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Old 21st January 2009, 11:27   #1
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Default Road trip thru part of Coastal Andhra

I was looking forward to this Sankranthi vacation because of the planned road trip to friends’ places in Prakasham and West Godavari districts in Andhra Pradesh.

Two of my close friends joined me at Guntur for this road trip that began on Jan 11 morning. I reached Guntur from Hyderabad the previous night. Our first stop was at Brahmana Nidamanuru near Ongole in Prakasham district where a colleague-and-friend of mine has arranged to host us for the day.

Road trip thru part of Coastal Andhra-enroute-nidamanuru.jpg
enroute to Nidamanuru, NH-5 near Medarametla

The venue for lunch get together was a chavidi or koshtam (a rugged farm house) next to a tobacco barn. The floor was covered with taurpaulin sheets and a make shift gas stove was set up in a corner. So the food was truly oven fresh. The menu was chicken pakoda, pomphret fry, mutton curry, biryani rice and rasam. We reached the place with adequate supplies. A good number of the host’s cousins and friends too joined the party. By 4 PM everyone was reasonably stuffed with food and drinks, and a table was set up for playing cards. I don’t play cards, but this time I had my share of fun by watching these guys play till late into the evening.

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The venue

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Men at work

We then went to the host’s house and freshened up with a hot water bath. Afterwards we went out for dinner at a near by dhaba on NH-5. Next day morning I woke up early to enjoy the sights of rural Andhra. We resumed our road trip after a heavy breakfast of idlys and egg dosa (my first experience. Not bad). Our next destination is chinchinada in west godavari district. I visited this place on last Sankranthi too (please refer to my travelogue in the archives). But the big difference this time is the route I chose for reaching this place and the fact that I plan to spend slightly larger amount of time there this year. The route was Ongole-Chirala-Bapatla-Repalle-Avanigadda-Pamarru-Gudivada-Kaikaluru-Bhimavaram-Palakollu-Chinchinada. The key aspects of this route are the new bridge (puligadda varadhi) across river Krishnabetween Repalle-Avanigadda, and the drive through villages and towns that are far removed from the highway (NH-5) and the rail line connecting Chennai and Kolkata.

Road trip thru part of Coastal Andhra-breathtaking-view-bridge.jpg
breathtaking view from Repalle-Avanigadda bridge

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View on the other side of bridge

I expected to complete the drive in 4.5-5 Hrs but eventually did in 9.5 Hrs primarily because we some how missed the bypass road near chirala and were caught up in the slow traffic in Chirala town (cement roads are being laid almost every where, thus slowing down the traffic). So we reached Gudivada close to lunch time and we took an unplanned break. We waited for 30 minutes to be seated in a restaurant bear Bus Stand. We ordered veg meals that was surprisingly very good. So it is not for nothing that Gudivada counts among major cultural centers in coastal Andhra. We started after that heavy lunch and did not stop till we reached Chinchinada at 7 PM.

Road trip thru part of Coastal Andhra-p1010121.jpg

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Chinchinada, at last

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Coulourful backyard

After yet another round of hot water bath, we settled in for a long night. The menu was chicken pakoda (for some reason our hosts on this trip seemed to prefer this as snack), country chicken curry, fish curry and sambar. Next day was Bhogi, so we dedicated the morning hours to visit some famous temples near by. First up is Kshiraramam (one of 5 pancharamams - shiva temples) in Palakollu. The next visit was to Someshwararamam (another pancharamam) in Bhimavaram. We have also visited famous Mavullamma temple in Bhimavaram. On the way back to Chinchinada we stopped near the outskirts of Bhimavaram to watch kodi pandelu (bettings on cock fights). These bettings run into hundreds of crores during these 3 days of Sankranthi near Bhimavaram region alone.

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Cockfight in progress

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just a few of the cars assembled near Cockfight

We then returned to Chinchinada for lunch. Our host picked up an exotic venue for pre-lunch drinks. It was a coconut grove overlooking lush green paddy fields. We added a bit of exotic to the drinks too – we replaced water and soda with coconut water.

Road trip thru part of Coastal Andhra-paddy-fields-overlooking-coconut-grove.jpg
paddy fields overlooking coconut grove

For once we were relieved that the lunch was pure vegetarian – mudda pappu (dal), avakaya (pickle), vankaya iguru (brinjal fry), egg keema, and pesara pappu charu (a variant of sambar).

