Monday, July 21, 2008

Nagarjuna Sagar Tour

Back from two days of tour to Anupu, Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, Nagarjuna Konda, Ethipothala and Chennakesava Swamy Temple at Macharla.

Starting At Hyderabad:

By 8AM on 19th July 2008, Ravi Kiran, Srinivas, Ranjeeth and Anil Kumar came to my place at Lakdi-Ka-Pul and by 8.15, we started off to Nagarjuna Sagar. We had breakfast at Santosh Nagar and took left turn at Santosh Nagar to Nagarjuna Sagar State Highway.

The highway is a good one with limited traffic. We stopped at Ibrahimpatnam to buy liquor and then at a place where they are selling "kallu". Kallu is a liquid extracted from "Thaati Chettu" (I really dont know the english meaning of this tree - if anyone knows, please share so that I would update my post accordingly). I had a sip of it as I didnt like the smell and taste. But it is very good for health.

By the time we reached Nagarjuna Sagar, it was almost 12PM as we lost lot of time at the above mentioned spots. We were not allowed to stop nor take snaps at the dam. Couple of years back, we were allowed to and at that time, I went there with my childhood friends. We took lot of snaps there! Times have changed !! Security has become a top priority now. The Nagarjuna Sagar town is on the other side of the dam. We need to take a detour there and cross a bridge across River Krishna and reach Nagarjuna Sagar. Before that, we took a right turn just before the bridge and this road goes till the pump house under the Dam. Took some snaps there and saw the Dam from around 100 Meters distance.

We had lunch at a hotel opposite to the Launch Station (Boating station from where we need to alight boats to reach Nagarjuna Konda). After lunch, we started off to Anupu.

At Anupu:

Anupu is the place where Acharya Nagarjuna preached Mahayana Buddhism. As informed to you in my earlier post, he is the founder of Mahayana branch of Buddhism.
The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) had re-constructed the entire area which consists of a University with class rooms, rooms for teachers, lecture hall and an amphi theater.

This is a very huge place and we were informed by the security guard there that the people living in Anupu village were re-located to enable the re-construction.

The Security Guard took us round the entire place giving us some insight about the place. Apart from a notice board that contains a very few lines about the place, Andhra Pradesh Tourism had not done anything that would lead to increase in visitors to the place.

In 2006, His Holiness, The Dalailama visited the place and planted a Bodhi Tree (Hindus from ages call this tree as Raavi Chettu or Peepal Tree). Almost every Hindu Temple would have this tree. Being a copycat religion, Buddhism had copied lot of things from Hinduism.

The interesting part is that we saw the road leading towards the river banks. We took this road which is just 5 Feet Wide. The road was good to some extent and later it was a bit bumpy and it directly led us to the Krishna River banks. This was one part of the journey where we enjoyed the scenery. The road was quite narrow and thick foliage surrounded the road. There are lot of garden lizards at this place and I had to slow down the car to make sure Iam not killing them. One of them saved our lives as I stopped the car for it to cross and in the opposite side from a blind curve, a Tata Sumo was coming towards our direction with considerable amount of speed.

The guy saw our car in the last minute and he slowed down while I already started to move back using the reverse gear. We found out that there is a road that directly leads us to Macherla without driving through Nagarjuna Sagar. From Macherla, there is a direct road to Ethipothala, where we booked rooms.

This road is just 10 feet wide, near zero traffic and surrounded by hills and wide plains. Gave a real good thrill driving on this road.

Macharla Chenna Kesava Swamy Temple:

By the time we reached Macharla Chenna Kesava Swamy Temple, it was around 3.30PM. The temple was closed and we were informed that it would be opened only at 5PM.

This temple was built in 1113AD as a Shaivite Temple. During the reign of Brahma Naidu, it was converted into a Vaishvanite Temple. One of the main reasons why lot of Hindus converted into Buddhism is the animosity between the those worshiping Lord Vishnu and those worshiping Lord Shiva. People got fed up with this constant conflict between both the sects and converted. Lucky for us, Adi Shankaracharya preached Advaitha Philosophy which says God is One and God is none but YOU. After his preachings, Hindus who converted into Buddhism returned to the fold and thus Buddhism vanished from India.

Ethipothala Water Falls:

By the time we reached Ethipothala Water Falls, it was around 5PM. We checked into our rooms and immediately set off to Dattatreya Swamy Temple which is located very near to the water falls.

Actually, rainy season starts in the month of June. But, the South Eastern Monsoon failed and there were no rails till now. So, hardly any water in the water falls. The route to this temple starts just beside the main gate to the water falls.
We need to take couple of stairs down into the valley and then rough pathways.

We were on high alert as there is a crocodile breeding farm below the water falls. Also, we were expecting snakes on our way as it is completely covered with bushes. We went till the Temple. But there were too many monkeys making noise and we were least interested to bother them. We didn't had the Darshan of the Lord.

From there, we slowly went towards the waterfalls. Since there is hardly any water, it was quite easy for us to go till the waterfalls. But, the entire place is full of bushes and shrubs making our movement very slow and tension filled.

We were informed that there are crocodiles near the waterfalls. But, we found none of them. Maybe our luck or bad luck!! We carefully started walking back to the stairs and we found ourselves surrounded by Monkeys. Lucky for us, they were not aggressive enough for us to panic and we safely reached our hotel rooms.

