Burnt out of routine, Sankranthi this year was a welcome change, more so because we were heading to hometown Nellore, it had been eons since we were home for Sankranthi. As it happens always, there is no way one can find train tickets for the Sankranthi vacation if you are not an early bird. We had no worries though, our travel partner, Figo was raring to go !
The journey route was on the regular NAM expressway with a deviation at Piduguralla towards Guntur for some work. We took the Piduguralla-Sattenapalle-Guntur route, which, surprisingly was a smooth drive. NH5 between Guntur-Nellore, of course, was a breeze. We started from Gachibowli at 1 PM and were in Nellore by 10.30 PM with lunch and tea breaks.
The next day was Bhogi and we had a wonderful time lighting the Bhogi Manta (fire) at 5 AM.
If you want to get the real feel of Sankranthi, head to the nearest village in coastal Andhra Pradesh. In our tiny village, there was a festive nip in the winter freshness.
The secret beach of Prakasam
We had 5 days on our Sankranthi vacation, while most of the holiday was spent lazing around, we decided we had to go to some new place and fixed on Ramayapatnam Beach, near Kavali. Though the beach nearest to Nellore was only some 25 kms and Ramayapatnam Beach was close to 70 odd kms from our place, the journey time would be the same because the route to Ramayapatnam from Nellore was entirely on NH5. We even had to laugh at ourselves for travelling 70 kms to go to a beach and cross into another district, Ramayapatnam technically falls under Prakasam district.
It took us a little over one hour to reach Ramayapatnam village. The lighthouse is the first attraction. Visitors are allowed to climb up the lighthouse, however, when we reached there, we were told the person in-charge was away and would be back to open the gates at 5 PM. Funnily, the information board says, the lighthouse is closed for public after 5 PM.
We decided to have a cup of coffee before heading to the beach and drove towards the AP Tourism Haritha Beach Resort. As we were driving towards the resort, we just happened to look up at the lighthouse and saw that people had already climbed up, which meant the in-charge had returned or the person who had spoken to us earlier was plain lazy to open the gates !
Not wanting to miss the chance of climbing up the lighthouse, we went back.
The place around the lighthouse is well maintained and pleasant, even if you don’t want to visit the beach, you can laze around the park.
We bought the tickets and began climbing the stairs leading to the top of the lighthouse. The climb is close to 7 floors.
There is no lift but the steps are easy and you get good views of the sea at every level. The last part of the climb is a little tricky, the steps end in a cabin with iron ladder leading to the top of the lighthouse through a trap door. This ladder is placed almost vertically and looks a little scary but nevertheless, easy to climb up and down if you keep your hold.
Once you reach the top, your eyes suddenly meet the breathtaking view of the sea and coastline and a gush of the sea breeze brushes across your face, leaving you in awe for a moment !
We have been to beaches and sea coasts several times but this was a new experience for us. It felt like zooming out Google Maps !
We wanted to just sit down and relax taking in the sights but there were too many people on the top and limited space. These are places that you should experience in silence. That feeling is something else.
As the evening drew on, the lighthouse cast a shadow on the beach, another unforgettable sight !
It looked like a trigonometry puzzle, can you try calculating the height of the lighthouse using its shadow?
We wished we had more time to spend at the lighthouse but we still had to visit the beach, so we climbed down the light house and drove to the Beach resort for some coffee, the restaurant was closed and it looked like the resort was not doing great business. AP Tourism has done a decent job in building the resort but looks like it needs a lot of promotion. Haritha Resorts are usually well maintained and value for money, a few cars were parked at the resort, so we suppose it is functional but we couldn’t find out how good the place actually is.
Next, we headed to the beach. Though not a very popular beach, our people have managed to litter the place. Amazing how, for all the great knowledge that we claim to possess, basic civic sense is something we seem to have no clue about ! But then, one always has fun at the beach and we splashed and played in the water for about half an hour, when, the light from lighthouse told us it was time to get back home.
It took us 2 hours to drive back home, including stopping for dinner at the Blue Moon Dhaba, a new eating joint that has come up on the Hyderabad-Chennai and a good place to take a break.
