23
Jul 14

Feasting on Ramadan food treats at Mosque Road, Bangalore

Every year, during the holy month of Ramadan, Mosque Road in Frazer Town converts into a major hub for food lovers. Several stalls are set up selling a variety of Iftar treats by the road side, and every year, the number of stalls just keep getting bigger and bigger.

Now, you don’t have to go to Frazer Town for Iftar treats as stalls are set up outside every major mosque in Bangalore during the holy month of Ramadan. But Mosque Road being what it is attracts are a larger number of people. I have been Mosque Road with friends in previous years, but this year I wanted to capture some photos for my blog.

After meeting up with a friend, we rode down to Frazer Town, parked my bike near Savoury Restaurant and walked up to Mosque Road.

Ramzan food stall Frazer Town Bangalore

Stalls were set up away from Mosque Road too

Heritage hotel Ramadhan stall Bangalore

Heads up: a lot of meat in this blog post

Mutton kheema egg fry Ramadan food India

Mutton kheema and stir fried egg next to it

Free Quran distribution Bangalore India

This was an organization handing out free copies of the Quran (in English). I asked for a copy as I have always wanted to read for myself what was myth and what is actually quoted in the Holy Book.

Sheek kebabs Ramadan Frazer town

I moved to Mosque Road where sheek kebabs were being cooked over charcoal. Beef, chicken, and of course mutton were on offer.

Brazil beef kebabs Bangalore India

This stall was selling Brazilian beef. When I asked the guy why he wasn’t selling Indian beef, the owner just shrugged and said this “tastes better”. Oh well, I know why. None the less, I packed some.

Fried beef chicken kebabs Bangalore

Beef and colourful chicken kebabs beside it. Really put off by the use of food colour in meat.

Idiyappam Mosque Road Iftar Bangalore

Idiyappams and chicken kebabs?

Beef sukka Frazer town Banglaore

Beef sukka. Sampled some and it tasted okay.

Biriyani Palace Eid stall Bangalore

We then crossed over to the other side where much of the big stalls on Mosque Road were

Pathar gosht stone mutton Bangalore

That’s mutton being cooked on a huge slab or stone over a charcoal fire :-) They call it pathar gosht (pathar = stone; gosht = mutton)

Ramazan tent Iftar Mosque Road Bangalore

There were many of these food tents set up beside Mosque Road

Ramadan food tent Bangalore India

It was crowded!

Mutton haleem Bangalore India

Mutton haleem. Haleem, for the uninitiated, is a thick gravy like dish made using wheat, barley, lentils and meat (plus spices).

Ramazan food tent Mosque road Bangalore

I don’t think I could have even stood here and ate something. Too stuffy and way too many people passing through.

Iftar sweets Bangalore India

Lots of sweets on offer!

Fish chicken kadi Eid food

There wasn’t a whole lot of sea food available and given the ‘Bangalore premium’ for seafood, whatever that was on offer was kinda expensive.

Mosque road Ramadan stalls Bangalore

There were many more stalls alongside Mosque Road

Ramzan tent Frazer town Bangalore

We went in here next

Chicken samosas Eid food Bangalore

Chicken samosas, chicken fry, chicken kebabs, chicken this, chicken that…

Pathar gosht beef Frazer town

More beef and mutton grilled on stone

Dry fruit firny Shahi tukda dessert

Packed up some firny (sweet)

Chocolate cupcakes Karachi haleem

And picked up some chocolate cupcakes

Pudding gulab jamun sweets Iftar

I had some pudding next, which was yum!

Mosque road Ramadan night Bangalore

Even though much of the activity was on the right side, I crossed the road to check out what was on offer on the other lane on Mosque Road

Muslims sheek kebabs Bangalore India

Much of the same, albeit far less glamourous that’s all

Iftar sweets Frazer town Bangalore

There weren’t too many different varieties of food on offer this side

After packing up some more food, I left Mosque Road. It’s obvious the annual Ramadan treats have grown into a big business opportunity for vendors over these past few years. It wasn’t this crowded when I visited 2 years ago. People of all faiths turn up to try out the food. Of course there were a few ignorant people. One guy was silly enough to ask if pork was available! :P

Also, the prices this year weren’t low by any street food means. A plate of pathar gosht was sold for Rs. 200, and the quantity was only good enough for just one person. A stick of just three chicken-cheese balls cost Rs. 50. Don’t even ask about the sea food prices.

