Discovering Telangana: A Fort Less Visited ‘Khilla Ghanpur’

On a bright Sunday morning, when we hit the roads to explore places around Mahabubnagar little did I know that it would mark a beginning to quite a few things in my life…. like my first outing with my new buddies while pursuing post graduation, my first time properly exploring Palamoor and getting lost in its mesmerizing beauty and then writing about it in my very first blog!!

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The secluded green valleys of Khilla Ghanpur hold Palamoor’s best kept secrets

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A quick weekend getaway to Khilla Ghanpur is best enjoyed when the sky is overcast, which makes the 30-km journey from Mahbubnagar delightful.

So we started our journey after finishing quick rounds at the Hospital we work at, around 12 noon ( yes you guessed it right, we are Docs!) and picking up some snacks and drinks for our journey to The Khilla Ghanpur, located at a distance of around 26km from mahabubnagar. We managed to cover the distance in about 30 mins with loads of enthusiasm and predictions about the place as we didn’t have much idea about it. Ghanpur is a small village and the roads were pretty narrow so we decided to park the car at a safe spot and start our trek to discover the fort. We managed to reach the top in another 40 mins with an amazing drizzly weather to increase the beauty of the hike.

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The varied hues of Nature and fresh air rejuvenated our senses.

It was a magnificent view indeed from the top of the rocks with remnants of fort wall, and a lovely pond underneath. We passed through a giant fort door, saw some great Flora and Fauna an absolute treat for a nature lover to finally reach the top. We were a little distracted in between though by a group of wild monkeys far away making gruesome noises. All this was soon forgotten after reaching the hilltop and capturing the scenic beauty of the less trodden fort in the memories forever!!

 A brief insight into the history of the fort

The Ghanpur Fort is a hill fort built on a rocky hill by King Gona Ganapa Reddy in early 13th century. He ruled this area as a feudatory to Kakatiya rulers. Gona Ganapa Reddy is son of Gona Budda Reddy who was famous as the poet of Ranganatha Ramayana, a pioneering Telugu Literature. Khilla Ghanpur also known as Ghanpur, Ganapuram, was named after Kakatiya king Ganapathi Deva. Since this Ghanpur has a Khilla (fort). The name “Khilla Ghanpur” became much more popular. There are several towns in Kakatiya kingdom with its name as Ghanpur.

Khilla Ghanpur  was built by joining two mountains by Recharla Padma Nayakulu and Gona Ganapa reddy in 1224 A.D. This fort has witnessed many wars between Bahamanis, Vijayanagara Kings, Bijapur Kings and Qutub Shahi Kings etc. The cannons which still exist have been kept on the top most side of the fort.The fort is spread on rocky and hilly area of 4 Sq kilometers and though its dilapidated  there are several remains of the walls and building blocks inside the fort. The fort has beautiful rockscapes and greenery with 2 ponds which were used as drinking water supply for the fort army.

People believe that there are two secret tunnels inside of the fort. One is connected with the village at the bottom of the mountain and the other one is connected to the Panagal fort. After Buddapuram war,this fort has witnessed a historical wedding of  Kakatiya’s last king Pratapa Rudra with Gona Ganna Reddy’s daughter.

Some of the beautiful Landscapes:

So that’s a take on its past but right now it’s a quiet and serene place which was a treat for the wanderlust in me and my buddies.

After spending a wonderful evening, when the sun was setting, we headed back to our car as the clouds were also getting darker indicating more rainfall. We Had dinner at our local favorite hotel 97 on the way back and reached our place to end the eventful day.

Guest post by Dr. Meghana Subhash

Temple Travelling: Kadiri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple

Kadiri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple is located in Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is said that devotees who offer prayers here get relieved of their sorrows, sufferings and sins. IMG_9467

History:-
The town got its name from Khadri, in Sanskrit, meaning Indian mulberry. It is believed that Lord Shri Khadri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy came out of this tree. The main deity in this temple is Ashta Bahu Shri Narasimha who has eight hands clawing open the body of Hiranyakashipu.  This was one of the ten avatars or reincarnations of Lord Vishnu.

