Andhra Pradesh

Chilly weather draws crowds to 'Andhra Kashmir'

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Despite Lambasingi being a sought-after tourist destination, a lot needs to be done to improve facilities there

The chilly weather at Lammasingi, in the Agency area of Visakhapatnam district, is drawing tourists in droves. The once nondescript tribal village, popularly known as ‘Lambasingi’, shot into limelight about a decade ago when the mercury level was said to have dropped to zero.

It subsequently earned the sobriquet ‘Andhra Kashmir’ and the rest is history. The temperature at Lambasingi is estimated based on the mercury levels at the Automatic Weather Station (AWS) and the manual observatory at the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS) at Chintapalli. The temperature at Lambasingi is estimated to be about 20 C below that recorded at Chintapalli.

The lowest temperature of 1.50 C was recorded at Chintapalli on January 14, 2012, and again on December 31, 2018. Based on these readings, the temperature at Lambasingi was estimated at 00 C on those days.

Accommodation woes

Though the mercury has not dropped to that level, so far, in this year, tourists are making a beeline to Lambasingi to enjoy the chilly weather. The lack of adequate accommodation has been partly made up this year with a good number of tents coming up in the private sector, and four of them under the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC).

However, not everyone would prefer to stay in a tent. Those going with their families and senior citizens would look for a more secure and cozy stay. The tourist rush is seen more during the weekends and holidays. The lack of public toilets is causing inconvenience to women tourists. Non-availability of parking spaces is resulting in haphazard parking on the roads, leading to traffic problems.

View hindered

There is a hillock, a little away from Lambasingi junction, which provides a breathtaking view of the natural landscape and is a photographer’s delight. It does not even have a pathway and only regular trekkers can climb the hillock. After reaching the top, there is no place to relax or take shelter. In the absence of public toilets, tourists are resorting to open defecation, spoiling the beauty of the place.

Many tourists are putting up for the night at Narsipatnam, located in the plain area, about 30 km away, and starting in the early hours to catch the sunrise at Lambasingi or at Tajangi reservoir, a couple of kilometres away.

A major attraction for the tourists is the private strawberry farms. The tourists cannot resist the farm-fresh strawberries being sold at ₹80 for a box of eight to 10. The farmers supply the strawberries to chain marketing stores.

Long way to go

“The temperatures are not very low so far this year. The APTDC has opened bamboo huts and a couple of private resorts have also come up. Though the accommodation has improved this year, it is still inadequate,” says Yesu Babu, president of Chaitanya Organisation.

“Single men and youths are coming to enjoy the chilly weather with a couple of drinks. The drunk drivers are causing road accidents and sometimes, they are indulging in crimes like robbing tourists. There is no police station for a stretch of 100 km from Narsipatnam to Chintapalli. A police outpost should be opened at Lambasingi to check such incidents,” he says.

“The tourist rush peaks during the season (November to January) but for the rest of the year, we hardly have any guests. Maintenance and payment of salaries to staff poses a major challenge during that time,” says Karri Satya Srinivas, proprietor of Saptagiri Resorts, located on the road to Chintapalli, about 4 km from Lambasingi. The 10-room facility has both small and big rooms, with attached baths.

Home-stay

B.S. Padal, a local man, who owns a two-bedroom house, is offering one of his rooms to tourists for ₹1,000 to ₹1,200 a night. “There is a separate toilet for guests and four persons can stay in the room. I charge between ₹1,500 and ₹2,000 for a group of six to eight persons,” he says.

He provides mattresses, blankets and pillows and also arranges food on order and campfire, if required, at an additional cost. “I own 15 acres of land and can utilise up to five acres for construction of a resort to meet the needs of tourists, provided banks extend loans,” says Mr. Padal.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 3:50:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/out-in-the-cold/article30481921.ece

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