“ Address: Tankbund Road / Tankbund / Hyderabad / 500020 / India / Tel: +91 2345 0305 „
~Nationally Treasured Resident~
Just up the road from the rather unexciting Lumbini Gardens sits one of Hyderabad's newest attractions, the NTR Gardens. Opened just a few years ago, they were named in memory of N T Rama Rao, a much-loved but now deceased Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh of whom I'd never heard. Indians seem to like using initials and almost every city has an MG Road (Mohatma Gandhi of course) or a JN Road (Jawaharlal Nehru) but I'll admit I didn't have the slightest idea who NTR was but apparently in local circles the initials need no more explanation than JFK would to anyone in the USA or Europe. We failed at our first attempt to visit the gardens because our driver didn't realise that the park only opens in the afternoon. Consequently we clocked up a lot of extra miles heading south of the river to the Charminar and the Mecca Masjid before heading north again to the gardens, stopping off for an over-priced and unimpressive Chinese lunch on the way.
~Near Tank Road~
The gardens are on Tank Bund Road, close to the Hussain Sagar Lake but they aren't actually in a lakeside position. We parked up outside the entrance and our driver Mohin was really keen to come in with us as this was clearly one of his favourite places and he really wanted to show us around. I suspect that without his help we wouldn't have enjoyed the place half as much and since it was our sixth or seventh attraction of the day, we were starting to flag a little. With our tickets bought and checked at the entrance we found ourselves wondering what on earth this place was supposed to be because it was full of really weird things. My husband was fighting (mostly unsuccessfully) with the aforementioned Chinese lunch and shot off to the toilets (apparently spotless) whilst Mohin and I watched the miniature train loading up with passengers and setting off around the gardens.
~Next Train Ready~
We'd seen another train earlier that day at the Lumbini Gardens and not been very impressed by the look of it since that park was so much smaller. Perhaps if we'd realised how much bigger the NTR was, we'd have gone for it because it did seem to cover a lot of ground and in a 36 acre park, there's quite a lot to get around.
Instead we headed off on foot to explore passing some rather pretty and creatively laid out gardens including a neat-as-a-pin cactus garden, a rose garden and a mound of grass inexplicably scattered with giant bugs. Perhaps the bugs had been attracted by the giant fruit nearby which contained a 'fruit restaurant'. Sadly we didn't find out what a fruit restaurant was because it was closed. We posed under plastic palm trees before wandering over to look at the giant tree which contained a water slide full of giggling children. It clearly didn't work with heavier adults as one poor chap discovered as it dragged down under his weight.
~No Take-away Required~
We found a snack bar where people were eating their food at large car-shaped picnic tables and chairs and then headed towards an immaculate Japanese pagoda complete with a moat filled with rather inept pedal-boaters. before stopping on a mound to watch the world, and the miniature train go by. There were several places where visitors could enjoy extra attractions that had to be paid for either one at a time or in groups. For example there were discounts on several attractions if you also bought tickets for the train and we had fun watching people emerge from the haunted house in various states of shock.
~Nice Trendy Rendezvous~
According to various websites I checked before writing this, the NTR is considered one of Hyderabad's 'most recent and glamorous' attractions which I have to say probably says more about how little glamour there is in the city than about the actually qualities of the park. It's a fun place with some quirky little attractions but it's not Disneyland. Mind you, for just 15 rupees (about 20 pence) you shouldn't expect anything too spectacular I suppose. The place is spotlessly clean, without even the tiniest hint of litter and that really is unusual in India. Everything is in great condition and almost everything (with the exception of the Fruit Restaurant) was open on a Monday afternoon which isn't something we found at other similar attractions.
~Not Terribly Rain-proof~
The previous day and that morning had been very wet but we were lucky with the weather. However we spotted some signs outside the gardens apologising that somebody's birthday party or engagement party had been moved to another venue because the organisers were worried that it would rain. In a strange way, I can see that the NTR offers a refreshing change from the many other party venues and wedding palaces that are available in the city. So if you fancy having your engagement party with some giant bugs, this could be just what you are looking for.