Dare to go off the beaten track? Explore these road trip destinations around Hyderabad
Initiate any talk about a weekend vacay around Hyderabad, and Nagarjuna Sagar, Srisailam and Suryalanka beach are the most predictable names that crop up. This time, we urge you to go beyond the tried and tested path and explore the less trodden path. From rural, offbeat routes through an adventure in the woods to quirky shopping finds and picturesque heritage sites, here’s our pick of out-of-the-ordinary road trip destinations that will get you eagerly reaching for that back pack and all the travel gear.
While Bidar may have been on your traveller’s list for its fort and tombs, we recommend it for its spectacular silver filigree products - Bidriware. It is a two-hour drive and is ideal even for those who are hitting the road on their bike or car for the first time. The Bidriware was created by the Bahamani Sultans in the 14th-15th centuries. The soil in the region makes the pieces very unique. The products, which range from Hookahs to trays and platters, have oxidised inlaid work, usually in the pattern of vines and flowers. The craft is so revered that the artifacts can be found in museums including the Louvre in Paris and the Victoria Albert Museum in London.
Time: Around 2 hours
Pit stop: Ghar Dhaba, a venture of Bharat Petroleum, which serves good Biryani and has a play area for kids
Don’t miss: A visit to the local step wells which tell you about the ancient city planning and water system
Stay: Mayura Baridshahi Hotel, Rs 3,000 per night, Details: 094483 49505
Route map: Drive down the Mumbai Highway and take a right after Zaheerabad
With director Sekhar Kammula’s blockbuster movie Fidaa (2017) highlighting the beauty of Banswada town in Telangana, Bada Pahad in Nizamabad is the place you might want to visit. This one’s going to be an unusual trip as you would be trekking up 1,000 steps for some troubleshooting. The legend goes that if you’ve been having problems with your boss or enemy or your ex, you can ‘fix’ it with a lock and key. The locals buy a lock and a key, mount the Bada Pahad, turn the key in the lock and throw it at the feet of the Syed Sadullah Hussaini Dargah. Take a look at the number of ‘dushman ka mooh tala’ paraphernalia at the dargah and you would believe it works. As you walk up the stone steps to the shrine, don’t forget to drink in the most spectacular view of the green landscapes of the Mallaram Forest. If you are lucky and it is raining, then take your time with that trek and enjoy the beauty of the hillock.
Time: Around 4 hours
Pit stop: Sriram Sagar dam where the monkeys steal phones and chips. It is amusing to watch them go around playing with people and deftly flicking things.
Don’t miss: A boat ride around Asok Sagar lake
Stay: Haritha Indur Inn. Starts Rs 1,250 per night. Details: 08462224403
Route map: Hyderabad-Dichpally-Kanteshwar
Visitors rave about the smooth roads and negotiable curves that lead to this beautiful hill station in Andhra Pradesh. Alternatively referred to as Andhra’s Ooty, it is named after a former British collector and has a relatively pleasant temperature when compared to its humid surroundings, thanks to its altitude (over 4,000 feet). The Bengaluru highway will get you there in the quickest time. You can stop by Sri Venkateswara National Park, in the middle of the Eastern Ghats and also visit the Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary. Unwind by just watching the sunset on the Gaali Banda known for it’s lovely sweeping breeze. Don’t miss the Thimmamma Marrimanu, located about 75 kilometres from the hill station, which was awarded the Guinness Record title of the ‘World’s biggest banyan tree’ in 1989.
Time: Around nine hours.
Pit stop: Partake in a satwik lunch (prior permission necessary) with the students of Rishi Valley High School in their picturesque campus
Don’t miss: The sunset view from the hill top.
Stay: Horsely Hills Holiday Homes Resort. From around Rs 2,000 per room. Details: 9440671253
It’s a great time to visit Papikondalu, what with the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Committee planning to renovate the place and surrounding areas to attract more tourists. Drive to Bhadrachalam, from where you can hitch a day-long boat ride in a recently introduced air-conditioned ferry to Papikondalu (starts `400 per head including food). Also called Papi Hills, the region has seen a surge of tourists in the last few months. You must visit this place in the coming months, because time is running out. Chances are high that with the ongoing reservoir project (which will raise the level of the river) major parts of the hills might be submerged under water in a few years.