Still, if you have an opportunity to check out the fare on Mosque Road, do so if you have never visited the stretch during Ramzan before. And do it before Eid. Happy feasting!


06
Aug 11

Philippines 2011: Flying over South China Sea for the first time

Planning a trip to the Philippines began with the most unlikeliest of inspirations — an e-mail forward from my father. Not even a good official one, but one of those e-mails that had numerous ‘fwd: FW: Fwd:’ before the actual subject line of ‘can you believe Philippines has such beauty?!’ followed by numerous exclamation marks.

I usually disregard the images I find in such e-mails as they’re usually not from the country they claim to be but upon checking up some of the names of the places they showcased, I was quite surprised about how little I knew of their existence!

It dawned to me I knew very little about Philippines, this despite having grown up in the Middle East where (just like Indians) millions of them come to work. As a kid, all I knew about Filipinos is that a lot of them work in fast food joints or play in a band — and they don’t have the letter ‘F’ in their vocabulary. So I would often hear “500 pils” instead of “500 fils” when asked for change.

I learnt of Banaue and its famous rice terraces, the beautiful beaches of Boracay and Palawan, but the place that made me wish I was there was the remote island of Batanes. It was then, early 2010, I decided to consider making a trip to Philippines.

It was quite challenge really, because trying to study the geography of Philippines wasn’t easy.

Philippines country regions provinces map

(Image source: Wikipedia)

Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands. Sure, many of those thousands are really tiny to even identify on a map but still, getting around the country isn’t easy. It requires some learning beforehand. Since it’s not a landlocked country like most of Thailand, you have to commute via road, ferry, and airlines just to get to certain places within the country.

I initially thought of clubbing Philippines & Thailand last year but it was proving to be quite expensive. So I decided to give Philippines it’s own time.

That time was early this year, when things weren’t looking too good at my workplace. We all knew what was coming our way with the fate of the office and so, instead of prepping up my resume and looking for another job, I researched more on Philippines instead :) When things became official in March and we all knew we were going to be laid off, I booked my tickets!

I tried Air Asia first but at around INR19k, it wasn’t as cheap as I thought it would be. Plus the timings were inconvenient. I land late at night and my connecting flight would have been at 7am the next morning. No way I was going to spend that long at KL LCCT! So I checked all the usual Indian travel websites and got the best deal from Travelocity for a Malaysia Airlines flight at Rs. 26,153 ($584/€411) return. Yes, it was more than Air Asia, but it was going to be convenient, so I didn’t mind paying a bit extra for that. Also, I would get proper meals, land at KLIA and not the present warehousebudget terminal. More importantly, the time I had to wait for my connecting flight was lesser.

Philippines Airlines had just launched their direct flight service to New Delhi (only), but it was quite expensive, so flying the Philippines national carrier was not a possibility.

Next came the visa. When I researched on the tourist visa, I was happy to find out Philippines offer a 21-day visa-on-arrival for a 147 nations! Great, I thought… until I scanned down the list and couldn’t find India one among those 147 countries -_-

So I ended up at the website of the Philippines embassy in New Delhi and found out I have to pay Rs. 2320 for a tourist visa (and for just 21 days). Since I couldn’t fly to Delhi just to get a visa, I had to get it done through an agent. Some agents wouldn’t even do it, and one moron even asked for Rs. 10,000 as service charges! But I walked into the nearby Thomas cook office in Koramangala (inside Raheja Arcade) and got my visa processed by paying their Rs. 1000 service charge. At Rs. 3320, this was the most I had spent on a South East Asian visa so far, and that too for a single entry visa. My multiple entry Singapore visa for 2 years cost just Rs. 1800 and my 1 year Malaysia visa cost just Rs. 1500. Thailand was free visa-on-arrival the two times I went.

