On June 2, 2014,Telangana, the newest and the 29th state of India was carved out of 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh. The gleaming IT hub of Hyderabad will be the common capital for 10 years till Amravati, the future capital of Andhra, develops into its own. Mark our words, Telangana might be new, but as a state that bears the distinctive imprint of the old as well as the new, it has its fair share of gorgeous locales and cultural confluences.
Offering a plethora of opportunities for travel aficionados, Telangana also boasts of a rich cultural legacy, having been the cradle of powerful Deccani dynasties like the Kakatiyas and the Chalukyas. While the vibrant culture and regal landmarks of Hyderabad remain the popular picks, the refreshing quietude of Telangana’s lesser known destinations will definitely intrigue the offbeat traveller in you. How many have you visited?
1. Kolanupaka Jain Temple in Nalgonda
The 2000-year-old Jain temple in the serene village of Kolanupaka is a major pilgrimage centre for the Shwetambara Jains of South India and houses the idols of the Jain Tirthankaras. Gape at the stunning sandstone architecture, the pristine pillars of white marble, the stained glass windows by the roof and the ancient jade sculpture of Mahavira in this temple, before visiting the ancient Shaivite temple of Renukacharya across the road.
2. Mallela Theertam in Nallamalla Forest
Nestled amidst the verdant forests of Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve, the Mallela Theertham is a serenely scenic 150 feet waterfall, perfect for that weekend hangout with friends and family. Walk down 380 well-laid steps to the forest-fringed pool where you can soak in the silence of the surroundings, punctuated by the gurgle of the waterfall and the occasional shriek of the spotted deer.
3. Ramagiri Khilla in Karimnagar
Perched on a scenic hillock and surrounded by an abundance of ayurvedic herbs, the Ramagiri Khilla is an invincible creation, a testimony to the glorious past of the Kakatiya Dynasty. With breathtaking views of the confluence of River Godavari and River Manair, lush green surroundings and a whole host of mythological relics to explore, this hill is rightly called Aaramgiri or the ‘Hill of Leisure’ by the locals.
4. Gautameshwara Temple Ruins, Manthani
The ageing crumbling walls and the creeper adorned sculptures of the silent ruins of the once glorious Gomateshwara temple at Manthani will make you feel like you have been transported straight into an Indiana Jones movie. Situated on the banks of Godavari in full flow, the ancient sculptures and the quiet ruins speak volumes about the bygone days. Incidentally, Manthani, once a centre of Vedic learning, was known as Mantrapuri (village of hymns) in ancient times!
5. Dhulikatta Buddhist Stupa in Karimnagar
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Getting its name from Dhulikota, meaning the fort of mud, this huge Buddhist Mahastupa and Vihara dates back to the dawn of 2nd century BC. With the grass surrounding it swaying in the breeze, this primeval Buddhist site seems to reverberate with the rich history behind it. Remember to look for the historically significant and eye-catching relics in the area, a reminder of the master craftsmanship of the era.
6. Pakhal Lake in Warangal
Travel through undulating hills and forested dales to the supremely serene Pakhal Lake, a man-made reservoir constructed by King Ganapati Deva of the Kakatiya dynasty. With the Pakhal Wildlife Sanctuary on its banks teeming with wildlife, the lake holds a scenic beauty that is extremely calming. For an unforgettable experience, camp on its banks on a full moon night.
7. Dichpally Ramalayam in Nizamabad
Called the Indhoor Khajuraho or the Nizamabad Khajuraho, the Dichpally Ramalayam is a 14th-century architectural marvel. Next only to the famous Khajuraho temple in Madhya Pradesh in terms of erotic art, this temple’s white and black basalt walls are engraved with intricate sculptures. During the monsoon season, as water fills the surrounding area, this unique temple assumes the look of an island!
8. Kuntala Waterfalls in Adilabad
The cascading waters of the Kuntala Waterfalls, the highest waterfall of Telangana, offer a great respite on hot, sultry days. Local legend has it that this waterfall got its name from Shakuntala, the beloved wife of King Dushyant, who fell in love here. Frolic under the misty spray of the waterfall before taking in a leisurely picnic amidst the lush canopied Sahyadri foothills.
9. Pocharam Dam and Wildlife Sanctuary
A unique dam with no flood-gates, Pocharam Dam in monsoon is a wonderful sight, with the overflowing river Manjira transforming into a frothy wall of water. Savour the salubrious breeze, fragrant with the smell of forest flowers, at the old watch tower, as you wait for glimpses of the lively wildlife at the Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary. You can also take a boat ride to the island nearby, learn fishing from the locals or practice your bird-watching skills at this picturesque spot.
10. Bhongir Fort at Nalgonda
A majestic fort atop a monolithic hill that is more than 700-feet high, the Bhongir or Bhuvangiri fort is named for a petroglyph at the hill temple depicting the universe. Trek to the imposing citadel before sunrise to enjoy a mesmerizing view of the surrounding lowlands, before trying your hand at rock climbing and rappelling. A definite must for those craving an adrenaline rush !