Unexplored Telangana – Karimnagar’s surprise package

You know you have officially fallen into the “work trap”, when Independence Day presents a long weekend but you have to split up your holiday plan into day trips so that you can come back home in the evening and attend conference calls ! Such was our plight this Independence Day. Out of the 3 days, we had to work on one, did a small trip to nearby Anantagiri Hills on day 2 and on Independence Day, we headed north of Hyderabad on SH1 to Karimnagar.

A king’s breakfast 

We started from Hyderabad around 7 AM on SH1 or Rajiv Gandhi Rahadari as it is called, the road is butter smooth throughout but instead of zooming to Karimnagar, we eased and cruised because, it was supposed to be a relaxing holiday. We reached Karimnagar 3 hours later and from the highway were greeted by the Lower Manair Dam, an arresting sight as you enter the city.

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Lower Manair Dam is built across the Manair river, one of the tributaries of the Godavari on whose banks Karimnagar is located. A visit to the Manair Dam was part of our plan but since we already got this picturesque view of the dam, we decided we didn’t need a separate visit to it.

When we entered Karimnagar, we were quite taken aback to find a bustling city, we had not expected Karimnagar to have such a big city, almost metropolis look ! We spent the next half hour or so searching for a place to have breakfast, Google Maps directing us to non-existing hotels or hotels which had no breakfast options ! Finally, we went to Hotel Pratibha, probably, one of the popular hotels of Karimnagar and as if it was meant for us, we had a wonderful buffet spread !

Completely satiated, in fact, we had over eaten, we stepped out for the actual part of our trip. After such an elaborate breakfast, we had actually forgotten that we had a few places to visit ! Outside, there was a procession of bikes carrying the National Flag.

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The police grounds opposite the hotel were abuzz with the bands and drums, patriotism all around !

Sabbitham’s hidden secret

We set our maps to the village of Sabbitham, a place we had heard of only 2 days before our trip while checking to internet for any other interesting places around Karimnagar. Sabbitham is a tiny village some 60 kms from Karimnagar, a drive to this place is very scenic and takes you through the heartland of Telangana villages. This remote village is slowly coming on to the tourist map because of a beautiful waterfall. Not many people know about this waterfall and the young people of the village are trying to promote it.

We drove through the muddy roads of Sabbitham bordered by green fields till we reached the edge of the village, still there was no sight of the waterfall. The road became bumpy, slushy and turned into a dirt track. At one spot, a few cars had come to halt because the road looked too slushy and broken to drive further because but having an Ecosport helped and the car zoomed past splashing the slush !

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While other cars hesitated, the ever green mode of transport had nothing to worry !

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Just as we were wondering if there really was a waterfall, in the distance across the field, we spotted a tiny stream of water flowing. It was the waterfall we had come to see but it didn’t look like what we had seen in the videos the day before.

In this picture, strain your eyes to the centre, you will spot the waterfall !

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A very narrow, slushy path led to the waterfalls, we decided to take the risk and drive instead of walking in the hot sun. The path, thankfully, was not as bad as we had expected it to be and it went all the way near the location of the waterfall. We had to walk a few meters further down a stony path. We could see the water gushing from above a cliff surrounded by a forested area.

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A little further we stopped in our tracks !

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The Sabbitham waterfall in it’s full glory, a truly gorgeous sight !

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Nestled deep inside this forest at the edge of the village, this waterfall is almost like the village’s private waterfall.

Being a holiday, there were a few people at the place. Our guys too joined in for a swim and splash. A note of caution, the waterfall and pool below it are very inviting, the rocks around look like a fun adventure but one has to be extremely careful as the flow is quite strong and the rocks slippery. There have been instances of people slipping and losing their lives here.

A better idea would be to walk closer to the waterfall, sit on the rocks and watch the water cascade down.

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As you keep staring at the water flowing down, after a few moments, it seems to blank out everything else from your mind, even the water flow seems to be in slow motion ! The people around you having a good time don’t matter any more, all you can see and hear is the milky white water jumping down the cliff with a cheer ! It was a moment of absolute bliss. We took a deep breath, as if to take in the feeling and let is fill our senses, such moments don’t come too often.