My travel period was from 16th April to 4th May and I chose the dates keeping in mind the main focus of my trip was to photograph the Easter crucifixions in San Fernando. The rest of my itinerary would see me visit the largest American war cemetery outside of the United States, traverse throughout the Ifugao province for my fix of rice terrace farms, see coffins hung on hill sides, Cebu, see odd-shaped hills in Bohol and finally enjoy the natural beauty of Palawan island. I was looking for ‘interesting’ with this trip, so I ruled out Boracay — the nation’s most popular island destination, and the most touristy. Unfortunately, Batanes was out of this trip plan as well, simply because it was too expensive to even get there. No budget carrier (and Philippines has enough of them) flies to Batanes and even those that do only fly if they get enough passengers. Batanes is that remote an island.

As days passed by, I felt a bit nervous and kept having second thoughts about spending a lot of money during uncertain times. Sure, the Philippines currency value was the same as the Indian rupee, so that really helped! But still, here I was, going on vacation when all my colleagues were busy job hunting. Plus, I was going to be visiting a new country, one that like Thailand (to the eyes of the ignorant) has a sketchy reputation. I knew what I was going to see, and I was looking forward to see if they live up to the hype, but still…

One ray of hope that eased me up a bit came my way two weeks before my departure date when one of my readers left me a comment telling me how much she appreciated my website and that I “should visit the Philippines sometime!”

:-)

That blessing of a reader couldn’t have come at a better time and after we got in touch, she would be of great help to me, even helping me out with some bookings. I felt much better knowing I had a local contact, which always helps!

Leaving Bangalore airport Malaysia Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur

Now I was ready to fly!

Malaysia Airlines seafood meal Bangalore flight

I had pre-booked a seafood meal for a change and while the tuna and veggies were good, I couldn't help but envy my co-passengers with their 'regular' meals enjoying their creamy desserts and chocolates when all I got was cold fruits. It's as though Malaysia gimped on the rest of the meal given how much fish costs. Sucks

Kuala Lumpur international airport tower Malaysia

Selamat pagi* Malaysia! (*Good morning)

Kuala Lumpur International Airport KLIA gates

I landed on time and took this around 7:45am

Kuala Lumpur International airport duty free liqour Malaysia

This was my first time in Kuala Lumpur International airport as last year I flew Air Asia

Kuala Lumpur airport KLIA Harrods store Malaysia

There's a mini-Harrods (Impressed with how sharp this photo came out)

Kuala Lumpur International Airport Cadbury store Malaysia

They have an exclusive Cadbury store here too

Kuala Lumpur International airport duty free Malaysia

I loitered around the Duty Free for a while

Post loitering, I found my gate and sat in front of it. I tried to catch some sleep but ended up going online to kill time for the next 4 hours.

KLIA grey skies Malaysia morning

It was grey skies even until noon in Sepang

I boarded my second Malaysia Airlines flight for this trip in the afternoon and I was now en route to Philippines.

Sepang city Malaysia flight aerial view takeoff

Selamat tinggal Malaysia!

Sepang city Malaysia flight aerial view from skyMalaysia flight aerial view farm fields

Leaving Malaysian shores aerial view flight

Leaving Malaysian shores...

South China sea spotted clouds blue water

... and flew over the South China Sea for the first time

South China sea cloud over islands

Which was a welcome pleasant change of scene for me

I took a break from staring outside my window to eat some peanuts.

Malaysia Airlines salted peanuts allergy information

Well... duh :)

South China sea small hilly island aerial

Back to staring out into the blue

South China sea islands aerial photograph

Beautiful

South China sea huge cloud over islands aerial photography

Awesome

Malaysia Airlines meal packaging Manila flight

Okay, break time. Lunch had arrived!

Malaysia Airlines seafood meal Manila flight

Seafood meal again. Tuna steak and veggies again. 'Regular' meals came with Cadbury chocolates besides pudding for dessert. I got dried raisins. Seriously -_-

South China sea line clouds aerial view island

Meal done, back to blue

South China sea spotted clouds from plane

South China sea oval island aerial photograph

Submerged?

South China sea ring island submerged aerial photograph

South China Sea boomerang island submerged aerial photograph

Needless to say, I really enjoyed this flight

South China sea small island submerged aerial photograph

South China sea moon afternoon aerial photograph

Hello moon...

It got cloudy after this, so I lowered the shades and caught up on some sleep.

South China sea mountains above clouds aerial photograph

Woke up an hour later to the announcement we were approaching Manila

Entering mainland Philippines shores aerial photograph

Hello Philippines

Philippines Central Luzon hills aerial photography Philippines Manila shores aerial photography

Philippines Manila aerial photography

Manila city

Manila port Philippines aerial photography

Manila port

Manila city evening aerial photograph

Metro Manila is the 8th most populous metro in Asia

Manila city from plane aerial photograph

Manila sunset from plane Philippines

It was nearing 5pm in Philippines

Manila Taguig city building construction Philippines

The flight was a bit early... which is never a bad thing (as long as the traffic control clears it)

About to land manila international airport

About to land

Landing Ninoy Aquino International Airport Manila Philippines

Landed Ninoy Aquino International Airport Manila Philippines

Ninoy Aquino International Airport

So after nearly a total of 8 hours of flying, I was finally in Philippines. Phew, long journey!

Arrival Ninoy Aquino International Airport Manila Philippines

How's the airport? Quite old and in much need for an upgrade. Well, at least Terminal I was in.

I got my passport stamped, got my bags rather quickly, converted some dollars and I was out in around 15 minutes. The first thing I wanted to do was get a local SIM and fortunately Globe was handing out free SIMs (though they were mostly for OFWs*).

I hired a pre-paid yellow taxi (which would later turn out to be a mistake) and asked him to take me to Kabayan Hotel in Pasay, which was close to the airport. I chose Kabayan as it was a popular recommendation online. Plus, I didn’t want to spend too much time in traffic just to get to touristy Makati.

But despite how close the hotel looked on the map from the airport, getting there still took nearly 45 minutes in evening traffic. It cost 250 pesos ($5/€4) which is far more than what I thought it would cost. Anyway, I went to the hotel reception, booked a single room for myself and checked in.

Kabayan Hotel single room Manila Philippines

My A/C single room, PHP950 per night ($22/€15)

Kabayan is pretty cool. They have rooms ranging from dorms all the way up to deluxe rooms and from prices starting as low PHP610, they are very popular. And get this, you get complimentary breakfast and lunch! They also have free wi-fi among other great amenities.

Kabayan hotel rooms Manila Philippines

The toilets and shower rooms are down the hall and in between (clean and well kept)

Oh by the way, they don’t use the word toilets much in Philippines, instead it’s ‘Comfort Rooms’ or ‘CR’ :)

I stepped out again because I needed to buy some credit for the Globe SIM so that I could inform my family of my safe arrival. Since I was out, I decided to grab dinner early. It soon struck me just how much fast food Filipinos eat. Mc Donalds and homegrown Jollibee was everywhere — and they both had multiple branches within meters of each other — and all of them were doing brisk buisness! As the fast food chains are too chicken to sell beef burgers here in India (due to religious politics), a good ol’ cheeseburger was what I was craving. I picked up a burger from Jollibee, a doughnut from 7-11 and some water.

The area I was in was quite a busy part of town as it was a major hub for transportation, so you get everything you need as far as convenience stores, supermarkets and eateries go. It’s also a very noisy area, mostly because of the jeepneys.

But Kabayan does a good job of cutting out the noise once you’re inside the hotel. I took a nice warm bath and then had my dinner. I called my aforementioned reader (whose name is Aimee) and we spoke for a while. She told me the pre-paid yellow taxi at the airport are priced way more than the usual taxis I could have gotten had I just walked a bit further out. Also, there were frequent airport buses that drop people to Pasay and back. Oh well, rookie mistake.

Kabayan hotel single pad LCD tv Manila Philippines

Unlike many hotels in this price range, Kabayan has a good selection of channels which even included Zee TV (the only Indian channel though)

Given that I hadn’t slept properly in nearly 24 hours, I called it an early night.

I couldn’t wait for tomorrow to begin!

