortunately, time was not on our side as we had started late and also the driver misjudged the time taken to travel.
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Borra Caves

Borra caves are natural formation of calcium. The ones that drop down from ceiling are called stalacmites and the ones on ground are called stalagcites.
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We landed at Borra caves at 12 in the noon and entry gates opened only at 2.00pm. My family has got busy with buying Andhra handloom at a nearby shop in a converted bus shelter. The shopkeeper is a wily young lad and we are already lighter in our wallets by 2000-3000. Stuff is quite good.
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You can't keep away ladies and sour stuff apart for sure. My wife wanted to buy out the entire inventory.
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"Khulja sim sim !!" The cave entry door opens and we rush as if free food is being served!! Nah, we actually rushed to get in the loo, as we had travelled 90+ kms on a bumpy road and bladders were full and bursting at their seams. Ablutions done, we all trooped down to see the caves. The illuminations you see in the caves? We thought it is a natural source of light, maybe sunlight. We were rudely awakenend by AP tourism’s horrible measures for illumination. They were sodium vapour lamp and green, red and orange and blue colored tubelights, ones that is usually carried by baraatis (groom's side of wedding dancers) If you and I were to go to a natural formation out in a forest, we’d expect natual lighting as we expect to see a kind of Aura or grandeur associated with places such as these. But then AP tourism decides to play God.The caves are really deep and though natural light enters, lighting up only central areas, places where illumination does not reach are dark and seems to talk of a bygone era,smells musty, thankfully no visitors pee in the darkness, any emitted sound echos and this gives way to eerie feeling, surprisingly the visitors too spoke in hushed tones.
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On the way back , saw a triple headed goods train carrying 53 carriages full of iron ore.
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Last edited by Grace : 5th December 2011 at 14:54.
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Old 5th December 2011, 14:01   #3
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Day 6 (Vizag local tour)

This is the day we get back to reality, but before this day is also reserved for Vizag local visits. We have already planned to split the day into two parts. First half, we visit Bheemili and second half we proceed to RK beach, Vizag city.

Bheemili is best described by photographs. The attractions are a Dutch cemetery, human vignettes made in concrete, the beach.
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“The graves with towers are the ones belonging to sea pirates, smaller graves are the ones belonging to those puny officers who went down fighting the pirates”.declared the “Curator” of the Dutch cemetery. Seems like that. There are plenty of graves, some of them dating back to 1685 inscriptions are very clear though ravaged by the elements and time. Some of the tombs have been vandalized.
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The eerie part is where this “curator” invites to put in your head and look into the tomb. When you do that, you will find a human skull and few pieces of bones (don’t know whether human) lying around, here the “Curator” declares in hushed tones that skull changes position if you venture any deeper.
This is the tomb where you put in your head.
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The cemetry is well kept, though there is no entry fee. The look of clean pure white marble top on the graves and no other sound other than sound of sea waves lashing will give you goose pimples. We exited the cemetery quickly. I am sure the “Curator” was cynically smiling behind us while pocketing the 50 rupees tip.

You could mistake the self styled curator for a ghost himself, what saves the feeling is the chaps' smelly perspiration coupled with the beedi he's smokin'.
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Thankfully the rest of the rest of the beach is totally devoid of crowds and has nothing but a few vignettes,seems like WIP, we see a abandoned deep sea trawler grounded on the shore.
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I do not hesitate to click a pic of a Mahindra classic whizzing by. Was just imagining the open sky,beach, group of buddies and an open Jeep. Actually I am a sucker for open Jeeps.
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The Work In Progress (WIP) human vignettes. They are indeed beautiful.
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On our way back, we visited the Rushikonda beach also. Again a tourist spot, APSTDC has beach facing rooms at attractive pricing, though I am cautioned that room service takes ages. (This ones' on a hilltop,check the photos)
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View from one of the rooms, the staff were helpful in showing around the rooms.
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There is a self help restaurant in the same campus which had tasty south Indian meals and snacks. There is a also a bar and restaurant attached one level down from the hilltop which also offered breathtaking views of the beach. They have both indoor and outdoor service area. Note the table and chairs arranged outside for a unhindered view of the sea.
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Old 5th December 2011, 14:22   #4
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We go on to RK beach post lunch. Ramakrishna beach is a tourist spot. You have plenty of seaside area,but most are either belonging to Defence (Naval) or plain lonely out there. In an unknown city, best is to visit crowded beaches, as some security can be expected.

