Who would have thought that a little known town in coastal Andhra Pradesh, would one day throw up a surprise as a must visit weekend getaway ! Chirala, 330 kms from Hyderabad, is hardly known outside Andhra Pradesh, its claim to fame has been its handloom textiles and trading. Today, the town has, probably, a first entry into its ”Places of interest” – beach resorts, more specifically – Sea Breeze Beach resorts.
We had heard about the Sea Breeze resorts from a friend, who gave us rave reviews and we had been wanting to visit the place. The perfect occasion came about in May, little nephew’s birthday. And so, during the weekend of 12th May, we set off to Chirala.
Wedding woes !
Our drive to Chirala began at 7 AM.
Though the shortest route to Chirala from Hyderabad is the Nalgonda-Miryalaguda-Chilakaluripeta-Chirala route, we decided to take the longest route via Vijayawada because 1. we simply love that amazing road 2.you get to have breakfast at Highway 7 at Suryapet 3. if we were lucky, we could buy Nuzividu mangoes at Vijayawada ! Reasons enough to drive 50 kms more?
Being a Sunday and peak wedding season, the traffic was heavy upto Suryapet, it took us more than 2 hours to reach Suryapet. Highway 7, which has now become our habit on this highway, was overflowing with people at 9.30 AM. With great difficulty we found a seat. We were forced to forgo our dreams of having piping hot Pongal and had to be satisfied with Idly-Vada because we had not more than 15 minutes to stop for breakfast. Our family was driving down from Nellore and we told them we’d meet them at Chirala by 12 noon.
We had never seen a highway hotel bustling with crowds, all thanks to our people’s love for weddings. If there is one thing that excites Indians more than anything else, it is weddings ! Most people seemed to be travelling to attend weddings in and around Hyderabad and stopped for breakfast at Suryapet in all their wedding finery, ladies in their Kanjeevaram sarees and bedecked in jewellery, you could mistake them for a mobile jewellery store ! Hard to imagine that they were travelling with all that on a highway, in the mid-summer heat !
Inching out of Vijayawada
Thankfully, the traffic reduced after Suryapet and NH9/65 was free to zoom to Vijayawada, we reached the city in around 1 & 1/2 hours. We were delighted to find mangoes in a market place on the outskirts and stopped to buy the famous Nuzividu Rasalu. We were happy with our progress, Chirala was another 100 kms away and on the NH5, it would take us just over an hour. And then, we were stuck ! The road starting from APTDC’s Berm Park resort all the way to Krishna Barrage was blocked in a massive traffic jam ! The road is one of the narrowest roads in the city and the only connecting road out of the city towards the highway, add to that the heavy crowds and vehicles to the Kanaka Durga Temple. The entire highway traffic including lorries and buses had come to a stand still.
Traffic moved in centimeters and by the time we dragged our car out of the mess, it was 12 noon ! It took us 45 minutes to cross a stretch of less than 1 kilometer ! All because of weddings everywhere, the Kanaka Durga temple being the hub of activity. An hour ago, we were praising the NHAI and as we drove out of Vijayawada, we were showering our choicest abuses wondering who builds such an important highway right through a city ! Back to our senses, we decided there was a lot to thank the NHAI for proceeded with our journey.
The next 100 kms, were a fun drive. Though Chirala is on the main VIjayawada-Chennai rail route, the roadway is a deviation from the NH5. After crossing Guntur, one has to take a deviation to the State Highway at Ponnur. We were a little apprehensive about the SH, snobbish NH fans that we are but the SH was superb !
Enroute, we spotted the famous Bhavanarayana Swamy temple between Ponnur and Bapatla. We didn’t stop here because we were short of time, also it was past closing time. It was 1 PM, our family had reached Chirala 2 hours ago, check-in time at Sea Breeze resorts starts at 8 AM and we had already wasted 5 hours of our resort time !
If you are wondering why we didn’t start early in the morning, well, our wedding woes didn’t start on the Hyderabad-Suryapet highway, it started the night before when we ourselves returned from a wedding at 2 AM and had less than 4 hours sleep before we woke up for our trip !
A very hot welcome !
It was almost 2 PM, when we drove into Chirala town. The entire town was shut down for lunch, not a single shop was open, except for a bakery and some tea stalls. It was almost like driving through a curfew !
The Sea Breeze Resorts is located 6 kms from the town on the Ramapuram Beach. You can see the landscape change all of a sudden, the road side becomes sandy, suddenly there are a lot of palm and palmyra trees and the air smells of the sea ! The resort is adjacent to the Chirala Engineering College.
When we parked our car in the resort and stepped out, we received the hottest welcome ever ! It was mid-afternoon summer heat at its best, the short walk from the car parking area to our rooms had almost roasted us alive !
Yet, when we entered our rooms, the view of the sea and the sound of the waves seemed to have cooled everything around us. We caught up with our folks, had a great lunch and got a much needed power nap before waking up for a cup of tea by sea side and for some fun at the Sea Beach Resorts.
More on that later !