Thursday, June 14, 2007

Revisiting last weekend's photos

Here's a sampling of the pictures from last weekend's trip to the Qutub Shahi tombs and Golconda fort.

This first shot has nothing to do with Hyderabad's past. As I descended from Banjara Hills I stopped to get some pictures of the tombs and fort from a distance. None of them were very interesting. However, the child at the center of this picture eyed me the entire time I was shooting, and as I turned to leave I clicked this frame almost as an afterthought. None of the other shots were keepers, but this one I like.

I arrived at the tombs around 8:15AM, only to discover that the site opens at 9:30. However, as I stood there with my bike pondering my options, a caretaker emerged thru the gate - and left it open. I asked if I could go in and got the Indian head nod, which I chose to interpret as "Sure!" He held the gate for me as I entered.

This is the first tomb you reach as you enter from the main gate. As I walked around trying to frame a decent picture, I discovered that no effort was made at all to keep clear sightlines around the tombs; it's almost impossible to take pictures that don't contain power lines, poles, railings, etc.

Another example of Indian signage. Drowning seems to be a special terror.

I really like this grouping of smaller tombs. Notice the plants growing out of the tops of the domes. This is just one example of the sad condition of this stunning cultural icon. The tombs are covered with graffiti,surrounded by garbage, and gradually succumbing to decay.

Eventually I sensed I had worn out my welcome; numerous workers informed me that the opening time is 9:30, and when one man motioned a uniformed guard over, I decided it was time to go. I returned to the inner gate, collected my bike and then pedaled to Golconda.

I visited Golconda in 2005 on my first trip to India; it's been nice to have time to explore it at length. I parked my bike, paid the foreigner's admission of Rs. 100 (it's just 10 for Indian residents), pushed through the crowd of men offering guiding services and entered the fort.

This is a close-up of the top of the main arch at the entrance. Once through the gate and past the "clapping hall" the expanse of the fort is before you.

I headed off to the right (northward), past the main well and to the edge of the inner wall. This isn't commonly reached by tourists; following the wall requires some scrambling up steep inclines and through scrub. You are rewarded, though, by magnificent views of the outer wall and, to the north, the Qutub Shahi tombs.

At the summit of the fort you pass this colorful temple on your way to the royal chambers.

As I stood on the platform at the top of the fort several very large birds (eagles?) flew lazily by. The skies of Hyderabad are full of birds, many of them large, like this one.

This is the view from about the same place, looking down.

Once you descend on this steep staircase you reach the ruins of (I was told on the earlier trip) the harem.

I wandered around a little while longer, then got back on my bike and headed toward the southwest gate in the outer wall. From high atop the fort's inner wall I could see that a path followed essentially the entire length of the outer wall, just inside the wall. I thought I could get to the path from the gate, but I just could not find the way. I backtracked to a path I'd seen earlier that wound up taking me close to the outside of the inner wall before reaching an area of less dense scrub that enabled me to bushwack to the outer wall. I followed the wall north and east to a village I passed through on my prior visit, passing a variety of natural and man-made landscape features.

By this time it was midday and hot, so I called it wrap and biked home.

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