As we left the Rajahmundhary city behind we touched the National highway and took the P. Gannavaram-Razole route. We had asked for directions in Rajahmundry to avoid being lost as it was evening time and our driver had no clue about the area. The APTDC folks at Rajahmundry Godavari ghat counter were very helpful.
It was a beautiful drive to the Coconut country resort. We drove by almost 40-50 kms of canals and lush greenery. The land looked fertile with irrigation network done so well. Swaying coconut and bettlenut palms, paddy fields and well fed cattle is a sure sign of rural prosperity. I had a hunch that this irrigation planning was the work of the Britishers and it turned out to be right! It was the visionary Sir. Arthur Cotton who made this region what it is today. Thankfully the local Govt. is maintaining it well.
On reaching the resort we checked into our suite, it had a lovely sit out that faced the silently flowing Godavari. The sun had dipped lighting the sky in hues of pink and night blue. The small boats passing by told us the fishermen were returning home for the evening. We decided to freshen up and walk along the embankments. While we sat there we planned to go to Pattiseema for the an outing next day. At the resorts counter we were told the boats and launches will be available at Pattiseema incase we planned to do the Papikondanalu tour.
We started towards Pattiseema even before day break. This is the countryside and getting directions at that hour was really tough, we managed though. It was about 110 kms drive, as the sun came up the air became misty and it was amazing to breathe is clean fresh air. Everything around was enchanting passing through harvested jowar and sugarcane mounds and standing crops ready to be sickled. It was lovely watching the shepherds take the cattle for grazing. This was the perfectly Indian rural scene a city bred like me craves to see and soak in the experience.
As we reached closer to Pattiseema along the Godavari the drive is through some wilderness and you start wondering if there is anything there at all, just then around the corner we saw a jetty with a shade. We parked the car and realized we had made a big mistake. Yes we went there on a week day and that too in the off season. Well this is not such a popular tourist area as the APTDC claims. May be it is locally visited on the weekends. We were the only ones to visit Pattiseema that day! on top of it we were just 2 people! The minimum no. of people required to operate the launch is 15.
Anyways as we loitered around and my hunger gave me enough courage to test my immunity at a local eatery in a shack! I ate idli and chutney and survived. Dad refused to eat anything then he went and bought some bottled water lots of biscuit packets and haldiram's small packets of munchies. That was going to be our lunch for the day.
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Armed with it we decided to go and enjoy at least half the day at the temple on the island in the Godavari basin. It had a certain quality that pulled you to it. We managed to get company from a local family who was visiting the shrine to offer their Mannat. It was a 10 mins ride across the river in a small row boat. Then hobbling through the sand we managed to reach the flight of stairs that led to the temple. It is a 20 min walk but since this place is deserted it makes the walk all the more difficult plus my mocasins just open their mouth and made it impossible for me to tread the path.
The temple complex is sprawling and the landscaped garden surprised me. I admired the generosity of the patrons to build this temple complex in the best way they could and not many people visit there. This must be making a good picnic spot for schools I suppose.
Inside the temples are dark and not kept clean there was smell of rotting coconuts and offerings and behind the the temple people had created an open air toilet. It made me so angry that as much as there were do gooders there were people with minimal sense of civility.
We took quick darshans dodging the pujaris offering thirtha and prasad and stepped out and walked towards the cleaner part of the temple. I loved the view of the Papi hills from the corner where the Navagrahas stand in this temple. It overlooked the dry sand banks of the Godavari and the mist covered hills in the distant. I would have loved to go to the hills. I was cursing the overrated APTDC information on the site. Tourism has to yet develop in this area but then I am an explorer and I do go to places that are not on the regular tourist map. Now that thought made me happy.
We then start back for our resort, the sun is high in the sky and that 3 hour drive is not as interesting as it was in the early morning I realize. The markets are abuzz and there is a frenzy of activity around the sugar factory we passed by earlier in the day. The truck loads of harvested sugarcane are now causing a traffic jam for us and I did not like that. Once we were in the multi-hued green surroundings and driving along the canal we spotted a quaint little Andhra dhaba with a backdrop of paddy fields we gave into temptation and enjoyed a decent meal as we knew at the hotel we would not get this wholesome Andhra food. We bought some juiciest guavas from a fruit peddler on the bike to have at the resort.
The resort was lulling in the heat of the afternoon as we drove through the dense orchard lined roads of the coconut country. Once in our suite I sliced the guavas and sat with a book near the glass door separating the suite and the sit out. It was too hot to be on the sit out and the comfort of the a/c was what I needed. I put up my feet on the side table and relaxed in the large cushioned chair reading "The fine family" by Gurcharan Das, a gift from the Cdr.
After a short nap induced by the reading and the early morning trip to Pattiseema we went down for tea and some vegetable sandwich and spent rest of the evening sitting at the embankment and watching the boats pass by and checked out some houseboats that are available for renting out for the day and night. We did not wish to as we were to leave after breakfast next morning for Vizag.
What would Vizag be like? Both Dad and me wondered. I looked forward to seeing the Submarine museum while Dad was recollecting stories of adventure in the navy narrated by his cousin Gangaram, who had been posted there between the late sixties and early seventies.