We played around in the garden for sometime and then went inside our rooms to freshen up. If we need dinner, we need to give the order by 7PM as the entire staff would not be present at that remote location. To give us company, only two security guards would be there for the entire night. Whatever happens, they have to take care. Since there were no rains, there is acute power shortage here and power would be given only for 6-7 hours per day.

Before planning to stay at AP Tourism Hotel at Ethipothala (Phone Number: 0864-2211100) it is advisable to call the guys there and inquire about:
* Water levels in the waterfalls
* Power problems
* Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner timings.

While going there, better carry the following with you:
* Blankets
* Torch Light
* Mosquito Repellents
* Emergency Light - if possible
* Battery powered fan - if possible

There is no problem with food at this location nor problems with water and cool drinks. Since there is no Pub / Bar, it is better you buy all your Beers and hot drinks from Nagarjuna Sagar itself or from the city you are coming or from Macherla.

Cell Phone Coverage:
Till date, Government owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) coverage is very good at Nagarjuna Sagar and Ethipothala. Very limited or negligible coverage of private operators like Airtel, Tata Idea or Vodafone. Airtel's nearest tower is located at Macherla. So, very limited connectivity.
While there are lot of Telephone coin boxes at Nagarjuna Sagar, the same is not present at Ethipothala.

Power went off at around 9PM and the guys at AP Tourism have switched on the generators. They switched it off at around 5AM and power came back at 9AM. We had our breakfast (only Poori is available) there and vacated the room at 10AM.

Nagarjuna Konda:

By the time we reached Nagarjuna Sagar from Ethipothala (15 KM of winding roads), it was around 11AM. We directly went to the Launch Station to alight the Launch (big boat) which takes us to Nagarjuna Konda where ancient Buddhist relics were found and a 40 year old Museum is located. We were informed that AP Tourism would run the launch only if there are a minimum of 50 people available.

We had to wait till 12PM for our boat to start off. This boat can carry upto 150 people. By the time we reached Nagarjuna Konda, it was around 1.00PM - a distance of around 20 KM upstream Krishna River.

Once we are on the island, we were told to come back to the boat within one hour after going through the museum and the excavated sites. I felt one hour is a too less time. We were told that there would be no boat till 4PM if we miss ours.

So, we had to rush through everything there. The museum has an awesome collection of Buddhist artifacts and the lineage of the Kings who ruled Nagarjuna Sagar and also a beautiful chart depicting how language changed according to ages.

Lot of research has been done and the entire research was presented in this museum. This would be a very interesting museum for young researchers.

Our boat reached back at 2.30PM at the Launch Station. We had lunch at the same hotel and then we started off to Hyderabad at around 3.30PM.

Our car tyre got punctured at a place called Chintapalli where a beautiful Sai Baba Temple is located. Lucky for us, nothing ontoward happened and we caught hold of a mechanic who came and fixed things up.

By the time we reached Hyderabad, it was around 7PM and I immediately took my one year old daughter, Meenakshi into my hands!!

This is what Mr. Srinivas summarizes about our trip to Nagarjuna Sagar:

A Bridge Too Far:

We started on adventure to find some space for ourselves five of us were we, gents if not geeks away from the routine jobs we did in office and shop floor come dawn we left our bikes for the car to travel all the miles that did stretch with smiles on our faces beaming with the sun to reach the bridge too far away from our domicile no headlights we switched on only our exhaust did let go of our steam we stopped for a native drink what the coconuts did spring whole twelve pints of glasses filled the pot with springs of yeast and rye if the songs in native tongue did build the rhythm, we rocked to the music the journey was not spiritual in nature for there was by no means a tempest to build as our tongues did wagged on love lost to the vagaries of fate and misadventure we did reach the bridge constructed by man and not god or nature's wind awesome was our breathtaking stance overlooking the river and sands and the dam as our steps did make pace with the rugged outlook at ethipothala waterfalls we snapped some pictures and sidestepped some bushes and rock and stone as the melody of waterfalls did ring in our ears, monkeys did scatter our path as we played the cards close to our chest breathing air fresh on the mountains drinking whiskey and the rye, breezer adding up to the tune of refreshments launch we did, come next dawn on river waters heading upto the Nagarjuna Konda where the scriptures of yester year speak of Buddha and his sermons lone seagull stalking our boat, we returned for a fiesta and drive on wheels if the car tyre did puncture, it by no means did breath out our spirit of adventure and as we returned home to cherish our tour a bridge too far to catapult our tourist sprint to talk of travel and nature's space we did find, away from all the living in and breathing air in this concrete jungle!!

Guys....noticed any full stop in the above paragraph ?? I have no words for this!!

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Anonymous jen said...

Good place to visit.. Nice narration... and suggestions.. I like the brief poetic description by srinivas sir "A Bridge Too Far".. its awesome..

10:31 AM  
Blogger prarthana said...

Hey, while searhing in google about Anupu i got the links of ur blog...i got real information of Anupu from here as real travel is good for information. plse do visit my blog.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kallu in English is Toddy

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, It seems Thati Chettu is called Sugar Palm in English. I just found it out myself.

1:44 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home