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Old 21st April 2009, 14:46   #1
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Default Maredumilli & Papikondalu - Where time stands still.

Well, my elder son's last working day for the academic year happened to be the 3rd April and due to personal reasons I knew that a Summer drive was not going to be a possibility this year. So planned to leave for a short trip (1010 kms) up and down with another family on the 4th itself.

Plans were drawn, calls made, bookings done and on the afternoon of the 4th April we set on a small trip, which was going to be unlike any that I had done ever.

A Reservoir Enroute
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The Machine
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4th April night saw us driving into the bustling town of Rajahmundry and checking ourselves into a Hotel called Akshay Residency. It was a small hotel but very reasonably priced at Rs. 750/- for an A/c Room. The A/c was chilling to say the least.

2.2 km long Road over Rail Bridge at Rajahmundry
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For dinner, we were guided to a nice open air restaurant in "The River Bay Resorts". Nice place this and it did help that we were sitting in the open air area along the banks of the river Godavari. There was a nice breeze blowing in and that helped us stay cool in an otherwise hot Rajahmundry climate.

The food was nice and spicy. For people who are looking for a long stay in Rajahmundry, this may be the right place to be ("The River Bay Resorts"). They have around 60 odd river facing rooms which did look plush from the outside. The tariff, if I am allowed to hazard a guess would be in the range of around 2k ~ 2.5k.

The next morning saw us leaving Rajahmundry towards our next place of stay for a night namely, Mardeumilli forest area which is 80kms away from Rajahmundry.

Local folks at Rajahmundry deeply engrossed in the daily state of affairs.
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The road conditions deteriorate as we leave Rajahmundry and more so when we enter the forest area. The forests where dry, no thanks to the harsh summer, but I was told that they are a delight to see during the monsoons and after with their lush green cover.

The road just outside R'mundry and after..
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As we near the upper strata of the mountain Bamboo groves start showing up quite often
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Old 21st April 2009, 15:15   #2
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At Maredumilli, we were booked at the Forest departments Hill top resort (they call it so especially after the eco-tourism destination tag came in. This essentially was a 30 odd year old building with 2 A/c rooms a Sit-out, Huge attached bathrooms and a backyard play area where the children had a whale of a time. The tariff is 1,000Rs. per room per night.

View of the Resort building
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One of the main attractions in this area is what they call Bamboo Chicken. This is basically a dish prepared by the tribals and to savour this and to know more of their different cuisine/culture we visited a Tribals house. He was bowled us over with his hospitality and showed us the process of cooking this dish.

The reason this cuisine developed in this are was the fact that Bamboo was more than abundant in this area. So when these tribals. who essentially were hunters go int the forest area and hunt for wild animals/birds and the like the bamboo helped to keep the cooking process simple and I must say this simplicity made it lip smacking.

The process essentially was to coat the chicken with herbs and spices available in the forest without the addition of salt and stuffing the same intoo Bamboo Shoots/stems. These shoots, stuffed with the chicken were then placed in a fire fuelled by wood from the dry branches of tress that dotted the forest floor. The salt and the water that were inherent in the bamboo would permeate into the chicken/meat and the flavors of the fresh spices combined with the smokey flavor of the wood used as fuel and the earthy flavour of the Bamboo helps in fixing a delicious meal which is totally wholesome and unarguably very healthy.

Pics of a portion of Bamboo chicken
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Sora Puttu, a south indian sea food dish which essentially is shark meat cooked in spices into a consistency which resembles scrambled eggs. Yummy this was. This was not from the tribes though, but from a friend in Rajahmundry who drove down alongwith his family in tow to spend the Sunday with us.
Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040180.jpg

Given below is the tribal's Bow and Arrows which he offered for me to keep. Unfortunately it would not fit anywhere in the Verna. If you keenly notice even the string (or where it is supposed to be) is made of bamboo with just the ends tied up to the bow with thin nylon rope. Man, where the arrows sharp and the bow was really powerful belying it's looks.
Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040185.jpg

After a hearty meal we drove around on a local sight seeing trip, we skipped the local coffee estate and drove towards a waterfall which unfortunately for us was devoid of any water, but a tiny trickle.