Kadiri

The specialty of this temple is that after the daily obeisance known as Abhishekam is performed; the Lord Narasimha is seen to be sweating despite being wiped clean by the temple priests.

Narasimha means ‘Man Lion’ as that was the form taken by Lord Vishnu to kill Hiranyakashipu who could not be killed otherwise. It is merely a mention on how truth can overcome evil despite the difficulties. He is envisioned as a half man with the torso and lower body and the face and hands, that of a lion.

Kadiri

The scriptures say that Lord Vishnu, in one of his incarnations as Lord Narasimha , in his rage descended down on to earth as Ugrarupa to kill Hiranyakashipu, who wanted to avenge the death of his brother Hiranyaksha . Hiranyaksha was killed by one reincarnation of Lord Vishnu as Varaha. He took the people to task and tortured the sages and the common people for praying to Lord Vishnu. The sages appeared before Lord Vishnu to end this terror. In the meanwhile Hiranyakashipu got a boon from Lord Brahma after praying fervently for a favour. The boon was that it would be impossible for any human to kill him. Ultimately, Lord Vishnu had to reincarnate as Narasimha to kill Hiranyakashipu, as he was about to kill his own son for showing allegiance to Lord Vishnu.

It is said that Lord Narasimha emerged from the Khadri tree to act his part in killing Hiranyakashipu at this place. The temple was built by one Ranganayudu, a Palegar of Pathariapattanam.

The Rangamantapam has been ornately carved with scenes from the Ramayana and further down, the Lakshmi mantapa has depictions of the Mahabharatha. There are inscriptions on what the rulers have given to the temple. The carvings and scriptures have started fading due to the vagaries of climate and weather.IMG_9463

Infotips: The temple opens at 6:30am until 12:45pm and then it will be closed at 12:45am and  it starts at 16:30hours in the evening and continues till 20:30hours in the night. The temple remains closed from 12:45 to 4:30pm in the afternoon.

Tasty Tuesday: Juicy Jamrul fruit

Commonly known as Water Apple or Java Apple in the rest of the world, Bengal knows this fruit as the good old Jamrul.  It originated from the region between Malaysia and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, where they grow as wild trees in the coastal forests. But it has now been introduced in many Asian countries including India.Kalighat Kali temple, Kolkata, West Bengal (8)

 This evergreen tree of the Myrtaceae family grows to a height of 5m to 12m. The fruit in itself is watery and slightly sweet. It has very thin skin with colorless juice. The fruit contains one or two seeds or no seed at all. The attractive fruits resemble bell-shaped berries.

When mature, the fruit will puff outwards with a slight concavity in the middle. The color of the fruits ranges from white to pale green. There are two types of Jamrul fruits one having white fruits and the other with pink fruits.

Kalighat Kali temple, Kolkata, West Bengal (9)

There are two types of jamrul fruits one having white fruits and the other with pink fruits.

Java Apple must be plucked carefully, because bruised fruits rots easily. The fruits are generally served uncut and eaten fresh. In some places the fruits are used to make pickles.

Medicinal value:

Their astringent flowers are said to stop fever and diarrhoea and they have low energy value. The carbohydrate level in ripe Jamruls is about 4g per 100g but there is fair amount of Vitamin C in it.

Kalighat Kali temple, Kolkata, West Bengal (7)

This Water Apple comes into bearing after three to five years of planting in the field and the plants bear fruit for about 20 years.

The red hard wood of the Water Apple tree is used for constructing huts in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

The Saturday Night Market: An out of box experience

Arpora night market is a ‘must visit’ in Goa. It is a great place & is a fun way to pass several hours. It has many number of food stalls, live music, a cosmopolitan crowd and lots of stalls offering you a variety of stuff from fancy dresses and trinkets to articles for home decoration- the night market at Arpora seems to come out of the Arabian nights. The market has a lot of stalls selling similar goods, so shop around for the best prices; be prepared to haggle for a good deal. The place is worth revisiting.

