Showcasing the Godavari in all its splendour

THOUGH BELATEDLY, the Tourism Department is showcasing the Godavari in all its finery in East Godavari district. In a district where the focus is on religious tourism, with the pilgrims visiting the other places sights incidentally, the Godavari--save for the ordinary boat rides--has hardly been made the cynosure it deserves to be.

All this may change in a month or so when the Godavari would be put on view in its all splendour, taking tourists off the beaten path into the out-of-the-way backwaters of Konaseema, the numerous islets and the lush coconut groves.

Now on a tryout, houseboats are being decked up for what is described as a never-before adventure on the Godavari, steering tourists along a handpicked stretch of its course, setting them off on an island and giving them the thrill of a night out somewhere in the middle of the river.

Dinner will be served under the starlit sky with the swish of distant trees, the hum of the rippling water and the dark, awe-inspiring expanse of the river to be absolutely gratis on the Carte du jour! In a 10 am to 10 pm package being designed by the Tourism Department, a fleet of four houseboats— two of them `Neelaveni and `Sampangi' already on the dry run, each with bedrooms and twin decks for accommodating two couples and affording room for exclusive parties, would sail for Shivakodulanka island, the riverfront of which is being developed as the base kitchen and a campsite.

Interestingly, the cruise starts from Peddamallam in West Godavari, with a pickup planned for tourists at Rajahmundry, but encompassing the Godavari along its Vasistha stream largely off East Godavari district.

With the choice of dinner by the campfire on Shivakodulanka or on the deck, the boats set off into the river in the night, anchoring midstream and unfolding the cr�me de la cr�me of the expedition.

By Shakeel M. Rasheed

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