Golconda Fort – Part 1

No trip to Hyderabad in India can be considered complete without a visit to the magnificent, awe-inspiring Golconda Fort. Situated a few miles out of the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secundarabad, the Golconda fort shows a formidable presence in the horizon. The fort itself dates back to original construction by the Kakatiya dynasty (a branch of the Chalukya rulers of south india in the 12th century.

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The Golconda Fort, Andhra Pradesh

The fort was expanded and further fortified by the Qutub Shahi kings of Hyderabad in the 16th century when they made Golconda the capital of their kingdom.

The narrow entrance served to slow invading armies
The narrow entrance served to slow invading armies

The fort itself is in many levels, with the imperial residences at the very top of the citadel (120 metres above), while the lower levels served as garrison quarters and administrative offices. The fort is surrounded by a wall 10KM long with many bastions to ward off attackers.

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Part of the inner ramparts of Golconda Fort
Stables
Stables
Administrative complex
Administrative complex

There are over 80 semi-circular bastions in the fort (below) that provided excellent 360 degree view of the neighbouring countryside.

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One of over 80 semi-circular bastions at Golconda

More photographs of the challenging climb to the top of the fort follows in part 2 of this fort. Please click on any of the pictures above t see a larger version. All photographs from a Nikon D80 camera with a Tamron 18-250mm lens. Processed in Adobe Lightroom and Nik Color Efex Pro.

 

Cambridge on the Cam

I have now lived in Cambridge for over 10 years. As it so happens this is also the longest period of stay by me in any one place in all my 40+ years. And yet I don’t have many pictures of the city (something I will need to change in 2013!).

Cambridge: the famous university town with more famous ivy-clad venerable colleges, historical institutions and personalities. There is a lovely river, the Cam that runs its placid route between the colleges (the backs), under myriad bridges and plays host to punts filled with wide-eyed tourists as they hear tales of history, science and culture that stemmed from these colleges.

Trinity Lane - bounded by Gonville and Caius College on the left, and Trinity College on the right. Unchanged in centuries.
Trinity Lane – bounded by Gonville and Caius College on the left, and Trinity College on the right. Unchanged in centuries.

As rivers go, the Cam is a mere 40 miles from its humble beginnings in the tributaries Rhee and Granta. But in Cambridge, the river takes on a life of its own with punting, rowing and canoeing activities throughout the year.

Punting on the Cam
Punting on the Cam
Punts waiting for customers
Punts waiting for customers

There are some 23 bridges on the Cam in Cambridge alone. A majority of these bridges are private and link the colleges with their extensive grounds towards the back. None is probably more evocative than the St. John’s College “Bridge of Sighs” that links the Third Court and the New Court of the college.

The Bridge of Sighs, St. John's College, Cambridge.
The Bridge of Sighs, St. John’s College, Cambridge.

Cambridge is a great place to visit at any time of the year, more so to be able to enjoy punting on the Cam. A future article will deal with some of the more famous colleges.

Water Taxis – Amsterdam

Fact: Amsterdam has more canals than Venice!

People associate Amsterdam with lots of things including “Coffee shops”, Red-light district, Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt but rarely with canals and water. Ubiquitous in the more than 100km of canals and 1500+ bridges are the water taxis. They are an excellent way of getting around the Amsterdam old quarter avoiding traffic jams on the narrow roads.

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Technical Details

Nikon D80
Tamron 28-250mm f3.5/6.3 Lens
Post-processed in Adode Lightroom 4.1

Chaffinch (and cake)

At the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales, a male chaffinch showed great interest in carrot cake crumbs, appearing to within a foot of where we were sitting.

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Chaffinches are common to the British Isles although reports suggest that their numbers are dwindling in suburban gardens and inner cities due to a loss of suitable nesting habitat.

 

Borra Caves, India

Borra Caves, India

The Borra Caves are located in the Eastern Ghats mountain range of India in the state of Andhra Pradesh. These caves lie in the scenic Araku valley of Visakhapatnam district. The caves are possibly one of the largest in the country and have an impressive display of stalactites and stalagmites.

The tourist board information on Borra Caves. Informative but written in a very funny style.

Travel from Visakhapatnam (about 90Km) takes around 3+ hours by road but a whopping 4+ hours by train. The train ride is scenic and includes more than 30 tunnels en route from Visakhapatnam.

Stalagmites, Borra Caves

The lighting inside the cave brings out the beauty of the geological formations, but it was extremely difficult to set up a tripod due to the sheer number of visitors.

Stalactites, Borra Caves

The speleothems are still being formed inside these caves, and there is a constant drip of water from the roof of the caves. The picture below shows some of the drip points on the roof of the cave.