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Every Artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures. -Henry Ward Beecher

Night Market, Goa Arpora (20)

It has the right mix of both local and international crowd, This market has something for everyone. A visit to this market will definitely make your trip to Goa complete..

Night Market, Goa Arpora (1)

Saturday night market is every food lover’s paradise.

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Attar are non alcoholic, pure oriental perfumes extracted from exotic flowers..

If you go to Goa and miss this place, you might want to consider visiting Goa again. The place is also known for the parties which have very nice music. I absolutely loved this market and I can say it’s a MUST visit place.. Happy Sunday my dear bloggers..

North Karnataka: A Heritage tour

This video is just an experimental video because it is mostly shot on Iphone5 and Xiaomi yi & Edited on Iphone. A Trip to some of the Heritage places in North Karnataka which includes Bijapur(Ibrahim Roza, Gol Gumbaz, Jamma Masjid, Barakaman etc), Aihole, Pattadakal, Badami, Dambal & Lakkundi.

The Quality of the video is bit compromised because we shot it in Harsh sunlight and scorching heat.

Discovering Telangana: Mannemkonda-‘The Palamoor Tirupati’

Being a Hyderabadi, I always had this two questions from people during weekends…

  • What do you guys do over your weekend?

  • Don’t we have any weekend gateways around Hyderabad?

In fact, I used to share few places which most of them are aware of it, I don’t really have many places to share to go out for a drive over the weekends from Hyderabad.

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My Beast: The car I drive say a lot about me

I could now realize the fact that most of us haven’t really explored the surreal beauty around Hyderabad. If you are nature lover, yes you have one now which is 2 hours drive from Hyderabad.

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Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises. -Pedro Calderon de la Barca

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Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. -Albert Einstein

Mannemkonda is best enjoyed when the sky is overcast, which makes the 20kms journey from Mahbubnagar delightful. The varied hues of Nature and fresh air rejuvenated my senses. The secluded green valley’s surrounding the hold this temple best kept secrets.

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“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” – Kahlil Gibran

Before we arrived our destination, we had several stopovers to capture the nature at its best. I felt exactly like rolling greens spread like a carpet, floating clouds jealously hugged the Hillocks alongside and a seamless path ahead dotted with beautiful nature.

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For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree

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“Nature itself is the best physician” – Hippocrates. “

Manyamkonda is the hill where the Lord Venkateshwara Swamy Temple is located. This place is very calm, mesmerizing, beautiful and of course a perfect destination for devotees and tourists. It is believed that this ancient temple is more than 500 years old. This temple is located in a cave which is reportedly balanced on top of the three hills. It is considered as one of the important spiritual centres in Mahbubnagar District. Here pilgrims can have a glimpse of the ancient caves where the sages were believed to have practiced penance.Hence this place was called as Munulakonda (Munulu means Saints and Konda means hill) and later as days passed by it has been referred as Mannemkonda or Manyamkonda.

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Garuda Statue

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A view from inside..

On the heart of the forest and on the hilltop, Lord Venkateshwara Swamy could be found majestically. The shrine is located on a hill which is 915 m high and at a distance of 2 Km from the village.

  One can enjoy the nature’s splendour and scenic beauty at the temple. The temple has a beautiful Rajagopuram with the images of Gods and Goddesses carved on it. Very rarely we can find Lord Venkateshwara as a “Swayambhumurthi” which means self manifested. Seeing Lord Venkateshwara in the forest, with lush greens is truly a blissful experience.

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Spending time in nature is healing energy..

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Sunsets are so beautiful that they almost seem as if we were looking through the gates of Heaven. -John Lubbock

If you are a nature lover and wanted to spend time peacefully plan for a trip to Manyamkonda. Have a nice week my dear friends!!

