Feb 24, 2018

Baobab tree on Balachandruni Guttalu, Nalgonda

December 24, 2017
Though we left home early morning by 5-30, we reached Nalgonda around 9-30 or so. Thanks to bad navigating, we took a wrong turn and traveled through interior roads. Half way through we saw an amazing standing rock some kilometers before a town called Chandur, Unfortunately, we could not find a decent eatery and we were famished when we entered Nalgonda. So, priority was breakfast. We found a roadside eatery, it was crowded. I prefer cart food when traveling because food would be fresh and hot. After few minutes of waiting we got our plates of hot dosa, vada and idli. We were happy with the quality and quantity too.. tummy full :)

On my list of places to see were 1. Baobab tree at Shiva temple on Balachandruni hill, 2. Nalgonda fort, 3. Chaya Someshwara Devalaya at Panagal and 4. an ancient domed structure near a Christian school. Nalgonda fort hill was a long climb and it was too warm already, so it was struck off the list. We headed towards Panagal, about 4 kilometers away. Then we navigated the narrow streets of old Nalgonda and reached the southern base of the hill where the path to Durga temple and Shiva temple starts. As I looked for a spot to park, I thought of trying the dirt road which goes up the hill. So we drove out towards and around the hill and reached the hill's western slope and took the dirt track. Barely 60 meters away, the track got steeper and rough. Not willing to take any risk in this remote location, I backed off. Our destination was just a kilometer away, we could've walked. But leaving a car unguarded was not a good idea.. disappointing attempt. So we headed back to the southern slope and parked at a safe point.

The steps were rough and quite steep too. We were climbing after a long time, was breathless in few minutes. However, we climbed as always.. pause of few seconds, walk for a while, pause, walk. The path gradually flattened and lot of trees too. No other people on the hill. Durga temple came into sight but the Shiva temple was not visible. We checked Wikimapia and got the location.. about 100 meters away.

We followed  a smaller path which sloped up and lo the upper branches of the Baobab came into view. Happy we found it. There it is.. the beautiful tree from Africa living in India.

The temple gates were locked. We looked for a gap in the wall, found none. I shouted if anyone was around. A middle aged lady with matted hair emerged from the building and let us in. I knew the tree had a hollow chamber in its branch. Aren't Baobabs amazing?

Baobab branches are unique.. thick bases and slender ends. Usually this time of the year they wear a barren look.

That's the temple caretaker. She opened up the tree shrine for us.

An idol of a Swami. So an ascetic lived here earlier, I guess the Paduke (wooden slippers) belonged to the Swami. The chamber's diameter is about 6' and 10' high. At the top was a small opening, like a ventilator.

Sunlight pouring in through the ventilator seen through the false ceiling. Thanks to the screen which cuts down the heat in here.

The passage as seen from inside. Pushpa and Bhuvana could manage to get in and out easily, for me it was a bit of a struggle. The sides of the passage exposed the fibrous wood.. Baobab wood is soft, doubt if it is used to make furniture or agricultural tools.

A naturally damaged branch trying to heal.

Folds in the skin just like elephant skin. Because of this similarity, Baobabs are called as Hathiyan in Hyderbad. Baobabs bear a large podded fruit which tastes like tamarind. In North Karnataka Baobab is called Devva Hunase Mara ~ Ghost Tamarind Tree.

Pushpa and Bhuvana rested in the temple while I went around the tree and temple.

At nights, this tree will have a eerie look.

Its trunk is a tapering tower.. like Qutb Minar, isn't it?

In the background upper half of this hill which is mostly rocky and at the summit is Latif Saheb Dargah.

Time to leave, we had to reach Nagarjuan Sagar and check into the resort by 4pm. We say bye to the temple caretaker. Next to the temple path is this man made tank. Unfortunately, its wall breached and the water drained out eroding dirt in its path. I guess the same water flowed down the dirt track and rendered the path useless for cars. Had there been water, we might have seen lot of birds.

One last look at Nalgonda's Baobab. Long live the magnificent tree!

