Category: India, 2019

Fort, Tombs and a Crowded Market

October 25

Our guide in Hyderabad is Ms. Jayanti ‘Jonty’ Rajagopala, a B-school graduate from XLRI, Jamshedpur who comes with over 13 year’s experience in sales, marketing and program management with organizations including Titan Industries and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Apart from specialty tours in and around Hyderabad, Jonty also leads an annual 12-day culinary tour across India. A certified, albeit fussy foodie, her biggest passions of food, history and her love for offbeat locations keeps her exploring the length and breadth of India.

Jonty started her tour company with the aim of showcasing her own country in a different way. For her, the most interesting part about India is the cultural diversity, even within a state, not to mention across the subcontinent. Being an avid traveller, she’s always curious to know more about the people, traditions, and especially the food of a region that she visits. The experience that she aims to create is based largely on what she has enjoyed on her travels…slightly offbeat and full of interesting stories and conversations with locals, all of which you would not experience on your own.

Jonty gives us a very succinct and well-thought out overview of South India, including notes on its history, differences from North India, its weather, including the importance of the strength and timing of the monsoon, the central role of the Himalayas in weather and politics, and a description of the different Indian states.

We start our day with a visit to the Golconda Fort and the exquisite Qutb Shahi tombs.  The history of the fort dates back to the 12th century when it was originally built of mud by the Hindu Kakatiyas.   Within the fort are the royal palaces, the harem, halls for both public and private audiences, royal baths and a temple. The huge vaults once held the famous Kohinoor and Hope diamonds.  

We also visit the Qutb Shahi Tombs of 16th and 17 th century kings.  


Lunch is at Simply South, a highly-regarded South Indian restaurant. Jonty knows the owners and chef and, since she is an expert on food, we entrust all ordering to her. We are rewarded with a very diverse and delicious meal, much more fun than I’d anticipated. The restaurant is crowded with many of the patrons dressed up finely in anticipation of the Diwali holiday.

We then head to the Begum Bazaar market area, with hoards of people shopping for Diwali decorations, mostly very gaudy stuff. It begins to drizzle, we take temporary shelter, then tread precariously through very narrow streets filled with motor bikes, tuk-tuks, cars and pedestrians, happy to escape in one piece. The narrow streets were generally too harrowing to photograph, except for the one with the cute baby on the motor bike above, but here’s a photo of a wide avenue to give you a hint.

We make it back to our hotel in time to catch the daily tour by the historian of the hotel, a tall, basically undecipherable fellow with a rather pompous manner. I last about seven minutes of the hour tour before slipping down a staircase and heading back to the room. Carol lasts considerably longer, but does not finish the tour.

Back at the room, we rest up and decide to give the Italian restaurant another try. Again, a very good dinner, this time without the annoying music. By the way, before going out this morning, I ran into the guy who had greeted us when our carriage pulled up to the palace last night. When I told him about our music/noise experience of last night, he’d already heard about it from the staff, a sign of a very good hotel.

Today was a very good day, due in large part to Jonty, clearly our new #1 guide of this trip. She has a very easy manner, a good sense of humor, the ability to express things clearly and her English is completely understandable. What more could anyone want?

6 comments to Fort, Tombs and a Crowded Market

  • leslie pau

    all sounds great… pictures terrific .. Les

  • kay Osborne

    All good.

  • Phoebe Snell

    Great you’re enjoying your new guide! Seems like she’s giving you a great sense of the area!

  • Wendy Snell

    Though I anticipated you saying that you gave up on the tour after 7 minutes, “slipping down a staircase” was still an unfortunate choice of words. Way to skip the rest of a less-than-captivating tour, all without slipping down a staircase!

  • lauri pollack

    Just got this today. Went through the other blogs from this trip and had the best time.
    Thank you for sparing me the long plane ride! Sounds like a wonderful adventure.
    I look forward to reading future descriptions.

    Hugs to you both,


  • arnie

    Great to hear from you, Lauri. Hope alls well at your end.

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