Travel

Road less travelled

Travel by road to Bhadrachalam from Rajahmundry in Eastern Ghats is a memorable experience.   | Photo Credit: arranged_pic

After a plate of steaming hot idlis and scalding hot filter coffee at Devi Chowk in Rajahmundry, we embarked on our journey, at around 7 a.m. The plan was to drive to Bhadrachalam via the scenic ghat roads, about 200 km.

The temple town Bhadrachalam is located on the banks of river Godavari. The town is basically a laid-back locale for most of the year except during Sri Ramanavami and Vaikuntha Ekadasi, when the temple town truly awakens. Nestled on the river bank and on the forest fringes, the journey to Bhadrachalm holds more excitement and fun rather than the temple town itself. The route through the enthralling Eastern Ghats is motor-able only in daylight. Pleasantly, the roads were in good shape. The double road with reflectors and proper markings; turns to four-lane speedway in patches. There is not a single rough patch and it has scanty traffic. In fact, the only vehicles that we passed were a few forest department vehicles and a truck or two from Chhattisgarh.

The first leg of the journey, along the Korukonda Road touched places such as Rajahmundry – Korukonda – Gokavaram – Rampachodavaram – Maredmilli. In Korukonda there exists an ancient Lakshmi-Narsimhaswamy temple atop a small hillock. A steep flight of steps, cut into the rocks, lead to the temple. Gokavaram, the gateway to the agency area, is easily distinguishable by the oil installations on either side of the road. From that point, the road ascended into the hills. Chilly and silent, the forest tracts on either side of the road presented an awesome sight. The only inhabitants on this road were the groups of monkeys and jungle fowls. We passed a few streams and a small waterfall in Rampachodavaram. When we stopped to stretch our legs, all were mesmerised by the serene and tranquil surroundings.

The stillness in the air, the chirping of the birds, the sunlight filtering through the thick leafy foliage, glistering dewdrops and the chill of the hills held the whole group in a spellbound hush.

In Maredmulli we came across the Forest Department's eco-tourism project. Neatly developed and made accessible, the project hosts a rivulet by name Jalatharangani, trekking and sightseeing paths which are christened Karthikavanam and Nandanavanam, a bamboo forest, a camping site by name Jungle Star, a medicinal plant conservation area, a canteen, guest houses and many more. For details visit: >www.vanavihari.com.

The obvious speciality of this place: Almost every hamlet and hotels around advertised ‘Bamboo Chicken', a delicacy of the hills. With cool fog all around and tranquil peaceful surroundings, this place seemed like a pleasant getaway form the hustle and bustle of the city life.

The next leg of the journey was Maredumilli – Chinturu. On this route, we passed a soon-to-be submerged hamlet (presently shifted to a higher location) in the wake of the Dummugudem Project. This point on, the road descended down the Eastern Ghats to Chinturu. At a point, the ghat road joins the NH 221 (Vijayawada to Jagdalpur).

The high point of this road is the kilometre long bridge across the river Sabari. With the road just as good, we reached the town of Bhadrachalam by about 11 a.m. On the whole, the drive was an awesome experience. Considering that this route and the whole area was once a Naxal stronghold, every police station and government building was fortified. Though now, the route with enough evidences of urbanisation is safe and enjoyable.

As there are no shops or hotels except for in the main agencies like Rampachodavaram, Maredumilli and Chinturu, its best to carry adequate drinking water and essentials along.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 11:01:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/travel/Road-less-travelled/article15527634.ece

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