We returned home this morning from another memorable trip to Papikondalu, a 130 Kms., 9&1/2 hour boat cruise on River Godavari with the Eastern Ghats on either side of the river. My wife Lalitha, my son Srikanth and I have gone on this trip. Lalitha and I have gone there before but for my son it is his first trip. He was so thrilled with the beauty of the area that he clicked as many as 215 photos of the hills and water en-route River Godavari and also captured much of the journey on Handycam.
Earlier we had gone to Papikondalu up to Perantalapalli from Bhadrachalam side, a cruise of 90 Kms. from Sri Ramagiri town. And this Trip was from Purushothamapatnam town on Rajahmundry side up to Perantalapalli and back, a cruise of 130 Kms. While the first tour was on our own, this one was a tour conducted by IRCTC-Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation. We started from Secunderabad on 14th August night by Gouthami-Express Train to Rajahmundry. We were received at Rajahmundry Station by IRCTC representative at 6:30 A.M. on 15th August. He dropped us at a hotel for freshening up. We were then picked up at 08:00 A.M. and transferred to a bus which took us to Purushothamapatnam which is 45 Kms. from Rajahmundry. This journey was also pleasant not because of the bus or road but due to the greenery of fields and trees all along the way up to the horizon in any direction. At Purushothamapatnam; at 9:45 A.M we boarded an Air-conditioned, 120-Seater boat called Sree Bhageeradhi. Breakfast consisting of Idli and Vada was served followed by tea. The boat started at 10:00 A.M. on a 65 Kms. journey to Perantalapalli. The boat personnel made detailed announcements all along the way about the places along the banks, about the hills and the river in ancient times and now. Several Telugu movies are shot along this beautiful stretch of Godavari, so the narration included details of these movies, scenes and actors.
As our boat cruised ahead we were shown some places and stopped at some. The first major site we saw was that of the proposed Polavaram Dam. We passed through some tribal villages in the hills that were visible on the shores like Devipatnam, Singanapalle, Tekuluru and Koruturu of the East Godavari and West Godavari Districts which are separated by the river. We also stopped at Rampachodavaram where the tiled British police station attacked by Sri Alluri Sita Rama Raju was shown to us. We also stopped at Gandi Pochamma temple and Perantalapalli in Khammam District. At Perantalapalli there is a Shiva temple on top of a hill. This temple was established by Sri Balananda Swamiji in the year 1927 who also strived for the development of the locals called Konda Koyas and Konda Reddies. The temple and the ashram there are called ‘Sri Krishna Munivaatam’. And the water falls adjacent to the temple as Munivaatam waterfalls. Our boat turned back here and now traveling downstream we stopped for a while at Kolluru village where there is a provision for a night stay in the bamboo huts along the river bank.
There was on board entertainment in the form of dance, jokes and Tambola. After the artists on board danced to the tunes of three Telugu songs, I and Lalitha were called on to the stage as a specially selected couple. Then on stage to everyone’s entertainment our marriage was performed by making us enact all the important marriage rituals. This was followed by more dance programs by small children, youngsters and couples on board who were asked to dance on their own but mostly by imitating a dance master dancing in front of them to some very popular Telugu movie songs. After the morning entertainment show, a fairly good lunch was served on the top deck of the boat. Srikanth ordered for Chicken fry at the time of boarding the boat so that was served to us separately. This lunch for the tourists was picked up from a place along the shore. The boat also has a canteen from where some readymade and cooked snacks, tea and soft drinks were circulated on the boat and sold.
We kept moving freely the whole day long, along all sides of the boat enjoying the beautiful scenery all around. We sat in the Air-conditioned lower deck at times but mostly enjoyed our time on the top deck and around the outer railing of the boat. With plenty of river water all around us and small to mighty hills on either side of the river with thick green forests on them is a very beautiful experience beyond my description. As you enter Khammam district the river narrows down between two hills to about 400 metres and the depth of the river here is about 100 metres. And the height of the two hills about 525 metres. Passing between these two hills is said to clear all the sins committed by us. Sins in Telugu means Papaalu and hence the name Papikondalu. But the most popular version for the name Papikondalu is because the river is like Papida – that is the parting of hair on our head and the hills are like the hair on either side of the parting (Papida) and hence the name Papikondalu.
The weather was very good; just warm, mostly cloudy with strong breeze and it also rained for sometime in the evening making it a wonderful day. We got down from Sree Bhageeradhi at Purushothamapatnam at 7:20 P.M. Tourists took their own time to board the bus to Rajahmundry which started at 7:45 P.M. causing some tension as we had to catch the night train to Secunderabad. We reached the IRCTC/tourist office at Rajahmundry by 9:15 P.M. and soon we were transferred to the station and provided with dinner packets.
We started from Rajahmundry at 9:40 P.M. by Gouthami-Express Train and arrived at Secunderabad at 6:35 A.M. on 16th August. In 34 hours we covered 1000 Kms. by train, 100Kms. by road and 130 Kms. by boat but did not feel any strain because of the refreshing scenic beauty of Godavari and Papikondalu. To meet the demands of a growing population, to provide water to the people of Vishakapatnam and to divert the water from River Godavari to River Krishna for irrigational benefits Polavaram Dam is being constructed. And this would soon submerge the beauty of the place forever and as for the tribals who would be displaced in lakhs I hope they will be kept happy and as for the animals and all other living creatures of these forests, I pray God to protect them.
P.S. You may click on the following link to reach several of my photo-articles / blog posts on Kothagudem, Singareni Collieries, Bhadrachalam, Godavari River, Parnashala, Kinnerasani and Papikondalu: