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Southern Cities and Happy Hampi

The journey through the inland center of India

sunny 26 °C

Hydera(very)bad and Secunderabad; the Twins

I'm writing this blog on the train from Hyderabad to Kolkata since there is nothing else to do other than drink cheap dark rum and sprite, or watch another chick flick on my laptop (acquired from a traveller – honestly). The reason for our trip to another city you ask was out of hope, intrigue and a desire to learn about the cities in which my Grandfather John Lancashire spent 10 years here from 1920-1930. My Grandpa unfortunately died in 1961 from the onset of malaria which I presume was picked up from India whilst serving King and Country keeping the Indians under the control of the British for entirely exploitative reasons. Now I am not one to get on my high horse for anything which seems perfectly reasonable to the political masses (crescendo of laughing ensues) however, I will actually agree that the British were success in India, and my Grandpas efforts were not in vain. The slowly moving, intelligent elephant and massive beast that is India, is loving, inspiring, forward thinking and diverse. I love India, and I admit that most of this is not down to the British, in fact we only gave them a kick. The Indians are peaceful, morally loving, righteous and have more drive and energy than the average Brit, not to mention more intellectual. However, there are issues with gender inequality... pervs a plenty!

Moving onto the delights of Greater Hyderabad and I'm told that it is the fifth biggest city in India that is also called Cyberabad on account of its technological and computer wizz kids in the city. I cant help think that the city probably looks better in cyber world if I'm honest. The city wreaks of excrement and urine, but there are a few little gems tucked away. The Charminar is quite an imposing mosque which is set 50m high on four columns and is a certain highlight of the city. Golcanda Fort is another fort on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

Secunderbad is where the old British Army Cantonment used to be located. Annie and myself went to the original site called the Tremhulgherry Cantonment (now Indianised and called Trimulgiri), as expected, it is now inhabited by the Indian Army and appears to be a mega army base with lots of facilities from officers training, houses, shopping complexes, HQ, sports, recreation and lots more. We of course were not allowed to enter the base but Annie took a few happy snaps from outside, including one of a very British building which is the old Officers Mess. This now appears to house a museum of engineering for army personnel only. Apparently the old British Fort was pulled down years ago which is a shame. It seems that the legacy of the British is actually something that has been erased without much love lost. Unfortunately there was not a museum in the city which advertised military history, or anything about the British here, but there is an area called 'Little England' on account of the amount of Anglo-Indians in the city – possibly the reminisce left over from prior to independence in 1947.

Secunderabad also has quite a few street names which are clearly English, such as James Street which is the main high street and source of fanciful culture (any inspiration for calling my Dad James?), Wellington road, and a club called 10 Downing St. I only wish I knew more about Grandad John, but as I collate my thoughts, he must have been a brave soldier to travel half way across the world (as all soldiers are) and to hold out for 10 years against a very determined country to free themselves.

Bangle Bore (Banglore)

Don't go to Banglore unless want to get ripped off by Rickshaw drivers and/or you want to do some clothes shopping and then get drunk in the city's many bars and clubs. Banglore is just another city that fails to excite so we got out as soon as we could book a bus to Hampi.

Hampi Fantastic

Hampi is a world heritage site on account of its many monolithic temples, structures and archaeology sites. On top of the historical activity there is lot of cheap hotels (about £5 per night!!) overlooking the river which are so relaxing and chilled out places. We spent a number of nights just eating food and playing cards which is very important for the soul – ie. Doing nothing, vegging around!

My gorgeous and delightful better half Annie Louise Thornton turned a quarter of a century whilst in Hampi, which was a cause for serious celebration – temple walking and cavorting!! The highlights of the birthday day can easily be summarised;

1) The fact that the main temple in the complex has its own sacred elephant who will bless you if you cross it's trunk with silver. What that means in practise is you put a ruppee coin in its trunk (which it sucks up and then fires at the mahout sitting in the corner who pockets it... safekeeping for the nellies retirement fund when it is planning to get a nice bungalow in Eastbourne). The elephant then strokes you on the head with its trunk for good luck. It can also peel bananas with its trunk in a matter of seconds.
2) The impromptu party on a rock by the river. Sitting down in a quiet spot for a can of coke and an orange we were quickly mobbed by a group of kids who were swimming in the lake. Led by us in a rendition of heads, shoulders, knees and toes they then treated us to a series of songs and dances in Hindi... all enjoyed the Bollywood dancing talents of Lancashire and they returned the favour by proudly demonstrating how they could count in English up to 37. When they found out it was Annie's birthday they promptly took all our possessions away from us and then took it in turns to give them back to Annie saying 'Happy Birthday!'. One little girl immediately took off her Bindi from her head and put it on Annie as a birthday present. They were a little upset we didn't bring any sweets to the party so next time some better preparation on our part!
3) Chilling out around the temples and getting up close with all the sculptures, almost unbothered by any other tourists, or any other people.

All in all a birthday to remember!

On another note, have you ever felt like a complete knob for doing something which was a little bit dangerous but you do it to look cool or adventurous but then it backfires? Well, we went swimming in the lake and noticed a current, so didn't swim far from the sides, then saw someone attempt to swim across to the other side (error – big error) and yes he got sucked under the bridge whilst screaming HELP with about 30-40 Indians just stood still watching (not that Indians need an excuse to gather and watch)! He did manage to cling on to a rock and then had to endure about 20 minutes with people pointing an laughing whilst a boat came to get him – gutted!! This was possibly made worse for him when he did get out as he had not gone swimming in trunks or in shorts, but in tight red underpants. From his landing point to his clothes storing area he had to cross back over the main road and through the crowd of congregating Indians. He got a round of applause from the English at this point.

Hanumans party
Hanuman is Monkey God and is recognised as a very important a Hindu diety. Legend has it that he used to be really small, until he was powered by the gifts of strength, wisdom, and courage from Vishnu and Parvati. Hanuman then grew so tall that he created the mountains and put the sun in to the sky. Hanuman is worshipped by Hindus for this great feat, and also honour him with a party for the end of the crop season. Whilst Annie did not come with me to the party, I attended with some friends from the hotel to witness the locals burning wood in a huge fire whilst dancing around it. Not a bad way to honour Hanuman I would say.

Posted by Annie Thornton 01:28 Archived in India

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