Bhutan Diaries: Punakha Dzong ~’The Palace of Great Bliss’

After two days of wonderful cultural experience, we’ve left the Capital city of Thimphu and headed to the scenic Punakha Valley. On the way to Punakha, we passed by Dochu La Pass about forty-five minutes outside of Thimpu which is at 3000 meters above sea level is overlooking the mighty Himalayas.At one of the viewing points, 108 stupas (chortens) were constructed as a memorial built by the queen, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, to honor the victory of the Bhutanese army in the 2003 war of Southern Bhutan.

From the high pass of Dochu La, the mountain road descended into the serene countryside of Punakha Valley which is beautifully landscaped with the dense forests. The highlight of our journey to Punakha is a visit to its majestic Dzong (means fortress and is the administrative and monastic center of this town). It is also called as ‘Punthang Dechen Phodrang’ (The Palace of Great Bliss), Punakha Dzong is beautifully situated between the convergence of Phochu and Mochu Rivers ( ‘male’ and ‘female’ rivers),  It is said to be the most magnificent of all the fortresses in Bhutan.

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The Punakha Dzong, also known as Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong.

Built by Ngawang Namgyal, 1st Zhabdrung Rinpoche, in 1637 and completed in one year. Punakha Dzong served as the capital and seat of government of Bhutan before it was moved to Thimphu in 1955. It was expanded in 1639 to celebrate victory over invading Tibetan army. Frequent fires, glacial burst and an earthquake damaged the dzong and it has since been repaired and restored. Today, it houses the administrative and judicial offices of Punakha District.

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People were feeding the fishes in the river with biscuits & some grains.

The dzong has three courtyards. The first courtyard is for administrative functions and houses a huge chorten with a Bodhi tree. The second courtyard houses the monastic quarters. The third courtyard has the main temple. Entering into this temple was like entering into another world. The door was opened for us, and as we stepped in, the grand interiors of the temple seemed mesmerizing with exquisite wall murals depicting the life of Sakyamuni Buddha. Sacred remains and relics are placed in a closed room inside the temple and only the two guardian Lamas, the King and the chief Abbot or Je Khenpo may enter the room it seems.

Unfortunately, photography in the interior of the temple is prohibited. This Dzong is a perfect example of the traditional Bhutanese architecture. Then we got out at 5pm by spinning the last prayer wheel at the Punakha monastery and left the place by wishing to visit again.

Info-tips from my perspective:

  1. A special permit is required for all the foreign nationals in order to visit Punakha or any place other than Thimphu & Paro.
  2. There are some road restrictions due to the new construction of roads they’ll only open the gates for every 2 hours and not more than 15mins. And is entry of Punakha is prohibited after 6pm until the construction is finished.
  3. The Royal wedding of the Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and his fiancée, Jetsun Pema, was held at the Punakha Dzong on 13 October 2011.

Bhutan Diaries: Tashi Delek Thimphu

It all started from having an intense plan and huge back packing of 20-25 days which included a good part of North India , a long sojourn in the Northeast India but for all of us the most exciting part was to explore “Bhutan: The Land of thunder Dragons” as it is fondly called and the dice were rolled out. Highly planned and most exciting part of our journey started on the third week of March 2015.

We took a flight from Delhi to Bagdogra in West Bengal as it is the most preferred way to reach Bhutan for Indians. Our first stopover was at the queen of hill stations called Darjeeling which was roughly 80 KM and a 3 hour drive from Bagdogra Airport. Then After reaching Darjeeling(Click here to read my posts on Darjeeling & Street foods of Darjeeling) we visited some of the must see places there and the next morning we planned to leave for Jaigaon/ Phuentsholing ,which is the gateway town to enter Bhutan.