——–

Please note: In this series of posts, I won’t be mentioning conversion rates for Indian rupees as both Philippines Peso (PHP/₱) and the Indian Rupee are more or less on a 1:1 value ratio. So Rs. 100 is like PHP98. Therefore only US dollar and Euro conversion rates will be mentioned.

*OFW = Overseas Filipino Workers; similar to NRI (Non-Resident Indian)

Other posts in this series:

Philippines 2011: Day 1 — Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Fort Bonifacio

Philippines 2011: Day 2 – Banaue rice terraces; trekking to Batad village

Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Banaue town; heading to Sagada via Bontoc

Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Sagada’s Lumiang burial cave, Sumaguing cave, Hanging Coffins of Echo valley

Philippines 2011: Leaving Sagada for Baguio, and arriving in Angeles city (Days 4 & 5)

Philippines 2011: Day 6 – Good Friday in San Fernando, San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites

Philippines 2011: Day 7 – Leaving Angeles City for Manila, Mall of Asia

Philippines 2011: Day 8 – Manila tour: Rizal Park, Intramuros, Manila Cathedral, China Town

Philippines 2011: Day 9 – Cebu: Fort San Pedro, Basilica of Santo Niño, Taoist Temple

Philippines 2011: Day 10 – Bohol tour: Chocolate Hills, Loboc river cruise, Tarsiers, churches

Philippines 2011: Day 11 – Arriving in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Philippines 2011: Day 12 – Puerto Princesa Underground River tour, Palawan

Philippines 2011: Day 13 – Puerto Princesa to El Nido by bus

Philippines 2011: Day 14 – El Nido island hopping tour A and sunset at Las Cabanas beach, Palawan

Philippines 2011: Back to Manila, shopping, and my final thoughts about the country  (Final post)


31
Jul 11

Hyderabad 2010: Day 1 — Eat Street, Charminar and Mecca Masjid

Date: 26th December 2010

After beginning this year with a visit to the UAE, then Singapore, Malaysia & Thailand later in the year, I capped off my 2010 travels with a trip to Hyderabad. The main purpose of the visit was to attend a friend’s wedding, but we (my usual travel buddies Ramesh and Loiyumba) decided to go a bit early to do a bit of sight-seeing.

This wasn’t my first visit to the capital of Andhra Pradesh. I first came to Hyderabad in 2002 to visit my brother when he worked there briefly.

In some ways I was looking forward to this trip because it was after a span of nearly 9 years that I got to travel by train again. We boarded the Kacheguda Express from Bangalore Cantonment station in the evening.

Kachiguda Express Indian train sleeper bed Loiyumba

Loi didn't wait too long to cuddle up in his sleeping bag and doze off

We arrived in Kacheguda station (not Hyderabad’s main railway station) at a chilly 5:45am. We had reserved a room for us three at Nand International, a nearby hotel, so we figured we could walk it there. But after walking for around a minute or two, we couldn’t spot the hotel and the auto drivers we passed by were telling us they could take us there for just Rs. 10. Figuring it was cold and we had luggage, we got in… and literally 5 seconds later, up the same Station road we were at, we were dropped at Nand International! Pissed at the fact all he had to tell us was to walk a few steps further to get here, we shouted at the auto driver — but relented from ruining our morning and just paid him Rs. 10 to get lost.

We checked in to our three person bedroom/family room.

Nand International three bedroom Kacheguda Hyderabad hotel

Costs Rs. 870 ($19/€13) per night for this centrally air-conditioned room

Since we were still sleepy, we crashed for a few hours.

Got up around noon, had tea and pondered about where to have lunch. In a city famed for its food, we weren’t keen on hitting up the street food joints near Charminar straight away. So we decided to go to a place called Eat Street.

Eat Street Necklace road Hyderabad India

Cost nearly Rs. 60 to get here by auto from Kacheguda Station Road

Eat Street is just some food court by Hussain Sagar Lake, one of the largest man made lakes in India. We passed through scanners (apparently security is pretty tight in Hyderabad) and walked in to a not-so-busy food court.

