Travel Bucket List: India – Telangana Part 5

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Khammam
Also known as Khammamett, Khammam is the fourth largest city in Telangana, located about 193 km east of the state capital, Hyderabad. The river Munneru flows on the western side of the city. The city was previously called Stambhadri, Kambhadri, Kambham Mettu and Khammam Mettu, which was also anglicised to Commomet and Khammammet. The present name of the city has been derived from a local hill known as Stambhadri. According to legend, the Narsimhadri temple situated here on a hilltop is said to have existed for the last 1.6 million years from the time of the Treta Yug, with the city deriving its name from the vertical rock that acts as a pillar or Khamba below the temple.

According to legend, the Narsimha Swami or the Narsimhadri temple, situated on a hill called Stambhadri, is said to have existed since the last 1.6 million years with the city deriving its name from the vertical rock that acts as pillar or Khamba below the temple. The temple is open daily from 5 am to 1 pm and then between 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Initiated in 950 and completed by 1000, the Khammam Fort depicts both Muslim and Hindu architectural styles. Today, a major tourist destination, the fort, built by the Musunuri Nayaks completed 1000 years of existence and has no entrance fee. Jammalapuram is a quaint village situated about 83 km southeast of Khammam with the village housing many temples but the main temple or the Jammalapuram Temple is of Swami Venkateshwara who’s the presiding deity of the village. Nelakondapalli is an ancient Buddhist centre located about 20 km southwest of Khammam. Situated at the crest of the Deccan, the Sri Venkateshwara Swamy Temple is widely known as the Telangana’s Tirupati and was renovated by the Vijayanagar empire. The Bhaktaramadas Dhyana Mandiram is a meditation centre dedicated to the memory of Sri Bhakta Ramdas, who was born in the town. The Buddhist Maha Stupa which dates back to 350 BC was excavated in 1976 and is 54 ft tall with a radius of 106 ft. The Palair lake situated in Palair village, about 30 km from Khammam is a man-made lake and a major source of fresh water to the district. Recently it has become a popular picnic spot with water-based sports and recreational activities here.

Sprawling over almost 635 sq km, the Kinnersani Wildlife Sanctuary is nestled amidst the Dandakaranya Forest and is flanked by the River Godavari. Besides a variety of endangered flora, it is also home to many species of chousinghas, sambar, wild boars, gaurs, chinkara, cheetals, hyenas, and sloth bears. According to an old tale, Lord Rama spent some days of his exile here with the area originally known as the Dandakaranya forests of the Tretayugam, some of which are Parnasala, Rekapalli and Dummugudem. It was declared a sanctuary in 1981. The sanctuary gets its name from the Kinnerasani River which is a part of Telugu poetry and literature and which cuts through hills and valleys and then finally drains into the Godavari River. The Kinnerasani Lake lies at the heart of the sanctuary has several perennial springs known as Togus which are easily spotted. The Kinnerasani Dam stands opposite the Kinnerasani sanctuary. There is a beautiful deer park where one can see the common deer as well as the spotted deer as well as an Eco Park near the dam. There is an Environmental Education Centre in the sanctuary with large sculptures of wild animals with descriptive boards containing information on the animals. Cars and two-wheelers are allowed in the forest area with permission from the forest authorities needed. One can also take an on-foot safari, where one can walk along with the sanctuary with a forest instructor. There are several watchtowers as well in the premises of the sanctuary. There is a lake at the centre of the park where one can enjoy a ride at the Kinnerasani Lake and see the water birds. The boating facility is not available year-round and is available during certain seasons. The sanctuary is open between 7:30 am and 8:30 pm daily.

Karimnagar
The fifth-largest city and the third largest and fastest-growing urban settlement in Telangana, Karimnagar is situated on the banks of the Manair River, a tributary of the Godavari River. Serving as a major educational and health hub for the northern districts of Telangana, it is a major business centre and widely known for its granite and agro-based industries and so is also called the city of granite. It is located 163 km northeast of Hyderabad.

Karimnagar was originally called Elagandala. Later Kannada kingdoms such as the Western Chalukyas ruled it and then it became part of the Satavahana Empire. When the Nizams of Hyderabad ruled the city, the name was changed to Karimnagar, which was derived from the name of Shahenshah E Karimnagar Syed Kareemullah Shah Quadrii Nithinvasi and is known for its confluence of Telugu and Persian cultures. Be it the picturesque Lower Manair Dam and the Mallareddypet waterfalls or the humanmade Nampally Gutta, Karimnagar has plenty of charming venues and activities for its visitors. It is also famous for its heritage sites such as Gandhi centenary Museum. Karimnagar is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to relive the bygone era.

Some of the popular tourist attractions include Mathani Reserve Forest, Deer Park, the Crocodile Conservation Park, Elagandal Fort and the Mallareddypet Waterfalls. The Lower Manair Dam is one of the biggest dams in the state with boating facilities. The Ujwala park and the Deer Park are near the dam with a cable bridge under construction on the Maner River.

