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Old 7th March 2010, 04:06   #1
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Arrow A short trip - Hyderabad - Bhadrachalam - Papikondalu

Hi every one. I was always fond of travelling, but never really documented them as most of them were never planned. As and when I felt I had some time to spare I just took off to some place, never really bothering about accommodation etc. This short trip falls into the same category. I work as a research analyst in Commodity and Currency derivatives market; hence holidays are rare for us. Even Saturdayís are working days. While talking to my friends on a Sunday evening I remembered that October 12th was Columbus Day, a US holiday and as such there wouldnít be much activity in the markets. Keeping this in mind I quickly called few of my colleagues to check if they would be interested in a short trip. They were all game for that and we decided that we would take off from office itself on Monday, Oct 12 í09.

Our initial plan was to visit Srisailam and Mahanadi Ė both situated in Nallamala forest ranges with dense tropical forests. But having found that the roads leading to Srisailam were severely damaged during the floods that occurred in the month before, we started looking for alternatives. Then we decided to go to Bhadrachalam and from there to Papikondalu (Actually Papidikondalu, named so because river Godavari passes through these hills, resembling the crease our head. In Telugu the crease on our head when we comb our hair is called Papidi, hence the name Papidikondalu). The other factor that we considered when deciding upon this was that due to an ongoing project on Godavari, these hills will be submerged, as and when the project is complete. So we didnít want to miss that before they vanish.

Actually we were 5 people and hence I felt that we could easily do the trip in my palio MJD. When we met in our office another colleague expressed interest, and unable to tell him no we decided we would carry on though it would be uncomfortable in the back bench. We took off from our office in Himayathnagar around 1pm and had the option of going through two routes. One was Hyd-Suryapet-Khammam-Kothagudem-Bhadrachalam. The other route was to go through Hyd-Warangal-Kothagudem-Bhadrachalam. Both routes had good roads but we decided that we would opt for the latter route while going and the former route while coming back. Except for small patches the roads on either route were very good.

A special mention here for the Palio. Even with 6 people on board, the car pulled cleanly on the highway and the only discomfort was with regards to space. The car took whatever bumps that came never transferring them to the people inside. I had done nearly 12k kms on highways with this machine within a year and love the way it behaves at high speeds.

Anyway coming back to the journey, we stopped only once at a small village for tea and resumed our journey and reached Bhadrachalam around 9 pm. We already booked our room as one of our clients had a Satram/Cottage facility near the temple. The rooms were large enough and ok with four cots. We quickly had a shower and went to a nearby hotel to have our dinner. After completing our dinner we went to our cottage and spotted a travelling agents office besides our cottage. We enquired with them regarding the trip to Papikondalu and he said it would cost Rs.150 per head with break-fast, lunch and evening snacks included. The trip would start at 9.30 am and would be back in the evening. Though there was a night stay facility on the banks of the river, we didnít ask for that as we had to return back to Hyd. Having booked the trip we called it a day. The next day would be hectic.

We decided that we would visit the temple at 5 am, when it is opened and then head to Parnasala, the place where Sri Rama along with his divine consort Sita and brother Lakshmana are believed to stay during their vanavasa. This is also the place wherein Goddess Sita is believed to be abducted by Ravana. We woke around 4 am and finished our chores by 4.45 am and headed for the temple. There werenít many people as it was a working day. We had a good darshan, and came out by 5.30.

(Bhadrachalam Ė There is a story for this name. There was a devotee called Bhadra who did penance for Lord Vishnu for many years. When Lord Vishnu appeared along with his divine consort Lakshmi before Bhadra, though happy to see Lord Vishnu, Bhadra requested that Lord Vishnu and his consort appear in the form of Sri Rama and Sita as he longed to see him in that avatar. The lord appeared so to appease the devotee, but held the Shankha and Chakra in his hands. Bhadra then asks the lord to convert him into a hillock and stay put on that in the same form. The lord agrees and thus Bhadra became Bhadragiri or Bhadrachalam. Giri or Achalam means a hill or mountain. The Idol of Lord Sri Rama in the temple is quite unique because nowhere else one would find Lord Sri Rama with four hands and holding Shankha and Chakra. Also it is very rare to find Lord Sri Rama without Lord Hanuman at his feet. It is so here because Lord Sri Rama appeared as Vishnu first.

