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Old 24th April 2008, 17:05   #1
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Default GQ Cruising! Bangalore - Vizag - Hyderabad

My daughter came and asked me - where are we going this summer, now that we have the safari ? That got me thinking about a nice long driving holiday.

Going thru some of the wonderful posts in the travelouge section, esp. AKROY's bangalore-kolkatta travelouge, the idea struck. Why dont we go to Vizag ? Vizag happens to be my native place, but I havent spent much time there, so driving to Vizag was a good opportunity to see and feel the 'rice bowl' of India - Coastal Andhra. Then came the suggestion from my better half - I want to goto a hill resort, so Araku got added to the itenary. Next Stop ? Bhadrachalam or Rajahmundry ? Bhadrachalam got dropped from the plan as we were not able to find enough information about the road conditions between the GQ and Bhadrachalam, though I heard that all the Hyderabad - Vizag Volvos go via the Khammam route. It saves a good bit of time.

So the final itenary was Bangalore - Vijayawada - Vizag - Araku - Srikakulam - Rajahmundry - Hyderabad and back to Bangalore.

We set off on the 12th Apr at 5:30am from Bangalore and made very good time to SriKalahasti - 4.5hrs. Traffic was lean and my highway cruiser was - well cruisin.... A quick wayside halt for breakfast, and we started again, eager to hit the GQ. The drive upto Srikalahasti was uneventful.

The 4 laning work between kolar and mulbagal, is changing the landscape, and I was disappointed to see a good bit of the tree cover vanish. Talk about the impact of development.

I swap places with my better half, and we start. Srikalahasti to Naidupeta took about an hour and half, the good breakfast acting up. Once we hit Naidupeta, the directions are not clear to the GQ. A Left turn at a T junction leads towards the GQ. There arent sufficient signboards, and the road is pretty bad leading you to think you have taken a wrong road. About 4kms and we hit the GQ. Yippee!

My first sighting of the Chennai -Vizag GQ
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An interesting observation about the stretch of GQ upto Vijayawada - All Slow vehicles stick to the left lane, giving you way to speed up and go.

Wifey drives upto Ongole, and then I take to the wheel. A comfortable cruise at 100-120kph speeds.

We reach VijayaWada by 3:30pm. 10hrs of non-stop driving, but hey! you dont feel the strain in a Safari! The blowers do a wonderful job of keeping the heat out, the Llumar and 3m film work like a charm.

My 2 remote controllers ( wifey & kiddo ) keep me entertained with their DJ skills! Kiddo teaching Mummy the ipod controls!

Information about hotels in Vijayawada was not good on google. My recommendation would be either the Fortune Murali or the Quality Inn Manohar.. More Upmarket choice would be The Gateway( not sure if this is a Taj property though ).

Check-in, wash, eat, and we're ready to explore the town. The Prakasm barrage and the Kanaka Durga temple are a stone's throw from the hotel. We catch the sunset at the barrage and take some pics.
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We're looking forward to a very scenic drive the next day, and hit the sack early on.

Day 2 : 13th Apr. Start by 7:30am. Drive to Eluru to visit a relative. reach by 8:30am. Lots of truck traffic. After the super smooth roads of the GQ the GQ between Vijayawada and Eluru is not well maintained. Blame the Heat ?

Now the slow traffic moves to the rightmost lane!

After Eluru, starts the scenic drive! Canals on both sides, Green paddy fields - a welcome sight after the concrete jungles of namma bengaluru.
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So much greenery around, we loose track of time and speed, stopping at multiple points to take in the scenery. Our friends were expecting us for lunch ( 1:00pm ) in Vizag, and we were nowhere close !!

An interesting statue of Swami Vivekananda between Tanuku ( or was it TadepalliGudem ? ) and Annavaram.
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Wifey at the wheel now, to main kya karoon ? how do i keep busy ? see below ( trying to be an ace snapper!!!! )
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We pass by the Annavaram Temple
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I take to the wheel now, wanting to drive into Vizag ( after all its my native !! ) some more interesting shots on the way
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And finally, we drive into Vizag!! at 5:00pm, 4hrs behind expected arrival time. But it was worth it.

Total distance travelled was around 1000kms over two days. Average FE around 12kpl with System D.

GQ Reclaimed !!!

Next post: Borra Caves, Araku Valley
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Old 24th April 2008, 17:24   #2
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Ah Srini, so you finally did it. See I told you in the PM, that you will do very fast in GQ and also your family / kid will not be bored (moreover you were on Safari, you should keep on going-going). Blr - Vizag can be done in a day easily.

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Originally Posted by smsrini View Post
Naidupeta, the directions are not clear to the GQ. A Left turn at a T junction leads towards the GQ. There arent sufficient signboards, and the road is pretty bad leading you to think you have taken a wrong road. About 4kms and we hit the GQ. Yippee!
Sorry my fault, I should have told your beforehand. That left from naidupet to GQ is about 4 km on Kachha road. i went past there early morning it smells slug (slug ponds are there in adjacent) from the metal industries waste.

Nice pictures as well. Eager to see the other half of the story.

