It was a boring Sunday. Jigar had scrambled over to my place in Begumpet and we were bored watching television and had nothing to do. We were also going through a serious abstinence phase and so Jigar wanted out and I wanted photography. I had read a small byline in my Lonely Planet about a quaint Buddhist temple on a hill in Hyderabad and off we went to the Ananda Buddha Vihara, Hyderabad.
The Lonely Planet guide provided accurate details to the destination. We went up to East Maredpally and from there took a rickshaw to Mahendra Hills. Not surprisingly, the rickshaw driver hadn’t heard of the place either. We asked him to take us to Mata Amritanandmayi’s Ashrama which is next to Ananda Buddha Vihara as he concentrated on coaxing the rickshaw above the steep streets of Mahendra Hills. The buddhist temple of Ananda Buddha Vihara is the last building at the edge of a hillock, just adjacent to Mata Amritanandmayi’s ashrama.
The sight of the temple is guaranteed to take your breath away. And as you climb over its steps and watch the city, you will wonder why no one told you before about this place. The Ananda Buddha Vihara offers some beautiful views of the city. As you enter the huge hall of the temple, with lights flooding the hall through the huge French windows, you will be surprised by the calm serenity of the place. The temple has a huge golden Buddha statue in its center. You can undoubtedly forget yourself sitting in this magnificent hall.
Outside the hall there is a small garden with a beautiful idol of Lord Buddha under a tree. It seems to be depicting the scene where Lord Buddha is supposed to have attained Nirvana. There is also a lotus pool and a waterfall in the garden. There is a wide variety of many beautiful flowers and plants in the garden too.
We went out of the temple and just down the road, I spent some time photographing Jigar with some kids on the streets. They were overjoyed when I showed them their pictures on the LCD.
A view of the road down towards the city.
We were very tired by the time we reached Ananda Buddha Vihara. But the rest in the temple did us a world of good. I had a grand time photographing the many different cloud formations that adorned the beautiful blue skies of Hyderabad that day. The sky in Hyderabad – and I am saying this with the experience of watching it nearly everyday from my top floor balcony – springs up many different patterns of clouds and color. The skies in Ahmedabad and Mumbai in contrast look grey, bleak and gloomy. Here are some pics with some beautiful cloud formations.
The Ananda Buddha Vihara trust, was first set up at Tukaramgate about 24 years ago. Now it functions from a sprawling 3-acre land in Mahendra Hills. It organises the annual Buddha Jayanti celebrations and organises lectures on full moon day (Poornima) every month. The trust has also been involved in printing Buddhist literature in English and Telugu languages and translated several Buddhist works into the regional language. The Mahendra Hills complex is being run by Ven Sangharakshita Mahathera from the erstwhile composite Bengal state. Mahathera settled in the city and looks after the affairs of the Trust. The monks at the temple are very approachable and will tell you all you need to know about Buddhism.
The Ananda Buddha Vihara is undoubtedly one of the best places in Hyderabad to spend some time in solitude, peace and quiet.