It was one of those days when we realised that we hadn’t taken a break and visited some place in the last 6 months. We had hectic travels to our hometown for personal reasons but that does not count as “travel” travel, does it? But it was also those times when taking some days off from work was not possible and a day trip was all we could afford. After searching the internet, out of the various day trip options from Hyderabad, we zeroed in on Nizamabad, 174 kms from Hyderabad on the NH7. On our list was Dichpally, Armoor and a short visit to Nizamabad city.
The drive to Nizamabad is super cool, NH7 makes sure of it. We started at 7 AM, drove on the highway via Medchal and reached Kamareddy, 110 kms away in a little more than an hour, where we stopped for breakfast at the AP Tourism hotel. From Kamareddy the road was good but a double road with the four laning work still in progress in some places.
Another hour later, we were at Dichpally, our first stop for the day. Located 15 kms from Nizamabad city, Dichpally’s attraction is its ancient Ramalayam. Dichpally is a sleepy, little village off the NH7 and the Rama Temple is located on a small hillock in the middle of the village. An arched gateway welcomes you to the temple, there are about a 100 steps to reach the temple.
You get a nice view of Dichpally village from atop the hillock.
The Dichpally Ramalayam or Khilla Ramalayam is believed to have been built around the 14th Century A.D during the Kakatiya times. The temple is small and does not have the usual grandeur of South Indian temples.
As you walk around the temple, it is obvious that a major part of the temple has been rebuilt after restoration works. The temple has some nice sculpture.
An unfinished temple?
The Ramalayam must have been an unfinished one because it seems the temple did not have idols till the late 1940s, several centuries after it was built ! A local devotee installed marble idols of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman in 1947. So what could have been the story of the Dichpally Ramalayam?
There is an old watch tower adjacent to the temple, another view point. We caught this lonely ancient mandapa in the middle of a nearby tank. This is the maximum we could zoom from our Nokia N900 phone !
The trees around the temple and the fresh breeze make it a very pleasant setting. You can simply sit on the benches outside the temple and relax looking out into the distance, the sound of the breeze itself is refreshing.
We went inside the temple for a darshan, the priest and the locals there insisted that we wait till the end of the pooja. Darshan over, we spent some quiet time at the temple and climbed down. On the way down, we saw an old fort wall.
Was there a fort here in ancient times? Is that why the Ramalayam is also called Khilla (Fort) Ramalayam?
Armoor Siddula Gutta
From Dichpally, the NH7 goes straight towards Nizamabad, instead, we took a deviation towards Armoor. Armoor, is 25 kms from Dichpally and 27 kms from Nizamabad. On the map, Dichpally, Armoor and Nizamabad form a triangle !
Armoor, a small town, has some very interesting hills. The hills look like massive pile of black rocks !
We haven’t seen any hill like this before. What is more interesting is that these hills are found only in Armoor. All other nearby villages have hillocks but none of them are like this !
There is a ghat road leading to the top of the hills. When you stop on the ghat road and look at the hills, from top to bottom, they look like one giant heap of rocks.
We found it very amusing, you would even wonder if there was solid surface beneath the rocks, we wanted to try pulling out one rock !
The views along the path are truly breathtaking though, we stopped every few feet to taken in those views. At places the terrain made us feel like we were in some other planet. It reminded of those pictures taken on Mars !
There are some deep caverns between these rocks. The place is also called Siddula Gutta (Sages’ hillock) because it is believed sages meditated in those caves.
The road stops at a point on the hill and from there one has to walk to the temple. A 10 minute walk through picturesque scenes later, we reached the temple. The Siddeshwar temple is a small temple with Lord Shiva as the presiding deity. The history of the temple is unknown but it has been renovated completely and the present structure is relatively new. A word of caution, beware of monkeys !
More than the temple, the most interesting part of Siddula Gutta is a cave inside which there is a Siva Linga.
One has to go inside this narrow cave. You will have to squeeze yourself through some parts and crawl on all fours through narrow gaps like this. We found it hilarious that people are expected to form a “Queue” here ! That’s what the sign on the rock says.
The Siva Linga is located in the depths of the cave.
You cannot stand to full height here, before the Lord, humans have to shed their egos and bend down seems to be the philosophy behind this ! There are some yogis here who perform the poojas. They pointed us to another small, dark opening between the rocks where there was another Siva Linga, in the darkness, it looked eerie. It is a wonder how they managed to pull electrical wires inside the cave for lighting and also how the yogis sit inside the cave with zero ventilation !
The visit to Siddula Gutta was the highlight of this trip. We then drove to the third point on the triangle – Nizamabad city. The internet gives an interesting story about how Nizamabad got its name. The place was called Induru, named after a king of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. However, in early 1900s, when the railway line was built, the station was named Nizamabad after the during Nizam king and the name has stuck since then. Nizamabad is an important city of North Andhra Pradesh.
At the entrance of the city is the Kanteshwar temple, a 500 year old Shiva temple.
The temple is simple and though painted and renovated, the walls and the base of the temple tell you that its was built in the days of antiquity. We also had a brief argument with one of the priests who tried to act as a moral police because of our guys was dressed in shorts. There are some temples in India where shorts are not allowed, we sincerely respect such rules and traditions but not moral policing.
The unpleasant incident was forgotten in a minute when we saw this ancient temple tank.
The mid-June sun beat down on us as lunch time approached. We drove around the city and had the best biriyani in a long time. Over the last few years, Hyderabadi Biriyani seems to have lost its sheen. The Biriyani we had at this hotel was out of this world, the vegetable Biriyani itself had such flavour and “dum”, you can imagine the taste of the non-vegetarian versions !
After a heavy lunch, we caught up with friends of one of our guys who lived in Nizamabad. They told us to check out the Nizamabad Fort which also had the Raghunatha Alayam on top of the fort. There is not much left of the Nizamabad Fort apart from this grand entrance, the fort probably belonged to the Rashtrakuta kings.
There is a ghat road leading to the Raghunatha temple. To reach the temple one has to climb atleast 500 steps, seemed a daunting task after a heavy lunch. Our dilemma was put to rest when we reached the foot of the steps and found the temple closed during lunch time. The Raghunatha Alayam is believed to have been built by the Shivaji’s Guru, Samarth Ramadas.
We wanted to return to Hyderabad by evening and we decided to wind up our trip and drive back. The drive back to Hyderabad took us around 2 & 1/2 hours. We had a refreshing little break, thanks to the Nizamabad Triangle !
Other popular places close to Nizamabad include Ali Sagar, Nizamsagar, Sriram Sagar Dam and Basar Saraswathi Temple. If you wish to visit these places, you may need more than one day.