In January I finally got to visit India for the first time. I've always wanted to go as my great-grandfather was in charge (I believe) of the British Royal Artillery armoury at Dum Dum, West Bengal (where the dum-dum bullet was invented) at the end of 19th century. This was Kimberly's 4th trip, but the first that we'd gone together – teaching for Microsoft.

India is a very interesting place – full of extremes in almost any dimension you care to name. Hyderabad (where all our the trips have been to) is a boom town – with a strange mixture of gleaming, brand-new high-tech buildings next to people living in make-shift tents by the side of the highway. In fact the area where the Microsoft campus is (along with WiPro and Infosys) has the nickname 'cyberabad'. Anyway, Hyderabad is around 500 years old and we explored some of the history over one of the weekend we were there. As usual I took a bunch of photos and thought I'd share some of them here. As always, click on the photo for a larger version.

The three photos below are all views from our hotel room (Marriott Hyderabad – recommended). The hotel's next to the Hussain Sagar Lake which was built by the sufi saint Hazrat Hussain Shah Wali in 1562 as a drinking water reservoir. It was pretty windless while we were there, making for some excellent reflections. The middle and right photos work better in the larger versions – it was hazy because of all the air pollution. In the right-hand photo is the 58-foot statue of the Guatan Buddha that's on an island in the middle of the lake.

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The left-hand picture below is of some of the cool rock formations around the city, part of the Deccan Shield area. This link has more info from a group trying to protect the rock formations from destruction due to building work. The middle picture is one of the ubiquitous auto-rickshaws that I've seen in a bunch of Asian cities now. We rode in a similar one in Bangkok a week later and found out they're called tuk-tuks there, because of the noise they make! In the right-hand picture, you can see the one good (?!) thing about the air pollution – incredible sunsets.

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The next four photos are from out wanderings around the Qutb Shahi tombs, the tombs of the Qutb Shahi the rulers of the old city of Golconda (just to the west of Hyderabad) from 1518-1687. Top-left is Kimberly along with Arjun, our driver for all the trips to India. Top right is the tomb of the fith ruler, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, who died in 1612 and founded the city of Hyderabad. Below is a view and detail of a mosque on the site.

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 Next up we went to the Golconda fort, built by the Qutb Shahi, but dating back further to 1143. It's a good climb up to the top of the fort and a very large, impressive complex. There were several thousand Indian visitors to the fort that day, plus me and Kimberly, so we caused quite a sensation. The left-hand photo below is a detail close-up of one of the doors into the fort. The middle is a shot of fort from the entrance, and the left is of me trying not to be intimidated at the top of the fort by 100 uniformed school-children waiting to descend and with nothing else to do except watch me walk up and down on the phone to my parents in the UK, and laughing at me, or my baseball cap, but probably both! In the background you can see lots of construction cranes.

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Just outside the top of the fort is a Hindu temple with an excellent painting of Kali, the goddess of death and destruction, of which I snuck a photo. Next to it is a typical street scene when driving along, although this is a pretty quiet street – rush-hour driving was pretty wild at times.

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On the way back we stopped in Bangkok for a few days and I've got some photos of there too, but we're going back to India and Thailand again in 5 weeks so I might wait until then to blog those.

Enjoy!