Friday, February 1, 2008

By Krishna Rao
Hyderabad, July 14:
If one desires to have a darshan of Hindu Gods and Godesses in the ancient temples, seeing the flood flows of mighty rivers, getting a feel of adventurous boating in the mighty gorges, driving in the breathtaking illustrious forest environment-One has to take a four day trip to Mahaboobnagar and Kurnool Dts in this season.
Day 1.
Start early from Hyderabad, say 6 am on day one, take National High way 7 to reach Kurnool ( 210 Kms) by 9am. Try Amaravati, a way side restaurant famous for its delicious ethnic yet hygenic food preparations just opposite to the State Guest House there. Then proceed towards west for one and half hour journey to reach Mantralayam, the abode of Guru Raghavendra swamy called Brindavanam on the banks of river Tungabhadra, now flowing thanks to early floods in last June. Have a dip in the river and have a darshan of Brindavanam and start return journey to Nandyal Via Kurnool City ( 150 Kms) for the night stay. It would be better to finish the dinner at Kurnool City which had good eateries if compares with Nandyal. Rayalseema Ruchulu ( taste of Rayalseema) like Jonna rotte ( jawar roti), Natu kodi koora ( country chicken kurry) Ragi sankati, Rasam etc will certainly offer Accomdation at Nandyal is not a problem, has many number of Budjet hotels besides Irrigation Dept Guest Houses.
Day 2.
Start at 7am from Nandyal, drive for half an hour to reach Mahanandi (16 Kms) to see the Mahanandeeswara temple, an ancient one on the foothills of Nallamala. This particular temple has a unique bathghat famous for its crystal clear water from the perennial springs flows from unknown sources from the adjoining Nallamala hill range into this. Start again around 9am from Mahanandi and proceed to Allagadda (50 Kms) on the Kurnool-Chennai Highway, take a left turn and travel for an hour to reach Ahobilam the oldest Vishnavite temple and abode of Lord Yoga Narasimha Swamy. Another peculiar feature here is one has to visit diguva Ahobilam ( temple lies at the foothills) temple and also Yeguva Ahobilam ( temple on the top of the hills-Ofcourse six km ghat road provides picturesque of the famous Nallamala dense forest). Serene yet majestical atmosphere of Nallamala forest with several springs, waterfalls provide you the much wanted break from the busy life of the Cities. On the return at Allagadda finish the lunch in way side eateries. Then proceed towards Banaganipalle ( 40 Kms) from there to Yaganti (12 Kms) famous for ancient shiva temple and one can see here the evergrowing Nandi (Bull) statue. Also visit Caves in the adjoining Hill range which has rich archielogical value. Return to Banaganapalle and proceed towards south for a half an hour drive to reach Belum Caves. The 2.5 km long underground natural cave formations at different lenghths, mini water reservoirs are supposed to be oldest, deepest if one compare with the Borra Caves of Araku Valley in Vizag Dt. Tourism Dept has provided fecilities like rest houses and restaurants for refreshments. After the sunset, return to Nandyal and rest.
Day 3
Leave Nandyal by 7am proceed to Srisailam (120 Kms) via Atmakur and Dornala through the dense Nallamala forest. Srisailam a major pilgrimage and tourist centre in the State is one and only place where one can relax in serene sorroundings and unpolluted atmosphere. Srisailam Yatra will begin from Sikhareswaram. Persons coming from Nandyal via Dornala will first stop at this point claimb to the top of one hillock to have a glimse of the Srisailam Temple Sikharam through the Nandi (Bull) statue which will be eight Kms away from this site. From here drive strait to Srisailam Temple amidst enjoying the beauty of dense forest cover on either side. Around the temple area accomdation is not a problem, many guest houses, hotels are there to take careof. Restaurants also plenty. Finish lunch and relax for a while. Then around 4 pm visit the temple of Lord Mallikharjuna and goddesses Bhramaramba in a sprawling complex which houses many temple structures with gopurams on all the four corners. Srisailam temple is one among the twelve Jyorlingas in the country and only one in the State. Similarly Bharmaramba temple is one among the 18 Saktipeetaas in the country. One unique feature of this shiva temple is the devotees can directly perform the pujas to the main diety including a touch. Around 6 pm come out of the temple and proceed towards the Pathalganga bathing ghat where Srisailam Dam's backwaters offer a majestic view of the famous gorge portion of the Nallamala Hill range. Even it offers a ride on the river in the country made Dingy, a round shape boat like structure made out of palm leaves. Now the dam is in its full capacities, with heavy flood flows one has to checkit out before venturing into a dingy for a jolly ride. A ropeway across the river, a new attraction comesup recently there also provides a thrilling experience to the tourists. go to the accomdation and call it a day.

