Reverie by the Godavari – II – The Vijayawada leg of the journey – Pray, Eat, Travel !

There are three routes to Rajahmundry from Hyderabad. One route goes via Khammam, Aswaraopet, Sathupally, the shortest route but it can turn out to be a nightmare because of bad roads, we had hands on experience on two occasions in 201-11 and have been wary of it ever since. There is another route which takes you through Warangal and the forest area between Khammam-Rajahmundry, we haven’t explored this route yet. Our current favourite is the NH9 & NH5 route via Vijayawada, which is where we stopped for lunch after a 2 hour journey from Suryapet.

Jai Hanuman !

Just before you reach Vijayawada, you pass through Paritala, a small town which is popular for two reasons – it’s association with a (in)famous politician as his surname and the 135 feet Hanuman idol, which people claim to be the tallest Hanuman statue in the world.

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The majestic looking statue was installed in the Veera Abhaya Anjaneya temple in the early 2000s. It is worth stopping by at this temple to visit the huge statue, you can climb up to the platform on which the it is mounted and do a pradakshina. You will realise the massiveness of the statue when you get closer to it. Probably, this is how gigantic Lord Hanuman looked as he leapt over the ocean to reach Lanka ! Do not miss it if you are driving to Vijayawada.

Pray

Stopping by at a major city/town on the way to your destination is one of the fascinating things of a road trip for us. It is always fun to pass through a new city, it feels good to think “so this is the city we’ve heard so much about”. Our next pitstop was Vijayawada.

Before going on to Godavari, we had to keep our date with River Krishna and pay our respects to the Goddess ruling over the Krishna Delta. We made a quick visit to Goddess Kanaka Durga Temple. It was a pricking, hot afternoon but landing in Vijayawada and not visiting the famous temple is unthinkable. Looking down from the Indrakeeladri Hill on which the temple is located, we could see the Krishna River, shrivelled under the summer sun. We wanted to stay in the air-conditioned sanctum sanctorum for as long as we could, even the Goddess seemed to find our silly ideas amusing !

Outside the temple, we had to run to go back to our car as the hot ground almost burnt our feet. Vijayawada, flanked by mountains on all sides, is one of the hottest places in the state.

Eat

The most important thing we always pray for is good food ! In Vijayawada, there is never a dearth for this blessing, thanks to this abode of delicious meals.

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Sri Ramayya Mess, Governorpet, Vijayawada. Ask anybody in Vijayawada, they will guide you to this decades old, famous eating joint.

We heard about this place and discovered the joys of binging during our year end trip in 2012. In less than 3 months, we were back for more. The temptation of food is too great to resist. So, camera in tow, to capture our indulgence, we made way to the Rs.100/- AC meals section. They have two other meal sections based on the price – Rs.85/- and Rs.60/-. At peak lunch time, the place is crowded and you will have to wait to find a seat.

They usually serve the meal in steel plates but ask for plantain leaves. You can’t beat the deadly combination of the green plantain leaves and the vibrant colours of a traditional meal ! The food looked so good that we spent sometime clicking pictures before we actually got down to eat.

Since we are inept at describing the taste of the meal, we will leave it to the pictures.

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The meal starts with a sweet, fruit juice, pulao rice, followed by variety of spicy powders, Avakai and other pickles, vegetable curries, the famous dal, sambhar, rasam and ends with thick curd.

Then, there is this special item, Ulava Charu with milk cream as an accompaniment. Do not, we repeat, do not miss this. Even if you have not tasted it before or don’t like the taste of Horsegram or it looks weird when mixed with rice. Just do it !

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People say that the Krishna water has something special in it and accounts for the amazing taste of Dal in these regions. It is interesting to note how people take pride their rivers. Long back, we had asked a car driver from Thirunelveli the reason behind the special taste of the Thirunelveli Halwa and he told us it was all because of the Thamaraparani water ! The people of Godavari go a step further and proclaim that their spicy, tangy attitude is because of the Godavari’s water. Rivers have played the most important role in the development of human civilization from time immemorial and continue to hold a place of pride in people’s lives.

Travel

The beauty of travel is discovering new places, people, culture, cuisines, experiences, adventures and coming up with “deep” thoughts like the above !

Done with our lunch, we resumed our journey, not before getting high on Meenakshi, the pan variety, of course !

From Vijayawada, the rest of the journey is on one of the busiest highways in India, NH5, part of the Golden Quadrilateral. This grand old highway between Kolkata and Chennai has been an old travel buddy since the time this writer learnt the T of travel.

The 200 km journey from the Krishna delta to the Godavari heartland is one smooth drive.

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