“…and then they rode off into the sunset and lived happily ever after !” Most fairy tales end like this. That evening as our boat left the banks of the Godavari and as we turned back to say to goodbye to the Kolluru Bamboo Huts, it really did feel like we had lived in a fairy tale !
Before this, we waited for 45 minutes in the scorching heat for our boat, Jabili, to arrive, gulping bottles and bottles of water and soft drinks. We were almost dehydrated, ironical, considering we were so close to one of the largest water bodies in India ! It seems, the boat was delayed because they forgot someone back at Perantalapalli and had to do a u-turn to pick them up ! The staff on almost every boat repeatedly, remind people to come back to the boat on time but then, this is a free country, isn’t it? People are free to disregard instructions.
Unknown lives but full of life !
It was around 3.30 PM by the time our boat arrived and we literally barged into the AC hall. There were very few people on the return journey and we had the entire AC hall for ourselves ! Soon we were bidding farewell to Kolluru, promising to be back again, if the Polavaram Dam, when built, would permit us.
On board the Jabili, Nani was back with his entertaining banter, we had grown fond of him. It was heartening to see the bonding of the boat staff, they shared an amazing friendship, their daily journeys along the Godavari binding them into a close-knit family.
For some reason, Nani seemed to be brooding and played songs of love and pathos ! What could be his story? We had a great ideas for stories based on the lives of these young men, the boat seemed to be their kingdom where each one of them was a hero in his own respect. Kishore, Nani and so many young men on all those boats riding on the Godavari were unknown in the big, wide world, yet there they were, charming their way through struggles for a better life.
Having cooled off the heat under the AC and after a round of tea and snacks, we went out and stood on the deck, a warm breeze but refreshing breeze was blowing all around. The river, breeze, hills and silence, you could feel your heart singing away joyfully.
Rowing, not drifting, into the sunset
Sunset, Godavari, Papi Kondalu, boats – it was like a love story, all the four were inseparable during our 3 hour journey back to Purushothapatnam.
It was time to go home for this bird too !
Rowing hard to keep their lives adrift, reminded this writer about a motto learnt in school, “Rowing, not drifting” – living, not just existing, taking charge of your life and not just going along.
This is signature Godavari !
View of sunset from the deck, it felt dream like.
The sun’s golden trail.
If nature was a woman, the sun would be her bindhi. Behold ! The most beautiful woman ever !
“Have a great evening, folks”, says the sun !
As you can see, it was beyond magical, have to agree with Keats, a thing of beauty is indeed a joy forever and something as beautiful as this, could give us joy even in our after lives !
Harnessing the Godavari
By 6.30 PM, we were close to the proposed Polavaram Dam site. The building of this massive dam has turned out to be a major controversy on account of threats to hundreds of villages, ecology and bio-diversity. Work has been in suspended animation for several years now. Compared to the Krishna, Godavari has had a free reign in Andhra Pradesh, the Polavaram Dam was proposed to harness the flood waters.
If you want to get an idea of Godavari’s might, check out this picture.
When in flood, the river rises up to the level of the sand dunes ! The dunes looked like a huge fort wall.
The foundation pillars of the Polavaram Dam can be seen in the distance.
They say when this dam is completed, it would block the entry to Papi Kondalu, it is common for people to advice you to visit Papi Hills before the Polavaram Dam is built. From what we understand, the dam might block the current route but we do not know if there are alternate routes to Papi Hills and if the swelling Godavari would make them accessible or not. Dams have great benefits and are wheels of progress but are we meddling with nature way too much? The debate continues.
As we reached Purushothapatnam, we passed by some locations like this temple, made popular by Telugu films. It seems this is where the famous song “Na gonthu sruthilona” from “Janaki Ramudu”, an embarrassingly cheesy film about love and rebirth, was shot here !
Nearby is this electricity tower installed on a very high platform to keep it safe from Godavari’s rage, which rises to dangerous levels during flood time.
So now you know what this river is capable of !
From reverie to reality
We were back to our daily lives but it was now easy for us to cut off from the realities, thanks to a dream world called Papi Kondalu and Kolluru !
Back at Rajahmundry, we had enough time and energy to have what was left off Satish’s Bajjis and a glass of rose milk. Early next morning, it was time to pack up and go home, Hyderabad beckoned. We signed off the trip with some amazing home cooked Bengali food at our friend’s place to celebrate his birthday. It was a fairy tale ending !