Time: Around 7 hours.
Pit stop: Gautami Spice Hotel. Try out their egg dosa (Rs 70)
Don’t miss: Bongulo Chicken, a meat dish prepared in bamboo logs heated over coal.
Stay: Hotel Shelton Rajamahendri. From around Rs 3,400 per head. Details: 8832499999
Route: Hyderabad-Vijayawada, detour t Narkatpalli-Khammam
A trip to Lepakshi makes for a perfect driving expedition. With historic temples, open and well-maintained roads, minimal traffic and sweeping views of the countryside are awe-inspiring.
For history buffs there are the ancient temples - erected during the reign of the Vijayanagara empire (1336 - 1646), the shrines of Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra are popular places to visit. The town is located 25 kilometres off the Bengaluru-Hyderabad highway. If you plan well, you can even visit Puttaparthi, the abode of Satya Sai Baba (60 km).
Time: 10 hours
Pit stop: Fish Biryani, SS Paradise (Rs 225)
Don’t miss: Mural painting on ceilings
Stay: Lepakshi Haritha Rs 800 onwards per night. Details: 09000282897
Monsoons and adventure go hand in hand. Hit the Mumbai highway, skip the Lonavalas and Khandalas to take a detour near Khopoli towards the Nature Trails Durshet Forest Lodge, a Sterling Holidays subsidiary at Durshet. The 35-acre, private teak and silver oak forest are ideal for quiet rejuvenating strolls accompanied only by the chirping of the birds and scenic views of the magnificent Sahyadhri range. Fed by the life giving water of the River Amba, the Durshet Forrest Lodge is a sanctuary for trekkers and birdwatchers. You can also go rafting on the River Kundalika, scout the Umbarkhind battlefield or go mountain biking, the options are unlimited. Mind you, there is no connectivity and that is the best part of the holiday.
Time: 10 hours
Pit stop: The carts selling Masala Gajars (carrots, Rs 20) sold just before you take a detour from the highway
Stay: Nature Trails Durshet Forest Lodge (starts Rs 1,700 plus taxes)
Route map: Hyderabad-Solapur-Pune-Khopoli
Tips from Gare Srinivas Reddy, garage owner and veteran road traveller
1.Always a spare key to your car so that you never get locked out.
2.Don’t trust Google maps always as they don’t work if you lose connectivity. So do carry a snapshot of the map or a hard copy of it
3.ATM guards, petrol service assistants, and fellow truck drivers are the best people to guide you on the right road if you get lost
4.Get your car/bike servicing done at least a week ahead, not just the day before you start, as you can get the alignment and air pressure rectified if you think it is not optimal
5. Do carry a spare torch and water (to cool the engine if you are taking a ghat road). You may not need it all the time, but you can help other motorists in times of need
6. Ensure you put up a bedspread over the seats especially if you kids who suffer from motion sickness or likely to spill their food on the seats
7. Do carry copies of all the car documents including information about who to contact in case of emergency on the road. Do carry your health cards as well.
8. Always stock up on non-perishable eatables such as biscuits and soft drinks. They help when you are stuck in long traffic jams during long weekends.
Don't miss out on these:
When every sip counts
With the monsoons raging, we suggest you pack a
thermos full of a hot beverage for your trip. Available options include stainless steel ones by Mira, which can hold up to 1.2 litres.
From Rs 1,300 onwards.
Fix it quick
Besides keeping the clutch, brake and accelerator cables well lubricated, it’s always wise to pack spare wires. To add, seasoned riders also suggest keeping an extra spark plug at hand. Those heading to the mountains can opt for an extra fog lamp. For some first-hand experience, contact city-based Terra Tigers and Mumbai-based Garage 52. Details: teratigers.in; shop.jcmoto.in