It was quite a task again to coax older folks into the water. But having done that, there was no stopping of the fun once initiated, in the photos, you’d see my mom and pop enjoying the beachside fun.

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Next visit was ‘Kursura’ submarine that was decommissioned in 2001 and put up on display. I will let the pics do the talking.
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We reluctantly head back to hotel and take the evening flight spice jet from Vizag to Bangalore.

Summary
All in all it was a great trip for all of us. I feel proud to have been born in his wonderful country. There is so much to explore, so much to see, so much to experience and so much to talk about our own country. There is a varied experiences to be had from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and farthest east to west. In al I would've seen only 10% of AP and yet feel at home. We want to come back and explore more of Andhra’s verdant greenery and the Hyderabadi charm.

JAIHIND.


Warm Regards
Andy

PS: I welcome brickbats,so as to improve my travelogue writing skills. I travel a lot and see places, but feel shy to pen down. Please, fellow TBHPians, let me know how I can improve.
Thanking you for your encouragement and suggestions.

Last edited by Grace : 5th December 2011 at 14:47.
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Old 6th December 2011, 13:16   #5
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Default Re: Mesmarizing AndhraPradesh - A Family Outing

Nice log!

Didn't you go to the Salar Jung museum in Hyderabad. It's close to the Charminar area and worth a visit. Also the Golconda fort.

If not visited, you can surely keep them for your next visit.
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Old 6th December 2011, 13:34   #6
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Nice write up mate! Wow, all your acquaintances have a bite for Toyota products! neat! Try heading to Kerala the next time you want to avoid all the ear drum splitting cracker noises during Deepavalli for that's the only state down south (or may be India, not very sure..) where Deepavalli is not celebrated grandly!
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Old 6th December 2011, 14:56   #7
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Default Re: Mesmerizing Andhra Pradesh - A Family Outing

Sorry to be offbeat....but I kinda like your acquaintances....
They gave you nice cars to drive all around...

BTW- This is a clear and crisp travelogue!
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Old 6th December 2011, 15:08   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grace View Post
Statutory Warning:
1. I am a newbie writing a travelogue, so it may be boring for some.
2. I use a point and shoot camera, so don't expect great shots.
3. The opinions stated are purely mine and not intended to hurt anyone.
4. I am at times very unpolished and my statements are very candid, hence my apologies if my posts seems offensive to you in any way.
5. English or grammar could be bad, suggestions solicited.
Is it the Toyota way of under-promising and over-delivering? That was quite a write-up! Visiting off-beat places is the best way to enjoy a vacation. What you mentioned is right, life in the coastal districts is a bit laid back.
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Old 6th December 2011, 16:12   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gauravdgr8 View Post
Nice log!

Didn't you go to the Salar Jung museum in Hyderabad. It's close to the Charminar area and worth a visit. Also the Golconda fort.

If not visited, you can surely keep them for your next visit.
As mentioned in the opening post, my folks are quite old and cannot walk much. That is the reason we had to omit Museum and fort.

Andy
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Old 6th December 2011, 16:15   #10
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Default Re: Mesmerizing Andhra Pradesh - A Family Outing

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Originally Posted by vinair View Post
Nice write up mate! Wow, all your acquaintances have a bite for Toyota products! neat! Try heading to Kerala the next time you want to avoid all the ear drum splitting cracker noises during Deepavalli for that's the only state down south (or may be India, not very sure..) where Deepavalli is not celebrated grandly!
It is a great suggestion and we will surely make it next year to escape ear splitting noise levels. But I have always thought Kerala to be seen just after rains in full of its glory.

