Traveling to a pilgrimage site does not always have to fall within the definition of a pilgrimage. So, when my entire travel group planned for a road trip to Tirupati, it was more about the journey than the destination. The route from Hyderabad to Tirupati is lined with some of the most intriguing places that make for an interesting drive.
With a distance of over 500 KM and a travel time of no less than 10 hours, it was perfect for a road trip. Our adventure began when we availed a 16 seater minibus hire in Hyderabad. When you have a large group, it’s always more fun to rent a minibus like this and enjoy the experience of traveling together.
The best thing about a road trip is that you don’t have a strict itinerary and you are not bound by time. You can decide on-the-go about where to stop or detour, depending on what you choose to do on the journey. Although we knew we had to reach Tirupati at some point, we were in no rush and made sure we saw the interesting places that lied along the way. We started on NH 44 and made our first stop at Mahbubnagar.
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Here is how you need to plan your trip from Hyderabad to Tirupati
First stop, Mahbubnagar
Sitting near the border of Karnataka and Telangana, Mahbubnagar was once a princely state. Although its royal culture is gone, the town still holds onto its heritage of the Nizams. We stopped at the Peerla Marri, a small natural enclave right within the city, which housed an 800-year old banyan tree. This was the most attractive zone of Mahbubnagar, and a great place to relax and picnic in the outdoors. There was also a mini zoo with local birds and animals.
A tour of Mahbubnagar, even if it’s a quick one, is not complete without a trek to the Koilkonda Fort. It was a little outside the town, but we had all the time. The fort sat on a small hill, across a deep gorge. A flight of steep stone steps led to the top. This was once the outpost of the army of the Qutb Shah rulers. There were seven gates to cross before we could enter the main fort area. The premise housed a palace in ruins, a mosque, and a congregation hall.
After a quick stop in the town center for a meal, we continued on our journey. We were just discussing when to take the next stop when suddenly we were faced with a roadblock around the junction of NH 44 and NH 758. An interstate truck had broken down, blocking the traffic for miles. Our driver gave us the best idea of the day.
He suggested that we detour towards Nallamala Forest and take it ahead from there. This is precisely one of the reasons why I always book a cab with Savaari Car Rentals Hyderabad. Their drivers are not only experienced but they just know what’s best for the travelers.
Detour to Nallamala Forest
Once we entered the forest division, it felt like we had left the civilization far behind. With cell network at its lowest, there was no way to be bothered by the material world. The dense forests covered most parts of the road, making it darker. We had to stop by the office of the Forest Department to get a permit for trekking and/or camping.
Not that we had any plans to camp, we still needed permission to tour the forest. There were wooden cabins, tents, and camping grounds in certain areas of the forest. Being a weekend we found a lot of campers setting up tents and ready to blaze the trails. This was perhaps the greenest patch of the state and part of the forests extended to Andhra Pradesh as well.
Our little blue bus rolled on the red dirt road before it made a stop at a parking area. We were well within daylight hours and just in time for a Jeep safari. The rugged vehicle rolled through the dusty tracks and narrow forest trails and through thick clusters of Sal, teak, bamboo, and sandalwood.
As the day was on its closing end, we resorted to camp at the forest grounds with other campers and travelers, and resume our journey the morning after.
Waking up to bird calls and sounds of the wild was indeed refreshing. Soon, we were back on the highway and on our way to Tirupati. It was yet another long drive through the hills and forests and we planned one last stop before reaching our destination.
A quick tour of Talakona
The most famous waterfall of the state, this perennial cascade sits in the deeper interiors of the Sri Venkateshwara National Park, a little north of Tirupati. To access the falls, we had to reach the Sheshachalam Hills. A small village at the base of the hills served as the starting point of treks to the waterfall. We parked our bus and headed into the woods. We hiked through clusters of sandalwood, bamboo, and cycad trees, and occasionally some fragrant medicinal plants. After sitting on the bus for so long, it felt refreshing to walk and breathe the fresh air of the forest. After a two-kilometer walk, we saw the silvery torrent, dropping down rocky steps.
Refreshed and rejuvenated from the bounties of nature, we were all set to go on another divine adventure in the temple town of Tirupati. From history to nature, and religion, our journey covered it all, giving us an experience of everything that this region could offer. And it is only with a road trip can you experience these little wonders of life and have a fulfilling trip.