Abhi
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Old 24th April 2008, 17:27   #3
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Nice pics & nice report! Eagerly waiting for the next instalment.

How about some pictures of your chariot?
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Old 24th April 2008, 17:41   #4
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Default Borra Caves & araku

Day 3: 14th Apr.

We have a relaxed breakfast with our friends and start for Araku by 10:00am. Araku Valley is around 100kms from Vizag. We plan to break in between to visit the Borra Caves, famous for their Stalacites and stalagmites formations.

Borra caves were formed by the river Gosthani flowing thru the limestone rock.

the Entrance
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How does a petrol head's brain look like ?
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A fountain formation
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The cave roof - Fevicol ka majboot jod!
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sunlight filtering down
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We stayed at the Haritha Hilltop resort at Ananthagiri. This is a new resort right next to the punnami but much better with fantastic views.

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Viewpoint on the way to Araku. Watch out for Groups of tribals, they put up road blocks - tree trunks, and demand money to remove the tree trunks.. You are let off by paying upto Rs 5/- max and a nice smile.

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Team BHP travelouge and no gaadi-shaadi ? How can it be ?
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another scenic spot on the way to araku. Araku is a valley in the Ananthagiri range of hills, so going down you come across scenic spots.
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Another gaadi photo...
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My favourite - Punk Head Peak!
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There is a tribal museum to see at Araku, but nothing else. so we drove back with more of the oooh! aaah! Woow! on the way.

Sunrise at the resort.
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Next post: Rajahmundry, cruise on the Godavari, to Papikondalu, or as the angrezi locals say - papihills!

Last edited by smsrini : 24th April 2008 at 17:46.
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Old 24th April 2008, 20:28   #5
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Very nice travelog. What is the name/number of this Chennai-Vizag highway?..
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Old 25th April 2008, 02:26   #6
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Nice pics.. How is the weather ? I heard it rained in vizag couple of weeks back. Should have been the same time you went. How abt the other places ? Too hot ?
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Old 25th April 2008, 06:22   #7
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Hey srini nice account!!! So your 'bull' or 'truck' has been giving you some nice company!!
Did you halt at the Jungle Bells Resort at TYda by the way? Nice place!!

Do post in the rest of your report
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Old 25th April 2008, 12:23   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickatnite View Post
Very nice travelog. What is the name/number of this Chennai-Vizag highway?..
NH5 which is part of the Golden Quadrilateral.
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Old 25th April 2008, 13:22   #9
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Nice travelouge and good pictures.
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Old 25th April 2008, 15:08   #10
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Day5: Come back from Araku, and drive to Srikakulam to visit my uncle. Pass Bhimli beach on the way!

Bhimli Beachfront:
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Day 6: Vizag Beach, Kailasagiri hilltop, Submarine Museum

We spend half a day sightseeing Vizag. A quick whirlwind tour at the beach, goto the Hilltop at Kailasagiri to catch the views and then to the Submarine museum before leaving for Rajahmundry.

The Vizag Beach with the Dolphin's nose rock in the background.
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INS Kursura that is on permanent display at Vizag. India apparently has 16 Submarines based out of Mumbai and Vizag.
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Depart Vizag at 4:00pm and reach Rajahmundry at around 8:00pm. A big part of the after Annavaram is concreted, and some repair works on the way slow the traffic down.

Watch out of traffic on the wrong side of the road !

Rajahmundry apparently has only one 2star property - Anand Regency. Hotel is full of ONGC, Reliance type of guys. Must book in advance.
Very pricey for the quality of rooms. Stated price is Rs. 1900/- and they charge 2500 + taxes. Talk about maximizing opportunity.

Day 7 : Early start at 6:30am. Report to the APTDC agent's office for the Godavari river cruise. APTDC runs river cruises and houseboats on the Godavari at Rajahmundry and Razole. They also have some good riverside resorts at Dindi and Razole. Advance booking is mandatory. Price and cruise details are available on their website.

There is a crowd of about 30 people at the APTDC agent's office at the Padmavati Ghat in Rajahmundry. We're told that we need to drive to a place called Pollavaram to take the cruise as the water levels are low at Rajamundry. The agent packs 6 to 7 ppl in a car to Pollavaram.

I take 2 min to decide against riding in his car and opt to follow him in my Safari. The drive is on a state highway, and I thank my stars for the Safari's ride quality. We breeze thru the bad roads behind the other cars.

Pollavaram is a 40min drive from Rajahmundry. Interestingly, all villages in this area are about 7 to 10 feet below the road, and as per the locals, when the river is in spate, they tend to get flooded. I go down the incline to pollavaram, and come to a junction. The Maruti van ahead has no problem turning into the very narrow village roads... but the safari ?

A couple of forward /reverse manuveres and I get the hang of the road. To get to the river, I have to negotiate a road that is possibly 3 inches wider than the car on both sides! and park in a small vacant plot of land near the river bank.

The walk to the boat.
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The boat that we took
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You see such islands which are either submerged or have the river flowing upto the top.
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You travel upstream for about 5 hrs to reach Papikondalu and then turn back. The downstream journey takes 3 hrs. APTDC, serves breakfast and lunch on the boat that is brought onboard at Devipatnam.