Regards
Andy
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Old 6th December 2011, 16:18   #11
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Default Re: Mesmerizing Andhra Pradesh - A Family Outing

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Sorry to be offbeat....but I kinda like your acquaintances....
They gave you nice cars to drive all around...

BTW- This is a clear and crisp travelogue!
@VMC, thats a great observation, Majority of friends' in my circle are diehard Toyota fans,though personally I am more of a Mahindra Fan. Check my signature

Warm Regards
Andy
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Old 6th December 2011, 16:52   #12
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Default Re: Mesmerizing Andhra Pradesh - A Family Outing

Good to know that you enjoyed your trip to Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad has a lot to offer. There are few places, which are known to one and all and there are few places, which are like hidden jewels. The rich cultural heritage of hyderabad would mesmerize you for sure. There is always a next time. When ever you are planning for a trip to Hyderabad, do holla once.
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Old 6th December 2011, 17:41   #13
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Default Re: Mesmerizing Andhra Pradesh - A Family Outing

Nice travelogue. Thanks for heaping praises for Andhra people .

You have gone through the Krishna , Godavari (Both east and west Godavari). They are indeed beautiful. Especially the rice fields in Godavari districts are very welcoming. I spent a lot of my childhood in these three districts. This travelogue reminds of my travel to my native village (100 kms from Vijayawada). I have posted this in the forum already
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/indian...ml#post2134904

The above link will show the kind of Greenery you might have visited while travelling in the beautiful highway between Vijayawada and Vizag. I do agree that there is no road discipline on this highway, but which highway doesnt have these problems?

And bheemili beach..what a place it is. Love it a lot and the sea water is a bit rough and one needs to be careful as it is a rocky beach. if one sleeps then it will be very dangerous. Bay of Bengal is supposed to be a rough sea. The roughness of the see it is seen all over the west coast of india. The Arabian sea is much calm. Plus the bay of bengal sees lot of depressions due to which the west coast receives lot of rainfall in non-monsoon months. This is a problem with the farmers here as they loose a lot of crop when such rains hit.

Last edited by himavanth_m : 6th December 2011 at 17:44.
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Old 6th December 2011, 20:35   #14
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Default Re: Mesmerizing Andhra Pradesh - A Family Outing

A boat trip through Rajahmundry's papi hills should be tried next time. Also, places around Rajahmundry are also beautiful, a drive through it would be wonderful! AP is a large state and has a lot of offer. I'm sure even as a AP resident I've not seen even 20% of it's beauty. I wish your family will give AP another look sometime soon.

I'd like to get acquainted with your acquaintances (God that is a difficult word to type), great Toyota cars all of 'em.

Edit: I loved the farmer's gesture with the sugarcane. The humanness found in our farmers are not be to found anywhere in our city residents sadly.

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Old 6th December 2011, 21:03   #15
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Default Re: Mesmerizing Andhra Pradesh - A Family Outing

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Originally Posted by traveloholic View Post
Good to know that you enjoyed your trip to Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad has a lot to offer. There are few places, which are known to one and all and there are few places, which are like hidden jewels. The rich cultural heritage of hyderabad would mesmerize you for sure. There is always a next time. When ever you are planning for a trip to Hyderabad, do holla once.
Planning to be in Hyderabad from 24th dec till 28th Morning with wife and son.

day 1 is intended to be the usual must see tourist spots.

day 2 a bit of shopping and lazying around.

day3 is certainly Ramoji Film City.

Would appreciate if you will suggest anything from those hidden Jewels.

Prem

Last edited by Technocrat : 8th December 2011 at 04:57. Reason: Removing phone number to avoid it getting misused for spam. Thanks
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