Drives along the Godavari – III – Around Konaseema in 5 hours !

This was one of those rare trips where we decided we would go with the flow rather than have a specific plan after the first 2 days. We reached Rajamundry on a sultry afternoon, instead of staying in a hotel, we chose to drive out of the city to Dowleswaram and checked in at SK Riviera, a river side resort.

The initial plan was to stay at Dowleswaram as the base and visit places in and around Rajamundry, when we checked into the resort, the resort guys had a request that since the Godavari Antya Pushkaralu were to begin in 2 days, the Government had given instructions to hotels and resorts to restrict check-ins to 24 hours only. The resort owner was willing to extend our stay for another day because the Pushkaralu hadn’t officially started, however, this got us thinking on an entirely different plan !

A rustic riverside retreat 

It was lunch time when we reached the resort and for people like us who love our Andhra meals, the resort offered the usual Fried rice and snacks, so we decided to drive to Rajamundry, 6 kms away and binge on a full course meal ! Back at the resort, it was time to explore the place.

SK Riviera is a simple resort on the banks of Godavari. The place is pleasant with lot of greenery on one side and the river on the other. The rooms look like the typical village cottages of the Godavari region. thumb_img_6808_1024

Each room has a balcony from where you can view the river.

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This is how it looked from our room, you will not tire of this view !

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The rooms are spacious but again, this cannot be counted as a luxury resort. This is just a rustic resort whose USP is the greenery and the lovely Godavari.

We found it funny that instead of a regular cot in the rooms, they have a wide cement platform in the shape of a cot ! The bed was comfortable and we were so impressed with the idea that we decided if we ever built a home, we would implement this idea and save on furniture cost !

The resort has a play area for kids that is frequented by ducks, hens and a massive turkey ! They also have a restaurant with seating under the trees by the river bank, it has a beach resort feel to it.

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Why not? The Godavari is as wide as the sea, all the way till the horizon.

After a hearty meal on a hot afternoon, it is hard to stop yourself from a siesta, we stretched ourselves for about 2 hours and woke up refreshed for a cup of tea. Sipping tea by the river side, we made plans for the next day, considering we had to check out the next morning. Post tea, we went out for a drive around Rajamundry beginning with Dowleswaram Barrage.

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The Dowleswaram Barrage was initiated by the legendary Sir Arthur Cotton to harness Godavari making it the life giver for agriculture. The Dowleswaram Barrage is built across the three branches of Godavari as it splits into Gautami and Vashista on its journey towards the sea.

It is always a joy to watch Godavari flowing without a care in the world !

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Dowleswaram is a nice place to spend a evening watching the sun set. If you strain your eyes a bit, you can see Rajamundry in the distance and the famous Rail-cum-road and the arch bridges.

Our visit to Dowleswaram was followed by chilling at the Gautami Ghat, a quick visit to ISCKON temple and as evening set in, we snacked on our favourite bajjis and we assembled at the Pushkar Ghat to witness the Godavari Harathi, a not to miss spectacle every evening at Rajamundry.

Dinner was at one of the fine dining restaurants in Rajamundry and despite the sumptuous dinner, we still had some space for a late night glass of Rose Milk. You have not lived the Rajamundry life if you don’t return short of breath with a full stomach, “Bhukta Ayasam” (roughly translates to wheezing after binge eating), as they call it here !

Good morning, Godavari !

The day was just dawning when we drew the curtains the following morning, we stepped out into the balcony and watched the sunlight slowing lighting up the Godavari. The river adorned itself in a shade of blue, matching the colour of the sky, sometimes you wonder if one can replicate the exact shades of nature !

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Fishermen were out for their morning catch, while we sipped our fresh and strong morning coffee.

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It feels surreal when you just sit and watch the ever flowing river, what is this beautiful place we call Earth?

We had to check out at 9 AM. We had come up with what we thought was a brilliant plan for the rest of the day. The idea was to drive to Draksharamam to visit the famous Shiva temple and further to Kotipalli and then take a ferry across towards Dindi to check ourselves in at the AP Tourism’s Dindi Resort. We were particularly excited about the ferry because the ferries at Kotipalli transport cars also. Reservations were made at the Dindi Resort over phone the previous day.

We set off on our drive from Dowleswaram after yet another session of binge eating a roadside eatery, Mysore Bajjis and Bonda were consumed in tons ! If you visit Rajamundry, never, miss eating Mysore Bonda, funny isn’t it? Mysore Bonda famous in Rajamundry, that’s another example of unity in diversity !

As always, a twist in the tale !

Our first stop was at the 1000 year old temple of Draksharamam. Still within the one year period of family bereavement, which meant we weren’t supposed to visit temples, Mr and Mrs.Writer of this blog, waited outside while the rest of the gang had a darshan. We had visited this temple a couple of years and this time we spent time sitting by the temple tank. Here is a random, unfocussed click of the ancient beauty.

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Our trip to Draksharamam included drowning ourselves in “Artos”. If you travel to these regions, you have to try Artos, the Coca Cola of East Godavari, we think this local brand will give the international giant a run for its money !

