Krishna Delta Heritage Trip – VI – Hamsaladeevi – The Black River Terminus

Beginning her journey from the breathtaking Western Ghats and flowing through dense Nallamala hills, the Krishna river is the life giver to the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. In Andhra Pradesh, after a 1300 km journey, the Krishna finally meets the Bay of Bengal and that’s where we were headed from Machilipatnam, to Hamsaladeevi to see the river merge with the sea.

Google Maps at it again !

We checked Google Maps for the route to Hamsaladeevi from Machilipatnam and it came up with a 38 km route. Our estimation was that, we would reach Hamsaladeevi by 1 PM, spend some time there and head to Vijayawada for a late lunch and drive back to reach Hyderabad by dinner time.

We started from Machilipatnam around 11 AM and passed through villages and towns of Diviseema. The region along the fertile Krishna Delta is known as Diviseema. In 1977, tidal waves following a massive cyclonic storm wiped out several villages in this region, close to 15,000 people perished in the disaster. Today, the region seems to have been raised again after the disaster three decades ago.

After driving for about 40 minutes, Google Maps seemed to be taking us along a route that ran very close to the Krishna River and then we had to cross the river. We couldn’t see any bridge on the map and we presumed there would be one and proceeded with our drive until we reached a spot where there was no road ahead except a river bund ! That’s when it dawned on us that in its over enthusiasm to show us the shortest route possible, Google Maps did not care if there was a bridge or not ! When we checked the directions, it said “This route includes a ferry” ! Now, where could we find a ferry that would transport our car?

We asked the locals the route to Hamsaladeevi and they looked at us half amused wondering what we were doing there if we wanted to go to Hamsaladeevi, they told us it was some 60 kms via Avanigadda ! We had no other option but to drive back half way and take another route. Every now and then, Google kept insisting we go back and find a ferry, so we shut it up for sometime and followed the route advised by the locals till we were sure Google Maps had forgotten the ferry and agreed with the new route we were taking !

Whatever happens, we can never give up on Google Maps, it has given us enough adventures and stories to tell for a life time ! This time, it gave us these sylvan views of the paddy rich Krishna Delta.

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With mechanisation fast catching up in agriculture, these heaps of paddy or “Kuppalu” as they are known in Telugu, waiting to be harvested are also becoming a rare sight.

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We drove on to Avanigadda, an important town in the Diviseema region and were stuck in a traffic jam caused by a consecration ceremony at the popular Hanuman temple in the town. We had to take a deviation through some by-lanes and “no” lanes to get out of the town, which ate up a lot of time and the heat was beginning to get to us but every new view and every new experience kept the excitement going.

Adventures of the Figo

25 kilometres after Avanigadda, we arrived at Hamsaladeevi village. Hamsaladeevi translates to “Island of swans”, an apt name for the village close to the Krishna River’s swan song ! A sign board gave directions to 2 routes, one leading to the Venugopala Swamy temple in the village and the other to the beach and Sangamam point. The temple at Hamsaladeevi is quite popular in this area.

We took the route to the meeting point and when a river meets the sea, can mangroves be far behind? The landscape changed to mangroves bordering canals as the mighty Krishna began branching out, colourful fishing boats added to the captivating scenes.

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Further up, the canals became narrower and at the end of a curve in the road, a world of mangroves suddenly seemed to open up before us.

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All the way to the horizon, we could only see mangroves !

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And then almost abruptly, the green of the mangroves faded into dark brown flood plain of the River Krishna. Or, was it the river bed itself?

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We got off the road and began driving on the flood plain. We could see tyre marks leading to a building and tried driving there. The ground was firm but we were a little wary of driving too far, you never know where the soil is loose. There was no human being in sight anywhere nearby, so we did not want to take a chance of going closer to where we could see the sea. Walking was ruled out because the place was too deserted.

We concluded since Summer was approaching, the river bed was dry and this was all we could see of the river merging with the sea. It felt like an anti-climax but nothing could take away the pristine beauty of the vast expanse of the brown flood plain. It felt like we were on the terrain of some other planet ! We had a similar feeling when we stood at the tip of Dhanushkodi.

Our white Figo shone in the middle of the chocolate coloured terrain and we fell in love with our best travel partner once more !

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We then decided that we would take a look at the Hamsaladeevi Beach and drove back to the road.

Unlike the isolated flood plain, the Hamsaladeevi Beach had visitors. People were splashing in the water, there were photographers clicking instant pictures, ice creams carts and so on. If there is a crowd, can litter be far behind? Even a remotely located beach like this one has not been spared by our people.

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We have eons to go before Bharat comes anywhere near to becoming “Swachch” !

