After waiting out 2 full months of summer with no travel plans, except for the one trip to Nellore via Ulavapadu for our annual mango pilgrimage, we thought it was crisis time if we did not do a trip in the month of July atleast ! With monsoons active over most part of the country, except the cloudy-yet-no-rain status of Hyderabad, we drew up plans to every place within 400 kms radius of Hyderabad. When work schedules did not permit a longer trip, we settled for a weekend trip to Dwaraka Tirumala and a few places nearby in the first week of July.
Colours of the monsoon
After a long time, we were up at 5 AM to get ready for a journey. There was a time when we would sleep for just 3 hours and wake up fresh and ready by 3 AM for a road trip. Either age is catching up with us or we have become a tad bit lazy, waking up before 5 AM even for travel doesn’t sound too exciting of late. We hit the highway by 6 AM, tuning in to Radio City 91.1 to begin our trip with the divine voice of M.S.Subbulakshmi rendering the Venkateswara Suprabhatam.
In 6 months of 2018, this was our 4th trip on the Vijayawada highway, Highway 7 food joint at Suryapet must be considering giving us a season ticket !
It was a lovely, cloudy day with light drizzle. Clouds had covered the hills near Vijayawada and it was such a pretty sight ! It was not everyday that you would see such weather in these regions.
As we were nearing Vijayawada, we came up with the idea that we would take a route that would not touch Vijayawada city. Usually, when you are travelling to regions in Krishna, Godavari regions from Hyderabad, one cannot escape Vijayawada, somewhere you eventually have to touch some part of the city. We decided we would only take the Vijayawada Rural roads just for a change. Near Ibrahimpatnam (not to be confused with Ibrahimpatnam near Hyderabad), we set Google Maps to Dwaraka Tirumala and it showed us 3 routes, with the one via Vijayawada being the wasted. We chose the route that went via Mylavaram-Nuzividu.
We took a deviation from the main highway and hit village roads behind the VTPS. It was as if a new world opened up before us in one moment ! A world of monsoon breeze and greenery every where !
Near Guntupalli railway station, we had to stop at the railway crossing, we got down from the car to smell the freshness of the monsoon breeze. The fields had been newly ploughed in preparation for the crops following the monsoons. There is something beautiful about these preparations in anticipation of rains, there is hope, a sense of being in tune with nature, where man and nature work together !
You can see different shades of the soil, black at one place, red, brown at another. It is fascinating to study geology and understand the million years of earth’s history behind the soil colour at different regions.
A short distance from Guntupalli, we crossed an canal of the Krishna River, a bridge stood across the canal, swollen with the reddish-brown tinge of the flood water and it did look a little intimidating. Here is a click we managed in the middle of “Oh my God, look at that”s !
There was no way we could stop to take a proper picture, the bridge was narrow with potholes and a warning board that said it was an old, weak bridge !
As we drove on, Google Maps kept protesting and insisted that we took the highway towards Eluru, we refused to listen and Google had to give up ! Moving on, we came on to the Mylavaram-Nuzividu road. This two lane road is very scenic and in good condition. The rains had painted the entire landscape a blinding shade of green !
Here and there, you could come across pedestrians like this, you have to respect them and stop to let them amble at their own pace !
Things got a denser shade of green as we neared Nuzividu, the land of the famous juicy mangoes. We had to stop every few meters to click pictures, because everything was picture perfect !
We were past our schedule but the whole idea of the trip was a monsoon drive and we were loving every bit of it.
After Nuzividu, at every junction, Google Maps tried to lure us into taking the regular highway connecting Khammam and Rajamundry, we decided we were not going to take a familiar road. We had to reset Google Maps every time to force it to come to terms with the fact that we were only going to take the village roads ! Where else can you see such scenes? Rain washed canopy, muddy water and slush?
We passed by villages of Krishna District, every pond, every lake, every stream was brimming with rain water, almost every village were getting ready for the sowing season, our eyes seem to overflow with pure joy ! As we turned around a corner towards one of the many village we crossed, we were stunned by this gorgeous sight !
Cloud covered, grey mountains in the background, a pond filled with rain water turned muddy and a lone, withering tree where birds had set up nest to nourish new life. The scene was magical ! We got down to click a picture and the villagers seemed quite amused, one of them even suggested a good spot for a better view.
A little further in the same village, we spotted a hut and the family selling tea. What is a monsoon drive without chai? We stopped by for some hot tea and chatted with the locals about the rains, crops, transport. The man of the house insisted that we should not be kept waiting, while the lady made special tea for us. We love these little interactions with the locals, always ready for a quick banter. You may read a hundred things on social media and debate but very little of it close to reality and the best way to get a reality check, is to interact with real people from such remote areas. Their insights make you more wise than any media.
Just as our tea arrived, it started raining heavily. Rain, hot tea under a thatched hut with this amazing group for company !
