Friday, January 5, 2018

A full day trip at Ramoji Film City

Ramoji Movie Magic

If you are planning to visit Hyderabad for a vacation, or you stay in Hyderabad and looking for a one-day outing place, then think no further and book your tickets for Ramoji Film City. It is recognized by the Guinness Records as the largest film studio complex in the world, spanning 2000 acres. The film city has natural as well as artificial attractions which cater to all age group, from kids to adults. We were on a three-day tour to Hyderabad and decided to visit the film city on our 2nd day of the tour. I had already booked the tickets online but the film city also has ticket counters at the parking area. The general day tour ticket is Rs 1250 for adults and Rs 1000 for kids. There's a premium ticket as well which was for Rs 2350. We were staying in Jubilee Hills and Ramoji film city was quite far from our hotel, so we tried leaving as early as possible. Google maps showed that it would take us around 1 hour 30 minutes. We went through Nehru outer ring road and took an exit as per the maps and finally reached the entry gate.


Since I had already booked tickets online, I thought we are sorted and can just enter the gates. But the guards stopped us and informed that parking is not allowed here and we'll have to go back around 7 km where we'll have to park our cars, get physical tickets, and board a common bus plying to and fro the film city. It was very inconvenient as we wasted around an hour because of this confusion. I felt upset that I didn't read about it anywhere. By the time we finally reached film city bus drop point (Eureka), it was already 11:30am. We quickly took the guide map from the help desk nearby and started going through the list of attractions and shows happening today. The lady at the help desk advised us to first take the backlot tour which starts on a special bus designed for the film city, then we have to deboard and board other buses as per schedule.

Bus Drop Point Ramoji Film City
The bus drop point from where the tour starts. Also called Eureka
Red Bus for tour Ramoji Film City
The Red bus for Backlot tour
The whole tour takes around 2 hours. The guide has a mic and he tells about the attractions and their use in various films as the bus runs slowly so that tourists can take photographs. We saw the marriage garden (limelight garden) where the climax of Dilwale was shot, the park where oohlala song from the dirty picture was shot, London street set, Delhi street set, south Indian street set, vegetable market set, central jail set, village and urban railway station set, and airport set. I had seen lots of photographs on the Internet of people taking photographs with most of these sets but today the buses weren't stopping and letting people deboard anywhere. Maybe because it was way too crowded. We were unlucky as there were easily around ten thousand people today. The tour bus stopped at the Bhagavatam set where we could deboard and visit the Bhagavatam set as well as the railway station set nearby. The entry to the Bhagavatam set was narrow and it quickly became chaotic as everybody wanted selfies with the set. The staff present on the set were requesting people to keep moving and let everyone get a chance to view the set. The set was beautiful and it looked quite real.

Bhagavatam set structure
Fine details on the set of Bhagavatam 
Bhagavatam Set
Bhagavatam Set with props
We quickly took some photographs and continued towards the railway station set. A staff informed us that this is where the railway station scenes were shot for Chennai express and many other regional films. The train bogie had a very fine detailing and felt exactly like a real one. Fake shops were part of the set. I wanted to take photographs of other attractions nearby as well, so we sneaked out of the station set and went to the central prison set.

Railway booking counter set
Railway booking counter set
Railway station set
Railway Station Set
We were probably the only one at this set as nobody seemed to dare and be a little adventurous. One of the staff there saw us and requested us not to be here for long. We took his permission to take some photographs and told him we'll leave quickly. The next point was the most awaited one, the Bahubali set, for which we had to catch a bus from near the railway station set. We reached the set in 5 minutes where we saw a film crew was shooting. They were using green screen and cranes which gave me an idea that an action sequence was being shot.

Prison set in ramoji film city
Prison set with related props 
Central Prison Set gate
I just got released from Central Jail, Ramoji Film CIty.
The Bahubali set was the most magnificent attraction in the film city. Tourists can go around the mythical Mahishmati kingdom and relive the movie experience for real. After the shooting for the movie got completed, the film city officials met with the movie producers and shared the idea of preserving the entire set and open for tourists. The producers happily obliged the idea as they liked the idea of preserving their hard work. The big chariot pushed by Bahubali, the Bhallaladeva statue, weapons, armoury, Sivagami's throne are some of the notable props on the set. There are a couple of eateries on the premises and they've named various food items based on the characters from the movie such as Bahubali chicken puff.