After a brief nap, we moved to larger house where card games are in full swing. Sankranthi season in Andhra is notorious for male folks losing more than their shirt in playing cards. I, as usual, slipped away to a small group busily discussing state politics. The dinner was mind blowing - crab curry, country chicken pulao and sambar. Next morning we woke up a little late, so we hit the road without taking breakfast. We drove non stop for 5 hours before reaching Guntur. We only stopped at Challapalli to pick up punukulu for a late breakfast. The ride via NH-5 would have been faster by at least 30 minutes, but I wanted to explore the interior Krishna and Guntur districts one more time so we chose the same route for our return trip too, with one exception – we had mistakenly taken a different route from Bhimavaram to Gudivada (via juvvalapalem) that was actually much better (i.e. less traffic) than the route via kaikaluru. So the return route was Palakollu-Bhimavaram-Gudivada-Avanigadda-Repalle-Ponnur-Guntur.

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Entrance of famous kuchipudi dance academy

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Road trip thru part of Coastal Andhra-bridge-repalle.jpg

Overall 3.5 days of great fun in the lap of rural Andhra.
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Road trip thru part of Coastal Andhra-fields-readied-rabi-season.jpg  


Last edited by Technocrat : 21st January 2009 at 11:34. Reason: Removed Font tags
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Old 21st January 2009, 12:02   #2
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Nag, nice travelogue and good pictures.

The menu during the trip, for me was the most interesting. I guess you had some of the most authentic dishes served in coastal Andhra with the right ambience.
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Old 21st January 2009, 12:12   #3
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Nag,
You Lucky Man!! Nice trip, good pics and wonderful narration!!

I was to join you at Bhimavaram but had to stay back at Hyd as my folks from WG landed up at Hyd
I really want to do the road trip till Vizag and back for atleast a week with enough halts in between soon!!!
The cock fights are the real eye stealers during Sankranthi in the coastal andhra. I also liked the rangoli done in couple of your pics. Makes me feel at my Grandmoms place. Your pics brought me my childhood memories back!!

On the food front, our "Gaint Robot"-Rajesh would have loved to join you!!
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Old 21st January 2009, 13:44   #4
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@ Zen91 - Yeah, the food was too good. The cuisine in Godavari districts stands out because the sheer no. of combos they try out. You rarely find a non-veg dish prepared without combining some vegetables. They also use a lot of oil. We have a joke that Care Hospital in Hyd survives on the heart patients from Godavari districts.

@Getsurya - What I have observed in my tour was that the festivities in west godavari district were very conspicuous compared to their counter parts in Krishna and Guntur districts. Cock fights and Rangolis continubute majorly to that festivities. A road trip from Icchapuram (uppermost tip of coastal Andhra) to Tada (near TN border) is one of my dream trips. If you plan a Hyd-Vizag road trip, pls count me in.
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Old 21st January 2009, 14:04   #5
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Sure Nag. Let me plan the dates and I shall give you a call !!
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Old 21st January 2009, 14:58   #6
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Nag, thats a very well written travelogue. It was great reading it. and your pics really depicted the interiors of AP life.
Although I have personally driven the entire NH5 in AP but experiencing the life inside the small town / villages off NH5 has its own flavour, isnt it?

Abhi
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Old 21st January 2009, 15:14   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
Nag, thats a very well written travelogue. It was great reading it. and your pics really depicted the interiors of AP life.
Although I have personally driven the entire NH5 in AP but experiencing the life inside the small town / villages off NH5 has its own flavour, isnt it?

Abhi
Abhi da,

Thanks for your comments. I spent most of my childhood in villages, so I have a special affinity towards rural parts of the country. I worked in Durgapur,WB for 4 years, and have fond memories of my bike drives to Santiniketan.

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Old 21st January 2009, 15:15   #8
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good one nag! sincerely missing the food for sure ... i just love andhra food,all the kodi's and the chappa's.