Before leaving the temple, we made enquires from the locals if the ferry at Kotipalli was running, in view of the recent rains, this writer, who is a chronic pessimist was somehow convinced things may not go as per plan ! When we had enough reassurances that the ferries were operating we drove further to Kotipalli, 11 kms from Draksharamam.

Kotipalli is famous for the Pancharama temple of Someshwara Swamy. It was past closing time, so we gave the temple a miss and proceeded to the ferry point only to find something was amiss !

Ferries were plying, people were queuing up but only cars were not taken on board because, we were told, the rivers banks were still slushy from the recent rains and that would be risky for cars, wheels could get stuck in the slush after exiting from the ferry. It was a huge disappointment even for this ever pessimist writer ! We were really looking forward to experience taking a ferry across the river along with our car, especially after everybody else told us the ferries were operating for cars and raised our hopes. It took all the philosophy we learnt to bring it down to “it happens”!

In a situation like this, you don’t have a Plan B option, you either swim across the river or take a round about 70 kms route ! From where we stood, if we took the ferry, it would have taken us only 3 kms to cross over to Ainavilli and from there another 40 kms to Dindi. Rajamundry to Dindi via the regular route would also have taken us some 70 kms but in our enthusiasm to take the ferry, we travelled to Kotipalli, adding 50 kms more to our destination Dindi ! This is not the first time something like this has happened, now you know why our Figo has clocked 1,30,000 kms !

Konaseema by your window side 

With no option for a Plan B, we had to turn back and travel another 70 kms to reach Dindi ! The upside of it was that we had an unexpected tour of Konaseema, you could call it a “cross district drive” !

We could have taken a shorter route driving back to Ravulapalem but decided to go further via Yanam. It turned out to be a good decision, though we had visited Yanam in one of our previous trips, driving on the route from Kotipalli showed us some sights that makes you think this is what dreams are made of !

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If you are a regular Telugu movie goer, you will be familiar with these sights, most village themed movies are shot in the Konaseema region.

All the way to Yanam, the Godavari flows right beside the road, check out this picture and imagine driving on this road, we leave you to describe it, we cannot !

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We drove along the beach road at Yanam and then officially crossed over to Konaseema on the GMC Balayogi Varadhi, the massive bridge connecting Yanam and rest of Konaseema. Before the bridge was built in 2002, people had to cross the river on ferries. Here is a click as we drove on the bridge.

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One of the reasons for driving via Yanam was to drive on this bridge because we missed it last time. As you reach the end of the bridge, a green world opens up before you, suddenly you enter a jungle of coconut trees, from here on, you drive through roads that seem to have coconut trees closing in on them !

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We drove through the heartland of Konaseema crossing Mummidivaram and arrived at Amalapuram. Amalapuram, is one of the important towns in Konaseema and the icon of the region’s culture.

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant in Amalapuram, which served us a hearty Andhra meal. Always remember, you have to start with the spicy powders with dollops of ghee, followed by chutney, then fries, curries, dal mixed with Avakaya, sambhar (this writer swears by Tamil Nadu sambhar, so usually gives Andhra sambhar a miss), rasam and finally curd, don’t forget to have Avakaya pickle along with the curd and if there is Gongura pickle, don’t miss it – that is how you do an Andhra meal !

Our Konaseema drive continued for another hour, driving past Razole, another important town in the region. With the hearty meal and humid afternoon weather, our energies dipped a bit until we spotted the glorious Godavari once again, announcing  our arrival at Dindi !

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We checked into AP Tourism’s resort at Dindi after 5 hours of driving through a major part of East Godavari district. Ideally, it should have taken us only an hour, if we had quietly driven from Rajamundry to Dindi ! This prompted the head of our family to congratulate us on our feat of driving 5 hours to reach a place just 70 kms away ! We tried convincing him that this was a great plan because we got to drive through the whole of Konaseema in one day. Travel is never about the places you visit, it is always the experiences and memories.

Info tidbits

  • SK Riviera is located in Dowleswaram, 6 kms from Rajamundry. The tariff is around Rs.1500/- per room. As we mentioned, this is a simple resort, you may want to avoid it if you are looking for a typical resort kind of facilities and service. You may also not find great food options at this resort. Stay here if you want to enjoy simple, quiet, idllic river side setting instead of staying in a hotel at Rajamundry.
  • If you want to take your car on a ferry, Kotipalli is the nearest point from Rajamundry. Our experience tells us, you cannot have information on whether the ferries ply cars or not by asking around, you just have to take your chance by driving all the way to Kotipalli. Generally ferries don’t ply during heavy rains or when Godavari is in flood. There is usually a long waiting time to board a ferry when they are operational, go prepared for it.
  • Even if you are not able to take a ferry, you won’t lose much because the journey is very scenic and if you go there during temple hours, you can visit the Pancharama Kshetra at Kotipalli.
  • If you are successful in getting on a ferry at Kotipalli, you will be dropped off at Ainavilli. You can visit the Ainavilli Vinayaka temple, a popular temple in this region.
  • In case you end up like us, unable to board a ferry and planning to go Dindi or beyond, take the scenic Yanam route.
  • If you are taking this route, Amalapuram is a good place to stop for food breaks. For the rest of the drive, you will find endless stretch of fields and groves.

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