Journey to Papihills from Hyderabad:
How it started?
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 drowned. 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.My next course of article can be a travel guide to Rajahmundry or a travel guide to Papikondalu.
The D Day:
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.
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
- ISCON temple
- Pushkar ghat
|Sunset near Rajahmundry|
Hotel RiverBay review:
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.
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.
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.