'pesara pappu charu' sounds interesting ,does it taste equally good? i just know one variant of the sambar which you get in chutneys...

somehow dont support betting in any form so dont share the same sentiments of the people who came to see/bet in the kodi pandelu..

have seen a close friend of mine lose alot of money in the mumbai race course..

do you get to eat the cock which lost the fight later on

i have never lived in any typical village ,so seeing your travelogue has been an interesting insight

will hear more when we meet on 25th.

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Old 21st January 2009, 15:31   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajesh Rawal View Post

'pesara pappu charu' sounds interesting ,does it taste equally good? i just know one variant of the sambhar which you get in chutneys...
This is slightly mild compared to sambar. AFAIK, there are 5 variants of sambar, viz. sambar, pappu charu, pulusu, dappalam and pesara pappu charu, i.e. not counting the 3 variants of Rasam - Rasam, tomato charu and pacchi pulusu, and there is majjiga pulusu (made with butter milk), and the "one & only" ulava charu

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somehow dont support betting in any form so dont share the same sentiments of the people who came to see/bet in the kodi pandelu..

have seen a close friend of mine loose alot of money in the mumbai race course..

do you get to eat the cock which lost the fight later on
I too don't like any kind of betting. That's why I don't play cards if money is involved. The only aspect I find interesting about cock fights is the range of emotions displayed by the playing/watching public

Whichever cock loses the fight, even if it is not killed in the fight, ends up in lunch menu
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Old 21st January 2009, 16:07   #10
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with all due respects..' majjiga pulusu' lol...sounds as if its some wwf/wwe wrestler..

"on my left corner ,weighing 150 pounds please welcome the andhra wrestler majjigaaa pulussuuuu..yeah yeah yeah..hehehee
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Old 21st January 2009, 18:54   #11
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LOL ! Rajesh, what about Gongura...

"on my right corner ,weighing 160 pounds please welcome another andhra wrestler great Gonguuuuraaaa

One of my wife's colleague had gone to his home in Andhra during sankranti and brought some gongura pickle. I think it is prepared using tamarind and is very yummy.

Nagvasi, a refreshing, different, and very interesting travelogue !

I have never been to Andhra except for couple trips to Tirupati. Now, I really love to do a trip to these places.
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Old 21st January 2009, 18:54   #12
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Which route did you take from Hyderabad to Guntur?


Quote:
The route was Ongole-Chirala-Bapatla-Repalle-Avanigadda-Pamarru-Gudivada-Kaikaluru-Bhimavaram-Palakollu-Chinchinada. The key aspects of this route are the new bridge (puligadda varadhi) across river Krishnabetween Repalle-Avanigadda
Good to know that the River Krishna bridge at Avanigadda is finally over. When I went last to that area, it was still under construction. Any distance details?

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Old 22nd January 2009, 09:43   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BomBatt View Post
One of my wife's colleague had gone to his home in Andhra during sankranti and brought some gongura pickle. I think it is prepared using tamarind and is very yummy.

Nagvasi, a refreshing, different, and very interesting travelogue !

I have never been to Andhra except for couple trips to Tirupati. Now, I really love to do a trip to these places.
Hi BomBatt,

If you find that yummy, then you must source your next bottle of gongura pickle from Guntur, famous for gongura and chillies, and my home town.

BTW, it is Nag Vasireddy, not Nagvasi Reddy
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Old 22nd January 2009, 10:01   #14
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Which route did you take from Hyderabad to Guntur?

Good to know that the River Krishna bridge at Avanigadda is finally over. When I went last to that area, it was still under construction. Any distance details?
I actually went to Guntur from Hyd by train. But when I drive down I take Hyd-Narketpally-Miryalaguda-Sattenapalli-Guntur route. Overall 270 KM, and nice, uncongested roads (unlike Narketpally-Kodada-Vijayawada route).

Distances covered in my trip were as under:

Nidamanuru to Chirala: 40 KM
Chirala to Bridge:47 KM
Bridge to Gudivada:50 KM
Gudivada to Bhimavaram:60 KM
Bhimavaram to Palakollu:22 KM
Palakollu to Chinchinada: 8 KM
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Old 22nd January 2009, 12:28   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BomBatt View Post
One of my wife's colleague had gone to his home in Andhra during sankranti and brought some gongura pickle. I think it is prepared using tamarind and is very yummy.
No tamarind in it. Gongura naturally tastes like tamarind but to a lesser degree.
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