August 23rd, 2016 by admin
This was my first visit to Hyderabad and I had chosen to see Golconda fort over Ramoji film city. I had so chosen because, Ramoji film city is mainly about extravagant sets and at Golconda fort I can revisit history. Forts are typically mysterious and it is an adventure to be there.
In Hyderabad I was staying at Golidoddy near Gachibowli. In the morning around 9 AM we left for Golconda fort. The distance is about 15 km via Osman Sagar road. The area around the fort are owned by the Indian army. I kept reading the name of various regiments and departments, till we reached the gate of Golconda fort. One might experience little traffic once inside the fort gates.
Timings: 9 AM to 5. 30 PM (open all days)
Entry fees: Rs 5 for Indian, Rs 100 for foreigners
Camera fees: Rs 25
Toilet available: Yes
At the dome entrance, it is said if one claps it can be heard from the hilltop pavilion. This acoustic design really make people wonder.
The present fort can be traced back to a mud fort built by the then Rajah of Warangal in the 12th century AD. Between 14th and 16th the mud fort was rebuilt with stone by the Bhamani sultanate and Qutub Shahi dynasty. It is said Golconda is derived from two Telugu words Golla and Konda meaning shepherd’s hill. The bright days of Golconda came to an end in 1687 after it was conquered by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
After dome entrance, one can find shops to buy gold drinks, water and light snacks. Just beside there is a 3 story building with numerous windows which be placed symmetrically. All the windows on the ground floor has iron curtains, the 1st floor has iron curtains on two windows on the extreme side and the 2nd floor has none. It got me little curious but had leave it there. Walked little further and was able to see the fort walls. The fort is mainly made of granite stones.
Little further we passed through a door which led us to an open space which resembled like a small town square. It had a fountain at the center. Here I felt that time has taken its toll on the fort and its crumbling. After this area, the climb to the top pavillion starts. The climb is easy and should not be more than 150 steps. But at some places the steps has broken. So be careful specially if you are trekking with children and elders. I can assure you that the climb to the top is worth it. You will be able to see all of Hyderabad with a Bird’s eye view. The hill at the top has plateaued and the top pavillion rises from here. Also, we found a goddess Kali temple at the top. It is called Jagadamba Mahakali Temple. It said a shepherd found an idol on this hill during the Kakatiya dynasty rule and the king built a mud fort.
Golconda fort is well maintained. Outside the fort there is small bazaar on the road side. Here, one can look for bangles, old coins (check for authenticity) etc.
The fort also showcases a sound and light show which can be enjoyed for a fees. Plan your visit in the afternoon so that you can see the fort during daylight and subsequently enjoy the sound and light show in the evening.
June 20th, 2016 by admin
Bangalore Namma metro had completed Phase I and launched the service in the last days of April, 2016. As a curious resident of Bangalore, we went for test ride on Bangalore Namma metro. We boarded at Indiranagar station and traveled the complete route to Mysore road. If you buy ticket over the counter it will cost Rs 36 and if you pay via Metro card then it costs Rs 31. As of now, Phase I starts from Byappanahalli and ends at Mysore road. The stations are as follows:
- Vivekananda road
- Trinity circle
- MG road
- Cubbon park
- Central college
- Vidhana Soudha
- City railway station
- Magadi road
- Deepanjali nagar
- Mysore road
The train runs from 6 AM in the morning to 10 PM in the night at a frequency of about 15 minutes.
I thought the crowd on the first weekend after the inauguration was curiosity crowd but looks like Namma Metro has got huge ridership. The coaches are very crowded. If you are able to get a seat, you can consider yourself very lucky. It’s going to be 2 month, the purple line was inaugurated but I think Namma Metro still should improve the feeder services to the Metro stations. The great thing about travelling on Metro is a traffic free route. It also gives one some kind of confidence that one will reach their destination on a stipulated time. Travel from Byappanahalli to Mysore road station takes around 45 minutes. This is unthinkable during normal day hours. The AC coaches gives a good ride and my main buying point is savings in travel time if I am traveling in that route. The agencies and government should expedite the inauguration of the complete Green line and work on phase III. This way our Bangalore will have a reliable mode of transport.
June 16th, 2016 by admin
Bikxie launched India’s first all female crew two wheeler taxi called Bikxie Pink in Gurgaon. It is only available to female passengers. The pink scooties not only provide another of transport but it is also cheap and faster. Also along with a female driver and the female passenger will be more comfortable. This is definitely boon for women commuters for last mile connectivity. The new service has got good response.
Hindustan times says the women drivers carry pepper spray and has emergency SOS system for safety. The NCR region do not have a very good track record when it comes to women’s safety.
Lets hope such service is launched in other cities as well.
June 12th, 2016 by admin
How many of us would have imagined that two wheelers can also be used for purpose of public transportation? But these are the days of drastic change. Two wheeler taxis are set to become a reality with the central government of India is looking to amend the Central Motor Vehicles Act. As of now only the state of Goa and Haryana allows two wheeler taxis.
I saw bike or two wheeler taxis for the first time during my travel to Goa. It is available in Goa for few years now but it was mostly run by individual drivers. You can find them at bike taxi stands. The two wheeler taxis launched in Gurgaon ( now Gurugram) are more organized as they are managed by a company. They operate similarly on the lines of taxi aggregators like Ola, Uber etc.
