Saturday, October 22, 2011

Greenery, Scenery and the Great Godavari

This is going to be one of my(or only) long blog post. So if you've just wandered here to pass time between running codes or bored of seeing the same facebook updates and looking for more excitement in life or just stumbled here because of my brilliantly worded blogsite, which draws a lot of Akon fan traffic here, I advise you just skip the crap and directly go to the pics. On the other hand,if you are serious about taking a boat ride on Godavari or most likely just too jobless in life, go ahead.

I've always wanted to go explore places (I know. Like who doesn't?). Went to a few with family. Let me see now: Ooty - Coimbatore, Mysore - Banglore - Hospet, Kothagudem - Kinnerasani, Kurnool - Ahobilam - Nandyal, Mumbai and around: all mostly when young. And then there were the trips I put to Banglore, Pondicherry, Goa, Delhi with dosths. I know, not very extensive. A regret of my life. But a deeper and greater regret has been not seeing the Andhra part of my own state. So when my mom told me that they were shifting base to Vizag, I was actually kinda glad. Finally, the coastal districts. I can now tick off one other part of A.P.

Clouds, Hills and the Great River
Vizag was a nice change from Pune and I loved the August weather there (pun intended). Our house was on the slopes of a hill, in a place named Seethamma Dhaara. For a person so very used to the corrupted names of Hyd localities, the names here sounded like poetry.(The names of localities in Hyd actually deserve another post. Will do that in future. And don't get me wrong, Hyd still is first love. No body can beat names like Neem Bowli Adda, Kacheguda, Koranti, Seethaphalmandi, Tirumalgherry and such)

So you are right, this post isn't about Vizag and Hyd and the never ending debates which usually crop up while comparing cities. Its about this launch (Boat) ride I took from Rajamundry to Perantalapally (If you are a Gult, lol with me). We started from a place called Pattiseema. Now if you come from a parched placed like Hyd and have only seen villages in an around there, this place looks like a green paradise. The closest I can compare this place is with the pics of Kerala backwaters. The greenery just overwhelmed me. But this was nothing. The actual boat ride was even better.

The boat was good. So was the food. We took an A.P tourism managed one but you can choose from other private operators too.The first stop was at a small Lanka (Island, in the river). There was a Rama temple there, but I spent most of the time strolling on the river banks, trying to soak in the rivers vastness. Man it was huge. Like a giant moving lake. The tour guide was telling me that the best time to undertake the journey is when the monsoons aren't too rough. The river usually has very strong current after a good monsoon and the steamer cannot navigate or its usually dry during other seasons and the steamer anyways cannot navigate in shallow waters. So usually August to November is a good time to be there.

The lake like river, after about an hour jounrney became a vast but stronger moving current. There was an opening, about a kilometer wide in between the hills from which the river comes from the valley. That's the Paapi hills welcome gate. I originally thought the name had something to do with some guys sin, but apparently, it comes from the telugu word "Papidi", meaning the hairline partition of a woman. The river is like the "papidi". I remember another story the guide told me about the hills. There were some hill rocks on top of one of the hills making it look like a man, with a long nose. The story he told is long and like most mythological stories involves Rushis' and curses and rakshas and Godavari cleansing sins etc (Ok.Ok Guilty. I forgot the story.Sorry!). The guide made a snide remark saying nowadays they are calling it the K.C.R hill (refer long nose part:D).

There were some people on the river banks making small pits in there to collect water. They were using it as some sort of filtration technique. It was a tough life, filtering water like that and then transporting uphill. I din't understand why they were doing it until I realized that was another river island. The journey upstream next took us to Parentalapally, which contained a Rama Krishna ashram. The setting was absolutely serene and I wasn't at all surprised to see an ashram there. In fact, I was kinda expecting more baba's at those locations. There were also lots of "Tribals" , mostly selling forest/tribal stuff. God how I hate commercialization at such places. But guess we got to accept them with the journey

The journey down stream was much faster. All those CAT problems about upstream downstream boats suddenly made sense;). Since there were no stops, the guide was playing very loud music from the PA system. I soo badly wanted to just spend time sitting and staring at the never changing hills and the fast flowing water. But the boat setting made me think. Instead of going to Goa or a costly resort for office parties et all, hiring a boat on Godavari makes lot more economic sense, and trust me, with enthusiastic people, it is great fun. There is one small island in between which has lots of tents and stuff by AP tourism. A stop here can make the whole journey two days long. Ofcourse, even with my parents it was good fun. In fact, I would term the experience a perfect family time.

At the place where we start, i.e Pattiseema, there is the huge Polavaram project coming up. I don't think there is any danger of the journey being spoilt because of the damn cuz,come on, the political situation makes sure the construction just won't happen. The dam may spoil the fun by cutting short the journey once its up so I'd say the next 3-4 years are the best time to undertake this journey.

Although I'm not much of a photographer, I'll still leave you guys with some pics. The place has great scenery, good food and will give you some peace of mind. An experience worth trying and especially for Rs 600, its a steal. My only regret was that people around used plastic bags and cups indiscriminately in the river and in the islands. There isn't much littering yet, but I can see that once tourists pour in, these places are bound to get screwed up. We as a nation should collectively improve our civic sense.
I wonder why they don't have races on Godavari.
The place looked very pretty

Early morning clouds on mountains

The Polavaram project. Somewhere here