Category: India, 2019

Hampi to Hyderabad

October 24

We bid goodbye to our humble villa, seen here from the outside.I’d written that it was the size of our condo, but I checked at the front desk, and, in fact, our condo is larger, but only by a little bit.

Today is another full day of travel. These days are unavoidable when you’re trying to cover a lot of territory. and they are not a total waste, as you get to see life unfold in the villages, women in colorful saris, walking to work in the fields, with baskets and lunch carried on their heads, share the road with cows, dogs, pigs, oxcarts, tuk-tuks, buses, trucks, motor bikes, and cars. Businesses and trash along the roadside. We pass areas with large pools of water from the heavy rains in recent weeks. Nomads live in makeshift tents by the roadside and herd their goats along the road.

Passing through towns, I’m reminded that, in India, driving is a sport—passing blind, narrowly missing cows and pedestrians and regarding the concept of the correct side of the road as a quaint notion that applies, if at all, to others.

Towards the end of our four-plus hour drive to Kubli I take some random photos out of boredom, and so that you’ll have something to look at. You’re welcome (as my grandson, Maxi, would add).

Here’s a hotel we decided not to book.

Residences by the side of the road.

And a few assorted roadside scenes.

In the car we have ample time to discuss life with our guide, Ravi, including arranged marriages, attitudes toward homosexuality and the like. In sum, things remain pretty-much traditional in the towns, but have gone to hell in the cities. This is my summary, not his words, but I think it accurately reflects what we heard, and probably does not differ all that much from what you’d hear in many small towns in the U.S.

We have about an hour and a half at the Kubli airport. Looking around, I tell Carol that I feel as if we’re on Devon Street, with all the saris, and people eating samosas. I ask her whether she’d rather go to India or Devon Street. She’s still pondering her answer, but, for me, the answer is clear. Despite the difficulties in getting here and the travails of navigating through our itinerary, I really like India.

Our flight from Kubli to Chennai is an hour. There we transfer to our flight to Hyderabad, where we will spend the next few days.

The Chennai airport is new and modern. One sign of that is that there is a Krispy Kreme donut store, not only on the main gate level, but also at the lower level, on which our gate is located. Another sign of that modernity is that it is a “silent airport” with no announcement of gates. Sounds like a great idea right, combatting noise pollution?

The problem is that at the gate, there is no sign as to what flight is leaving from there. There are no gate attendants nor, as far as we can determine, any airport personnel of whom one can ask questions. So, one needs to find the flight listings, which rotate slowly, alternately in English and Hindi, by time of departure, periodically to confirm that one is at the correct gate. After our appointed boarding time, we learn, from the slowly rotating screen, that our flight has been delayed. Then, later, we learn that our gate has been changed from Gate 15, on the lower level, to Gate 5, on the upper level, so we head up there, passing the upstairs Krispy Kreme.

We find seats near Gate 5, and Carol takes off in an unsuccessful search for an airport official and to see whether the Krishna Jewelry store has any great sales (it does not). She returns with no new information, but says she’ll go check the slowly rotating sign. There she discovers that our gate has been changed from Gate 5 to Gate 12, back on the lower level, but not past either Krispy Kreme. Reaching Gate 12, we see a huge, sorta line, which we enter at what seems like it could be the end and eventually reach the front and board the crowded bus to our flight, now an hour and a half late.

In short, if anybody actually designed this system, it is the stupidest frigging system ever designed by man.

We’re met at the Hyderabad airport and driven to our hotel. Here, I have to remind you of the spectacular hotel villa we occupied at Hampi and tell you that compared to our new hotel, the Hampi hotel was a slum, sort of a Days Inn. Of course, I exaggerate, but…..

We are staying at the fabulous Hotel Falaknuma Palace. The “mirror of the sky” was the royal guest house of the Nizam of Hyderabad, considered for many years to be the richest man in the world.  This sixty room palace once the sole preserve of royalty, among them King George V and the last Russian Tsar, Nicolas II now plays host to visitors from across the world. Architecturally the palace is a blend of Italian and Tudor architecture.  It is home to priceless art and artifacts, ornate inlaid furniture from Kashmir, rich handcrafted tapestries and brocades from France, and intricate frescos with English and Indian influence.

Whereas we were driven to our room in a nifty Ambassador in Hampi, our mode of transportation here was different, as you can see in the two photos below, the second taken in front of “our” palace.

The photo below is looking out from in front of the palace.

Here’s a photo of the courtyard off of which our suite is located, followed by several photos of our room.I’m sure there will be much more to say about our palace tomorrow, in the light of day. But I’ll close with evidence that “nothing’s perfect.” We decided to opt for dinner at the Italian, rather than the Indian, restaurant. As we approached the restaurant, I heard loud sounds of what appeared to be a woman in serious distress. These noises continued and could be heard, loudly, in the Italian restaurant. Upon inquiry, the sound was of a woman singing traditional South Indian music.

Being the timid type, I had both our waiter and the maitre d’ over at our table. Both understood clearly and apologized, but said it was part of a program. I said that was fine for people who signed on for the program, but not fine to impose on others who might expect a quiet dinner. To make a long story short, they shortened the program to last only another ten or fifteen minutes and, on our way out, the restaurant manager said that he would schedule music on other nights so as not to occur while we were dining.

Dinner, by the way, was terrific.

We retired right afterwards, exhausted from our twelve hours of travel, but happy to be tucked in at our little palace suite.

6 comments to Hampi to Hyderabad

  • Jeanzunkel@gmail.com

    How do you get them back on the farm after staying in these amazing places!!!
    You went all out this time!

  • arnie

    What farm, Jean? This post is really ammo for you as a travel agent as to something you know very well already. A really extraordinary hotel (and I’m not talking about a Four Seasons, however wonderful) can be a major part of the trip, and is worth the expense. After all, you go on a trip like this to experience things you can’t experience at home, and these hotels fit that description perfectly. You and Ahdina put us in two such places in Morocco this March. Of course, this assumes your client can afford it, but, in most cases, I think a client would, in retrospect, greatly appreciate a push in that direction. After all, you’re the expert. And, yes, you can quote me on it.

  • Phoebe Snell

    GORGEOUS! Both the “day’s in” villa in Hampa and the palace in Hyderabad!
    L,
    PR

  • Julie Heifetz

    Yikes! (About the little modest lodgings, not the shrieking.)

  • tom

    Fabulous digs! I’ll bet the laundry bags are impressive as well 🙂

  • arnie

    Why stay at a place if it doesn’t have great laundry bags?

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