A Memorable Journey to PapiKondalu Weekend Gateway From Hyderabad

Cruise
Do you know the beauty of Papikondalu would vanish?--asked one of my friend over a tea break.
What?? Why are you saying so?? I asked him.
He replied that there was an announcement from the AP government that they were going to build a dam in that area. Once it was built, Papikondalu would be downed. When that chit-chat was going on, he was explaining how beautiful the Papi hills were and I was felling the invitation of Papikondalu. Well, this how it was started. Once back to home, I was telling the same thing to my partner-my wife. She was ready for a quick visit to Papikondalu. As usual, she was quick to go over the internet to find the good hotel. She called them and booked for Saturday and Sunday next. It was early March 2015.
  Rajahmundry(RajaMahendravaram city) is a major city in Andhra Pradesh. We always passed by this city while going to Kolkata. The Havelock bridge always used to invite us to Rajahmundry to spend some time to its lap with mother nature. This time we responded. We started at around 6AM in the morning for Rajahmundry. We avoided the road via city and took outer ring road(ORR) from Gachibiwli. As it was morning, we did not face any traffic on that road. At around 7AM we came out from ORR and met NH-65. The NH65 is almost 20 KM long which connected us to the great Hyderabad-Vijayawada Expressway.

The map is given below:
Map to go to Rajahmundry
After the state highway ended, we entered into Hyderabad Vijayawada Expressway. It was cool in the morning. The road was empty. We drove to Nalgonda. We stopped at 7 hotel for breakfast. It was our regular stop when we go towards Vijayawada. (I was introduced to this hotel by a fellow biker-you can find my bike drive to Vijayawada-here) . The breakfast and tea were awesome as usual. At around 8:30AM started again for Vijayawada.
 at hotel 7
 As the expressway was again empty, we were able to maintain 80KM/hour speed. We missed the Vijayawada Eluru bypass. As a result, we had to go via the city traffic. Vijayawada was still a mess. There were blocked roads, narrow roads, roads without diversions. On top of that, there was huge traffic jam. At 11:30 we reached the PVP mall at Benz circle. After we parked our car we went to the food court straight. We took a seat and freshen up one by one. We ordered for Handi biriyani. A must try for all torturers. At 1:30 PM we started our journey again. We touched NH5 this time(regular road leads to Kolkata). We glided through NH5. After Vijayawada, in some stretches railway passed beside us. We waved our hands to some of the passing trains. Once we reached Nidadavolu.From this point google diverted through a different road. Some portion of the road were good, some were patchy, some parts were bad. The road took us to Rajahmundry via Chagallu Kovvur. This route goes via village, light jungle, empty paddy fields. It gave us a different aspect of Rajahmundry.
Changed direction
Rajahmundry offered a tropical climate, hot and humid even at the start of March. Since it was a sudden and panicked decision, we did not mind much. Best time to visit Rajahmundry would be post-monsoon (October to March). Kovvur being rural of Andhra, we did not get much food items on the road. However, tea stalls were available. Also, we took the roadside groundnut. They were also selling raw mangoes. Telegu is the main and major language but the villagers tried to understand Hindi and communicated with us in their broken Hindi.
On the way-Kovvur
As I told earlier in my post, Andhra was very welcoming and safe for female, we observed the same here. People respected us like their own. They directed me on the bank of the river to get a good point from where I could get a few snaps. After crossing Kovvur bridge we found lot many nurceries full of flowers.
Sunset at Kovvur
While we experienced a new route to Rajahmundry, met new people, experienced village tea, went another side of the lesser-known village of Godavari, it cost us huge time. We finally reached to Hotel RiverBay at 6:30PM. While we stopped for a cup of tea, we were informed by the locals that there was a lot of visiting places around Rajahmundry. They were as follows:

  • Godavari river
  • Kadiyapulanka
  • Papihills
  • Pattiseema
  • ISCON temple
  • Pushkar ghat


Sunset near Rajahmundry
Hotel RiverBay
When we entered into RiverBay, I immediately felt, it was more of a resort than a hotel. They showed us where to park the car. The check-in process was simple. They asked for the email confirmation copy and asked for 50% payment. They offered us two 500ml water bottle as complementary. We were also informed that the breakfast would be complementary and they would arrange a boat ride in the morning for free. The staffs were very friendly and housekeeping took all the luggage from us. The property was pretty old, some parts were rebuilt. We were told that due to heavy rush during that time, all river facing rooms were booked. We got a normal double bed AC room on the first floor. To our surprise they still used the old-fashioned iron made staircase to go to the first floor.  Once we reached there we were pleased to see the room. The room, bed, toilet were clean. Hygiene was maintained properly. Our room was not a river facing one. It was a basic room with TV, AC. There were a lot of mosquitoes in the room. With all our travel experience, we carried a black hit and a mosquito repellent(Goodnight). They came in handy. We sprayed hit and switched on the good night, took a quick bath and started to look for the menu for snacks. We were hungry and tired.
Hotel RiverBay
The food facility was average on that day. There were not many options for snacks. However we talked to the cook, he said that they had a special item called shrimp cocktail. We never had this item before. So ordered one along with coffee. The order was delivered within 20 mins.
shrimp cocktail
The item was really good. It was having all sorts of vegetables with thick cream in the bottom, loaded with shrimps, nuts, egg etc. We instantly fell, in love with, this item and ordered one more -called shrimp cocktail overloaded. It was a gem from the master cook, a truly delicious item. I would like to suggest everyone, to try this item whenever you visit Rajahmundry.