Day 4
Getup early, start the fourthday's trip from the temple area. Visit Paaladhara and Panchadhara, Sakhi Ganapati temples enroute to Hyderabad. From there take a half an hour drive to reach Sunnipenta area where the mighty Srisailam Reservoir (Dam) is situated. A worth seeing Dam structure on river Krishna which stores nearly 300 TMC Ft of water and presently crest gates are lifted and flood water overflowing from a height of 150 feet. Permission has to be obtained from the authorities to visit the Hydel Power Generating Unit and even to go on to the top portion of the Dam. The whole journey from temple area to the dam area is full of curves and passes through Ghats which provides different scenes of river krishna. Start downward journey from the hill range reach the bridge across krishna. Now the flood waters are being released into the river one can really enjoy the beuty of river waters gushing from the dam into the river. Then start again on the same road for the return journey. For allmost 90 kms upto the Mannanur in Mahaboobnagar Dt the 2 hour journey through ghat sections enthralls you, with a wide variety of fauna and flora of the famous Nallamala forest. Another two hour drive from there, you will be in Hyderabad. But don't forget one thing. No night time journey is allowed to and from Srisailam. (Ends)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

weekend sojourn to warangal

Now it is rains all over the state. What about Hyderabadis weekends?, where they can freely and safely go, what is that they can see when it rains? Will it be the beaten tracks always? no not at all. try this route to Warangal, the erstwhile Kingdom of Kakatiya's. Better start at 7 am from Hyderabad. 150 kms drive from Hyderabad to Warangal would be somewhat pleasant and free of heavy traffic normally one can find on the Vijayawada and Kunrool Highways. Take a break after an hour's journey at Yadagirigutta ( 70 kms) the abode of Lord Laxminarasimha swamy situated majestically atop the Raigiri hill. See the temple plus the picturesque hilly tracks in and around there. The sactum sanctorum is nestled inside a cave formed under a huge rock. Then again start the trip. A twenty minute drive from there, you reach Kolanapaka where you can see the Jain Mandir with a 2 metre high idol of Lord Mahavir. The shrine is believed to be over two thousand years old and provides a clear indication that Jainism flourished in Andhra Pradesh before the 4th century, the one and only ancient structure built in magnificient white marble. Adjuscent to this another old structure Sri veeranarayana Swamy temple built around 1104 A.D.. Someshswara Swamy temple which is a splendid example of the western Chalukya's architecture.
Back to the Warangal Highway, in one hour drive say by lunch time one would reach the famous city of Warangal. You can stay either in Punnami resorts or government bunglows. After the lunch around 2pm you can start the Warangal City trip. Anyone will first pick the Thousand Pillar temple situated in amidst of the city. A unique, amazing structure of this famous Thousand Pillar temple will definetely enthralls you. The mammoth structure which is presently under renovation was built in 1163 A.D by the Kakatiya King Ganapati Rudra Deva. The star shaped, triple-shrined temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Surya. with its high valued stone screens, richly carved icons meticulously designed pillars and rock cut elephants, stands as an example of Kakatiya architecture. The Six feet high monolithic Nandi is another major atraction of this temple also known as trikutalayam. From here go to the Warangal Fort, the headquarters of administration of the kakatiya kings known for its magnificiently carved arches. The fort said to be has 45 towers and pillars spread over a radius of 19 km and a temple called swayambhudevei alayam in the centre of the fort area. Also see the Yekasila, or monolithic a huge hillock sorrounded by a lake. And another atraction would be the Khush Mahal a masterly piece built by shitabh Khan located nearby. This magnificicent edifice houses idols excavated from the surrounding areas. Finish this and go to Bhadrakali Temple situated on a hillock, noted for its stone image of Goddess Kali in a sitting posture. and opposite there a beutiful Tank spreadover to large area with a renovated and remodelled tank bund to see and relax. With this the first day's trip to a historical city will come to close.
Second day tour would be some what adventurous. Complete the Break fast and start the journey with food packed and proceed towards Mulugu, a revenue divisional headquarters, 50 km from Warangal. Then take a turn to a single line road, from there it takes 30 minutes to reach Palampet to see the one of the finest architectural monument in Andhra Pradesh 'Ramappa' temple. Ramalingeswara temple pupularly known as Ramappa temple, full of architerctural beauty is second only to the temple of Belur and Halebid of the Hoyasala empire in Karnataka. Constructed in 1213 A.D. The Shiva temple rises magnificenlty over a six feet high star shaped platform. the intricate sculputure richely carved pillars the exquisetely decorated walls and ceiling make a visit to Ramappa an unforgettable experience. Particularly to witness the famous 'Nagini' the dancer image majestically carved in a sculpture in the black granite mololithic rock. One can see a tradition that was strictly followed by the of Kakatiya's Kings throughout, that is wherever they have constructed a tank they also built a temple adjacent to this. Ramappa Lake holds a great scenic bueauty with its serene surooundings giving a mysitcal air to the temple. Boating on the lake, spreadover to huge area is a good experience. Visitors can prefer a stay here, thanks to the tourism dept they have constructed rest houses for a comfortble overnight stay. Food also will be served if an order is placed well in advance.
Trip to Warangal is not complete without paying a visit to the charming pakhal lake. In case tourists finish Ramappa visit by noon, start journey back to Warangal and proceed to Pakhal lake-an hour drive from Warangal. moonlit nights on the shores of this lake are simply superb. this huge lake enveloped by forested hills, originally excavated by Ganapati Deva thousand years ago. Around the lake is the Pakahal wildlife sanctury spread all over . Night stay at Pakhal is not suggested due to lack of comfortble ameneties. So return to Hyderabad.