Being a Hyderabadi “Sankranthi” has always been a festival worth a waiting for because it’s only Telangana state that celebrates it for 3 long days! this makes me much more excited as we 3 extra holidays when compared to the rest of India which celebrates it only for a day. My usual Sankranthi days are spent, drawing Rangoli in the morning and then all the day on the terrace of my house flying kites, indulging in traditional homemade food and sweets. But this time it was all a different experience for us as Telangana Tourism had organized the 3rd Telangana International Kite Festival which was a 3 day long Kite Festival along with International Sweet Festival. I was very keen to go the kite festival as I have always been fascinated by seeing different types of kites fly from the childhood. So I decided to team up with Team FLY360 from Mumbai, India who was invited to showcase their kites and kite flying at the festival.
FLY360 - International kite flyers
Team FLY360 has been in the kite flying industry since 1994 and they have been called the KING of KITES in India. Around 15 days before the event I got in touch with Mr. Nisarg Shah who runs FLY360 through his website www.fly360.co.in and explained him my passion and love for flying kites. He was very happy to see my interest and promptly agreed for me to join them for this event.
The flyers from different parts of the world were called upon for a total 5-day stay at Hyderabad. Team FLY360 along with other kite flyers from different parts of the city and world came down to Hyderabad on 12th of Jan and were given a stay at Hotel The Plaza situated at Begumpet. The Hotel was a very pleasant one with cordial staff always present at your service. I had my first meet with the team of FLY360 around in the afternoon as I was called upon for the conference meetings. They had 3 members apart from me who had come from Mumbai and Lucknow. I introduced myself to them and we had some chit chat on kiting for a while. In the evening we were invited to a small get together organized by the Telangana Tourism where the Chairperson of Telangana tourism briefed us on the vivid and vibrant tourism that Telangana has and the progress they have been making to serve the public the best. They also shared the overall itinerary of the 3-day kite festival which was followed by sumptuous dinner which included authentic flavors of Telangana food. During the dinner, we met quite a few flyers from different countries and had small talks with them. We were also given Jerseys and ID Tags to be worn throughout the 3 day long events. I was delighted to get a tag of “KITE FLYER” which I took it to be one of my achievements.
Day 1 - Kite flying
The next morning was the one that I was eagerly waiting for since a week. It was an early day for me as we had to reach Parade grounds by 10 AM. The event kicked off at around 10.30 AM where an inaugural ceremony was first held. The Telangana tourism minister along with high dignitaries of the state of Telangana inaugurated the International Kite and Sweet Festival. When I went further into the ground I was awestruck seeing numerous Kite flyers who had come to showcase their magnificent kites from all across the world already flying beautifully crafted kites even before the inauguration ceremony had started. This was my first time to witness kites ranging from 1 mm to 200 Feet so closely.
The cool weather was like an icing on the cake! We met many kite flyers from different countries like Turkey, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China, South Africa etc. Each of them had blended their traditions and cultures to the huge variety of Kites that they flew. As it was my first experience with flying such unusual kites I was very enthusiastic to learn the mechanics. The team members of FLY360 were really nice to teach me techniques on how to lift up huge kites. Quite a hard task it was initially. As the day passed on a lot of media had jumped onto the ground capturing each nuance of the kite flying from various angles and taking interviews of people to share their views with the people who missed to come and watch it live. We also had a surprise visit from one of our follower who shares a similar passion for kites like us, Sonu had come all the way from Kerala to celebrate Pongal festival with his family who lives in Hyderabad and when he came to know that FLY 360 Team had come to participate to the international kite fest. He came to meet us and enjoy the event all the way from Gachibowli which is more than 20 km away from the city.. that was a real fan moment for us!
The crowd on the first day was a whopping 30- 40 thousand! People gazed up at the sky till the dusk as most of us also got to witness night kite flying for the first time. Kites in the Night-time were a surprise element at the event. The sky almost got a new look and spark with lovely LED Kites soaring the sky. The first day wrapped at around 8 pm which was an amazing but exhausted one for me.
