In June 2010 when the monsoons were just arrived , we started thinking about the next travel.After visiting Shirdi by APTDC package ,this time we opted for IRCTC packages and found one package interesting and exciting.It is none other than trip to papikondalu a 130 kms,9&1/2 hr boat cruise on River Godavari with the Eastern Ghats on either side of the river. My hubby Sri, my sis chinna and I have gone on this trip.
After knowing the details, Sri went to Bigbazar to book the package of 3-tier AC. Two days before our journey we were called by the IRCTC coordinator and told that the boat cruise may be canceled and bus trip will be arranged due to heavy floods in Godavari. We were disappointed and thought of canceling tickets but its not possible. As we paid some 8000 bucks(5500 per couple and 2800 for third person for AC 3-tier package) we thought to proceed , praying god that there should be no rain in our trip. But in Hyderabad its raining cats and dogs and Sri was suffering form severe fever , me from throat pain and cold. But we did not stopped going as we were most excited of our Titanic journey.
We started from Secunderabad by Gouthami-Express Train to Rajahmundry carrying all sweaters, rain coats and tablets. We were received at Rajahmundry Station by IRCTC representative at 6:30 A.M. He dropped us at a hotel for freshening up. We were then picked up at 08:00 A.M. and transferred to an AC car which took us to Purushothamapatnam which is 45 Kms. from Rajahmundry. This journey was pleasant not because of the car 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. Our driver said he will be waiting till we return. All our sickness flew away by seeing the godavari and our titanic.
We had a nice idly-wada breakfast. By the way, breakfast, lunch and snacks are provided on the boat and is a part of the package. The first thing we did was to get onto the deck of the launch to have a view of the Godavari. From there we could see the tiny villages and farm patches on the bank of the river. We could not visit the Gandi Pochamma temple because of the whirl pools. Soon we were taken to Janaki Ramudu temple where the movie Janaki Ramudu was shot. We came across the Devipatnam police station, which was attacked by Alluri Sitaramaraju during his anti-British campaigns.
One nice thing to mention was there was an entertainment troupe who conducted a recording dance show on the deck. We thoroughly enjoyed it. These troupe of students from nearby villages come on their own and entertains. What ever amount given by the passengers of the boat helps them for their studies.After the artists on board danced to the tunes of three Telugu songs, they called all kids on the boat and were asked to dance for "Rabbaru Gajulu" by imitating a dance master dancing in front of them. Then a couple with a kid were called on to the stage and their marriage was performed with all important rituals with song "Srirastu Subhamastu".. This was followed by more dance programs by youngsters , old ladies and couples on board. Sri was called as Nag(Sri is almost 6 feet height) and we both danced for "Gundello Emundo". Chinna danced for "pilichina ranantava"..
Tollywood movies have an everlasting relation with Godavari. All along the trip, the guide showed us places where telugu movies like Bhakta Ramadasu, Gopi Gopika Godavari, Godavari, Megha Sandesham , Janaki Ramudu, andala Ramdudu etc were shot.
After the morning entertainment show, a fairly good lunch was served on the top deck of the boat. This lunch for the tourists was picked up from a place along the shore. The tribal s from near by villages cook the lunch. We can feel the taste of cooking on stew. The boat also has a canteen from where some ready made 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. 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.
Final destination was Perantalapalli village.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 small water falls adjacent to the temple as Munivaatam waterfalls.The tribals were selling some hand made flower vases and houses made up of bamboo. Chinna bought one bamboo house. People here does not have any electricity and for all provisions and medical treatments they have to cross godvari river on small boats called as Theppalu.
Our boat turned back here and now traveling downstream we stopped for a while at Kolluru village as one of the newly married couple booked this package where there is a provision for a night stay in the bamboo huts along the river bank.
The weather was very good; just warm, mostly cloudy with strong breeze and it also drizzled for sometime in the evening making it a wonderful day. We got down from Sree Bhageeradhi at Purushothamapatnam and our driver was waiting for us to drop at the lodge in Rajhamundry.
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 irrigation 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.