Some random shots from the cruise.
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The village where we took water/food onboard.
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Papikondalu is the narrowest stretch of the river Godavari - approx 200mtrs. The mountains here are very different than the rest of the topography. Sharply inclined slopes, whereas the rest of the mountain ranges are gently sloped. Deepest point is around 300feet, average depth of 40feet. When the river is in spate the large tracts of sand and rocks in the river bed create whirlpools that are big enough to swallow the boat we went in!!

the cruise is a real bliss. No connectivity, no sounds except the shallow rumble of the boat's motor.

It was pretty hot this time of the year. Best time to do this cruise is Sept-Nov.

The Pollavarm project is the center of controversy. This project being built near pollavarm will build a Dam across the Godavari, thereby submerging the Papikondalu and the neighbouring tribal hamlets.

Some random shots near the papikondalu from the cruise.
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Old 25th April 2008, 15:18   #11
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Papikondalu is the narrowest stretch of the river Godavari - approx 200mtrs. The mountains here are very different than the rest of the topography. Sharply inclined slopes, whereas the rest of the mountain ranges are gently sloped. Deepest point is around 300feet, average depth of 40feet. When the river is in spate the large tracts of sand and rocks in the river bed create whirlpools that are big enough to swallow the boat we went in!!

Some more random pics...I have plenty of snaps, its difficult to say which ones do justice to the unspoilt beauty of this place...

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the cruise is a real bliss. No connectivity, no sounds except the shallow rumble of the boat's motor.

It was pretty hot this time of the year. Best time to do this cruise is Sept-Nov.

The Pollavarm project is the center of controversy. This project being built near pollavarm will build a Dam across the Godavari, thereby submerging the Papikondalu and the neighbouring tribal hamlets.

There is a eco resort run by APTDC here near Papikondalu on the river.
This operates during the summer when water levels are low.
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Water touches the roots of this tree during the monsoon season.
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We're back at Pollavaram by 6:30pm. Catch the sunset by the river, and head back to our car, tired but elated at the wonderful sights of the mountains, the meandering river snaking thru the mountains, the peace and quiet.

There are private operators also who run this cruise. On weekends there is a airconditioned cruiser that APTDC runs for those who prefer. The fun is in watching the scenery from the upper deck.

The boat we took is a wooden boat made on the lines of the Kerala Boat houses.


Day 8: We rise late, and head to Hyderabad via Vijayawada, stopping for lunch at the Quality Hotel Manohar in Vijayawada. The GQ runs thru the city, so not much of a detour.

NH 9 between Hyderabad and Vijayawada is a 2 lane highway with significantly more traffic than the GQ. Wonder why this is not made to a 4 lane as yet. We're heading west with the sun blazing in front of us, the Llumar film keeps the heat out and the temp bearable. Start from Vijayawada at 1:30pm reach Hyderabad by 7:00pm.

Driving back to Bangalore weekend of May-3.

How did the Safari do ?
I've done close to about 2400kms till hyderabad, and should complete 3000kms when I'm back in Bangalore. Avg. FE was around 12.5 with A/C on at all times. The engine purrs like a cat at around 2.2k rpm / 100kph, engine noise virtually unheard. Wind noise is prominent.

My left front window packed up in Vizag, the rear door rattle has started and small squeaking noise from the suspension heard at times. Other than this the Safari lived upto its name of a 'Highway Cruiser' to the T. This car gives you the confidence to go anywhere...

I believe in AP, the Safari is the vehicle of choice for politicians! So whereever we stopped, people were trying to spot the mandatory Flag in the front and the light ontop!!! ( just kidding ).

I wish I could have seen more of the sea while driving. I believe there is another route branching right at Ongole that will head to Machilipatnam-->Kakinada-->Yanam-->Annavaram, which should be more scenic. Not sure of the roads though.

Any T-BHPians who've done the Razole HouseBoat cruise or have visited the Dindi resorts, do update your experiences.

I was surprised at the options APTDC has created for tourism in AP.
Kudos to them for creating such wonderful opportunities to experience AndhraPradesh.

Keep Drivin'
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Old 25th April 2008, 17:40   #12
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Very good travelogue. Thank you for sharing this with us. You have enjoyed the Safari as much as your destinations. Good for you
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Old 26th April 2008, 00:44   #13
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Great Pics, and a nice travelogue.
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Old 26th April 2008, 01:00   #14
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Thanks for sharing your wonderful experiences. Very nice photos. Even i am planning to do a Vizag tour probably in the next month.
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Old 2nd May 2008, 12:10   #15
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We're camped at Hyderabad taking in the searing summer heat in all its glory! 42degrees... when Bangalore is just 33! I wonder wat am i doing here!!

We decide to see the sound and light show at Golconda fort. Some pics here. I must say that this was the first S&Lshow I saw and was really impressed with the presentation, the narration and the effects. Dont miss this if you visit Hyderabad.

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Driving back to Namma Bengalooru on Sunday to bring a close to this trip.

will post some stats after getting back..

Last edited by smsrini : 2nd May 2008 at 12:18.
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