Oasis of enchanting beauty

Papikondalu (Papi Hills) takes travellers through a canopy of greens covered by tropical and deciduous rain forests

Updated - November 16, 2021 04:46 pm IST

Published - January 30, 2015 03:29 pm IST

Fishermen casting their nets in the river; Tourist boat approaching the shore. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Fishermen casting their nets in the river; Tourist boat approaching the shore. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Silence whispers through the Eastern Ghats of Papikondalu (Papi Hills) as the boat wobbles along the riverbed. An oasis of enchanting beauty and tranquillity, Papikondalu takes travellers through a canopy of greens covered by tropical and deciduous rain forests. Here, one can forget all their worries and just sink in the peaceful arms of nature.

Running through Khammam, East Godavari and West Godavari districts, Papikondalu can be reached via the river way through Rajahmundry. Boats dock every day on the banks of the Godavari to ferry tourists to the Papi Hills.

Navigating through the meandering river trails, through which the Godavari penetrates to find its way to the east after several twists and turns, one can spot colonies of migratory birds perched on the banks of the river. For tourists and birders, the best time to visit the place is between November and March. Here, it is the locals who double up as guides providing excellent information about the place, its significance and the flora and fauna. The locals and tribal communities have a way of life – simple, sorted and a rhythmic pattern. When there, do taste their local cuisine like bamboo chicken or a special fish curry with a flavour unique to the local communities living there.

While there are many private tour operators, last year Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) started a new package with the Vizag – Papikondalu road-cum-river cruise that would take the tourists through a quick tour of the picturesque hills and temples along the river. The places covered include Gandipochamma temple, Devipatnam, Papikondalu, and Perantalapalli temple.

During the monsoons, high water levels submerge half of the Papi Hills which makes it inaccessible for tourists.

A photographer’s delight, the place today faces the threat of submersion once the irrigation project Polavaram is implemented. Locals and tour operators fear that once the dam is ready, Papikondalu may be reduced to a beautiful memory.

The best way to reach Papikondalu is to get to Rajahmundry and hire boat to reach the Papi Hills. There are AC and non-AC boats and the boat ride can take anywhere between four to six hours.

For stay options, you can explore the tented accommodations which the locals give on hire to tourists. Tents are available on the flat bed of sand as well as on the elevated hilly side overlooking the river. While the stay arrangements are basic, the beauty of the place surrounded by Eastern Ghats and the pristine tribal life are sure to caress away the fatigue of the busy urban life.

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