Bahubali chariot prop
The chariot used in Bahubali
Bahubali props
The chariot prop where Bhallaladeva statue was being pulled
Bahubali stage
The set where Mahishmati's main hall is shot
We boarded the bus for the next stop which was a group of artificial attractions. First was the Hawa Mahal. It is a replica of a typical Rajasthani mahal with gardens and statues. The Mahal premises also gives a panoramic view of the film city. Next point is Japanese garden for which tourists have to walk a bit from the Hawa Mahal. The garden had a structure in the centre resembling Japanese architecture. We weren't interested in walking around the garden so we quickly made our way out and boarded the bus for the next point, which was butterfly park, bird park and Kripalu caves.

Hawa Mahal set 

Japanese garden


A panoramic view from Hawa Mahal set
We chose to skip butterfly and bird park as we've already seen it in other cities, and walked toward Kripalu caves. It's an artificial structure and looks like a replica of the Ajanta Caves. This was probably the last attraction point as the next bus took us to the Eureka which was the same point where we started from in the morning.

Devasena prison set
The prison cell where Devasana was held captive
sivagami's throne set
Sivagami's throne which was used in the movie
Kripalu Caves
Sculpture of Buddha and his disciples inside Kripalu Caves
We quickly checked for the timings of various live shows in the brochure. Each of the live show keeps running at regular interval simultaneously at different locations. You really need to plan which one to watch and which one to miss. We decided to watch "Lights, camera and action", "Filmmaking experience", and "Space yatra". We also thought of catching the most famous show in the film city, the Fort Frontier Stunt Show afterwards. We quickly ran for the auditorium hosting the Lights Camera Action show at the Movie Magic area. It's a one of its kind live show where several artists were performing on UV projection stage. The show depicts various genre of a cinema in beautiful props. This show was probably the highlight of our tour. The show ended in 15 minutes and then we ran towards the theatre which was hosting the filmmaking experience show.

a show in ramoji film city
The Lights Camera Action show
There was a long queue with approximately 250 people ahead of us. The good part about the theatre that it could house 300 people. We got our chance in another 10 minutes. This theatre is divided into three sections and introduces the tourists to the basic film making process. It's an interactive show where tourists get a chance to be a part of a small film making workshop. The first theatre shows how green screen and chroma keying is used. The second theatre shows how sound is mixed and added to the recorded footage. The third theatre shows how the final movie looks with sound, video and special effects.

film making experience
Actors, selected from the tourists, performing a scene from Sholay
The next show was space yatra and we had to walk a bit to reach the building. As the queue was relatively small, we thought we'll get free and will be able to catch the stunt show. We were wrong. The space yatra is apparently a 5D VR theatre which houses only 30 people in one show. Each show was around 10 minutes. We wished we had known about it earlier. We wasted around 1 hour in the queue and when finally our turns came, we were totally disappointed. It looked like the show was built 10 years ago and hadn't been upgraded. a 5D show in any mall is miles better than this show. By the time we got free, it was already 5:40PM but still, we ran towards the Eureka at the stunt show venue. We missed it by 10 minutes as the last show was at 5:30. There were no other shows after 5:30 and the only place to stay now is the Eureka area. The area has several attractions like bull ride, Carousel, food stalls. There's an open theatre at Eureka where some live dance show was going on. We thought of leaving as we wanted to visit Hussain Sagar Lake. We boarded the bus for the main parking area. It took us 15 minutes to reach the parking spot where we had some refreshments at the restaurant and left the film city for Hussain Sagar Lake.

A tourist enjoying the bull ride 
The Carousel ride in the Eureka

To summarize our full day tour of Ramoji Film City,

  • Ticket booking starts at 9AM but I'd advise booking tickets online as it would save time.
  • Film city opening ceremony is at 9:45 AM and the film city attractions are open till 5:30. It's advisable to reach as early as possible so that you can view all the attractions.
  • Google maps may take you directly to the main entry gate. Make sure you navigate Ramoji city parking and main ticket counter.
  • Get the brochure from the help desk and decide and visit the attractions you wouldn't want to miss.
  • Most of the artificial attractions are avoidable and can be skipped.
  • Lights Camera Action is a must watch show. Do not miss it.
  • Filmmaking experience show is good for someone who doesn't know anything about film making.
  • Space yatra is highly avoidable. Do not waste your time on it.
  • Hop on the Red bus for the guided tour first thing and then go to individual attractions.
Bahubali props in Ramoji
The Bhallaladeva statue prop used in the movie


I'd love to experience the Film City again in the future with much more time in hand and hopefully less crowd. Share your experiences and any other thoughts in the comments section.

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