Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chowmahalla Palace

About a week ago I was going around the old city when I chanced upon the Chowmahalla Palace just next to the Charminar. The entrance to the palace is very unassuming and boring but once inside the world is so different. Lovely gardens, beautiful buildings and well done up interiors when just outside the palace is the hustle and bustle of Charminar. The palace belongs to the Nizam's of Hyderabad and gives you a very upclose and personal view of their lifestyle and their history. There is a lot to see here and you can get all the details of what there is to see on this wikipedia web page.

I would advise everyone who is visiting Hyderabad to visit the Chowmahalla Palace. It should be a must visit even before one goes to Charminar, Salarjung Museum, Qutub Shahi Tombs or Golkonda Fort. That is how highly I rate the visit here. The history of Hyderabad through a lot of old photographs is captured on the walls of the palace. There are very few people that visit this palace and that adds to the whole unhurried charm of the place.

Below are some photographs that I took during my visit to the palace.











Dialogues in the dark

A few days ago I went to have dinner in the new themed restaurant "Dialogues in the dark" which is located at Inorbit Mall, Madhapur, Hyderabad. Having read about the restaurant at the website and a few reviews in the WOW Hyderabad magazine I was quite excited. So gave them a call to make a reservation and was told that I can choose either a non vegetarian meal or vegetarian meal.

We arrived there at about 8:00 PM and paid for our meals which needs to be done in advance and it costs Rs. 750 per person all inclusive. Any cold drinks (no liquor is served) purchased in the restaurant were to be paid for after the meal. We were then asked to deposit our mobile phones and any other bags we were carrying in the locker there. We were then escorted to the door and then handed over to a visually impaired person who guided us into a pitch dark place. It is incredibly eerie when you walk in first as you cannot see anything not even your finger if it is a centimeter from your eyes. You are guided to your seat and the table is already set when you get there.

You are then served a 4 course meal starting with soup, a starter, a main course and a dessert. The meals are served slowly and there is a lot of time for one to munch on their food and wait. The meal itself wasn't much of a surprise, to put it simply there was tomato soup; chicken nuggets for starters; biryani, romali roti, dalh, chicken curry and some stuff i never even found on my plate; a custard kind of a dish for dessert. The food is eaten completely by touch and feel. There is cutlery to be used but again one has to feel for it. After a while you get a comfort in where everything is and then it becomes quite easy. The water is served in bottles and one can order from a variety of soft drinks to be had with the food.

Since the restaurant is completely dark you do not know how many others are there in the restaurant or how far apart they are. The two tables next to us seemed to be quite close to us as we could hear all the conversations quite clearly.

The experience was interesting for just the one visit. The food was not exciting - with the first taste we knew what was on the plate. The food was not very tasty. The chairs were quite uncomfortable. One interesting thing is that there is an verbal interaction going on between the people as no one knows who is there and how many people are there. The noise levels are quite high - conversation is quite loud and animated.

What in my view will make the experience more exciting? All the food should only be bite sized helpings - they should feel the same but when you put it in the mouth each bite tastes different. There should be a surprise element in every bite. Serving regular food does not really enhance the experience. The chairs should be super comfortable so that when you sit in them it should feel like you never want to get out of it. The music at times was a bit loud - the music should be very faint in the background.

On the whole an interesting experience for that one time and its worth going there to understand what happens when one of the senses is taken away.