We spent more than 2 hours at the sun, just watching the waterfall and soaking in the sun sprawled on the rocks beside the waterfall, until hunger set in. Sabbitham waterfall is a hidden jewel, as it slowly becomes known, more people would visit it and that would mean that the pristine beauty of the place would take a beating, considering how easily our people spoil natural beauty. Already there is enough junk thrown around. Can we not just experience nature’s beauty without spoiling it?

Elagandal Fort 

It was way past lunch time by the time we left Sabbitham and we had to drive another hour to reach Karimnagar. Just as we hit the highway to Karimnagar, it started raining heavily, we could hardly see the road. The drive on the dirt track, slush and the rain seemed to have irritated our Ecosport, it began to complain with a squeaky sound from the wheel, which to this day, 3 months later, the people at Ford are still trying to figure out !

We had lunch at Karimnagar and around 4 PM, set off to visit the Elagandal Fort.

Elagangal Fort is the top tourist spot in Karimnagar, built during the Kakatiya reign, the fort had served subsequent dynasties that ruled over Telangana. Elagandal Fort is a short drive of 15 kms from Karimnagar city. The fort is located on a hillock and would remind a Hyderabadi as a scaled down model of the Golconda Fort ! Not surprising because the Golconda Fort too like the Elagandal began as a Kakatiya fort and ended up as the capital of the Qutub Shahi kings !

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Armed forces of various rulers must have marched by these walls !

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To reach the top of the fort, one has to climb the hillock, there are steps leading to the top. It was just after the rains, the overgrowths around the rocks was a bright, almost fluorescent shade of green. Only nature can create this colour, try replicating this on your computer.

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After a point, the steps become narrow and steep, each one is as high as your knee !

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You get a respite here and there as each level leads to a different section of the fort. The Elagandal Fort was probably a strategic fort. One can see the fort walls running around the hillock, a few watch towers overlooking the landscape.

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People were having a good time around, clicking pictures and shouting. We wondered how many of them actually knew anything about the place they were visiting?

At the top of the fort is a masjid that was probably built during the Qutub Shahi times.

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The view of the fort and the town beyond from the top of the fort is superb ! The Elagandal fort is built on the banks of the Manair River, one can also see the view of the river, now turned into a reservoir of the Lower Manair Dam.

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We spent some time here just chilling, taking in the sights and enjoying the cool breeze. Historical forts are always great places to just relax and stay calm, there is something to the high vantage point that makes you look down at things in a detached way and contemplate !

As closing time approached, we climbed down and that was it, our trip was drawing to a close and we had to head back to Hyderabad. It was only a day trip but it felt like we were away from home on a long vacation. The squeaky noise of our car wheel disturbed us on our return journey, which we drowned with music, we sang our way back home.

Info tidbits

  • Karimnagar is about 3 hours drive from Hyderabad. One can also find trains and buses from Hyderabad.
  • One can visit the Lower Manair Dam, Sabbitham Waterfalls and Elagandal Fort in a day. If you add a weekend, one can also visit Vemulawada, Manthani and Kaleswaram.
  • It is easier to have your own vehicle, so that one does not waste time waiting for buses. One may not find buses to Sabbitham waterfalls, we spotted a few autos though, they could be from nearby towns.
  • One may avoid going to Sabbitham waterfalls in the evening hours, the place could get a little lonely. One normal week days, we don’t think there would be anybody at all as it is not a popular tourist place.
  • There are no food options near the waterfalls, one has to drive back to Karimnagar for any decent food joints.
  • Do not attempt to climb the rocks or go too near the waterfalls, the rocks are slippery and there have been fatal mishaps before. Be a responsible tourist.
  • Elagandal Fort is open from 10 AM and closes by 5PM, plan your visit accordingly. You could spend an hour or two at the fort. They also have a sound and light show after 6.30 PM.
  • We did not visit the Lower Manair Dam, so we are not sure about tourist amenities there.

 

 

 

 

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