Much like the two minutes of blank screen and darkness of a cinema hall you
Much like the two minutes of blank screen and darkness of a cinema hall youexperience before the main film rolls out, the serene drive to the Ramoji Film City, meandering through small hillocks set amidst verdant lands, gives you a breather before you experience what lies ahead. Once you’ve entered the film city, you’re spoilt for choices – there are replicas of an airport, a railway station, a jail, monuments, international streets, small towns, numerous gardens, the Wild West (with a cowboy theme), several interactive shows based on cinema and its making, a butterfly garden, a bird park, an adventure park, intricately sculpted statues, fountains and if you’re lucky enough, a glimpse of your favourite actor shooting for a new film. You don’t need 80 days to go around the world anymore, when in Ramoji Film City, you can do it in the span of eight hours.
This 1,666 acres of cinematic magic, which plays with your spacio-temporal understanding, was founded by film producer Ramoji Rao in the year 1996. It has been featured in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest film city in the world. Umpteen Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Oriya, Marathi and Bengali films were shot here. It is then inevitable that you find yourself associating the dummy sets and gardens here with the movies you earlier saw them in. The film city’s premises also house the Ramoji Academy of Film and Television, several indoor studios and the ETV (Eenadu Television) office.
The main gate of Ramoji Film City, which lies on the Vijayawada Highway, is the point till which private vehicles are allowed into the complex. Beyond here, the film city has special buses, which drive you through another gate that opens onto a small hillock surrounded by sprawling green meadows. The 6-km-long beautiful drive culminates at the third and final gate of the film city. The road first passes through the two hotels, Tara and Sitara, which lie ahead of an intersection where there is the Sun Fountain. The road that goes straight from here can be deemed as the main road of the film city. This road is open for tourists. The left turn here leads to the administrative block.
As you drive on the main road, you’ll encounter the majestic Mughal Gardens on your left. Straight ahead, there is Eureka, the main pavilion of the film city, which receives tourists. Eureka has several zones, each dedicated to particular themes and restaurants and the Ramoji Movie Magic which hosts interactive shows on cinema for guests. Behind Eureka, there is a butterfly garden, bird park and ‘international streets’.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Experiencing all the attractions Ramoji Film City has to offer within the span of a day could be a little exhausting. So it is best to visit what interests you most along with the highlights of the film city.
Ramoji Film City offers day tours to its visitors for ₹800, which includes all the shows and a customised visit to all its attractions. However, food charges are extra. There are several multi-cuisine restaurants and canteens here.
Telangana Tourism organises day tours to Ramoji Film City from Hyderabad Cost Adults ₹1,300 Children ₹1,120 Timings Departure 7.30am; Arrival 6.30pm W telangana tourism.gov.in/tour-packages
First thing every morning, the doorway of the majestic fort structure at Eureka opens up and a lavish ceremony is held to welcome guests. Dancers perform a medley of cultural and Bollywood songs to kickstart the filmi experience that the place revels in. Eureka is the epicenter of Ramoji Film City and the starting point of the tour. The area houses several thematic restaurants such as Alampana and Super Star, children’s play courts and fun rides. On the opposite side of Eureka, the face of Dadajinn – the mascot of Fundustan – leads one into a fascinating journey of rides and games meant for children. Several people dressed as cartoon characters welcome people to the area.
On Eureka’s left is a cowboy-themed area known as the Wild West. With the perfect setting to shoot a Hollywood Western film, Wild West is among one of the most loved areas in Ramoji Film City. You enter the place from the Wild West Avenue, a thematic street with dummy houses, taverns, stables, horses and other such paraphernalia. After the Wild West Avenue, you will come across the Gunsmoke Restaurant, which serves hot and delicious fast food.
The amphitheatre here hosts a popular stunt show. The performance is more like a small play with people dressed in cowboy attire embarking on various adventures – there’s robbery, fighting, a love story, a twist and all the masala you would expect in a film of this genre.