Eat Street food court Hussain Sagar lake HyderabadEat street open air food court Hussain Sagar lake HyderabadWe checked out the various stalls, some open open for business… some not. You get your usual choice of South Indian, biriyani (of course), chaats, western fast food, etc. But despite being in the city famous for its biriyani, I wasn’t going to eat it from just about anywhere.

Eat Street biriyani fried chicken fries Hyderabad

So I had burger, fried chicken strips and fries instead. Lame, I know.

Ramesh and Loi both tried out the biriyani and they described the food as: “sucks” and “horrible”. So there.

Eat Street Hussain Sagar lake Mithun Ramesh Hyderabad

Loiyumba took this photograph using his camera

Hussain Sagar lake Hyderabad India

Hussain Sagar lake (Photograph by Loiyumba)

Hussain Sagar lake Buddha statue Hyderabad India

There are boat rides in the evening to go to the Buddha statue (Photograph by Loiyumba)

Post-lunch, we already feeling a sense of ‘boredom’ and wondered what to do next.

Hussain Sagar lake park tarot reader afternoon Hyderabad

We left Eat Street and aimlessly walked through the park around the lake

Hussain Sagar lake park afternoon Hyderabad Hyderabad colourful houses dish antennas cartoon wall

Hyderabad book fair 2010 stalls people India

There was book fair going on

Hyderabad book fair 2010 stalls India

It was the annual Hyderabad Book Fair

Ram Gopal Varma autobiography Telugu book

Hyderabad book fair 2010 stalls afternoon India

Considering none of us have the habit of reading books much, we left fairly quickly

Hyderabad lake park afternoon India

Prasads Imax theatre Hyderabad mall

Crossed the road over to Prasads

The one good thing about Hyderabad is that they have an IMAX screen, and it can be found at Prasads on Tank Bund Road. The security was pretty tight before entering here as well (I take it’s because of the Telangana issue?). We checked out the mall a bit before going to collect our pre-booked tickets for Tron which was playing.

After checking out Prasads, we stepped out, took an autorickshaw and went to see Charminar, Hyderabad’s iconic structure.

Way to Charminar Musi River bridge Hyderabad

Charminar market bazaar Hyderabad

There are many old bazaars leading up to Charminar... and traffic was very congested

We eventually asked the auto driver to stop and decided to walk it further up.

Charminar pearl bazaar shops Hyderabad India

Plenty of pearl stores here, Hyderabad pearls are quite famous

Charminar fort entrance Hyderabad India
Charminar road crowded HyderabadSyedi book seller Charminar fort Hyderabad

Charminar fort Hyderabad India

The road goes all around Charminar

Charminar Tiffin centre South Indian food Hyderabad

I ate from here on the third day, really good South Indian food!

Charminar literally translates to “four towers”. Minar or minaret  being the towers or pointy structures you find in just about every mosque and char which just means four.

Charminar fort blue sky Hyderabad India

Built by ruler Qutb Shah in 1591 AD

Charminar fort entry visitors Hyderabad

There was a queue going half way around Charminar

Charminar fort street kids old coins Hyderabad India

Old coins for sale. Genuineness unconfirmed.

Charminar fort visitors queue Hyderabad India

We queued up, paid the Rs. 5 entry fee and entered

Charminar fort entry Hyderabad India Charminar no spitting sign Hyderabad India

Climbing stairs Charminar minaret Hyderabad

You climb narrow stairs up one of the minars

Climbing up minaret Charminar inside Hyderabad

Charminar stairs minar Hyderabad

The walls were quite cold

Charminar balcony view woman Hyderabad

You obviously get a better picture of the surrounding from up here

View from Charminar bazaar HyderabadBut walking through the halls, I couldn’t really help but not ignore something.

Charminar inside writing damage wall Hyderabad

The walls

Charminar wall damage inscribed Hyderabad

It's quite apparent how badly the walls have been vandalized the past few years by callous visitors

Charminar ceiling islamic architecture Hyderabad

At least the ceilings were hard to reach

Charminar wall names scratched Hyderabad

It's an appalling sight in many of our heritage monuments

No writing damaging walls sign Charminar Hyderabad

Despite the efforts to curb the practice and a law making it a punishable offence...