Day 2 - Kite flying
As the first day was more of a learning for me, the second day brought in a lot more confidence in me to try flying more enormous kites. As usual, we had a delicious breakfast at the hotel and started off towards the venue. The sun was bright and strong but still, there was a good breeze to fly kites. We reached the venue and quickly unpacked our kites and occupied good spots so that we could fly our kites with ease. Every flyer was very keen to help the others and also learn from one another their ways and techniques so that they could implement in their crafting and flying as well. This made me believe that though we are divided by borders across it’s the different forms of art that connect and unites us together. As I was walking through the ground meeting different flyers and chit-chatting with media my eyes went across an old couple around 60 -70 years of age who famously tagged themselves “Kite Couple”, my conversation with them was an interesting one as they shared their story of how kite flying made them fall in love although they were from countries miles apart.
The air picked up its pace slowly during mid-afternoon and we were able to see the ground filled with not only our unusual kites but also the public who had come to see the festival also were flying kites in the other ground. It was indeed a carnival in the sky. Seeing this beautiful sight and capturing these wonderful moments in my camera I along with other FLY360 guys decided to go and explore the whole event. We went ahead to try the sweets at the international sweet festival which was on the other side of the ground. We all were surprised to see the huge crowd and the numerous stalls of exclusive varieties of food and sweets present it appeared more like attending a King’s victory feast! We tried various sweets from Afghanistan, Turkey, and Sri Lanka. We also had some chat items and came back to the ground for flying. My family members too had come in the evening to watch the lovely kites and see me flying such huge kites.. they too got a chance to meet FLY360 team and other kite flyers who had become my good friends in these 2 days. We all sat together and watched the night kite show.
Day 3 - Kite flying
The last day of kite flying had arrived and I was a bit upset as it would also end up my holidays and I will have to go back to work sooner! But since it was going to be the last day I had decided to enjoy the kite flying to the maximum as after that I wouldn’t know when I shall be flying kites next until the next Sankranthi festival. All geared up and set for the venue I started off along with all the other teams, we were clicking a lot of pictures and shooting videos as it was going to be the last day we could meet some of them as they had early flights to take off and won’t be available the next day for the Hyderabad tour.
We reached the venue a little late due to the more than usual traffic which made us halt for quite some time, on reaching the venue the sky was very clear and the sun was scorching its heat on us. There was no air at all for us to fly even the basic kites. We waited for quite some time at the tents for the wind to blow but there were no signs of it until afternoon. Well, this was some good time to utilize for bonding with others.. we went and spoke to many kite flyers exchanged our ideas and thoughts, discussed on what we can offer to the kite flying industry and what innovations can be done by collaborating with one another. Few teams also were giving their souvenirs to all the kite flying teams to make a strong bond and keep a memory of theirs with us. I got 2 lovely personalized kites from the Sri Lankan team which are very colorful but delicate to handle. Around 4 -4.30 pm going towards the closing ceremony we posed and clicked loads of team pictures and exchanged contacts with other kite flyers, during the closing ceremony as we all were invited on stage for the felicitation we also played Garba and danced to different Punjabi beats as well we all were given a cute souvenir of Charminar as a gift from the Telangana tourism , after the closure of event we went back to the hotel and had a refreshing sleep to beat away all the tiresomeness of 3 days.
Day 4 - Sightseeing
This day was all for fun and sightseeing, the Telangana tourism was an excellent host as they had planned to take all the flyers from different countries to a day-long trip around the city and get them taste the Hyderabadi nawazi! It was very generous of them to arrange a special bus for all the guests along with a personal tour guide who would make sure we don’t miss out on anything.. we all were taken to various places around the city like Birla Mandir, Charminar, Golkonda Fort, Chowmahalla Palace etc, as I being a Hyderabadi had already seen all of this I was like a tour guide to FLY360 team members and other flyers who had joined us. Though the heat wave was very strong throughout the day we were all in high spirits to enjoy this day to the fullest. We explored all the places with much enthusiasm and also savored on Hyderabadi Biryani, which made all of them swoon into the aroma and flavors of our masalas and desi ghee! I also made them taste the authentic Irani Chai and Osmania biscuits which were like an energy booster for all of them. By evening we completed the tour and it was time to say goodbye to all as they all were leaving the next morning.
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