Travelling to the tiny village of Yalamanchili Lanka, Nivedita Ganguly experiences an oasis of enchanting beauty

The colour green, grandma used to tell me in my childhood, has an immense power to heal. “You just have to look at the fields and the trees and watch them transform into different shades of green throughout the day. Your mind automatically immerses in a world of peace,” she would say. As a child, I couldn’t completely grasp the significance of this. But while driving through the National Highway towards the tiny village of Yalamanchili Lanka, the million shades of green that came flooding towards us reminded me of her words. This was, indeed, peace!

Laced with green fields, coconut groves, banana plantations, and a spectrum of birds, the drive to the village itself is a visual delight. Located at a distance of about 260 kms from Visakhapatnam, this is a part of the rich Konaseema – a delta surrounded on all sides by waters of the mighty river Godavari and the Bay of Bengal. It is one of the most fertile lands of the Coromandel Coast.

The five-hour drive takes us through green layers of paddy fields and the river Godavari, after which we take a turn towards Yalamanchili Lanka. The evening sun’s slanting rays glisten on the droplets of dew over the swaying fields as we pass by. The silence gets more intense as we near our place of stay. Quintessentially the Konaseema flavour, the lush wilderness surrounding the village is stroked by a cool breeze as we enter. Soon we have an enthusiastic bunch of young and old villagers eager to guide us through the area and tell us more about the place. I step out to soak in the fresh air. Surrounding the area, there is a lyrical blend of undulating coconut groves and endless green fields which is draped by the waters of ‘Vashista’ kissing the shores on one side. There is not a sound more.

Island hopping

Mornings paint a dreamy picture. A boat-ride in the early hours of the day before the stroke of dawn is an experience that can’t be described in enough words. You can either book a bigger boat with a small deck or go for the traditional ones. We decide to go for the second option to get a more natural feel. Enveloped in fog, we step into the silence and set off island hopping. The village is surrounded by four small islands, all still uninhabited.

The morning silence is accentuated by the sound of our boat slicing through the backwaters. We see a kingfisher taking early morning diving lessons in the water, faint images of fishermen casting their nets for a catch, happy colonies of egrets resting on the branches of trees in the virgin island. “This is just one side of the beauty,” says our boatman Venkat as he turns the boat to takes us through a canal. Ahead of us is yet another dream! Acres and acres of highly cultivable land lie on both sides of the canal and there is a green carpet of coconut groves lining the shores.

The refreshing boat ride lasts for an hour leaving us yearning for more! It is a landscape worthy of a watercolour painting.

To sense the pulse of village life, I take a long walk around. Rural ambience of Konaseema is a rich mosaic of colours. Here, life has its own rhythm and being in a hurry is met with puzzled looks. The natives of the place hold fast to their traditions: paddy cultivation, fishing and coconut harvesting. Sankranti and Dasara are the major festivals here when the entire village gets together in a celebration mode.

Our short visit is peppered with the spicy Konaseema cuisine. A variety of fishes like Bommidala and the popular Pulasa fish (a variety of the famous ‘Ilish’ found in Bengal) top the list in the food menu. Meanwhile, we decide to also taste the ‘Natukodi’ pulusu (country chicken) at a local eat-out overlooking the waters of river Godavari. Another perfect spot to break out the picnic basket!

How to get there

Rajahmundry is 75 kilometres from Yalamanchili Lanka of West Godavari. The place is easily accessible from Vizag and Vijayawada. Vizag is located at a distance of 260 kms from the village while Vijayawada is at a distance of 176 km from there. While driving from Vizag, look out for the next left turn leading to the village after crossing the Siddhantam Bridge. The only stay option here is the Palavelli Resorts. Travel tip: For easy access to the place, get behind the car wheels and switch the GPS on. October to March is the best season to visit the place. This is also the season for spotting migratory birds and to experience the festival of Sankranti being celebrated in the traditional way.