Charminar wall writing damaging wall Hyderabad

... even to this day, to some worthless citizens of this country, it's still a joke. As if these historical monuments are just another building to them.

Charminar arches ceiling Islamic architecture Hyderabad

Laad bazaar bangles street Charminar Hyderabad

Laad bazaar a.k.a 'bangles street' -- guess why it's called so

Charminar main hall ceiling design Hyderabad

The open hall in between the four minarets

Charminar inside hall wall writings HyderabadCharminar open hall design Hyderabad

Charminar ceiling pigeons Hyderabad

Five pigeons

Charminar Laad bazaar road Hyderabad India

Charminar traffic view from top Hyderabad

Traffic is quite messy (and very busy) around Charminar

Mecca Masjid view from Charminar Hyderabad

Mecca Masjid, where we were headed next

Palace opposite Mecca Masjid Charminar Hyderabad

Nizamia Unani Hospital, opposite Mecca Masjid

Charminar Loiyumba Ramesh Hyderabad India

Charminar circle view down Hyderabad

It was time to head back down

Charminar steps down minar tower Hyderabad

Down another minar we went

Bangles Street bazaar Hyderabad IndiaCharminar arch islamic design HyderabadCharminar ceiling design from ground HyderabadCharminar angle shot HyderabadCharminar done, we decided to sit in a cafe to have something to drink.

Charminar restaurant falooda Hyderabad

Ramesh played it safe with Pepsi, while myself and Loi had *extremely* sweet falooda

Gajini-ki-shaadi film poster Hyderabad India

As seen inside the cafe

Gajini-ki-shaadi Hyderabad poster

Looks like there is a parallel film industry within Hyderabad making low-budget unofficial sequels to mainstream film releases :)

Excessive sugar intake complete, we decided to quickly step inside Makkah Masjid.

Charminar circle crowds Hyderabad India

Nizamia Unani hospital opposite Makkah Masjid Hyderabad

The markets are quite bustling in these parts

Mecca Masjid mosque Hyderabad India

Mecca Masjid is the biggest mosque in Hyderabad and one of the oldest in India

You have to leave your bag and shoes at the counter and walk barefoot once past the gates.

Mecca Masjid mosque Charminar Hyderabad

Mecca Masjid sunset pigeon feeding Hyderabad India

People had gathered to see hundreds of pigeons being fed grains

Mecca Masjid evening pigeon feeding Hyderabad

Not very exciting... but still

Mecca Masjid pigeons Hyderabad mosque

Mecca Masjid pigeons flying evening Hyderabad

It's always such a photo moment when hundreds of them fly away at once

Mecca Masjid entrance hall Hyderabad

I decided to check out the mosque

Mecca Masjid prayer hall muslim Hyderabad India

The main prayer hall

Mecca Masjid prayer hall mosque Hyderabad India

Wonder what those honeycomb-like bags hold

Mecca Masjid side visitors Hyderabad

Went around the mosque

Mecca Masjid behind hyderabadMecca Masjid grounds Charminar Hyderabad

Mecca Masjid pigeons evening lamp posts Hyderabad

Pigeons, pigeons... there are a lot of them

Mecca Masjid pigeons electric wires Hyderabad

Needless to say, there's a lot of pigeon poop on the ground

Mecca Masjid fountain Charminar HyderabadWe left the mosque and decided to call it a day.

Punch Mohalla Charminar Hyderabad

Took a rickshaw back to our hotel

Charminar bakery road Hyderabad evening

That's a heap of bread crumbs and rusk being sold in bulk. Not very hygienic in these conditions I would presume.

Once back in Nand International, I was quite cheesed off. Despite claiming to provide 24 hours hot water, when I opened the tap, I only got cold water. Went to the reception to complain and the man with a straight face told me it only comes on from 6am to 6pm. I then raised my voice and told him “well, that’s not what it says on your website!” and demanded I need hot water as it was quite cold (which it was outside). Only then did I get a bucket of hot water. So a big thumbs down for Nand International because of that.

Post rant, we concluded day one in Hyderabad with dinner at nearby three-star hotel restaurant where we had, yes, biriyani.

It was alright, but I would have much better biriyani in the next few days.

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