This place is also symbolises the unity of religions, and does away with caste etc. as many of you know the famous devotee Sri Ramadasu originally named Gopanna, built the temple, while he was Tahasildar of this area under the Qutub shah rule. The Tanisha was angered to know that Sri Ramadasu didnít ask his permission for the same and also as he utilised some funds from tax/revenue collections. He put Ramadasu in jail in Golkonda, which be seen even today, for 14 years. One night in the dream of Tanesha two persons in the attire of soldiers appear and ask him to release Ramadasu after taking the 1 lakh varahalu (currency of that time) worth of gold coins. The Tanesha, surprised by the dream wakes up and finds the amount near his bed. He calls all his ministers in the morning and explains the dream. Finally realising that the persons are none other than Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana, Tanesha orders immediate release of Ramadasu. And from that day every year Tanesha used to send Silk clothes and pearls for Sri Sita Rama Kalyanam, performed at Bhadrachalam. This practice is still carried and state government of AP presents the Silk clothes and pearls etc. Think of it a Muslim ruler believes in a Hindu god and sends peals and silk clothes every year a token of his devotion. And we fight with each other in the name of same God!!!! See the Irony.)

Now coming back to our journey - Immediately after having darshan we head to Parnasala, the place where Sri Rama and Sita along with Lakshmana are believed to live during their vanavasam. And also this is the same place from where Ravana abducted Sita. Itís about 25 km from Bhadrachalam, but the road is not so good. We reached there by 6.30 am. Here are some snaps that we have taken. (We didnít take any pics of temple as it was dark or Should I say we forgot).

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The hut and the painting etc were recently placed during the filming of a movie based on the life of Sri Ramadasu, with the same title. The filming crew left them as they would be of some attraction. The actual place where Sri Rama and Sita are believed to have lived is further ahead, around 1km or so. One can go on vehicles. The place is very beautiful with a small stream, which eventually meets the River Godavari. Here are some snaps from that place.
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After exploring the place for a while we started off to Koonavaram, the place from where the boat ride begins. It is approximately some 25-30 km from Bhadrachalam. So we had to cover nearly 60 km in 2 hrs. That should have been very easy but not so, given the state of roads - single lane with craters.
Eventually we reached there with still some 20 mnts before the ride began. As that was working day as well as off-season there wasn't much rush. In peak season trips start from 7 in the morning. With 10. am trip being the last one to start. While casually chatting with the agent there we found out that one can book a boat completely for themselves. I don't remember the price, but it wasn't too high.

We settled in our boat by 9.30 and the journey began. We were offered break-fast which was good (Upma with Masala Vada). Right from the start you feel completely cut-off from the world (literally after 30 mnts or so there was no signal on our cell phones, I wasn't bothered much). With greenery all around and vast expanse of water beneath, the sand on the banks, its really difficult to put them in words. I for one was more overwhelmed because of our daily grind in the cities. the only things that we get to see are tall buildings and metal sheets on wheels. Occassionally we may not be able to see that either if some generous truck or bus thinks of camouflaging you with black smoke. Also in a world where we aren't left with choice but to buy water, it is quite overwhelming to see such vast expanse of water. At least for me. As I said I will not try to put my experience in words. The pics would bear the testimony, though I am not that good at taking photos. Of course they were taken by all of us.

The starting point
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Greenery along the banks
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A country boat with fishermen
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Small villages along the banks
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The worst thing in this trip that we did was to forget to take pics when we were at the the actual passage, which gets narrow, with huge hills on either sides, due to which the name Papidikondalu came into existence. Now that is called heights of stupidity. But the problem was we had two cams and I thought my frineds were taking snaps and they thought I was.

Actually there is facility for someone interested to spedn a night or so on the banks of the river. APTDC has thatched huts on the banks, very near to the narrow passage that I have mentioned above. Also A slightly bigger stream comes and joins Godavari exactly at this point. It would have been a great experience but since we had to return to Hyd we couldn't. I think I have seen a thread in travelogues section regarding the same.

The three Idiots ( I am the one behind the two. what can I do old habits die hard. Have been habituated to sit in last bench and make fun since school days)
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The place where we had lunch while returning back(If I can recollect properly, the name of the village is Parentallapally).

Way to the village which is situated atop a small hill
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Now this is called living with nature
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Some views from the top(Parentallapally)
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I have to say a small story about this village. There is a tomb/samadhi of a saint here, who, according to the villagers visited this place some 70-80 years back. At that time these villagers were uneducated and didn't know much about outside world. After seeing their state of affairs, the saint decided to educate these people and made them more cultured and civilised. He eventually attained samadhi there itself, where a temple along side his samdhi is there.