From the beach, we could see the meeting point of the river and the sea in the distance and it struck us that if we could drive along the shore, we could reach the meeting point. After a little survey of the sand and the terrain, we boarded the Figo, drove a few meters in the beach sand, slowed down as we approached a little sand bump, braked and then we were stuck ! The wheel was stuck in the soft beach sand, we could neither go forward or reverse !

Every time we tried accelerating forward, the Figo coughed up sand and if we tried to reverse, it sprayed out more sand and the wheel went deeper into the sand until it was almost a pit !

It was almost 3 PM, we had to get back to Hyderabad by night, what if the car couldn’t be pulled out? What if we need a tractor or a crane? Panic? We were too numb to even panic ! While we stood there laughing at ourselves, one of the photographers approached us with an offer to help us out, he said it would take 6 people to pull the car out and each person would have to be paid Rs.200/-, neat calculation ! We were told it was quite common for cars to get stuck there and it looked like there were “car savers” ready !

So, 4 men lifted the car while one of them held the steering and another one shoved the sand covering the pit that had been created by the sinking wheel. In two attempts, the Figo roared, spraying out the sand and was pulled out onto the stable surface. We thanked the men who helped us, asked to them reconsider the price and paid Rs.1000/- ! The Figo stood grinning at us, while we got in, shaken but still managing to laugh.

We decided the Figo and us had enough adventures for the trip, we hadn’t visited the actually meeting point but we just wanted to head back until an auto driver who was watching the spectacle told us we could easily drive on the flood plains till a point and then walk a few meters to reach the Sangamam. He was amused when we repeatedly asked him for assurance and told us he had just returned from 2 trips up and down in his auto carrying tourists. That kind of reignited our spirit and we went back to the river ban. Where we needn’t have worried, we were extra cautious and over confident where we shouldn’t have taken a chance. Life is a comedy of errors, don’t we all know?

Swan song of the Krishna

The landmark for the confluence point is this building, it is supposed to be some kind of a shelter.

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One has to park their vehicles near the shelter and walk down a few meters to reach the river bank or is it the sea shore? At this point, both are the same !

At the end of the 1300 km journey, the Krishna flows serene and silent, probably at peace with a job as the life living river, well done. A Marathi song goes “santh vahate Krishnamai” (quietly flows the Krishna) !

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Standing at the confluence, you can see the waves raging in the Bay of Bengal to your right.

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The Krishna arrives at the terminus without any announcement and fanfare.

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And, where the river ends, the sea waves begin and this synergy of nature is scene to behold !

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Here is a long shot of the Sangamam. Notice the sea waves in the bottom right of the picture, the sea wave blends into the river flow without a fuss !

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The river bank takes a curve and becomes the sea shore, it’s all just too beautiful !

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When your mind is filled with scenes like this, there is never anything to feel sad about, just recall these memories and blend in with nature. Life is happy !

With that, we left Hamsaladeevi and began our journey back to Hyderabad. We once again passed through the Mangroves and a parting shot to add to our folder of happy memories.

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We reached home around midnight, quite pleased with ourselves that we managed to pack in so many places and had different enriching experiences all in a matter of a weekend !

Info tidbits

  • From Vijayawada, Hamsaladeevi is about 86 kms, one straight route through the Vijayawada-Avanigadda-Hamsaladeevi road, good road and very scenic.
  • Don’t believe Google Maps when it tells you Hamsaladeevi is only 35 kms from Machilipatnam, unless your vehicle can swim across the river ! If you are travelling from Machilipatnam, take the Challapalli, Mopidevi, Avanigadda route, that is around 60 kms.
  • From Vijayawada and Machilipatnam, one can find buses upto Avanigadda, Koduru, from there, one can take another bus or hire an auto. Since the place is slightly off the main road, always good to have your own vehicle.
  • Avoid visiting the place after sunset, there are not too many people around and should you need any assistance, you might find it difficult. Rest of the time, one shouldn’t have a problem here but always be alert when visiting these slightly remote places.
  • Your landmark for the confluence point is the shelter that can be seen from the road itself, you can drive on the flood plain, however, during the rainy season, the plain/river bed may not be so dry, one has to drive very cautiously in that season.
  • Avanigadda, 20 kms away is a town where you can find food options and Vijayawada/Machilipatnam are the nearest town if you want to stay overnight.
  • Nagayalanka is another village around 25 kms, where another branch of the Krishna river meets the sea, it has a light house and there are some camping options. We did not check the place but you can find some phone numbers and information on the internet.
  • You can visit Hamsaladeevi along with the Buddhist circuit of Krishna-Guntur district over a weekend or a long weekend from Hyderabad or Chennai.

 

 

 

 

 

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