The pavilion beyond Eureka houses three of the film city’s most interesting buildings – Ramoji Movie Magic, Filmy Duniya and Space Yatra. The three buildings, along with their interactive shows, capture the essence of Ramoji Film City.
The Ramoji Movie Magic building hosts ‘Spirit of Ramoji’ – a combination of various cultural performances revolving around the theme of ‘unity in diversity’. Filmi Duniya takes you on a small train journey across various countries such as Australia, the USA, France and India. During the ride, you can see several dioramas and models of celebrated monuments and sights – Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty, amongst others – in these countries. At the end of this eight-minute-long journey, there is a scale model of the Ramoji Film City. At the Action stage next door, there is is a 30-minute-long interactive Bollywood show about the film Sholay. One person from the audience is selected to play the part of Basanti, the female lead in the film, and an audio-visual projection of dacoits chasing the character is played in the background. The Lights Camera Action stage has an interactive show based on Hollywood themes.
Entry Free for all shows
TIP Almost all shows in Ramoji have designated timings. It is advisable to check in advance so that you do not miss out on any of the shows
Most roads within the Film City are surrounded by themed gardens. There is the Leg Garden, Japanese Garden, Dream Valley, Sanctuary Garden and Siara Garden. The most popular amongst these is the Leg Garden, where numerous Bollywood movies were shot. The song Oolala Oolala from Vidya Balan’s Dirty Picture (2011) was filmed here. Fans of the song will recognise the white reclining sculpture of a woman in the centre of this garden. Many films have been shot in Siara Garden as well.
The Japanese Garden is dotted with small pagodas and streams. You might also come across dancers dressed in Japanese attire. The sanctuary garden has sculptures of various animals made by clipping trees and shrubs. All the gardens are built along an incline so that they appear larger when filmed on camera from a low angle.
The highest point in Ramoji Film City is Hawa Mahal, a structure that was modelled on the palaces and forts of Jaipur. Here visitors are welcomed with folk dance performances by artistes dressed in Rajasthani attire. The area is located on an elevation and from here, you can view the entire Ramoji Film City – Japanese Garden, Limelight, Sanctuary Garden and Eureka, amongst others. The Hawa Mahal is a perfect setting for theme parties and is often leased out for grand wedding ceremonies.
An imposing white structure, occupying most of the visible area along the main road, the Mughal Garden is undoubtedly one of Ramoji Film City’s most stunning structures. There is nothing much to do here, but one can’t just miss stepping into this place as the white building surrounding the lush green garden and fountain looks almost as if it were waiting to welcome you. Once inside, you can walk across the sprawling and well-maintained garden and marvel at the surrounding white building or take some photographs. This place may also look very familiar because numerous film songs have been shot here.
Have to shoot at the airport or the railway station and can’t make do with the chaos? Don’t worry because Ramoji Film City will come to your rescue. The film city has dummy sets for an airport, a railway station, a jail, a small town (where the Hindi film Kaminey was shot), an international street, a large city, a temple set, a mosque, etc. Further, there is a royal set of ‘Bhagavatam’, which is laid out in a style similar to the congregation of Lord Krishna.
Butterfly Garden and Bird Park
Ramoji Film City has a special butterfly conservatory which houses thousands of butterflies. The verdure doesn’t fail to refresh and enchant anybody who decides to step in here even for a few minutes. Next to it is a small exhibition that has displays of various types of butterflies and information on how to protect them. A new feature that has been added to the film city is the bird park called Wings. It has sections dedicated to water birds, caged birds, free-range birds and ostriches.
Sahas Adventure Land
If you are an adventure or sports enthusiast, make sure to visit Sahas Adventure Land. The park boasts of a perfect terrain and congenial ecosystem for extreme sports and other fun activities. With a plethora of things to do, you can dedicate the entire day to exploring Sahas.