Here is a list of known Baobab trees of India-
  1. Hilltop Nightclub, Vagator, Goa
  2. Cabo Raj Bhavan, Dona Paula, Goa
  3. Quepem, Goa
  4. Bamboo Motels, Goa
  5. next to Yogapur mosque, Bijapur
  6. near Ibrahim Roza, Bijapur, Karnataka (may have dried out)
  7. Dodda Hunashe Matha, Savanur, Karnataka
  8. Purana Qilla, Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, Telangana
  9. Attapur, Hyderabad
  10. Vansthalipuram, Hyderabad, Telangana
  11. near Chappel Road, Hyderabad, Telangana
  12. Ranganath temple at Nanakramguda Hyderabad, Telangana
  13. Uppal in Chengicherla Reserve Forests, Hyderabad, Telangana
  14. Nellore, Andhrapradesh
  15. Theosophist Society Gardens, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  16. The American College campus, Madurai, Tamil Nadu
  17. Chinmaya Vidyalaya's campus at Ilanthope, Rajapalayam, Tamil Nadu
  18. Mangaliawas near Ajmer, Rajasthan
  19. Vadodara, Gujarat
  20. Dayapur, Gujarat
  21. Kutch, Gujarat
  22. Bhanagar, Gujarat
  23. Baroda, Gujarat
  24. near Gujarat College / Victoria Garden / Sukharamnagar, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
  25. Mulund, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  26. Byculla zoo, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  27. Outside the Vasai fort, Maharashtra
  28. Tilak road and Ghole road, Pune, Maharastra
  29. near Aurangabad, Maharashtra
  30. Mandavgad or Mandu, Madhya Pradesh
  31. near Sangam, left bank of the Ganga, Prayag, Uttar Pradesh 
  32. Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, Bihar

Feb 17, 2018

Ettipottala waterfalls

December 24, 2017
Having traveled from Hyderabad to Nalagonda to Vijayapuri North, we checked into Vijay Vihar the Telangana government resort. There was still daylight remaining so we planned for a quick visit to Ettipottala waterfalls which was about 17 kms away. The drive was interesting as the road was twisty and passed over hilly terrain. We reached our destination in 30 minutes including a stop to buy vehicle entry ticket at the check-post. The place was crowded with vehicles and people, to add to it there were lot of monkeys. We had to buy tickets again, this time for people. Few seconds walk from the counter is the valley of Ettipottala.

This spot reminds me of Gokak Falls in Karnataka which is much higher. In terms of width, Gokak falls is about 150m while Ettipottala is about 200m. It would be a grand sight here during a good rainy season.

 The main source of water is a river which is dry at this time of the year. The water seen now is from Nagarjuna Sagar right canal. Some water is let out of the canal which flows down here. This stream flows down through the valley to river Krishna. If not for this water, we would be looking at barren rocks.. which has its own beauty.

 Few close up shots of cascading water. The rocks have perfectly flat surfaces over which drops bounce and dance.

The clear waters of Krishna river breakup into a milky white fall.

Nice spot to bathe :)

The milky stream merging into the pond below.

The place has a nice ambiance provided you can ignore human noises. The rock overhang on which is a popular lookout spot.

The valley. Water flows down this valley to river Krishna which is about 4.8 kms away.

Besides the waterfalls, monkeys are an attraction here. They are neither bothersome nor friendly, its best not to pay too much attention to them. However, if you have any edible stuff, be watchful. Closed to the ticker counter was a parked car. The tailed creatures had a good time sliding down the front windshield. One was trying to pry out the antenna.. car designers should take consider such factors.

Right besides the counter is another arch which greets people to temples dedicated to Varada Raja Swami and Dattatraya Swami. We saw a group which was hauling food material, mats, blankets, pillows ..looks like they had plans of camping overnight at the temples.

It was dusk and we were tired, decided to leave the place. On the way back, we stopped for a picture of the bridge across river Krishna - the road connecting right and left banks of mighty Krishna.

Directions from Vijay Vihar to Ettipotala: turn right at Vijay Vihar entrance - go towards river Krishna - over the bridge, across the river and keep driving on the main road towards Tallapalli until you see Ettipottala check-post on your left-hand-side. From this check-post, its another 3 km drive to the waterfalls.