Ganesh Nimajjan this year, was quite dull in comparison to what it usually is in Hyderabad. All the roads used to be packed with rallies of Ganesh Nimajjan one behind the other. Scared of getting struck for hours in the busy Begumpet road, which is among the significant ones for Nimajjan, I even did not go to office this year, deciding to work from home. But little did I know this year that it would be so much easier that the roads were deserted even compared to traffic at 4 am (sometimes when I go out cycling at that time) of regular days!
And the power houses have transferred the electricity from residential colonies to the to-be busy rally roads, leaving residents in dark and the to-be busy roads actually go empty!
Since there was no need for competing with any, the few Nimajjan rallies that existed also, took their sweet time even to get onto the road. Or worse, get onto the road and then decide to pull off the road so they get to stay on the road for longer time!
There is no decrease in festive spirit for those participating though. People are rejoicing, and dancing. Loud music. An added attraction this year though is there were at least couple of groups singing songs, both south and north Indian. Many onlookers stopped and enjoyed them for quite some time.
And as always there were vendors selling items for the kids and kids-like elders. It did not matter for commerce whether the vendors were local or had come from Rajasthan just as they would sell Chinese products at traffic junctions. That brings up a question to me how come China does not make Ganesh Idols and sell them for peanuts. Quality may not matter as long as they appear good (and Godly), and can last for 11 days before the Nimajjan is done. Last year for I watched a video showing Chinese performing Ganesh pooja very traditionally, in China!
While the saffron clad danced and sang and celebrated, the spirited Muslims sometimes drove Ganesh chariot (aka truck)!
Government made excellent arrangements. They claim that because of their planning and traffic regulations, around 58,000 Ganesh idols’ immersion took place at Tank Bund with least inconvenience to regular traffic and also completing the whole nimajjan in record time. Even the mighty Khairatabad Ganesh nimajjan was completed by afternoon it seems. I am not sure about that since this year the focus on Ganesh celebrations seemed on lower key so far as I noticed (the Telangana festivals took its place). But yes, from traffic regulations to directions to friendly police to free drinking water, there were excellent arrangements from Government of Telangana this year. Hats off! But we also have citizens who throw the drinking water as fountains into the air 😦
And there were way too many organizations who provided free food to the visitors as charity. It’s a pity though on one hand we have people queuing up for food, but on the other hand large chunks of food is wasted and spread over the path. When do Indian citizens become more responsible?
I found few visitors thronging to the far and few cranes to have a glimpse of large idols being immersed in the Hussain Sagar. As against more than half a dozen cranes that I normally see on this road, this time I got to see only one (may be there is one more at the other end of the tank bund).
One other difference this year was a substantial increase in number of mini Ganesh idols. When I saw one few years back, it was a major attraction. Not any more!
Completing an eight kilometer plus walk for the Ganesh Nimajjan shoot (despite just recovering from a throat infection) and satisfying my health and artistic needs, I returned home by midnight, happy! Jai! Ganesh!
So, the itch started again. The itch to go on a long motorbike ride. After all, hasn’t that been more than a couple of months since we had been to Mallela Theertham? Poor thing, Sastry could not join us this time, him being busy registering his new Thunderbird with the Telangana RTA. But better nevertheless, since Ravi and I would now have two more riders – one a young chap, and the other, young at heart :). I thought we will go to a location which is not too far, and give us ample walking around opportunity. And it is decided we will go to Ananthagiri Hills. Although I had been there only recently, this time it would be on bikes. So more fun!
And we get to make our prayers to lord, Anantha Padmanabha Swamy. For the inundated, I was told this cave temple has the world’s largest deity made of saligram (don’t ask me what it is . . . . . long story. Google it, should you be really keen to know). The temple lays just by the highway, and so is very easily reachable, and locatable (bar our young-at-heart buddy though, who wouldn’t care to listen to horns blown by us three on our bikes; goes further 10 kms only to realize that it wasn’t him driving faster than others, but that the rest three stopped at the destination. Ha Ha Ha!).
It was decided earlier on, that we would all meet up at the tea stall on the Chilukur Road next to APPA junction at 6 am. That calls me to wake up at 3:30 am despite going to sleep the previous night at 1:15 am. Hard, but don’t mind if it was for fun, and for a one-off. As the three early birds reach the meeting point awaiting Raj (the young man full of enthusiasm for life), we order our first tea for the day. Beautifully served in typical irani cafe cup (although by no means it was irani chai). Raj joins just in time at delivery of tea, and us four-some have a nice beginning to the ride.
So from here on, we blaze off to Vikarabad. The planned catch-up stop at Chevella never happened ’cause no one wanted to stop once onto the bike. We catch up with each other only at Vikarabad for breakfast. I had lot of fun riding at a decent consistent speed of 90-105 kmph. Early morning, okay roads, very little traffic, tempted me hard to be able to hold myself up to lower speeds. Had a breakfast of Puri, although all of us initially hesitated having deep fried item for a breakfast.
We go to the temple and wait for Rama to catch up (actually ‘back’) as he whizzed through past the temple ignoring our bike horns. Sure, he was enjoying his sound proof helmet as much as he did his new 500 cc Royal Enfield Bullet Classic that was thirsty to ride fast.
