July 23, 2009

The Andhra Land

Andhra Pradesh is the rice bowl of India. The eastern parts of the state are filled with paddy fields and the western regions are mostly dry. As a kid, when i was in Orissa/Assam , we used to travel by trains(the usual Coromandel/Howrah express or the Trivandram-Guwahati Express), almost ONE complete day used to pass by this HUGE state. Not to forget the steaming masala dosas, vadas and idlis at the Rajamundri railway station and nice mangoes at Vizag and Vijayawada.

I have not heard of many who have traveled much in A.P or have visited A.P for leisure; and those have visited have gone only to Tirupathi or Ahobilam. And that led me to check out this bland but yet interesting state.

Did 2 excursions of the state (all in 'dabba' bus) :

Tour 1 (Feb'07) :
Kurnool was the base and roamed around. Budget : 3k INR
Day 1 : Bangalore - Hindupur - Lepakshi - Hindupur - Anantpur - Kurnool
---- Ruins and paintings at the beautiful Lepakshi temple, and the big nandi.
Day 2 : Kurnool - Banganapalli - Belum Caves - Nandyal - Mahanandi - Nandyal - Kurnool
---- Belum Caves is the second largest underground cave system
---- Mahanandi boasts of a temple which has a pool wherein water is so clear that you can spot a pin at its bottom
Day 3 : Kurnool - Yemmiganur - Mantralayam - Kurnool - Alampura Chowraste - Alampura - Kurnool - Bangalore
---- Raghavendra Temple at Mantralayam
---- Alampura ruins

Tour 2 (Jan'08) :
Budget : 2k INR
Day 1 : Vijayawada (KanakaDurga temple, Undavalli and Mogalarajapuram caves, Kondapalli)
Day 2 : Vishakapatnam (Simhachalam temple) et al.
Day 3 : Araku - Borra Caves
Day 4 : Bhadrachalam (Ram temple) - Warangal(Temple and Fort ruins)

Other place of obvious interest are : Hyderabad, Ahobilam, Srisailam (the latter 2 being important temples)

Couple of pointers w.r.t travel in A.P:
# Very Dry and HOT - STRICTLY avoid summer months.
# Temples and ruins are more than greenery
# Good connectivity by buses (no worries on this front)
# Not frequented by many tourists
# Cheap

My personal faves in A.P would be :
# Lepakshi
# Belum Caves
# Alampura ruins
# Spine numbing ride to Belum caves via the dry Cuddapah fields (take the small 'dabba' bus and enjoy with the locals)
# Early morning sunrise from KanakaDurga temple overlooking the Krishna river.

Pictures:
http://picasaweb.google.com/venkat83/NorthernAndhraPradesh
http://picasaweb.google.com/venkat83/Alampura
http://picasaweb.google.com/venkat83/Mahanandi
http://picasaweb.google.com/venkat83/BelumCaves
http://picasaweb.google.com/venkat83/Lepakshi

Hope this was helpful if you are planning a trip to the Andhra land.
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