The trip to Ramayapatnam beach was short but it was an enjoyable outing, the lighthouse experience being the highlight.
N5 Food Plaza – a cool idea on NH5
The rest of the vacation was spent lazing at home and finally we set off to Hyderabad 2 days after Sankranthi.
While driving to Nellore, we had spotted a new food plaza located on the 1st floor of the toll plaza at Tanguturu 16 kms from Ongole, called “N5 Food Plaza”. We couldn’t check it then because we were not sure if it was functional and also we had plans to reach home for dinner. On our return journey to Hyderabad, we made it a point to stop and check out the place.
We paid the toll, parked our car in the parking area nearby and went up to the food court, there is a lift to the 1st floor. The food joint is swanky and well maintained with very clean washrooms.
The best of the food joint, though, is the awesome view of the highway and it is rather amusing to see vehicles passing through the toll plaza below.
Once in a while, when a heavy vehicle passes through the toll plaza, you can feel a little jolt up at the food joint !
Having had our lunch before starting, our idea was to just check out the food joint, so we ordered some soft drinks, stretched our legs and carried on with our journey.
A slice of history at Addanki
On the Chennai-Hyderabad route, after you take a deviation from NH5 to the NAM Expressway, the first town that you pass through is Addanki, an ancient city which was once the capital of the Reddy Dynasty that ruled these parts of Andhra Pradesh in the 14th Century A.D. There is not much left to talk about the glory of the Reddy Dynasty, Addanki, today, is a typical town.
The highway passes through the crowded market place. Every trip home brings us to Addanki but this was the first time we spotted something interesting that gave a glimpse into the town’s past, a replica of the Addanki inscription, a stone slab containing what is called a “Padya Sasanam” belonging to the 9th Century A.D, some 500 years before Addanki became the capital of Reddy kings.
We passed by it initially but took a u-turn and returned to the spot to read the information board and click a picture. Beside the inscription, there is a statue of the legendary 14th Century Telugu poet, Yerrapragada, one of the trinity of Telugu poets who translated the Mahabharata into Telugu.
We did a little research on the internet about the edict and learnt that a Padya Sasanam is an edict written in the form of a poem. The Addanki inscription was found in a temple nearby and the original is now located in the Chennai Archeological Museum. A replica stands in the market area beside the highway.
According to an article in The Hindu, the edict is considered to be one of the early forms of Telugu poetry even before Nannayya gave the language a proper form 2 centuries later. The inscription talks about Pandaranga, an army general of the Vengi kings and the land donated to him by the king for his military achievements.
This is why journeys are exciting, you never know what you will discover, learn and experience !
We reached Hyderabad by dinner time, a 5 day vacation away from the monotony was refreshing. At the end of the break, the monotony is welcome because it only means another vacation is round the corner !
- To reach Ramayapatnam, one has to travel on NH5 till Tettu, after crossing Kavali and from there deviate towards Ramayapatnam, Google Maps will take you right there. From Tettu, Ramayapatnam is about 5 kms. Follow Google Maps, it will guide you right upto the Beach.
- You may find buses upto Tettu, from there one has to hire local autos. Not a very convenient place to reach if you do not have your own vehicle.
- The lighthouse is open for the public from 3PM to 5PM according to the information board but it looks like it is more of the person incharge’s own set of timings. Either way, it is closed after 5.30 PM.
- Entry fee to the lighthouse is Rs.3/- for kids and Rs.10/- for adults, they charge another Rs.20/- for cameras.
- If you have kids with you, be watchful while on top of the lighthouse. Make sure they don’t lean too close to the railing. Also, one has to be a little careful while helping kids climb the iron ladder at the top or if you are carrying them while climbing.
- Accommodation at Ramayapatnam Beach resort can be booked online through AP Tourism’s portal. As mentioned earlier, we cannot comment on how good the resort is, we did not have the chance to check it.
- Ramayapatnam is a decent option to spend a lazy weekend for those in and around Chennai.
- If you happen to visit the place during the mango season, don’t miss buying mangoes from the orchards at Ulavapadu.
- We were told N5 Food Plaza is open from breakfast time to around 10 PM, they have plans to make it 24 hours in the future.
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