Waterfall parking
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Waterfall entrance, and just inside
Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040188.jpg

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Last edited by suren181 : 21st April 2009 at 15:30.
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Old 21st April 2009, 15:26   #3
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Nice travelogue Suren. I am planning to drive down from Bangalore to Vizag this May and I shall PM for details of stay and site seeing en-route.
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Old 21st April 2009, 15:27   #4
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Seems an interesting place and the food looks good too. Can bookings be done through APTDC offices or does the Forests Dept. have a separate office?

Looking forward to the account of the rest of the trip.
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Old 21st April 2009, 15:27   #5
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There were termite mounds (?) everywhere in Maredumilli.
Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040196.jpg

The path to the waterfall (you would see the abundant usage of Bamboo everywhere in this M'milli)
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The waterfall area which was dry
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The kids where disappointed since they were unable to play in the water. So we drove down to another location which had a stream flowing through. This stream would meet up with the Godavari at exactly the place we where heading to the next day.
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My brats frolicking in the water (Man, how I wish I were there today)
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Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040260.jpg
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Old 21st April 2009, 15:36   #6
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man,
i am imagining the beauty of area during monsoon.
nice pics.
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Old 21st April 2009, 15:54   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASHISHPALLOD View Post
man,
i am imagining the beauty of area during monsoon.
nice pics.
yeah man ,i was thinking the same.

suren sir i liked the pictures of the little island and the railway bridge( dont worry i am not thinking of jumping from it)

talking of rail bridges when you cross kanpur and are going towards lucknow(by train) ,the rail bridge on the ganges is equally long as the one posted by you ,lot of people throw coins into the ganges( as an offering) and you have these kids in the water below ready to grab those coins.

little treats of life to witness isnt it.

the bamboo chicken thing looks quite innovative.

thanks for sharing.hope to hear more stories when we meet during the weekend.
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Old 21st April 2009, 15:58   #8
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At night, at Maredmilli, the silence and fresh air that we breathe does to your mind things that can only be described as spellbinding.

I fell victim too and tried the following handheld shots with my Lumix FZ-5 at full zoom. Well, the first one is a shot of the moon and the others a planet
Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040268.jpg

Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040284.jpg

Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040285.jpg



The next morning we packed our bags and moved towards Pochavaram which was where we were to park our car and proceed by boat to our destination called Kollur.

Actually, this trip to Kollur, in Papikondalu aka Papi Hills is a day long affair during the monsoons when Godavari is in her fullest glory. The Boats start from Rajahmundry which is downstream and head towards Papi hills during the course of a whole day. Breakfast, Lunch, tea etc., are served by the boat operators and to keep you occupied during the long journey loud music is played (carry your headache pills along).

However this part of the year water levels in the Godavari were alarmingly low and the boats were operational from Pochavaram only which otherwise is the last pickup point.

Ok, we finally get to Pochavaram, despite the road blocked by a tree which had just that morning fallen down. Had to get the Verna into the adjoining fields and back onto the road again. We were sure to get a tractor if we were to be stuck though. At Pochavaram we paid Rs.1,150/- for 4 adults and 3 kids to take us to Kollur and back. We did skip the B/fast and Lunch there for the sake of Hygiene. There were roaches emerging in hoardes from every nook and cranny of the boat when the engine was started, guess they couldn't stand the vibrations.

There was one stop for a half an hour period at a place where there is an ancient temple and a tribal village. Cameras are not allowed at this point since they wanted the traditions/culture of the tribals to be experienced firsthand.

A lone 200 year old tree at the stop, notice the ground around the roots have been eroded away due to a not too recent deluge.
Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040291.jpg

Some more views while at the stop
Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040292.jpg

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Cook(ing) in the boat
Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040304.jpg

Last edited by suren181 : 21st April 2009 at 16:02.
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Old 21st April 2009, 16:25   #9
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Excellent narration and terrific snaps. Can we have a detailed recipe of the bamboo chicken. Is it shrimps that are getting deep fried in the boat
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Old 21st April 2009, 16:40   #10
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Kollur, is a small village. the place we stayed is where one alights from the boat to get to the village.

The area where we stayed belongs to a family who had migrated to this place 3 generations ago. The first person and his son who settled in this area had come into this area were/are highly respected by the tribals in this area as they worked rigorously for the development of the tribes here.