Adilabad
Famous for its cotton cultivation, Adilabad is also referred to as the white gold city and is located about 305 km north of the state capital, Hyderabad and is frequently known as the Gateway to South India. Earlier known as Edlabad during the rule of Qutub Shahis, Adilabad derives its name from the erstwhile ruler of Bijapur, Muhammad Yusuf Adil Shah. Adilabad was ruled by many dynasties like the Kakatiyas, the Mauryas, the Satavahanas, the Chalukyas, the Qutub Shahis, the Asaf Jahi’s and the Gond Rajas of Sirpur and Chanda.

At Mahatma Gandhi Park, one can relax and unwind because it is bound by lush green plants and trees. There is a statue of Mahatma Gandhi installed in the park which has a separate section for children. The Park is open between sunrise and sunset and has no entrance fees. Constructed over the Kadam River, the Kadam Dam is located where the River Godavari merges with the River Kadam. Constructed between 1949 and 1965, the dam’s main purpose is to provide water for irrigation. Also known as the Godavari North Canal Project, the dam is located in the midst of greenery, offering scenic views to its visitors. The Jainath Temple is built in the Jain style of architecture and is located 21 km from Adilabad in Jainath village. The temple is renowned for its Prakrit stone inscribed with 20 slokas that suggest that the temple was built under a Pallava chief. The temple is especially busy between the Karthika Sudda Ashtami and the Bahula Saptami. The Lord Lakshmi Narayana Swami Temple located close by is also a major shrine. Dedicated to Lord Papahareshwar Swami, one of the forms of Lord Shiva, the Kadile Papahareshwar Temple is a very famous temple. According to the legend behind the temple, Lord Parashurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu performed penance here and surrendered to Lord Papahareshwar after beheading his mother to get rid of his sins. The temple is also known for its Shiva lingam that is installed within its premises. The Gnana Saraswati Temple is dedicated to the Goddess of learning, Gnana Saraswati. The temple is situated at the confluence of the River Godavari and the River Mangira in Basar and is an architectural marvel of the Chalukya dynasty. Believed to be the oldest temple of Goddess Saraswati in India, it is said that the sage Ved Vyas performed penance at the temple and as per legend, he used to make idols of Goddess Lakshmi, Kali and Saraswati with sand here. Situated on the banks of the River Godavari, the Gudem Satyanarayana Swamy Temple is dedicated to Lord Satyanarayana, the God of Truth. Devotees flock to the shrine during the month of Karthika with a dip in the River Godavari is taken by devotees to perform the Satyana. Located near Adilabad in Koneru, the Kalwa Narsimha Swamy Temple is a major temple with devotees visiting the temple feast on the day of Vana Bhojanam where meals are served to pilgrims sitting under the tree. The temple chariot that carries the idol of the god can also be found around the temple premises and there is a children’s park in the proximity of the temple. The temple is open daily between 5 am to 11:30 am and then between 4 to 9 pm. The St. Joseph Church is a famous church and is noted as the best cathedral church in the state. Kala Ashram was established by Ravindra Sharma where visitors can witness various traditional arts, technology and science. Visitors can also attend workshops and performances organised by the ashram related to a fading art form of Bhiksha Vruttis and also has books based on social issues based on rural society.

Gayatri Falls is a beautiful cascading waterfall over the River Kadem colloquially known as Gadidha Gundam or Mukti Gundam. The waterfalls are secretly tucked in between the deep woods of the Tarnam Khurd village and are popular for their beautiful scenic views and panoramic vistas. It also offers moderate to challenging trekking opportunities and is best visited during monsoons. The lesser-known Gayatri waterfalls is usually visited with the Pochera and Kuntala Falls situated in close vicinity. The best time to visit the beautiful waterfall is during peak monsoon. It takes a 5 km trek to get to the fall from Tarnam Khurd village and it is advisable to take a local from the village as a guide. The Kanakai Waterfalls located in Girnur village is an impassable 30 feet cascade of water streams descending from a cliff into a large pool at the bottom of the falls. An excellent trekking location with panoramic views, the falls are a perfect setting for a relaxing timeout from one’s hectic schedule. The best time to visit the waterfall is during the peak monsoon months. Regarded as one of the most scenic waterfalls in Telangana, the Kunthala Waterfalls is situated amidst the gorgeous Sahyadri mountain range. The highest waterfall in the state, it plunges from a height of 150 feet with the fall originating from the Kadam River known for its picturesque forests. According to legend, the waterfall is named after Shakuntala, who was believed to have fallen in love with king Dushyant here and who used to bathe in the fall. Since Gond tribes live here, the waterfall’s name is derived from the world Kunta which means pond in both Gondi and Tamil and the word Kuntalu means multiple ponds, as the waterfall is created by the confluence of several ponds which drains from the river. There is a 10–15-minute climb to reach the falls. Located 37 km from Nirmal, the Pochera Waterfall is the deepest waterfall of Telangana. With the white waters powerfully plummeting from the height of a whopping 20 meters, the bed of the Pochera waterfall is entirely made from the purest form of granite which gives the waterfall a slight emerald tinge. The falls are best visited during the monsoons or immediately post-monsoon.

