Hyderabad: The city of Nizams and delectable Biriyani

Hyderabad is somewhat like Kolkata. A sprawling economic center serving as the hub for corporate agglomerations but the core of the city still maintains its quaint charm. Threads of 400 year old traditions weaved as a fabric of modern city. A perfect blend of traditions and modernity. Hyderabad served as the capital of undivided Andhra Pradesh and now Telangana. Hyderabad emerged as the cultural capital of the India following the collapse of the Mughal dynasty with Qutub Shahis and later the Nizams taking charge. Apart from iconic monuments, Hyderabad is also famous for its food joints and unique recipes. The scrumptious Hyderabadi biriyani in particular has accomplished world wide fame and is popular among food lovers. Continue reading “Hyderabad: The city of Nizams and delectable Biriyani”

Ramoji Film City: World’s largest film studio complex

When you visit Hyderabad, one thing which you can ill afford to miss is the superb experience of visiting the Ramoji Film City. Spread over 1666 acres of land, Ramoji film city is the largest of its kind. It features in the Guinness book of world records as the largest film studio complex. It was built under the vision of Ramoji Rao in 1996 and has since served as the shooting set of many movies and TV serials. The legendary Indian TV series of the epic Mahabharata by BR Chopra in the late 80s was shot here. It continues to be a popular shooting location for the Bollywood industry. The excellent locations, themes, facilities and sets provides a ideal low cost studio for the movie industry.

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I went to Ramoji Film City with two more friends when I visited Hyderabad. One of my friend who lives in Hyderabad made sure that all necessary bookings were done. He booked a bus through SRS travel agency which picked us from the Cyber Towers in Hyderabad at 8 AM and took us to the film city. Alternatively you can also book cabs or auto rickshaws if you don’t have your personal vehicle but bus is the cheapest option. It takes about an hour to reach Ramoji Film City. First you need collect the entry passes. These passes can be pre booked online from the Ramoji film city website and can be collected on showing the transaction message. You can also buy them there itself from a separate counter. There are primarily two categories of tickets- General Sight Seeing (Rs. 1000 per adult) and Ramoji Star Experience (Rs. 2099 per adult). The Star experience is inclusive of water bottles, buffet lunch at Super Star restaurant, evening tea and juice. Besides, this ticket also comes with a complimentary souvenir chocolate box, premium waiting lounge till the bus arrives, AC bus ride all through and there are no queues (special entrance) to the shows and attractions. However we booked the general sight seeing ticket and hence were deprived of these luxury facilities. The Ramoji theme park is 8 km from the entrance gate. The bus took us inside and dropped us in the bus stop with the conductor issuing a strict time frame to return by 6 PM. For those travelling in personal vehicles, there is a parking facility here and the film city bus takes them inside.

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Ramoji Film City buses

On entering the park, the first section we come across is Eureka, the section of rides. There are five complimentary rides which comes with the general sight seeing ticket- Ranger, Break Dance, Twister, Super jet and Carousel. There are few other things like the Striking Car which is chargeable. However we were more eager to visit the shooting sets than the rides, so we postponed the rides to the end.

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Thrilling rides (a shot of the 360 degree Ranger)

Then starts the sight seeing exploration of the park. There are red buses with a vintage look which carry the visitors to different locations. We boarded one of them. There is a guide in each bus who explains the tourists about the various locations where different movies or songs were shot. It is quite an experience to see these places and relate them to the scenes of the movies which you had watched. The bus also passes through lanes created with a foreign theme and you will be surprised by the fact that these locations which were portrayed as London, Venice, etc in movies were actually shot in this park. There are other sets like the railway station, airport, church, hospital, palace, etc which you would have seen in many Bollywood movies imagining them to be real.

The first bus dropped us at the Mahabharat raj darbar (royal court) set. Owing to the widespread acceptance and legendary status of the serial in the history of Indian television industry, this set was never dismantled and was converted into a tourist attraction. It is very well maintained (originally created 28 years back) and illuminated with colourful lights.

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The sets of Mahabharata
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                               Railway station set

Next to it is the railway station set. There is one sleeper and one AC coach with a old fashioned steam engine in the front. The station created is a perfect imitation of the Indian railway platforms. Jab We Met was shot here.

From here we boarded another film city bus which took us across the other sets. The guide gave us a list of various movies that were shot in different locations as the bus passed though them.

After that we went to the butterfly park. But the highlight in my view was the aviary, with so many exotic birds. Ducks, storks, mandarins, swans, macaws, parakeets, kingfishers, ostrich and a myriad of other colourful exotic birds were on display. The enclosure of waders which also had an artificial waterfall was the most appealing.

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A shot from the aviary

After completing this much, we decided to have lunch. There different types of restaurants available in the film city for lunch at various costs. The food quality was not very good, however it was the only option as no eatables are allowed into the park and are screened at the entrance itself. After having lunch, we rushed to the specific theaters where different shows were to be organized. There are four shows organized by Ramoji film city at different times and theaters starting at 3 PM. The four shows are – Filmy Duniya, Lights Camera Action, Stunt show and the Space Yatra show. In the Lights Camera Action show, the performers with radium illuminated attires put up an interesting show. There is another show which emphasizes on the various aspects of film making. In Space Yatra, the visitors are made to sit in a metro carriage which takes them through some vibrant coloured chambers having some dolls and idols. Its really difficult to explain this one but its extremely beautiful.

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Lights Camera Action show

At the end, all visitors assemble for the closing ceremony carnival extravaganza near the Eureka section. There are beautifully decorated tableau with dancers dressed in colourful costumes leading them as the procession takes two rounds amidst a cheering crowd. There are mascots dressed in fancy clothes as cartoon characters. Bollywood songs are played which creates a party like atmosphere providing the visitors with an unique and everlasting experience. Overall its another amazing feature of Ramoji Film City.

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A colourful tableau

After that we had some snacks and boarded the bus back to Hyderabad. At the end of the visit I felt that even a full day is very less to explore the film city completely as there is much to see and experience. Its a paradise for photographers and a dreamworld for kids. I will leave you with some more photographs.

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Indian version of Hollywood
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The Central Jail set
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The palace set (used in Sooryavansam)
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The Japanese Garden

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Thanks for reading. Ramoji Film City is a one of its kind place which assures a full day of fun with the entire family along with a peek into the latent world of movie making. So don’t miss out on it if you are visiting Hyderabad. If you have already been there please share your experiences in the comments section below. ❤