It is really surprising to see the discipline that these people follow. Nobody is allowed to talk in the temple. And they specifically place notice boards asking tourists not to ring the bell more than once and not to talk inside or near the temple. Photography inside the temple premises is prohibited. The minute tourists come people living within the temple premises keep an eye so as to ensure that the rules are followed. But the fact is some so called educated humans are required to be told by these people, who are uncivilised and less educated in our modern world, to follow the rules.

There is a small stream which flows through the hill. The water of the stream is more sweet that many of our so called bottled mineral water. As you can see from the pic of the deer, these people co-exist with the nature in complete harmony. Another thing is they have to use boats for their transport.

After having lunch we started towards Koonavaram, with tea and snacks served around 3.30. On the boat we had fun with the person who looked after us. He started to tell stories, which were some times like DD serials and sometimes Rajinikanth fight sequences. Really had fun.

Raju (the one to the right - Basha of the boat - mind it)
A short trip - Hyderabad - Bhadrachalam - Papikondalu-dsc02438.jpg

We reached Koonavaram by 5.30 in the evening. Started off in our car after some pleasantries with the others who travelled with us on the boat, especially Basha aka Raju. Already struggling with the bad raod conditions we were further put to trouble by a snap rasta-roko organised by some one for some reason that we didn't know. After being trapped for 15 mnts, we decided to explore the area and find new ways. Some other enthusiasts of our kind together we enquired with some villagers who weren't part of the show and they directed us towards a narrow path through agricultural fields, which we somehow managed and finally joined the road.

We reached Bhadrachalam by 7.30 and after checking off from the cottage, started our journey back to Hyd. I was entrusted the resposibility to drive as the others didn't have much experience of driving in the night. As we decided to go through the khammam and suryapet route, we stopped for dinner at Khammam and after 40 mnts started our final leg.

The journey till Suryapet was a breeze as the roads were excellent and there wasn't much oncoming traffic. But once we joined the national highway at Suryapet, it was hard to engage 5th gear. Apart from there being few chances of overtaking, as there are always at least 6 to 10 trucks in front of us and almost similar number coming in the opposite direction, the glare of the headlights was hurting my eyes badly. As if two headlights aren't enough many trucks and private bus (this is the main route to reach many coastal cities in AP from HYd) had 4 or 6 headlamps with high beam. The situation only worsened when we crossed narkatpally.

The 150 odd kms from Suryapet cost us more than 3 hours. Finally somehow managed to reach Hyd around midnight. After dropping every one at their homes, I reached home around 2 am.

I hope and wish that I would undertake the boat ride once again this time with night stay. The best time to visit papidikondalu in my opinion would be around Nov-Dec as the rainy season would be over by then and the greenery would be at its best. Also there is always a danger of flash floods in Godavari in rany season. Of coourse the thrill of riding a boat while it is raining is different.

Also people can do this trip from Rajhamundry rather than Koonavaram. Hyyd- bhadrachalam its approximately 340 odd kms.

I have tried to recollect as much as possible but since the trip was a good 4 months back I am sure I missed some points. Hope to undertake may such journeys.
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Old 7th March 2010, 04:15   #2
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Default some random snaps

Here are some more random snaps from the trip. ( I have tinkered with some photos just to see the effect)
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Old 7th March 2010, 22:15   #3
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Thanks for the refreshing travelogue. Very nicely written including history. I have been trying to plan for a trip since last 2 years and could not make it yet. Hope to be there soon. Do you think it would be too hot there to visit in Mar / Apr?

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Old 7th March 2010, 22:58   #4
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@ Truedreamer. I think it would be certainly on the hotter side if you visit now or in Apr. However, if your plan also includes Bhadrachalam you can plan to make a short trip on Mar 24 coinciding with Sri rama navami. Other wise it is better to visit after summer and even better if it is around Oct-Dec
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Old 7th March 2010, 23:14   #5
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Very refreshing to see photos of Papikondalu. My friend bbkp and I are planning on a trip from papikondalu till bhadrachalam (ofcourse after driving from mh to ap).
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Old 7th March 2010, 23:46   #6
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Some of the attachments in the post weren't working for some reason I don't know. So I am posting those pics in the same order.

