Oct 7, 2008

Trip to Papi Kondalu along River Godavari

My long awaited vacation finally started with a cruise along the river Godavari to the scenic Papi Kondalu hills in Andhra Pradesh. The previous day we checked into the excellent River Bay Hotel in Rajamahendri (Rajahmundry as the Britishers renamed it).

We took an early morning bus to Pattiseema where the cruise started from. The upstream journey was wonderful with the river gracefully snaking its way up the plains into the thickly forested hills. The climax was the stretch where we entered the famous Papi Hills where the hill ranges are so closely spaced that it actually looks like the river is removing curtain after curtain in its relentless journey. The river here gets to just 150-200 metres wide, a fraction of its girth at Rajamahendri where the rail cum road bridge itself is 5 kms wide.

We took the 200 air conditioned seater from Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) manned by a dutiful and polite crew. Unfortunately the whole booking and boarding was messed up by the management and we heard that the cruise day before had to be cancelled after starting off as they realised the boat was over-crowded. Though the journey was beautiful, the boarding and ticketing process was mis-managed. APTDC still follows a manual booking process that complicates booking and cancelation big time! The boat was also slow (one felt someone jogging along the bank would have moved faster) and the journey was about 10 hours long! For someone wishing to cover this, I would recommend a trip to Kunavaram from Bhadrachalam, a famous temple town in Khammam district; from Kunavaram one can hire a boat and complete a round trip to the Papi Hills in about 4-5 hours.

Eleven years ago, I had an opportunity to do this journey but from the other way. I took a bus from Bangalore to Hyderabad and from there a connection to Bhadrachalam. After a day or two there covering places like Parnasala and Kinnerasani Wild Life Sanctuary, I moved to Kunavaram and stayed overnight paying a princely sum of eight rupees for renting a cot! The next morning I took the daily passenger motor launch to Rajamahendri that costed rupees thirty inclusive of lunch. That journy was special - I ended up spending more time on the roof of the boat and we touched almost every village on either side of the river. Looking back it almost has a 'Swades' movie like touch to it. I recall seeing so many kids splashing about in the water and this time could not spot a single soul frolicing in the water! I am told that the demography along the river has somewhat changed and people have moved on to the cities where more opportunities beckon in the risng economy of India. In a few years the ambitious Polvaram project will dam the river a few kms north of Rajamahendri transforming the economy of the whole state and also displacing several thousand villagers. That will change the demography more abruptly and take away the beauty of Papi Kondalu for ever.


travel said...

nice information

Srinivas said...

Global Tourism Promotions are professional tour operators who offer online booking for Papikondalu Cruise Boat Rides from Rajahmundry and Bhadrachalam. They can be contacted on 9440082627, 9490942788 or visit www.mytravelindia.org/indiatourism