Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Day 4 - Vijayawada to Rajahmundry

This is my blog for 20th Dec, 2004. This day happens to be my birthday as well!

I am anticipating a long day today. I intend to goto Eluru, then onto Kolleru lake, and end up in Rajahmundry. And then, I have to visit V V R K Shastry also.

Shastriji has told me that his place, Gannavaram, is only 25 kms from Vijayawada and I've promised to be there at 7:00 AM. I've also asked him to keep the meeting short (i.e. breakfast only) so that I can finish my quota of cycling for today.

I've seen a milestone reading "Eluru - 80" somewhere in Vijayawada.
So I expect Rajahmundry to be atleast 170 kms.

I get up at 5:00 AM. I have no interest in visiting the Kanakadurga temple - coz it will delay things by atleast an hour. I have even given thought to a radical plan of action - visit the temple and Mogalarajapuram caves and then end up in Kolleru lake. But after weighing everything, I intend to execute my original plan.

I am ready to leave by 5:45. My need is great, or so I think, and that calls for speed - need for speed! I find that I am averaging 18 kms/hr - good. I take a few snaps as well, particularly a veterinary college near Gannavaram.

I am in Gannavaram by 7:00 AM, and promptly call up Mr Shastry. We meet at the telephone exchange and his house is a stones throw away from there. Shastry sure has a big family - his father (age 90+), his mother, he himself (retired in '94), his sister, his son Krishna, wife, their kids (Durga Prasad and Valli). There is a kannada speaking maid also - she is from Karvar and speaks kannada in an accent which is a mixture of kannda, havyaka and telugu! On entry I get a glass of hot coffee. The regular chit chat happens. In between, I get a phone call from home - wishing me Happy Birthday! I am served a nice breakfast of idly, chutney. A few snaps and a glass of tea, and it is time to leave. It is 8:30 already!

Eluru is around 37 kms from here, so I need speed and I drive fast.
On the few water bodies near the road, I see a few birds, but they are too far to offer a snap. Nearing Eluru (about 10km away, there is a Eluru cross on NH5), I meet a small group of people, a lancer car and the driver. The driver offers me water - and I almost empty his 2 litre fanta bottle! They are of the opinion that visiting Kolleru lake would be a waste since all it seems to have now is fish cultivation. I buy their argument and decide to continue on NH5 and reach Rajahmundry.

Their estimate is that Rajahmundry is atleast 100 kms away. There is a left turn at a place called Gundugolan - and that is a short cut. I am relieved, because the milestones say "Rajahmundry - 140" !

So off I go! On the way, I buy a dozen small ripe chikkoos. A tea stop an hour later helps keep me in good shape. The shortcut is seen after 30 odd kms. There I try to cross check the info with a Honda City driver - he doesn't know it,but the people around are sure. From that point, Kovvur is around 70 kms. Rajahmundry town is on the banks of the Godavari - and on the other side of the river is Kovvur.

I stop for lunch at 12:35. The food is good. I ask the owner to click a photo. He agrees and start to pose! I tell him that he has to click my photo; now he instructs his assistant to do the job! I am back on the road at 1:10.

With about 70+ kms to go, I decide to keep a steady pace.

Starting from Gannavaram, I see a pattern slowly emerging - this regarding the statues of famous personalities. NTR, the Nehru-Gandhi family, Ambedkar are all well represented! It is well that each statue has a nameplate as well, otherwise they would be unrecognizable. NTR is easily identified by the "musical hand" pose whereas Babasaheb is always depicted as holding a book in his hand. And no prizes for guessing who wins the number game... Balasaheb of course!

I stop at Nallajarla at 2:15 and finish a half litre frooti bottle double quick. I also drink my first (and only) packet of water of this trip till now! I make tea stops at Yarnagondam.

Sometime later, when I am 25 kms from Rajahmundry, NH5 gives way to a road which is just wide enough for two lorries. This causes a lot of trouble for me with lorries honking constantly and generally expecting the meek cyclist to get off the road. At Nirmalagiri, there is a nice looking church. However, the name of the place is a misnomer - Nirmalagiri is anything but nirmala - everything is covered with dust - not even a leaf is spared! This is mostly due to the stone crushing, etc going on in the area.

Near Kovvur, I stop to eat a whole pappaya, with the shopkeeper taking a snap.

Just before the bridge to Rajahmundry, I see statues of the saptarishis - never mind whether they really looked like that or not!

The bridge to Rajahmundry is 4 kms long, atleast! The bridge has a storey for the vehicles and one for trains. There are atleast two parallel bridges also, but these somehow don't seem to have any traffic. I do some night photography also in the dim lighting!

It is 6:35 when I enter Rajahmundry. The hunt for a lodge begins! The nearest lodge has only double rooms, each costing atleast 250/day. Finally I settle for "Balaji Lodge" which is actually a dormitory. The caretaker there assures me that all best facilities are available - generally true, considering the cost.

I have a nice meal at hotel Swati, shop around for fruits and am back in the "lodge".

I am assigned bed #5, and on the next bed is sitting an interesting person, a Mr Biranchi Swain. He is from Cuttack and has come to Rajahmundry on business. He knows about Bangalore - he got his eye operated at Puttaparthi. We start talking, with me seeking to glean all info I can about Orissa. Biranchi rubbishes all statements about Orissa being a place with people who are "dangerous" (I had several people warning me about orissa). He also has seen my mobile and makes a phone call to his wife, apparently about me! (he talked in oriya, so I have to believe what he told me!). I succeed in putting a tape to Biranchi's mouth and sleep at 10 PM.

Tomorrow will be a long day again - Rajahmundry to Vishakapatnam is atleast 200 kms...

The day at a glance:
Time Odometer Place/Purpose
5:45 10050.4 Vijayawada
7:00-8:30 10069.3 Gannavaram
9:45 10088.7 Hanuman Junction
10:15 10095.3 Eluru Cross
11:20-11:30 10111.9 Tea Stop
12:10 10119.5 Gundugolan
12:35-1:10 10125.2 Bhimadolu
2:15 10143.5 Nallajarla
3:25 10155.2 Yarnagodam
4:55 10178.0 Kovvur
6:35 10184.3 Rajahmundry

Overall, quite a bit of fun!


Blogger Praveen Kulkarni said...

Happy Birth Day Shree ! Enjoy the trip !

9:40 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home