Hyderabadis have been rediscovering the joys of road trips to explore weekend getaways, despite the pandemic
Masks and sanitisers. Check. Food and water. Check. A good playlist for the road. Check. Bike, car or cycle in good condition. Check.
If you’re planning to head out of Hyderabad during a weekend, once the aftermath of the recent deluge paves way for better times, factor in extra time at the toll gates. The rush at the toll plazas has got to do with bikers and families heading out of town for a quick getaway from their WFH (work from home) routines.
- Kondapochamma Sagar Reservoir, Anantagiri Hills, Medak Fort, Bidar, Nagarjuna Sagar, Mallela Theertham waterfalls, Nagarkurnool, Ramappa temple and lake in Warangal
Air and train travel aren’t as safe as they were during the pre-COVID era, and being home-bound for months hasn’t been too enticing. The last few weeks have witnessed more Hyderabad folks heading out of town to visit nearby destinations.
The months of lockdown and COVID-19 safety concerns have made us appreciate the little joys more than ever. International adventure trips or the luxury of infinity pools can wait, there are many destinations to explore within 200 kilometres from the city.
You are likely to find bikers along the Vikarabad highway, or families in cars heading towards the scenic Kondapochamma Sagar Reservoir in Siddipet district. These road trips also hark back to simpler times of carrying food and water from home for picnics. Some of the highway dhabas are open for business, but packing food is a good idea if you want to be cautious and avoid the crowds.
Before the pandemic, fashion designer Vyshnavi Reddy wouldn’t have thought of Rajeswara Rao Pet as a much-needed getaway from the bustling Hyderabad. “I thought I might get bored with village life but I enjoyed it during a recent trip. The facilities are basic for someone who is used to urban life, but this time I didn’t mind it at all,” she says, referring to a short stay at a family-owned house replete with old-world archways and deewankhana. “There’s a lot of open space where my son could play and we could observe the rural lifestyle at a leisurely pace,” she adds. Rajeswara Rao Pet is in the Karimnagar zone, and the family also visited nearby spots like the Manair Dam.
With shorter distances, there’s scope to break free from the desk-bound routine and step up physical activity. Ask the cyclists of Hyderabad. Some of them head out on solo rides or in groups of two to four.
Sanjay Yadav got tired of being homebound and cycling only in the neighbourhood, and decided to cycle to Anantagiri Hills, the round trip coming up to 191 kilometres. “The countryside was clean and green thanks to monsoon showers. We took lesser-explored routes and travelled through villages,” he shares.
Armed with masks, sanitisers, food and water, the journey began around 4.30 a.m. and he reached Anantagiri Hills by noon. “If you begin early and there’s less traffic, you can return home by 5 p.m.,” he adds. An avid cyclist, he had always led an active lifestyle. During the pandemic, he decided to prioritise health all the more and took up this trip.
Fellow cyclist Rajeev Kalwa is eagerly looking forward to the brevet season (rides of 200 kilometres upwards) organised by cycling associations in the country. Meanwhile, Rajeev has been exploring scenic routes in and around Hyderabad. The ORR service road loop, Medchal highway and Shankarpally are among his favourites. He also recommends the route leading to Narsapur forest area, the path near Ramappa Lake in Warangal, and the 18-kilometre loop around the Kondapochamma Sagar reservoir. “There aren’t many tourist buses on the highways and the rides have been safe so far. For 100 to 200 kilometre rides, we pack sandwiches or parathas from home,” he says.
Fancy a longer drive by car? The Konaseema belt has always been a tourist hotspot. Bhargavi Bijjam, an IT professional and an advocate of eco-conscious living, chose a staycation at Dindi, Konaseema, when she wanted a break from WFH schedule. She wanted to unwind but also not cross paths with too many people. The family drove down to Dindi, packing food and water to ensure they didn’t halt by roadside eateries too often. “The Sarovar Portico resorts hadn’t yet opened their online booking but we took a chance. They were happy to welcome us and we spent time Nature-watching. My friends who saw my Instagram stories asked if I was in Kerala. I told them these are backwaters of Andhra Pradesh,” she recalls with a laugh.