If it is Summer, it is time for mangoes ! The sunny, yellow fruit is the perfect partner for the bright, hot summer. When the two arrive together, it becomes a great excuse for a road trip, especially when you have people who worship the mango !
1st May, May Day holiday in the middle of the week gave us the ideal setting for a short trip to Yacharam, 60 kms from Hyderabad which has stretches of mango orchards and where you can find good quality mangoes. Yet, driving 60 kms only to buy mangoes seemed somewhat ridiculous and so we checked out places nearby, zeroed in on Himayat Sagar and lo ! Our short road trip was ready !
We started at 7 AM and took the Outer Ring Road towards Himayat Sagar, it takes less than half an hour to reach Himayat Sagar on the ORR. Himayat Sagar is one of the two main reservoirs providing water supply to the city of Hyderabad.
Sarpagandha Nursery and park
Just before you enter the Himayat Sagar road, you will find the Sarpagandha Nursery and park, a lush green park with a variety of plants and medicinal herbs. The park was deserted when we went inside but it was delightfully serene as the early morning sunlight streamed in through the tree tops.
The park is very well maintained, you will love the peace and quiet of the place, broken only by the sounds of birds. The park borders the Himayat Sagar lake.
We walked around taking in the freshness of the morning and the bright hues of the summer flowers. We came across several medicinal plants, there were boards displaying their botanical name and their use, like for instance, we learnt that this creeper was called “Saraswathi Aaku” (Saraswathi leaf)
and here is some information:
We walked further into the nursery, when the caretaker informed us that the park opened only at 9 AM and we should’t be roam here before that time. As we were leaving, we spotted a “Spotted Owlet”, with his bright eyes staring down at us. He even posed for us as we clicked his pictures, we named him “Hedwig” !
Further up, we saw a woodpecker, which, we later learnt, is known as the Black-rumped Flameback or the Lesser Goldenback Woodpecker.
The bird was too busy pecking the wood, we watched in amazement, we’d only heard of woodpeckers or watched “Woody Woodpecker” cartoons, this was our first sighting of a woodpecker. Not surprisingly, we named him after the only woodpecker we knew, “Woody” !
Not wanting to annoy the person in charge of the park, who was already losing his patience with us, we left from there, not before clicking more pictures of the bright flowers and this naughty little bird, probably the Purple-rumped Sunbird. The bird can’t stand still for more than 2 seconds, it took a lot of patience to click this one, even the sports mode on our camera was not fast enough !
As we walked back to our car, we spotted another woodpecker perched on a high branch.
This one was working on the wood noisily, we could hear it’s “tak, tai” sound all the way down. Adjacent to the woodpecker, we found another Owlet, this one gave us angry looks.
Whether they were Hedwig and Woody, following us, we shall never know. We would like to believe they were different birds and we got lucky to spot them !
Himayat Sagar – Hyderabad’s liquid asset !
We then went to towards the Himayat Sagar lake, the reservoir that is the lifeline of Hyderabad city, its liquid asset, if you may say so. We parked our car on the road and took a flight of steps that leads down to the lake. Technically, you are not allowed to go down here but the gate was open and we took our chance.
Peak summer meant the water level was down to the bare minimum.
There were a few water birds lazing around lake or flying by, we couldn’t get closer because the guard asked us not to go down near the lake. We stood on the staircase and watched the birds.
In the distance, cattle grazed on the dry lake bed. The brids and the animals seemed to get along well. Wonder what these two were busy discussing?
By the looks of it, they seem to be talking about how the “more intelligent beings” are using up natural resources and littering the place in return !
This little calf was stuck in slush and joined the group late. Like little children, little calves love playing in the mud !
The guard who was watching over the cattle, informed us our time was up and we left the place.
Himayat Sagar, is an enjoyable drive, especially in the early morning or evening. You can sit on the benches overlooking the lake and enjoy the breeze, watch the birds and take a break. The drive on ORR, which runs very close to Himayat Sagar, is lot of fun.
Views from the ORR
The ORR stretched before us as we drove towards Yacharam on the Nagarjuna Sagar Highway. The ORR is a thing of beauty, such amazing roads and the joy of driving on these roads !
As we neared the Hyderabad Airport, we caught this scene, the skyway above and the highway below. The latter is more fun, if you ask us !
The rock formations of the Deccan plateau are unique to the areas in and around Hyderabad and the ORR passes by these hills. This one looks like someone is wearing a baseball cap !
Several hills were blasted to make way for the ORR, this is the only drawback of having these world class roads, you destroy a part of nature around you in the process. We need both, so how do we arrive at the middle ground?
Closer to the airport, we spotted 5 flights in about 10 minutes, we never knew Hyderabad Airport was this busy. Here is the metal bird competing with the real one !
In search of the King of fruits
Mangoes, that was the watchword for this trip. The whole idea behind this trip began when a colleague informed us that Mall, a small village enroute Nagarjuna Sagar usually had good mangoes.
By 9 AM, we were on the Nagarjuna Sagar road, deviating from the ORR and we stopped at a road side food stall at Ibrahimpatnam for a breakfast of spicy Dosas.
As we reached Mall, we found mango orchards everywhere. People were selling mangoes beside the highway. The sight sent waves of excitement through the mango lover among us. We decided to drive further to the village market but returned disappointed because the market hardly sold any good ones.
For a minute, we were tempted to continue further to Nagarjuna Sagar but gave up the idea because we did not want to be roasted alive in the Nalgonda heat !
We drove back on the highway towards Yacharam. Mango orchards bordered the highway between Yacharam and Mall.
We stopped at the road side stalls. The mangoes sold were orchard fresh. Fresh, juicy, tasty and natural unlike the carbide ripened ones that one finds in the city.
The sellers made a fortune as we bought 10 kgs of mangoes. The price is pretty much the same as in the city but the USP is good quality mangoes and of course, a joy ride on the highway !
As afternoon neared, the heat mounted too and we had to stop at the newly opened Tirumala Dairy Parlour on the highway for a round of ice cream. The ice cream parlour is adjacent to the Tirumala Dairy plant. It serves as a good stopover for a break and to cool your wheels.
In tune with our theme for the trip, we had Mango ice cream !
Ice cream done, we stopped at another stall for another round of mango shopping, loaded our car boot with mangoes and drove back home. The drive was even more enjoyable with the fragrance of ripe mangoes filling the car.
Do you really have to drive 65 kms to buy mangoes? Not really, but then how else do we fill this blog?