In keeping with our tradition of annual vacation with family, we hit upon a road trip to the Telugu God’s own country – Konaseema ! This had been on our “to travel” list for long and we thought we’d visit our own backyard first.
First pit stop along the Godavari
Since we live in different cities, we chose Bhadrachalam as the starting point for our trip, while we drove 6 hours to reach Bhadrachalam from Hyderabad, our family made it there in 8 hours from Nellore. We reached Bhadrachalam around 8.30 PM and checked into Telangana Tourism’s Haritha Hotel. Our family arrived 2 hours before us and completed the darshan by then, we wound up with dinner at Haritha restaurant, we had to wait a long time for dinner to arrive and we wanted to try some other place but the dad insisted that had it only at Haritha because the waiter had been very courteous !
Early next morning, the senior citizen of the family wanted to take a holy dip in the Godavari, on whose back the pilgrim town of Bhadrachalam is located. It was the day before Anthya Pushkaralu or the last 12 days of the Godavari Pushkaralu were to begin. Recent monsoons in the region brought muddy brown flood water to the river.
A river in spate is a refreshing sight, it sort of makes you feel like there is still some hope left in the middle of ecological chaos !
The family headed for one more round of quick darshan and a complimentary breakfast at Haritha Hotel later, we set off towards our next destination.
One word – Nature !
People used various adjectives to describe nature but there are times when none of those adjectives seem good enough, that is when you think nature needs no adjectives to describe its beauty, there is only one word for it – nature, you cannot begin to describe the myriad ways in which nature leaves you stunned. When you drive on the Bhadrachalam-Maredumilli road, this is what you will finally conclude about nature !
Passing through the region that was known in our epics as “Dandakaranya”, the road from Bhadrachalam to Maredumilli takes you through dense forests, over the hills and beside rivers and rivulets – the kind of drive that makes you want to keep driving on…
It was just after the rains and the greenery was as fresh as it could get. While driving past this bridge, we could hear water flowing. We stopped and trekked down to side of the bridge. Rain water flowed under the bridge and disappeared somewhere into the thick forest.
The flowing water, silent forest, stones, tiny fish – just under the bridge, it was a different world altogether, as if the world above on the road did not matter.
The number of stops increased as we drove further on our 117 kilometre drive from Bhadrachalam to reach Maredumilli because at every turn, the landscape would get better than the one before. If it was dense forest at one spot, it was this spellbinding sight of the Godavari at another !
That scene seemed to simply jump out of nowhere and unfold before us, we almost braked to a screeching halt !
The roads are good throughout, making the drive even more enjoyable. Some more driving later, we could hear water gushing from behind the trees on the roadside, we stopped, climbed down the slope beside the road, only to find it abruptly end in this busy rivulet gurgling away to glory !
From there on, the rivulet was our travel companion, disappearing sometimes and resurfacing a short distance away right beside the road !
At this spot, the rivulet flowed into the narrow valley between two hills, making it the perfect piece of art.
Nature continues to be the sole copyright holder of this art !
Finding us clicking pictures non-stop, a few people who were having a splash in the rivulet told us to drive further for a better view spot.
Sokuleru view point
Just around the corner of the road, we finally learnt that the rivulet we had been following and marvelling at was called the “Sokuleru”. We learnt this from the board announcing the View Point right beside the road.
We stopped to check out the view and what a view it was !
It is like your childhood art of a river flowing between hills coming alive !
It was a hot afternoon but the refreshing sound of gushing water seemed to turn everything cool ! If your memory is full of such views, then consider your life well lived.
As Maredumilli neared, the dark, deep forest on either side of the road seemed to closing in on us.
Dandakaranya features in the epics as a forest of exile, after driving on this route, you really wish you could impose a self-exile on yourself to these lands and spend the rest of your life trekking along the forest streams, watching the Godavari flow and gaze at the hills as the Sokuleru gushes beside. Who wants to join us in exile?
It was lunch time when we reached Maredumilli, a small hamlet at the edge of the forest. The Forest Department runs an eco-tourism resort called Vana Vihari, we checked into Vana Vihari and headed for lunch. Exploring Maredumilli was scheduled for later in the day.
Bhadrachalam-Maredumilli should be on the “Must do drives” list if you are a driving enthusiast.
- Maredumilli is on the Bhadrachalam – Rajamundry route, the road is good throughout. Rajamundry, 85 kms away is the nearest city.
- The best season for this drive is post monsoon i.e July-August.
- Most of the journey is through forest areas and tiny villages. Though there is decent amount of traffic, you may not find hotels, shops or public utilities like washrooms. You will have to drive all the way to Maredumilli. We didn’t spot any puncture shops either, so make sure your vehicle/tyres are in good condition.
- Except BSNL, other mobile phone networks may not work beyond a point of the Bhadrachalam circle.
- It might be a bit of an adventure if you plan to drive in this route after dark, we suggest driving during day time. More than safety, if you get stranded for any reason, it is hard to find help.
- The landscape scenes are amazing but avoid wandering off too far on your own, it is a forest area and you might be untraceable if you get lost ! Also, don’t try to get adventurous and get down into the rivulets and rivers, especially in the monsoon season when the water bodies are in full spate.
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