Trip Start Jul 02, 2008
60Trip End Jun 19, 2009
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Hyderabad has a population of 5.5 million. It has a large Muslim population so it's nice to hear the prayer calls again. I arrived in the late morning and really didn't feel like doing any sight seeing the first day. I decided to go to an IMAX Multiplex that's not too far from my hotel and see what movies were playing. Oh my god this place was huge. Not only were there 6 screens, there were also shops, restaurants, a rock-climbing wall, a video arcade, a McDonalds and the best was a Subway!! I had eaten a late breakfast/lunch so I really wasn't hungry, but after the movie I had an early dinner anyway. How can I turn down a Subway? And I must admit, I had a chocolate shake at McDonald's afterwards :)
The only English language movie showing in the next 2 hours was Mama Mia. I'm sorry if you liked it, but I could barely sit through it. It reminded me of a Bollywood film, that is the term used for India's film industry which is the largest in the world. The Bollywood films I've seen on buses or playing in random places are all basically the same...romance filled with song and dance numbers. Have any of you truly yearned to hear Pierce Brosnan, AKA James Bond, sing and dance? Not an image I would like to remember.
But it was nice to feel like I was back home for a few hours. So nice, in fact, I went back the next day after my sight seeing was complete for the day. This time the only film showing soon was The Dark Knight. I never saw any of the other Batman movies and I was not looking forward to this at all. However, within one minute of the movie starting I can tell that Gotham City was Chicago. I actually had a tear in my eye, it was so beautiful. It's only been three months since I've been home but I guess I forgot how amazing Chicago is, especially on a larger than life IMAX screen. The movie really wasn't horrible either. My eyes, however, kept trying to identify buildings, streets, and landmarks. After the movie I had another Subway sandwich. No shake though :)
I guess you want to hear about the sights I saw here in Hyderabad? First I went to Golconda Fort which was built in the 16th century to ward off the Mughal army. Probably the coolest fort I've seen in India with a nice view of the city from the top.
Next I went to Charminar, or the four towers, which was built in 1591 to commemorate the founding of Hyderabad. It's 56 meters high and 30 meters wide and has four columns each with a minaret on top.
Just a block away is one of India's largest mosques, Mecca Masjid. The largest I already saw in Delhi, Jama Masjid, which held 25,000 worshippers. This one only holds 10,000 people, but no women are allowed inside. Whatever!!!!
In the middle of the Hussain Sagar Lake stands one of the world's largest freestanding Buddha statues, standing 17.5 meters high. It was completed in 1990 but when it was being ferried to its place on the lake the barge sank. After two years it was finally raised out of the water, undamaged, and now stands in its current spot.
I spent the next day at Ramoji Film City, India's version of Universal Studios, but obviously for Hindi films. It's about 45 minutes from Hyderabad and has been acknowledged by Guiness World Records as the world's largest film studio complex. It's 2,000 acres and included in the price of the ticket is a 5 hour tour! The tour was 90% in Hindi/regional language and 10% in English so I obviously didn't learn that much but it was all pretty self explanatory. First you take an open sided bus throughout the grounds and see the gardens, buildings, and streets used for filming. Then you are brought to Fundustan, a kids area with rides, a video game parlor, and a haunted/fun house.
Then you go through an area with different themed streets with restaurants and shops. There are a few shows/rides as well. The first one I went to you're supposedly riding up an elevator while watching a video of an earthquake happening outside. All of the seats shake and move and they make you feel like you are falling down the elevator shaft. Next is a ride just like the "It's a Small World" ride at Disneyworld....without the song, so it was better! Then there was a show where they demonstrate how the blue screen works with various action scenes popping up on the screen.
I almost felt like a film star with all of the looks from people. I was the only foreigner around and many people, mostly teenagers, wanted their pictures taken with me.
The tour reminded me a lot of Universal Studios but not quite as nice. Of course I was a kid when I went to Universal so I'm sure it seemed so much cooler because of my age.
Next I'm off to Bengaluru/Bangalore which has about the same population as Hyderabad. I hope you are well.
Where I stayed