Day 02: Darjeeling to jaigaon is a 5 hour drive about 200KM going through NH31 and overlooking the beautiful Teesta River for a part of the drive. A permit is mandatory to enter into Bhutan for Indian/Chinese citizens for others it is the routine visa procedure and they have to pay some royalty fee to the government. We had to make sure that we reach Jaigaon before 10AM as the permit office in Phuentsholing closes at 11AM and the driver was just the right guy for the task taken straight out of a fast and furious movie. We reached the Jaigaon border town around 9:40 AM then we crossed the border by foot and entered into Bhutan(Phuentsholing) then at the customs office we applied for our Bhutan permits.

We got the permit in an hour, had breakfast in a local restaurant and exchanged our Indian rupee and got some Bhutanese currency NU (Indian Rupees also works in Bhutan) and a local Tashi cell SIM card as Indian networks will not be working here and we were set for the capital city Thimphu while one of my friend GK still struggling to find the difference between Bhutan and Taiwan.:P We reserved a 6 seater taxi for Thimphu from the local taxi stand for 3500INR.Thimphu is 174 KM from Phuentsholing, a 5 hour drive from a risky yet beautiful road carved out of Mountains. As we enter the serene environment of Bhutan we are greeted with a cold breeze and a peaceful noise of the surroundings. We felt like we are in for something soothing and also exhilarating.

The highway to heaven as it is called was a masterpiece by the creator and also by the Bhutanese government as the road is neatly carved out between mountains and makes for a decent yet risky ride, surrounding the nature. The weather was pleasant and the air was so soothing, That is one of the reasons why Bhutan is called as the most peaceful & Happiest country in South Asia. As we were having this discussion the driver proved it right by revealing that he has been happily married for almost 15 years with two wives, living with both of them under one roof for these many years which was something astonishing for all of us. It is more of a tradition in Bhutan and there are many such examples.

Tashi Delek-Thimphu:

We entered Thimphu city after a 5 hour drive and what we saw was large houses with similar Bhutanese/Tibetan Architecture , clean roads, probably the cleanest we have seen.

The city had a very calm yet happening vibe. We had to complete a tough task of finding cheap and best hotels in the vicinity called as the clock tower. We found one called as tashi delek which was 950 INR per room. Please note that there are hardly any hotels offering rooms at ground/first floor and you will have to to shell out a lot more to get a room on lower floors.However we got one on the third floor and it was a never ending climb to the third floor after an almost 400 KMs long cross country drive.

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The capital with no Traffic lights..

Next Day of the plan was to explore the every nook and corner of Thimphu. Basically to know about the traditions and culture that represents this beautiful country. Thimphu, as I mentioned is the most populous city in Bhutan which also means that there were enough people to interact. The men were extremely welcoming, the women equally beautiful. Karthik already began to work his charm, while lalla was still finding ways to start a conversation 😛 We took two local taxi’s as all taxi’s in Thimphu city are only small 4 seaters and we were 5 and we first went to the national library of Bhutan.

We’ve no idea that it is closed on weekends. So we just clicked pictures from the outside and moved to Zorig chusum, a government backed institute in providing education in embroidery, sculpture, painting, weaving, carving, etc to aspiring students to provide them with skills to boost their employment opportunities in the future.The school had an annual orientation going on as it was good to see an assembly of school kids after we were last part of it a decade back. Wow!!A decade!! i just realized. Time flies.

Closer to the school was National folk heritage museum which was an exhibition of the heritage of Bhutan, Also depicting how ancient Bhutanese used to live. We were out after a short visit to the place, which was an education of Bhutanese history, culture and traditions and took a taxi to the most famous tourist place of Thimphu called National memorial chorten. Believed to be built in memory of the former Queen’s brother the place is right in the center of the city and is mostly visited by old monks for their prayers and to relax.

Little did we knew, that the next place we were going to was this spectacular. It was the giant buddha dordenma golden statue, which is not yet completed from the inside. Upon completion this will be one of the largest buddha statues in the world.