A short trip - Hyderabad - Bhadrachalam - Papikondalu-1.jpg
A short trip - Hyderabad - Bhadrachalam - Papikondalu-2.jpg

The actual place where Sri Rama is believed to have stayed
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The starting point at Koonavaram
A short trip - Hyderabad - Bhadrachalam - Papikondalu-b33.jpg
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Some greenery
A short trip - Hyderabad - Bhadrachalam - Papikondalu-b4.jpg
A short trip - Hyderabad - Bhadrachalam - Papikondalu-b5.jpg

Country boat with fisher men
A short trip - Hyderabad - Bhadrachalam - Papikondalu-b6.jpg

Small villages along the banks

A short trip - Hyderabad - Bhadrachalam - Papikondalu-b7.jpg
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Old 8th March 2010, 00:01   #7
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thanks vamsi for sharing the trip details and this would go down as the thread for anyone planning to visit these places. very good narration and loads of information and details. does help a lot in planning and ensuring a hassle free trip.
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Old 8th March 2010, 11:18   #8
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Vamsi, Great Pictures. Excellent Travelogue with all details. Ever since I went to Konaseema region to attend a wedding an year ago, I am awaiting a chance to explore the region and river godavari in detail. Your travelogue will certainly be of much help when i decide to do so.
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Old 8th March 2010, 12:36   #9
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@MX6 , muralisk and venki.bala Thank you. As I said before there is an alternate route also from Rajamundry. From Rajamundry they conduct a trip till Bhadrachalam with Night stay facility. That would be pretty good in my opinion. Next time that would be my plan.

As far as pictures are concerned they actually don't reflect the true beauty what with our photography skills and also normal digi-cams. If anyone feels that the pics are good then they should see the place in reality. Then they might say the pics won't do any justice ( I am sure of that, becos I myself feel so)
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Old 8th March 2010, 12:42   #10
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Nice to see the second travelogue on Konaseema ( I am guessing that). Pretty good details.

Do share the route info, accomodation and food info which will be helpful for future travellers to this destination.
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Old 8th March 2010, 13:10   #11
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mobike008, its not Konaseema. It would be nice to visit that place however. I haven't been there till now.

As far as route info is concerned I have mentioned it, but any way Hyd-Suryapeta-Khammam-Kothagudem-Bhdrachalam route is shorter and most easy to find directions. The distance should be around 350 kms. The Road conditions are good. Only thing is the traffic on this route is a bit on the higher side till Suryapeta, especially at nights, this being the highway leading to Vijayawada. From Suryapeta one has to take a left deviation and head to Khammam. This route is preferable as you have many dhabas along the highway and also punture shops etc. Night journey however may be a bit taxing.

As far as accomodation is concerned, we stayed at one of the cottages run by our client. So nothing on that front. You can always find good food in AP in my opinion unless the place is very remote. And Bhadrachalam being an important tourist destination, food is good. Recently they have constructed some New hotels, which I believe have above average lodging facilities and the cost shouldn't be too high in normal season. During Sri Rama navami, which generally falls in the month of March, however there can be some problem with lodging facilities as the tourist rush is more. ( I never stayed at hotels nor did I eat outside because my mothers elder sister stays at Bhadrachalam. So my stay has always been in their house. This was the first time I stayed in a cottage as I was there with my friends.)

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Old 8th March 2010, 13:28   #12
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Konaseema has always been a tempting destination and your travelogue especially the snaps have made it even more tempting - We are planning for a trip and we will keep you posted on the same.
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Old 8th March 2010, 13:39   #13
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Thanks for all this useful info Vamsi. Infact I'm planning to visit this place and your inputs are so valuble to me to plan.
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Old 8th March 2010, 14:00   #14
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Thanks Vamsi. I am considering a trip to Rajahmundry, Annavaram, Bhadrachalam and Draksharamam on Apr 2 ~ 4th. Do you think there would be boating services right from Rajahmundry until Bhadrachalam in April (considering start of summer). I read about boating services starting from Pattiseema due to low water levels at RJY last summer. Also are there any houseboat services from RJY which start at Night around 7 PM so we can watch the sunrise directly on the river the next morning and have darshan @ Bhadrachalam early and enjoy the cruise the next day on the way back to RJY ?
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Old 8th March 2010, 14:36   #15
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@bbkp and rnidumolu. Thank you.

TrudeDreamer I am not sure about the current situation in RJY. But it is possible as you said due to low water levels. I think if you could enquire with APTDC that would clear the doubt. As for watching sunrise and availability of Houseboats, I am quite sure there are many houseboats. Am not sure about the start in the evening. Will enquire and get back to you.
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