Had an easy darshan in the cave temple, and me inquiring for Nth time with the priest as to when I could see the saligram deity in its natural form without the silver body cover. The next time hopefully I want to reach by 5 am so I could fulfill my wish. We now move into the main section of the forest (yes, I meant the small forest at Ananthagiri Hills).
Couple of stray dogs kept company with us all through the forest hiking. They said to me one more time, a dog is man’s best friend. We had no food that they followed us for that. They just wanted to be with us, It was clear. However deep we went, they accompanied us. When we stop, they stop. When we move, they do!
Raj freaked out. This was a good opportunity for him to hone his newly developing photography skills. Be it macro photography of insects or tiny flowers, or zoom up to the far off objects or the nearby ones, he had his DSLR ready to ‘shoot’!
And I for sure, had fun photographing this brightly clad young man, full of enthusiasm. Whether it was enjoying the forestry or listening to the mastery spells from Rama and Ravi’s conversations, he had his full attention!
It was forest after all. We had plenty of things to see. The weird and large mushrooms, mammoth trees, can’t-go-any-further slush on the road, supporting woods from banyan trees that hang in U shape to allow Ravi have a seat and swing, the hiding peacocks that we can hear but can’t see, and what not. See full album from link at end of this blog to see all the beauty of forest.
Greenery was at its best. Thanks to recent rains, the forest was beautiful. But I do have to admit humbly though, I was expecting a much thicker forest. Here was a place where there are few trees but not very thick. And when you go past them, there is nice spread of green bushes with beautiful flowers. And you go past that further, there is grass that welcomes you (it sure did to Ravi!) to lie down and take a quiet break. And past them further, you get to see some hills in the landscape.
We stopped here for a decent time here. Ravi shares his wisdom. And so does Rama. And Raj has all his ears to them (oh! Just realized. All of them have their names starting with alphabet R). And me? Opportunity to look around and ‘hunt’ for photographs (or objects to photograph). I am never tired when I have opportunities to photograph. It’s an opportunity. I don’t want to lose that. It doesn’t matter if I was tired. It didn’t matter this day, even if I was not carrying my best camera.
Here we find a small hill that tempts Ravi to climb up. And Rama doesn’t want to lag either. Me and Raj humbly decide we are not fit enough to do this trekking. Or at least can’t dare do so. If you can figure, Ravi is already on top of the hill, and Rama is in the middle trying to hold tight to ground and move up.
Retracing our way back in the forest, Ravi decides we take a short cut. And sure, we lost our way 🙂 What is adventure if there is no losing of way, not stuck by rain, not felt thirsty and find water much later . . . etc.? So, since we lost our way, we came up to this strange tree that had real bright fruits somewhat larger than berries. And we were discussing if it could be edible or poisonous. Which animal might eat this etc. And here I go, “nature has it so that the most brightly colored and attractive ones are among the most dangerous and poisonous (example some snakes, frogs). They are so, that they can attract other animals and kill them”. So I say, it is likely these are poisonous. But! What the heck, they are ‘too’ attractive! How can I not taste them? So I pluck one, snip a small part on the fruit. The outer is like that of a tomato, thin skin. And it oozes out watery juice. I quickly, hesitantly, in a flash bring it to my tongue tip and move it back. Although it was fast action, I could sense it had a brilliantly odd taste. Couldn’t confirm if it was bitter, or sour plus sweet, or all of them. Sure, it was good. Thankfully it didn’t burn my tongue, that I was afraid of. While our friends caution me they have to carry me should something happen to me, to confirm the taste I do this tasting exercise one more time. And one more time. And one more! Still unable to confirm taste. And here I go, “God! This is addictive. I better throw it, lest it may really harm me if I ate the whole thing”. And I throw it away. Want to see how it looks like? Here it is.
On our return, after climbing up the herculian steps, we go past the temple (thanks to Rama whizzing past us in the morning, he spotted this beautiful ghat road), and take a stop at a view point. And I can’t but help shoot Rama’s glistening new black beauty.
And how do I not thank my cafe racer that brings so much joy to me these days? Found a new-found life. There is LIFE within the ordinary life, if we only we chose to explore! Albeit a light exploration into a small forest!
AND, we move around a lot. After walking for several kilometers within the forest, climbing up the unending stairs, get on to our bikes, do some more exploration ‘on our bikes’ into the adjacent forest areas, go to the view point at old TB Sanctuary, have lots of pictures taken, ride back home. We the best of all @ IBM!
Don’t forget to click here to see all the pictures in a gallery. Click on first photograph and use the full screen mode of pictures to view them at their best. Don’t worry. Not too many to bore you!
I was always zapped at how Leica lenses have that three dimensionality resonance in their pictures. That was during my film days. And now I see, as much, in Fujinon lenses which have come a long way, and now have amazing clarity. Here is one, from a camera that I bought a week back – Fujifilm X100S.
Here are some pictures from the lunch we had at Paradise Restaurant. It was certainly a fun time. Those who slipped did miss it!
And here Satish and Prasad discuss business before lunch.
And here is a prayer thanking God for giving food;
And one more picture.