shrimp cocktail overloaded
After some food, we thought to see our car. We came down to the ground floor for a visit to the hotel. Also, they said they had three restaurants in the campus. So we wanted to check all of them. The location of the hotel was very good, just on the bank of river Godavari. It was very close to the railway station. Since it was March, the Godavari was not caring enough water. That created a bad order. It was manageable though. The view of the illuminated bridge from the hotel from the distant horizon was very nice to look at. Also, we caught last 15 mins of Aarti at the bank of river Godavari. While roaming around the hotel, we found a number of statues in the hotel. After looking at the write-ups we figured out that they were great persons who had developed  India in multiple verticals. One of the statues of Sir Arthur James Cotton was remarkable and noticeable. The garden was maintained properly. There were security guards everywhere. It created a great scenic view of Godavari and surrounds. The best treat for photographers.
Sunset from RiverBay
After roaming around the Hotel, we became hungry and wanted to sleep early. We went to the restaurants in the hotel. There were three restaurants available. They used to serve locals as well as us. They were- Avakaya(Veg restaurant for authentic Andhra food), Down Town(Nonveg, north Indian food) and Wine and Dine(mainly for Booze lovers).  We headed straight to the Down Town. There was a buffet facility. But wait!!. We wanted to check the À la carte section. It was having a lot of great items. Being Bengali and seeing so many fish dishes, on the menu, we opted for some fish curries. The cook also gave his recommendations. The cook was very friendly and was ready to make zero spiced nonveg curries for us. The fishes were fresh and we were told that these fishes were from Godavari river itself. The carries were great. We had an awesome dinner. Post dinner we went to the reception to check the boat ride facilities to Papikondalu. They suggested taking Sai Krishna Godavari boat. They assured us that they would arrange an auto the next day. We went to the backside of the Hotel for a walk. There was private lawn for roaming. There were benches to sit back and relax.

Next day, we woke up at 6:30AM and started getting ready for the whole day trip to Papikondalu. We were served tea at room and were informed that the breakfast would be served at Captain's cabin from 7AM. We got ready quickly and headed towards Captain's cabin for breakfast. It was a complimentary breakfast. The breakfast was very refreshing.
View from jetty

Papikondau tour operator and journey towards the jetty
We talked to the reception and they arranged an auto for us and also provided the phone number of the operator. We reached the tour operator's office at 8AM. They issued a ticket for us. It was Rs 750 INR per head including breakfast, lunch and snacks and tea. They had their own bus service to take us to jetty. It was 40 KM away from Rajahmundry. The bus journey was just great via village s, lash green dense forest. We loved the scenery everywhere. The bus was average non-ac though.
Journey started

Papikondau trip
Our scheduled boat arrived at 10AM in the morning. We loved the boat by seeing it. You could refer love at first sight. The boat was well maintained. It was fully air conditioned at ground floor. The top floor was an open area. Once we started from the jetty, snacks(breakfast) were provided at the deck. Considering the money we spent and the open view, it could be comparable to our Kerala trip. The boat window at ground floor was similar to an air-conditioned bus.
boat view
It was having a curtain and was having 2X2 seats. The toilet was clean and ready for use. What I missed here was a guide. Instead of telling the history or importance of the places, the boat operator stated Telugu songs.
The plan of the visit was to cover:

  • Pattiseema 
  • Perantalapalli
  • Gandipochamma Temple
  • Papikondalu

at Pattiseema

After viewing Pattiseema, they started the journey towards Polavaram Project and served the lunch at exactly 12:30PM. It was a veg meal considering all borders. The view from the boat was spectacular. After the lunch, we headed towards Gandipochamma Temple. The scorching sun at 2PM cut shortened the visit to the temple. We hurriedly came back to Boat. Next was to reach Perantalapalli template and village. Perantalapalli template and village gave us a different view of life. The exposure of calm and beautiful nature made our day. The temple and ancient civilization were worth visiting. The journey towards main attraction Papikondalu started at 2:30PM. En route we saw a small fall (very little known) that fed the river Godavari.
falls that fed Godavari
The boat crew members were very friendly(even though they hardly understood Hindi or English). They understood that we were non-Telugu, they played some popular Hindi songs. The route was full of greeneries, different shades of blue and sands.
Different shades of nature
More we advanced towards Papikondalu, the route was lots of turn and twists via Pappihills. Once again it turned out to be a paradise for photographers. Numerous mobile phones, SLRs and point and shoot cameras were busy capturing the route and moments with nature and dear ones.
2nd turn of papihills
   The journey was to go upstream of the majestic Godavari river. The more we advanced towards upstream and valley, it was full of living creatures undisturbed by human habitations. The atmosphere on the boat was electric. All age groups were having fun in their own way. I was introduced by the boat crew to some young crowd who were going to stay the night in the bamboo huts. I was initially interested, but seeing no other female in the group, we dropped the plan.