Infact my friend who happened to meet the gentleman of the 2nd generation, 2 years back, had loads of good things to speak about him. In the 3 days of stay that my friend had there he was taken care of as a member of the family and they refused to take any money from his family.
Sadly this gentleman has had to move to the city for the sake of medical attention for an ailing heart.

More about Kollur. This place has not seen electricity even as of today and may likely never ever see it for the Pollavaram dam project would ensure that these parts are totally submerged once it comes through.

Innovations galore: I had the opportunity to learn of a technology I have never read/heard about in my whole life. That being a refrigerator running on LPG. This was of the Electrolux brand, an ancient fridge and was quite efficient in chilling anything that wsa thrown into it. A standard LPG cylinder gave them a fortnight's worth of use.

The second innovation that I saw there was a 11" B&W TV without a dish/cable connection was able to receive signals of some 7~8 channels of sattelite TV. This B&W TV was in turn connected to a 21" colour TV for the video and Audio output.

How where these TVs working? Part by Solar power generators and part by A Honda Portable generator (petrol) which was fitted with an LPG kit.

All this in a place which has no mobile signals or electricity at all.

Ok, now for some pictures.

The first views as we approach Kollur the place where we stayed. The Red Tile Roof building is where we had spent the night. The owner stays in a building adjacent/behind this structure.
Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040323.jpg

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Views at Kollur
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The stream that the kids played around in Marredumilli joins the godavari at this point
Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040345.jpg

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The force of the stream was such that, the kids just used to walk up a distance and just by floating were pushed foward, Thats a natural water slide for you.
Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040354.jpg

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Hot Pakoras and Chai at Sunset along the water
Maredumilli & Papikondalu -  Where time stands still.-p1040368.jpg

Other random pics
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Last edited by suren181 : 21st April 2009 at 16:42.
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Old 21st April 2009, 16:43   #11
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oh thats a really nice travelogue, how far is this place from hyderabad?
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Old 21st April 2009, 16:51   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muralisk View Post
Nice travelogue Suren. I am planning to drive down from Bangalore to Vizag this May and I shall PM for details of stay and site seeing en-route.
Thank you muralisk. Please do get in touch as and when needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by straightdrive View Post
Seems an interesting place and the food looks good too. Can bookings be done through APTDC offices or does the Forests Dept. have a separate office?

Looking forward to the account of the rest of the trip.
straightdrive, the food was truly awesome, all through this trip. Bookings for Maredumilli have to be done through the Forest dept offices, for Kollur the bookings have to be done directly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ASHISHPALLOD View Post
man,
i am imagining the beauty of area during monsoon.
nice pics.
It is truly stunning during the monsoons, shall ask my friend for the snaps he took during/around that time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajesh Rawal View Post
the bamboo chicken thing looks quite innovative.

thanks for sharing.hope to hear more stories when we meet during the weekend.
Thank you HRH RR, was told by the tribal guy that he did visit Shilparamam and had a stall for the Bamboo chicken during a month long fair, but he had to close his stall in a couple of days itself because he ran out of bamboo/herbs so soon. It was a sellout.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellstar View Post
oh thats a really nice travelogue, how far is this place from hyderabad?
Thanks hellstar, The direct route if taken to Pochavaram (the last boarding point for the Boat) is around 410 kms from Hyderabad.
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Old 21st April 2009, 16:54   #13
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Wonderful pics and nice place, which makes it to my list. Am sure that this place would be great to visit during monsoon and winters. Awesome pictures. Good show Suren!!
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Old 21st April 2009, 17:09   #14
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Suren- Bamboo Chicken, cool lake, hot pakoras, chai, beautiful hilly surrounding, except probably for the hot weather, was that a trip to heaven?

You do have the knack of finding out about quaint places and presenting it in such a fantastic fashion that we all gasp and gape at the beauty of the place.

Some of the pictures of the lake and hilly terrain look to me like a mini Kullu Manali sans the rocks in the lake.

Loved the pictures a lot and had you informed us of this location before, we would have taken a quick change in decision to make this our weekend drive location. No worries, this will be reserved for the next overnighter

Let the pictures flow, they seem to be doing full justice to your weekend sojourn !!!!
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Old 21st April 2009, 17:34   #15
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Wonderful pics Suren and quite elated to see Karan and his younger brother regale in the warm waters.
Karan was esctatic about this trip on the Ghazal night.
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