In Our Own Backyard

With temperatures rising slowly but surely throughout South India, the Hindu Telugu and Kannada communities have officially begun preparing for one of their most important festivals – Ugadi. A combination of Sanskrit words, Yugadi or Ugadi can be loosely translated as the beginning of a new age. An occasion known for the preparation of traditional cuisines, special rituals, activities, and getting together with families, this festival is all about celebrating the old while moving towards the new. As there isn’t just one single way to commemorate this holiday, this week You & I explores getaways in and around Telangana and Andhra Pradesh that would certainly make for an extra special Ugadi this year.]


Pakhal Lake
Located around 54 kilometres east of Warangal, Pakhal Lake is a man-made water body in the Pakhal Wildlife Sanctuary. An apt choice for anyone looking to take a break from the hustle and bustle of their busy lives, the lake is surrounded by a vast stretch of forest, hills, and lush valleys. Apart from the gorgeous views, the wildlife sanctuary, set on the shores of the lake, is home to animals like tigers, leopards, nilgai, deer, wolves, crocodiles, and more. As for the making of the lake, it was created around 1213 A.D. by the Kakatiyan ruler Ganapatideva, father of Rani Rudrama Devi. It now occupies an area of 30 square kilometres. The perfect time to visit the lake is between November and June, and the frequent bus service from the nearby town of Narsampet is the best way to get to Pakhal.


Paigah Tombs
One of the well-known attractions of Hyderabad city, Paigah Tombs, also known as Maqhbara Shams al-Umara, belonged to the Paigah family. This renowned family consisted of statesmen, philanthropists, and generals who served with and under the Nizams of Hyderabad. The tombs are situated four kilometres southeast of the towering structure of Charminar, in Owaisi Nagar. The architectural marvels which boast of Greek, Asaf Jahi, Rajasthani, and Rajputana styles, also include Mughal, Persian, and Deccan patterns in their décor. These gateways to the afterlife are a work of art in themselves, and are home to a number of members of the Paigah family. These include Abdul Fateh Khan Tegh Jung, who was the first to be buried in 1786, followed by Sir Asman Jah, Sir Vicar-ul-Umra, Sultan-ul-Mulk, Lady Asman Jah, Moin ud Dowla, and others. An educational trip well within the city limits, the Paigah Tombs are open for viewing from 10 am to 5 pm, and are closed only on Fridays.

While they are now located in the ‘neighbouring state’
rather than ‘home’, the fascinating places to visit in
Andhra Pradesh have not diminished in their value at all. For instance, the former princely state of Kurnool, which came under Aurangazeb’s rule in 1686, offers a variety of natural, historical and religious wonders to visit. These include the Belum Caves, a natural underground cave system known for their stalagmite and stalactite formations. 3,229 metres in length, the caves are the largest and longest in India, and are made of black limestone. Yet another untouched natural wonder is the Oravakallu Rock Garden, a perfect spot for rock climbing and hiking. For those who wish to opt for a more spiritual route, consider visiting the Sai Baba Temple, the Venugoplaswami Temple, the well-maintained Buddha statue, and other notable sites.


Relatively cool compared to some of its neighbouring districts, Chittoor is filled with places of devotion, landmarks with historic relevance, and a serene spot ideal for unwinding. The district’s very own hill station, Horsley Hills, is also known as ‘Andhra’s Ooty’. Partake in activities like trekking, swimming, and archery, or just sit back and take in the serene views. Taking it a notch higher on the adventure scale, the Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary is 600 kilometres from Chittoor and home to a wide range of animals including jackals, sloth bears, panthers, and elephants. In terms of sightseeing, the Nagari Hills attract a fair share of mountaineers, while the coastal village of Mogili is popular with pilgrims. Moreover, the 12th century Sri Venkateswara Temple – with its Chola, Pandya, and Pallava styles of architecture – is a favourite spot for history buffs.   – Roshni