At around 3:30PM we reached Papikondalu. There was a connecting boat available to carry passengers to Bhadrachalam. As our ticket was till Papikondalu, we stayed back. Unfortunately, the boat crew did not allow us to go to the bank of Papikondalu. They told some bad incidents. (Crocodile attacked one of the tourist and few downed while swimming) . The return journey started after that. Calm breeze, soft sun, the color of mother nature took us to a different world.
Sunset at Papihills
The return journey was even more entertaining. The boat operator arranged games,antaksari, dance competitions, and ramp walk. We enjoyed every second we spent here. The sunset, radish blue water, lush green hills were a treat to our eyes. We took this opportunity to take a few snaps.
View from boat
One suggestion to the boat crew was to install a dustbin in the boat so that we could throw away the remaining foods, waste plates, cups etc. I had seen people throwing them on the majestic river which was a major source of water pollution.
Sunset from boat
RiverBay rediscovered
In the evening, we came back to Rajahmundry and went to hotel RiverBay.The view from the hotel to the Godavari was the best part of the hotel. There was a small park on the bank of the river. It was nice for a walk and sitting and enjoying the song of the river. There were a lot of games facilities available for us. There was a swimming pool(operational between 11am to 4 pm), water amusement park, boat ride, and a gym facility. There was a wifi facility but the signal was very week. They had a 24X7 housekeeping facility but seemed a problem on that day. They were not available on call. We had to carry our drinking water bottle from the restaurant. They did not have an iron facility. So please take plenty of shirts with you. Due to humidity, you may need to change the shirts very frequently.

Iskon Temple
The ISCON blue colored temple of Rajahmundry was well planned and well built on the bank of river Godavari. Since we were tired, we quickly finished Dashavatar, exhibition hall along with the main idols. The enchanting of Lord Rama and Krishna was excellent to hear. The campus was well maintained with beautiful landscaping. It was quiet and calm. We did not collect prasad. It is advisable not to miss it from their outlet. However, there was a restaurant facility. Govinda's restaurant provided a lot many food options. But opted for coffee and alu bhaji only. The museum at ground floor (entry fee-Rs10INR/head) was just okay so as the library which was selling many books.


Boat Facility at RiverBay

Next day, we got up and quickly freshen up by 7AM. We went to take a ride via Hotel provided the boat. The 20 mins journey was refreshing. It was a must on our list. At 7:30AM, we went to the Captain's cabin and completed our breakfast and went to the reception for check out formalities. It was smooth and quick. After leaving Riverbay, we went to Horlicks factory. But we needed the approval to enter there. We left that plan and went to the man-made wonder the Godavari bridge. It was a true engineering marvel. The rail cum road bridge connected East Godavari district to Est Godavari district. It also connected Rajahmundry to Kovvur. We stopped at a small roadside dhaba, parked the car and had one round of tea. With their guidance, we went to explore the bridge. The hotel boy called Vijoy accompanied us. We watched train passing and cars passing through the bridge. It was truly a scenic place. It was very good when we watched the bridge from different angles from different places. We thanked Vijay for his great effort to show us the bridge. The rail cum road bridge was (is) the second largest bridge in Asia, stretching over 4KM long. Vijay took us to the bank of the Godavari for a ride. Since we did not understand Telegu, we dropped the plan. But if you understand Telegu, you can go for a boat ride to the nearby places. Everything was looking great from the road at a distant. When we came near the river, we saw the dirtiness. It was very sad to see that how this beautiful place was getting ruined by all kinds of plastics, waste plate, garbage etc. Any of my Rajamundry friend if looking into my post, please take care of this.
Secondly, since it was a very important bridge, we expected securities around the bridge. On that day, they were not available.
At around 11AM we started our return journey. We reached Vijayawada at 3PM and crossed it. We stopped at Hotel Southern Grand for our lunch. At 4:30 PM we started our journey again towards Hyderabad. We gave 4 stops before we touched ORR.
Finally, we reached our home at Hyderabad at 10:30PM. We were tired and hungry. Swiggy saved us for that day. It was indeed a beautiful and memorable journey.   
A Memorable Journey to PapiKondalu Weekend Gateway From Hyderabad A Memorable Journey to PapiKondalu Weekend Gateway From Hyderabad Reviewed by Animesh Chatterjee on November 05, 2018 Rating: 5

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