When we checked the time it was only 11.30 AM, it felt like we had left Hyderabad long ago, that’s what happens when you have totally lost yourself into the moment.
More villages, a few of which had some fabulous century old Zamindari mansions, more greenery and some 2 hours later, we reached Dwaraka Tirumala. A heavy downpour greeted us and from between the curtain of rain, we caught a glimpse of the temple gopurams on the small hillock.
It had been 3 years since our last visit to Dwaraka Tirumala and we found the place had changed a lot. Since we had more travel plans for the day, we quickly checked into AP Tourism’s Haritha Hotel, took a quick break and resumed our journey further.
Village hopping in West Godavari
It was almost 2 PM by then and we were extremely hungry, we spotted a road side restaurant just out of Dwaraka Tirumala and had a simple Andhra meal. While having lunch, we drew up a plan to drive to Pattiseema, where there is an ancient temple located on an island in the middle of Godavari, we were quite sure, we wouldn’t make it in time for taking a boat ride to the island but the idea was to enjoy the scenic drive.
Every village, every road, it looked like every corner was painted lush green, the monsoon is a great artist ! We drove through the heart of West Godavari district, learning names of several villages, we even crossed a village where one of our grandmothers had her ancestral roots. Her lineage was passing through that village after about 25 years ! The roots with the village have been lost but it made our heart almost skip a beat.
As you reach Patteesam as the locals call Pattiseema, you catch a sight of the Godavari, a river that is beauty personified ! The village of Pattiseema is located on the river bank and a bund has been built to keep the village from the fury of the Godavari, driving on the bund with the huge river was one of the highlights of this trip.
In recent years, the Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Project hat pumps excessive water from Godavari to the Krishna River has been an important development in this village. It has also added it to the the tourism map as is evident from the resorts that have cropped up in Pattiseema. We spotted the very picturesque River Inn Resort with a breathtaking view of the Pattiseema Temple and the Papi Hills in the distance. Run by the famous River Bay group of Rajamundry in association with AP Tourism, the resort looks like a nice place to stay for those looking for a break from urban madness. Here is the scene from the resort:
We actually stopped for tea but the resort’s restaurant was not yet fully functional but the views before were much more refreshing than any kind of tea and for a tea lover, that is saying something !
It was past 4 PM and we were told the boats to Pattiseema temple ply only till afternoon and the temple remains closed for the rest of the day. We decided we were going come back soon, stay at the River Inn resort, visit the temple and spend all our time just gazing at the river !
That is the Pattiseema Veerabhadra Swamy temple, we will tell you more about it when we visit it sometime in the future.
Before heading further, we stopped at one of the small tea stalls in the village to have tea, in places like these, every tiny corner is picture worthy. This is where we had our tea !
We just couldn’t have enough of the place but we also wanted to drive on to Polavaram village, this time, it was to see the ancestral home of a grand aunt ! Polavaram is also the location of the under construction Polavaram Dam. When completed, it would be one of the largest dams in the country. Dams are need to support the needs of our population but they will have a huge impact on ecology, are dams necessary evils?
We did not visit the project site, just a quick walk down the lane leading to the house we were trying to locate from our memories that were 2 decades old ! Finally, we managed to find the house, recounted a few stories from days of old and headed back.
While driving back to Dwaraka Tirumala, at a particular junction, we spotted a road towards Rajamundry, we were sorely tempted to take the Rajamundry route but dropped the idea as it was already evening and that would add atleast an hour to our already 2 hour journey.
We had set Google Maps to the same route we took earlier but missed some junction and ended up driving on the horrible Jangareddigudem road, this road has been in bad shape for years and continues to be. Ideally, this is a shorter route between Hyderabad-Rajamundry and Vizag but beyond not recommended given the state of the road at most times.
By the time we rattled our way to Dwaraka Tirumala on this potholed, rain water filled road, it was almost 9 PM. We quickly freshened up and went to have our dinner at the temple Annaprasadam Counter. We were served a divine tasting Upma, somehow, temple kitchens seems to achieve this godly taste of food.
We spent the whole day just driving, it felt like we had visited some fairy world, a happy, green world that make you feel alive !
- The route we took is ideal in the monsoon season i.e. between July and August and again in the winter months of December-January. These regions get extremely hot and humid during the rest of the year.
- If you want to drive away to some unknown place for a weekend from Hyderabad, head to these regions. There are not too many typical sightseeing places here, simply drive around and lose yourself in nature.
- River Inn seems to be a well maintained resort, you can get their contact numbers from http://riverbay.co.in/pattiseema/
- The route we took is not a regular route to either Dwaraka Tirumala or Pattiseema, it was only a whim to drive through village routes. The usual route to Dwaraka Tirumala is via Vijayawada-Bhimadole but we found this route more fun.
- Finding a place to have breakfast/lunch/dinner in these village routes is difficult, you may find the odd roadside stall or bigger villages may have a shack serving food.
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