Geographically it is perfectly located. The statue will be visible from a very long distance as we can see the Buddha shining in gold and also overlooking the whole city of thimphu from the top of the cliff. The place is hugely spacious and also windy and we moved on to spend some quality time at the place.

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Thimphu City view..

If you go to a different country make sure you see its animal species.That is what we did next.The takin preserve was the place which houses the national animal of Bhutan, Takin. You can see a lot of them here and you can cover this place in quick time as it is only a conservatory for Takins.

Then we paid our visit to a small Buddhist monastery called Zilukha nunnery.The nunnery is located in Zilukha, Thimphu overlooking Tashichodzong and is a few minutes drive from Zoo.t was built in 1976 by the 16th emanation of Thangtong Gyalpo, Drubthob Rikey Jadrel. Currently, the nunnery is home to about 60 nuns.

 

After the whirlwind tour of these places without a break , we had to do the most important part of the day, FOOD!!!! And what better than some local Bhutanese food. We went to a restaurant called as “Ama” on the same street of our hotel as ordered Thupka, kewa datshi, Ema datshi, Thai rice, Chicken chilly, Veg crispy, Veg fried rice. (To know more about food click here..) All this for an astonishing N.U 900. That was the best part of Bhutan, It doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket when it comes to food. We spent the rest of the evening wandering on the streets of thimphu.

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Tashichoedzong_fortress of the auspicious religion. This Dzong is the seat of government.

While GK and lalla were at their usual “loving” antics and a couple of us decided to hit a local hangout spot called vivacity and then back to the hotel as we had to be early for a long yet exciting, exhilarating, extravagant day of exploring waiting for us tomorrow.

Next day morning we had a walking tour of the city and had fun meeting new people there. Then I went to watch a competition on the archery field. Archery is Bhutan’s national sport and is played all year round. 2 painted targets 30cm large and 120cm high are placed at each end. The bows and arrows are made of special kind of bamboo, the target is 120 metre away. Team members encourage their archer on the other side of the field. They stand really close from the target. Each team usually consist of 11 members. The first team to reach 33 points wins the match. The method of scoring is complicated as if an arrow lands within an arrow’s length of the target even without hitting it, it also counts. Every time an archer hits the target his team members will perform a kind of victory dance on the field. It was very entertaining as all players were wearing the Gho, the national costume.

We almost killed the day just by exploring the city by walk and getting familiar with the buses, culture and meeting new people and also paid our visit to Postoffice at last we went to the weekend market. We were in Thimphu for 5 days and every day we used to discover new things about this lovely city.

TIPS from my perspective:

  • Please make sure you carry your passport/original voter Id, driving license, two passport size photographs along with you to apply for a permit.
  • I would suggest to take a hotel near Clock tower square.
  • National Folk Heritage Museum is open from Mon to Friday 10:30am to 4:30 pm Saturday: 10:30am to 1pm and on Sunday 11:30am to 3:30pm. Entrance fee is 150N.u
  • Don’t miss Buddha dordenma, Zoo & National Memorial Chorten.
  • If you want to experience nightlife of Thimphu, I would suggest you to go Vivo city.

Monday Monochrome Mania: Monuments of Bijapur with Quotes

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 Life is architecture and architecture is the mirror of life. – I.M. Pei

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Architecture is an expression of values. – Norman Foster

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Architecture is inhabited sculpture. – Constantin Brancusi

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Architecture is the reaching out for the truth. – Louis Kahn

Ibrahim rauza (55)

As an architect you design for the present with an awareness of the past for a future which is essentially unknown. – Norman Foster

Ibrahim Rauza (37)

One of the great beauties of architecture is that each time it is like life starting all over again. – Renzo Piano

Ibrahim Rauza (31)

Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness. Frank Gehry

Ibrahim Rauza (24)

Even a brick wants to be something. – Louis Kahn

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I call architecture frozen music. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

To know more about these monuments and my trip to Bijapur click here