Some of the adventure activities that are on offer here are high rope course, mountain bike, bungee ejection, ATV rides, net course, paintball, zorbing, archery, rifle shooting, human foosball, and sumo suit fighting. The safety standards of the the park, constantly supervised by experts, is considered one of the best in the state.
WHERE TO STAY AND EAT
If you would like to thoroughly explore Ramoji Film City, staying at the hotels there would be a worthwhile experience. The hotels here are clean and comfortable. A good option here is the Hotel Sitara (Tel: 08415-246555; Tariff: ₹7,999–16,699, with two meals). It has a restaurant, a luxurious spa, a gym, a gift shop and internet facilities. You could also stay at the Hotel Tara (Tel: 246444; Tariff: ₹5,999–6,999, with two meals), which has a restaurant, gym and WiFi.
AROUND RAMOJI FILM CITY
Sanghi Temple (1km)
After driving for about 5km beyond Ramoji Film City’s main gate, one can see the Sanghi Temple on th0e right hand side. Alternately, the temple can be approached from outside the film city, via Hayath Nagar. The latter option is more convenient and easily accessible.
The temple, set atop a small hillock, is made of carved stone and marble. The temple’s most striking feature is its 15-feet-tall gopuram that can be seen from several kilometres away. The temple enchants you with its tranquil ambience and breathtaking surroundings. The main deity in the central sanctum is Lord Venkateswara; on its left there are two smaller shrines dedicated to Goddess Padmavathi and Aadi Laxmi; on to the right side of the main shrine are the shrines of Radhe Krishna, Sita Ram, Lord Ganapati, Subramanya Swamy, Durga Devi, Lord Shiva and Sri Kamalambika Devi.
Due to the calming effect this temple tends to have, one of the best things to do here is to spend some quiet time – it is a welcome respite from the chaos of Hyderabad. The temple is also a popular shooting location for Telugu films.
TIP Photography is strictly prohibited in the temple premises
Mount Opera (4km)
Mount Opera is a multi-theme park and resort that claims to combine manmade wonders with natural ones. The 55-acre park is clean, pleasant and pollution-free and is a great place to spend a relaxing holiday with family and friends. The park offers amusement rides such as go-karting, ferris wheel, striking cars, skating rink and Columbus, an exciting wave pool, rain dance pavilion, indoor games such as pool and table tennis, health clubs and an open-air theatre.
If you wish to spend a night or a weekend at the amusement park, you have the option of staying at the Mount Opera Resort (Tel: 30412345, 66788722, 30608721-23; Tariff: ₹2,500–6,000) which has well-furnished rooms and cottages. For food, there are restaurants within the park complex. However, at the time of going to press, the rooms were being offered only for day stay. Check before booking.
Location Mount Opera is about 28 km from Hyderabad airport and its takes about 45 minutes to reach. Taxis charge approximately ₹800. TSRTC buses are also available from Hyderabad and Secunderabad. They drop you on the highway from where you can hire an auto for the rest of the journey.
Location On the Vijayawada Highway, just ahead of Outer Ring Road
Distance 44km SE of Hyderabad
Road from Hyderabad via NH 9
When to go October to March is the most comfortable time for travel
Ramoji Film City
Hayath Nagar Mandal
Randa Reddy District
Toll Free No: 180042509999
STD code 08415
Air Nearest airport: Hyderabad (35km/ 1hr) is served by both domestic and international flights. State transport department taxi charges ₹1,800/ 80km
Rail Nearest railhead: Hyderabad Deccan Railway Station is located in Nampally. Important trains serving the station are Telangana Express, Chennai Express, Charminar Express, Mumbai Express and Ajmer Express and Darbhanga Express. The other primary station is Secunderabad Railway Station, situated on the Vijayawada-Wadi and Secunderabad-Manmad railway line. It’s best to opt for day tour package with the tourist office
Road Ramoji Film City is about 35km from Hyderabad city in the Hayathnagar mandal. Turn into NH 9 at LB Nagar Ring Road. It’s a smooth ride down the highway to Anaspur village, then turn off for the film city