As of now Rideji, Baxi, Bikxie, M-taxi and UberMoto operates in Gurgaon. There is definitely a market for two wheeler taxis which saves in terms of money and time. Also, it will improve last mile connectivity for commuters. For example metro train users in Gurgaon will have another option of two wheeler taxis to hire. Operators like Rideji and Baxi did not provide any info on who are running these companies. This is little strange and dents confidence on using their service.
In Bangalore both Ola and Uber launched two wheeler taxis under the name Ola Bike and UberMoto respectively. However, they did not apply for license and the state government seized some of their two wheelers. Following this they suspended the service. Karnataka government says they can run two wheeler taxis but they first need to obtain license in this regard. The amendment in the central law will come handy. The Times of India says government aims to add the following items to the existing law:
Only those two-wheelers that are registered as commercial vehicles will be allowed to ply as taxis. Only drivers with commercial licence will be able to ferry people. The ministry is planning to come up with a separate set of safety guidelines that include mandating pillion riders to wear a helmet along with a reflector jacket.
Many startups and established players are waiting for the transport regulator to give the green signal. Once, approved we will have another mode of transport.
June 6th, 2016 by admin
It was all but a natural next step for Ola. As it was already providing intra city cab services, it was better placed to provide outstation services. This will help a lot of people to easily and quickly book cars for outstation travel from Bangalore. As this cars will be managed by a well know brand like Ola, it should also increase better customer service and accountability. This is a god send for unplanned travel and will be definitely enjoyed by frequent travelers / travel bloggers.
How to book your outstation travel on Ola mobile app?
- Open the Ola App
- Choose the ‘Outstation’ category
- Enter the drop location
- Enter the number of days for your trip (1-10 days)
- Click ‘Confirm’ and get your ride within 2 hours
Refer the screenshot below to notice the new outstation icon.
I checked Ola’s blog post on June 1, 2016 for outstation category launch and found some interesting details:
There are some terms and conditions to the usage:
- Cabs are subject to availability (this is well known )
- Maximum expected time of arrival is 2 hours ( This is good)
- All payments will be made in cash (did drivers did not agree to Ola money!!)
- Your ride is always billed as a round trip. ( If you are going to travel one way than this is a loss making deal). Refer the app for complete details of fare.
|| Base fare
|| Per km Charges
|| Night Charges
|| Ride time charges
|| Rs 2250 for first 250 kms for 24 hours
|| Rs 9/km
|| Rs 250 per night
|| Rs 2500 for first 250 kms for 24 hours
|| Rs 11/km
|| Rs 250 per night
The rates for Delhi – NCR region is lesser than Bangalore.
Rs 8 / KM for Mini
Rs 10 / KM for Prime
Also, the base fare for mini is Rs 2000, where as it is Rs 2250 in Bangalore. Just thinking what makes things outright costlier in Bangalore!!
June 4th, 2016 by admin
I was very thrilled with the launch of taxi aggregators Ola, Uber and Taxi for sure in Bangalore. The app based interface brought ease while traveling within the city.
As in these days of e-commerce, we have the bonanza of discounts and the promoter throws in all sort of possible freebies. Similarly, when Ola started they provided discounts with coupon codes, discounts with Ola money to make people start using their e-commerce wallet, first ride free whenever a new category of service launched. Initially the promotion is understood. However, apart from the promotion their rates earlier made sense. Now a days on many occasions the pricing is hard to make sense.
Let’s take an example of my recent ride on Ola during normal hours (that is no peak surcharge).
Vehicle category: Prime
Car model: Toyota Etios
If we do a breakup of cost per KM, than for the first 4 km its Rs 20 / KM. Then for the next 8.98 KM it is Rs 13 / KM.
Also, they charge based on the total travel time – Rs 59.77 for 59.77 min. So there is also a time charge of Rs 1 / minute.
I think here we have a contradiction. Is it fair to run two meters at the same time? One based on distance and one based on time. Ola is charging its customers based on two parameters at the same time. I think, the meter based on time should run only for wait time. That is when the driver is waiting for the customer after he arrived at the customer’s location and when the vehicle is at a standstill in traffic.
Now let’s take an example of a ride deemed peak hours by Ola.
Vehicle category: Prime
Car model: Swift Dzire
The travel was done in the month of May, 2016. Notice the peak pricing cost of 1.5x – Rs 170.53. If I deduct the peak pricing cost of Rs 170.53 from the total bill of Rs 541, the actual bill will be Rs 371. I can somehow fathom the amount of Rs 371 for a travel distance of 21.14 KM, which gives a cost of Rs 17.54 / KM. But an amount of Rs 541 to cover a distance of 21.14 KM within Bangalore city looks far fetched. Here, they are charging on 3 parameters at the same time – distance, time and peak pricing 1.5x. Looks like they are trying to make money in name of making vehicles available and deeming peak hours. Also, they might be doing this to lure drivers. But Ola should understand that charging unreasonable price will cost it customers in the long run. More importantly it will hurt ridership during the so called peak hours.
I have observed the peak hours pricing for sometime and noticed a pattern. Now I can more or less figure out the peak hour timings and I will try my best not to travel during these hours unless really needed.