It was 12:15 pm when the Hussain Sagar Express came to a conclusive halt at Hyderabad Deccan station. They call it Nampally locally, I later figured out.
This was my first trip to Hyderabad. And so was it for Tarun, Manasi and Palak- my ‘we-love-you-but-will-never-agree-with-you’ set of friends. We have been like this with each other since childhood.
We had 72-hours to explore the city, 14 places to visit and 12 restaurants to gorge on local delicacies in our ‘to-do’ list. Without wasting anytime, we set out for the first place in the list- Ramoji Film City.
“It’s so huge!!!”
That was our first reaction. “Yeh toh apne aap mein hi ek duniya hain”, summed up the all-knowing omnipresent Palak! It was an 8-km drive from the main gate of the film city to the hotel where we were supposed to check-in. The cab driver was a Telugu-speaking humble person who tried striking a conversation with us. All that we could make out with his broken Hindi is that Ramoji Film City is “heaven on Earth.” Hopes high, we reached the hotel!
“Too much to see, too less time!”
We were given a leaflet at the reception that summarized the attractions to catch up at the film city. The number of attractions was an insane 82! “I told you to plan a 5-day trip,” said a visibly irritated Manasi! The initial plan was to spend half a day at Ramoji Film City and the rest of the two-and-a-half days to explore Hyderabad. But with so much in store, and seeing the magnanimity of the place, changes in the plan seemed inevitable.
“7 hours became 72 hours”
We checked in at Hotel Sitara. The moment we entered our rooms, our jaws dropped. “Vidya Balan stayed here during The Dirty Picture shoot,” said the bearer. Ramoji Film City definitely turned out to be more than what we expected. Seventy thematic gardens, countless film sets, a full-fledged amusement park and a huge adventure land- covering all of this was definitely not possible in half a day. And once we started exploring the first few attractions at the place, we realized that we have to stay here for 3 days, Hyderabad can wait for some time. The largest film city deserved all our attention!
“No memory for memories!”
Palak and Tarun are avid photographers. The plan was to shoot our entire Hyderabad trip. “Memories captured are memories savoured for life,” says a philosophical Palak every time she asks us to pose. With this intention, the duo carried 200 GB memory space each with them. We thought this would be sufficient to capture the entire trip. But there was so much to cover in the film city itself that literally we ran out of space in the memory cards.
Left or Right? The recurring question
Remember I mentioned about my ‘we-love-you-but-will-never-agree-with-you’ friends. If there is one thing that we kept uttering during our stay at Ramoji Film City apart from expressions like ‘wow’, ‘splendid’, ‘great’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘magnificent’ was “Left or Right?”. If I wanted to see the gardens, Manasi wanted to see the amusement park. If I wanted to do zorbing in Sahas, the adventure land, Tarun was keen to do Bungee Ejection. Every crossroad in Ramoji Film City found the four of us debating on which way to go first – Left or Right?
At the end of it when we think about it, we realized, it did not matter. Left or right, when you are at Ramoji Film City, every way has something to offer that you take along when you leave.
Besides the countless photos, innumerable videos and many souvenirs, we took back Ramoji Film City in our heart. For the rest of Hyderabad, we are planning a trip in December. Hope we can resist ourselves from ending up at the film city again. We are not to blame, the place is totally worth it.