Situated in old Adilabad, the Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for its enormous variety of flora and fauna with the Kawal wildlife sanctuary tiger reserve having a rich and varied population of cheetahs. Established in 1965, the sanctuary was declared as a protected area and before becoming a reserve, it was the hunting grounds of the Nizams. The Wildlife Reserve also serves as a catchment area for the River Kadam, a tributary of the River Godavari. After being declared a wildlife reserve, the area was divided into six ranges: Kadam, Pembi, Jannaram, Indanpally, Tadlapet, and Birsaipet and was declared a tiger reserve in 2012. The sanctuary is a corridor that connects the northern forests of Telangana and the forests of Maharashtra which in turn are connected to the forests in the Vidharba region. The sanctuary houses a wide variety of plant and animal species with the animals tending to come out to open areas during colder months and this is why the best time to visit it is between November to May.

The Pranahita Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area of the Deccan Plateau that is spread across an area of 136 sq km. The sanctuary is flanked by dense forest with the Pranahita River flowing through which provides an excellent source of water. The area is also rich in diverse vegetation as well as wildlife species.

Lying on the banks of River Godavari, the Shivaram Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1987 and is famous for its marsh crocodiles, also known as mugger crocodiles. Spread over 36.2 sq km, the sanctuary is home to a variety of flora and fauna. It is open daily from 6 am to 6 pm and there is no entry fee.

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Mahbubnagar
Located in western Telangana, about 100 km southwest of Hyderabad, Mahbubnagar is the seventh most populous city in the state. Also known as Palamooru, Mahbubnagar used to be known as Rukmammpeta in ancient times.

About 29 km from Mahbubnagar, the Koilkonda Fort is in ruins today but makes for wondrous sight. One has to pass through a weathered canyon to reach the hilltop where the fort stands and pass through seven gates to reach the fort. Located 26 km from the town, Khilla Ghanpur is an ancient hilltop fort that once was part of the Vijayanagar empire. There are freshwater pools in the fort which locals, even today, use to swim and bathe. Peppered across the nearby villages, the Megalithic Burial Sites are rock shelters that haphazardly display art from the Neolithic period. The Pillala Marri Tree is a 700-year-old banyan tree that has the tomb of a Muslim saint beneath it as well as an ancient Shiva temple, a mini zoo, an aquarium as well as an archaeological museum. The tree is located about 4 km from the city. Translating to the Big Lake, Pedda Cheruvu is a scenic still water lake that is a local favourite to unwind and to picnic. The lake also serves as a shortcut to cross the city. A nursery-cum-park, Mayuri Hatham Vanam’s greenery is the perfect pause to a hectic day. Located about 23 km from Mahbubnagar, the Sri Ramakonda Temple at Koilkanda is mired in the legend surrounding its origins and features. It’s believed that a piece of the Sanjivini Hill fell over the region, leading to the establishment of this temple. Legend also say that Lord Rama visited the spot with Goddess Sita and rested on a particular rock which even today visitors meditate upon. Located in Maganoor, not far from Mahbubnagar, the Sri Swayambhu Lakshmi Venkateswara Swamy Temple is a shrine to both Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Venkateswara Swamy. It is believed that the presence of this temple allows the crops around the region to flourish and averts natural disasters.

Medak
The town of Medak lies about 80 km north of the state capital of Hyderabad and was originally known as Methukudurgam or Methuku, which translates to grain in Telugu due to the growth of rice here. Spread over 130 sq km, the Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary was set up in 1952 on what was the hunting grounds of the then Nizam. Named after the Pocharam Lake formed after the Pocharam Dam was constructed on the River Allair between 1916 to 1922, the sanctuary is a scenic beauty with all the surrounding hills. The Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary provides a trekking trail that stretches over 4.5 km and passes through thick forest growth and makes up for a thrilling experience. Apart from the wildlife, there is a lot of greenery in the sanctuary as well as green vegetation with the treetops populated with migratory birds. The sanctuary is home to many species of animals and birds. There is a watchtower in the middle of the jungle from where one can get a bird’s eye view. The sanctuary is open between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm and will cost a visitor INR 300 which includes the entry fee and the services of a guide. Built in the Gothic Revival style, the Medak Cathedral is the single largest diocese in Asia and one of the most gorgeous and striking churches in India. It is believed that mosaic tiles of six different colours were used in the construction of the church were imported from Britain. The church is open from 7 am to 1 pm and then between 2 to 6 pm on weekdays while on Sundays, it is open from 6 am to 6 pm. Medak Fort is a popular tourist attraction, originally constructed by the Kakatiya Kings and later developed by the Qutb Shahi kings. In ruins today, the fort is open between 9 am to 5 pm daily. The ancient temple of Kuchadri Venkateshwara Swamy at Kuchanpally is a popular centre of the worship centre.

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