Our adventure began at 10:00AM from ISB, we were given a private driver in an air-conditioned van, a guide, and some packed lunches and drinks. Scott and I were accompanied by another exchange student Marcel, who is a very nice guy from the Netherlands who was studying his MBA in South Africa. Unfortunately due to a severe tackle in a soccer game on campus he has a brace on his ankle and was somewhat limited in what he could take part in on the tour, but he was a trooper. The plan was an eight hour tour of all the top sites in Hyderabad - it would be a long day, but an awesome one.
Note: all the photos of the entire day can be found at:
To get into town we took the same path from greater Hyderabad, where ISB and many of the new Tech campuses such as Microsoft are, to the old city. This was the first time I had experienced weekday traffic in India and it was an adventure. I made a small video but it doesn't really do the experience justice:
I also learned from our guide that the small tent shanty towns that I see at the side of the road are the construction workers for all the new buildings being built in the new area we are in. This made me look at them in a totally different way.
Our first stop was a Hindu temple Birla Mandir, which is an amazing all-white marble temple sitting on a high hill overlooking Hyderabad. Unfortunately like many of the places we visited you were not allowed to bring cameras inside, but trust me it was incredible.
Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birla_Mandir_(Hyderabad,_Andhra_Pradesh)
In order to get in you need to take off your shoes, and the heat was such that the marble and asphalt were like frying pans so I was either doing a little dance or strategically walking in the shade. :P
Inside the temple were various altars to Hindu gods. Our guide was really knowledgeable aout them all and explained the histories of each god, their relations and nature. For instance I now know why Ganesh has an elephant head etc. The details in the temple were facinating, for instance each of the gods' statues is treated as a person and is dressed each day, is given time to rest for meals and sleep.
The marble detailing was also incredible, the temple is only a few decades old but you could believe it is hundreds of years old because of the craftsmanship, I honestly didn't believe that this kind of ornate detailing was done any more, it was very cool to see.
After leaving the temple our next stop was the Salar Jung museum, one of the largest in India and the one of, if not the the, biggest private collections in the world. I will cover that in the next chapter.