TRAVEL Konaseema boasts of houseboats, greenery, canals, islands, temples and amazing sea food
This Karthika masam, take a picnic in the picture-postcard delta region saddling the East and West Godavari districts. Konaseema is encompassed by the Godavari River and the Bay of Bengal and boasts of greenery, canals, islands and temples.
The houseboats that sail on the Vasista branch of the mighty Godavari River in Konaseema came a close second to famed boats of the Alleppey backwaters. To replicate a similar experience so close to Vizag was a bonus. Canals designed by Sir Arthur Cotton, traditional sloping roofs, swaying coconut trees, and flooded paddy fields and prawn farms mark the picturesque drive to the tiny Dindi village once you leave the NH5 after Ravulapalem towards Razole.
The houseboats dock at the jetty adjoining the APTDC Coconut Country Resort, Dindi. These boats, made in Kakinada in 2003, have two cozy air-conditioned cabins with attached baths, and an upper deck for viewing, lounging and dining. The trip is priced at Rs. 5826 for the entire boat for an overnight stay, with options also for day hire. Those who opt not to stay overnight in the houseboats can stay at the resort that has rooms overlooking the swimming pool and the river.
The tour here is somewhat different from the Kerala experience, but equally mesmerizing. In the morning, our boat cruised downstream towards Narsapur and came back to Dindi resorts for a break. This trip takes a few hours. The banks are dotted with groves of coconut trees, temples and private guest houses, some with their own jetties.
There is no kitchen on board, and we sat on our private deck and polished off our packed lunch of spicy prawns and river fish. After a short break at the resort, the boat made its way upstream, passing under the Chinchinada Bridge that connects the East and West Godavari districts.
The abundant greenery is a tribute to the fertile waters of the river. Our boatman stopped at a large island and we took the chance to walk.
In the evening, the boat returned to its dock, gliding into the setting sun and silhouetted by the fading orange glow.
Though the resort lies about 30 km upstream from the Bay of Bengal, the effects of the ebbing tides of the ocean are felt this far. We waded through ankle-deep water (it was high tide and the gangway plank was submerged) when we went on shore to the nearby town of Malikipuram (7 km) to enjoy an ethnic dinner. Hotel Ruchi on the main road was rustic East Godavari cuisine at its best, based on abundant local produce and sea food. Mr. Srinivas Raju, the owner of this dimly lit restaurant, served the local delicacies of nethili (anchovies) fry, ramulu fish (small, deep-fried and crispy), river prawns and khousepitta, akin to quail, garnished with plenty of fried cashew. Under an inky black sky, glittering with a zillion stars, the river lulled us to sleep with its gentle sways and the lapping sounds of waves striking the shore. As morning dawned, the river slowly came back to life with the sounds of chirping birds, fish darting in and out of the water and fishermen sailing in their boats.
We bid adieu to our taste of ‘country life’ and headed towards the beach town of Antarvedi (20 km). This town lies at the confluence of the Vasista River with the Bay of Bengal, where a quaint lighthouse stands as a sentinel on one of the shores. Among the temples here are the Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple and the Arundhati Vasista temple.
Take a dip
Eager for a dip in the blue waters, we took a launch to an island. On a clear day, sans hawkers and prying eyes, we were over-awed by the luxury of unending waves and surf breaking on a windswept, uninhabited and unpolluted beach, our very own sandy island.
The narrow, snaking and tidy State Highway running parallel to the famous Godavari canals took us back to Sompalli, Razole to the Konaseema Resorts. It’s a privately owned property bang on the East bank of the Godavari set amidst coconut trees.
The rooms have full-length glass windows. Bobby, the manager, arranged a spicy spread of sea food (crabs, fish and prawns), which we devoured sitting by the river. While the resort can do with better maintenance, the location, the hospitable staff and the spicy but excellent local food make this a delightful retreat. In the crisp early morning breeze, any other life seemed distant. The Konaseema region is an enchanting Siren. It beckons you to its bosom again and again.
Tamanna S. Mehdi