The speleothems features are many metres tall. Borra Caves
Detail of speleothems. Borra Caves.
Stalagmites, Borra caves
A feature that could easily be Lord Voldemort or the Evil Emperor Palpatine. Borra Caves

All said, a visit to Borra caves is highly recommended if you are anywhere close to Visakhapatnam. The natural beauty of the surrounding Araku valley, with its own distinctive coffee beans, and indigenous tribals, make this spot an ideal day trip.

Visakhapatnam – Part 2

I think sunsets are beautiful. They mark the end of a day, promises of rest and a new beginning with dawn the next morning. The geographical location of Visakhapatnam means that sunsets are always on the side away from the sea, and I’ve never been an early riser to capture sunrise on the sea in the morning.

Sunset over Visakhapatnam as seen from Kailasagiri Hill.

The sunset seen from the Kailasagiri Hill in Visakhapatnam was particularly stunning.

Eastern ghats looking north of Visakhapatnam along the Bay of Bengal.

A beach road runs along the coast from Visakhapatnam to Bheemunipatnam for 46km, a stretch of which can be seen in the photograph above. Bheemunipatham has evidence of early Buddhist culture dating back to the 3rd century AD (photographs of Bheemunipatnam in a future post).

Sunset over Visakhapatnam
Palm fronds, sunset and Visakhapatnam

Kailasagiri has huge statues of the hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvati and a small mountain railway that offers scenic vistas of Visakhapatnam and the coast north towards Bheemunipatnam. Kailasa or mount Kailash is the abode of Shiva and Parvati according to hindu mythology. One of the mountains in the Himalayan range is the mountain called Kailash (6638 msl).

Shiva and Parvati statues at Kailasagiri, Visakhapatnam

But all good things must come to an end, and it was with a heavy heart that I left this beautiful place. I could not, however, resist taking one last shot of a glorious golden sunset.

 

PS: As always you can click on any of the pictures above to see a full size view.

Visakhapatnam – Part 1

Visakhapatnam (aka Vizag) is a large coastal city in the eastern coast of India in the state of Andhra Pradesh. I am a frequent visitor to this city as this is where my wife’s family live. Vizag is sandwiched in a narrow strip of land between the bay of bengal and the eastern ghats mountain range that runs along the eastern fringe of India. Here are some pictures from my recent visit earlier this year.

Ramakrishna Beach with Dolphins Nose in the backdrop.

Visakhapatnam is an important port on the east coast of India and is the only natural harbour on the eastern seaboard of the country. Due to its strategic importance, it houses the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy.

Submarine museum – The INS Kursura in dry dock
INS Kursura – A Kalvari class submarine of the Indian Navy

The eastern ghats on which Visakhapatnam nestles offers beautiful vistas of the sea and the city. Prominent among this are the Kailasagiri Hills, a popular spot for visitors.

A view of Visakhapatnam from Kailasagiri Hills

 

More in Part 2.

  • Boats (juridicious.com)

Goa – a beach experience

 

Goa is probably best known around the world for its beaches and beach resorts. Here are a few shots from beaches in North Goa from my visit January 2012.

Vagator Beach, Goa.
A moored boat on Vagator Beach, Goa
A shrine on a rock outcrop on Vagator Beach. A little more than a quarter of Goa’s population are christian.
Anjuna Beach, Goa – Allegedly famous for trance music, which was thankfully absent on the day I visited!
A beached boat at Baga. This was possibly the best beach I visited in Goa.
Pushing out to sea! Baga, Goa
The blues and turquoise of the Arabian Sea. Baga, Goa

I think we chose a great time to visit Goa and a good time of the day to be at the beaches. There were few people about and that made for a relaxing walk in the balmy waters. Calangute beach was possibly the most crowded beach of all. We couldn’t see the sea given the sheer number of people!

Technical Details:

Nikon D80
Tamron 18-250 f/3.5-6.3 zoom lens

 

Boats

 

Earlier this year I was at Visakhapatnam (Vizag), an important port town on the eastern coast of India. I spied this fishing boat on the boat where the crew had just come with the catch and had finished emptying their nets.

The Bay of Bengal in Visakhapatnam (Ramakrishna Beach). Fishing boat. Contrast enhanced and aqua and blue saturation increased marginally in LR
Fishing boat on Ramakrishna Beach, Visakhapatnam with Dolphins Nose in the background. Visakhapatnam is an important port in India.

These pictures were taken using a Nikon D80 camera with a Tamron 18-250mm lens. Processed in LightRoom 4.1. You can view the large size pictures by clicking on the pictures themselves.