Papikondalu or Papi Hills is a range of the Eastern ghats between the West and East Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh state. The river Godavari flows through this hill range and tours to Papikondalu are famous as a weekend getaway.
There are various tour operators, that start from Rajahmundry. Few who take you on a one day tour, some tours have an overnight stay at bamboo huts and some tours club the trip with a drop at the holy shrine Bhadrachalam, the temple of Lord Rama.
My colleagues and me planned on a trip to Papikondalu with an overnight stay at the bamboo huts at Sirivaka, with a drop off at Bhadrachalam. It was an all ladies trip and we planned to enjoy the tour.
The travels were charging us Rs 3,000 to start at Rajahmundry at 8 am, with a night stay at Sirivaka bamboo huts till 3 the next afternoon and dropping us at Bhadrachalam at 6 pm. We had got tickets for APSRTC bus to get back home at 6 pm at Bhadrachalam. Hence we asked the tour operators to drop us at Bhadrachalam by 1pm. For this he had to book another boat exclusively for our party of 12 ladies, hence he charged us an extra 1,000 per person.
We took our trip in the second weekend of November. The weather was pleasant. Neither too hot nor too cold.
At 8 am we boarded the bus arranged by the travels to take us to the boat.
Previously, the boats used to start at Rajahmundry, but now they add Polavaram project to the sightseeing and hence take us by bus till the boats. Honestly, it is not worth it. The road is so bad that we can feel all the bones in our body, by the time we reach the boats. And the journey is close to 2 hours, thus even more painful.
By the time we departed from the bus, we were thanking our stars that the ride was over. Then a colourful scene awaited us.
Boats of various tour operators were waiting for the passengers. Got onto the boat and went to the seating area on top. The boat ride was good. Each tour operator arranges music, DJ’s and dancing on their boats for the passengers to enjoy. Our boat had a guy who was a good dancer, who not only danced, but also made many passengers participate in various dances, thereby thoroughly entertaining us. Lunch was served on the boat. Simple vegetarian fare that was good.
We stopped at Perantallapalli, which is a small tribal village. A 20 minute break is given for us to go for sightseeing. There is a small Shiva temple inside and many tribals selling their tribal products.
After that, we were dropped at the bamboo huts of Sirivaka.
There are a few cement cottages and the rest are Bamboo huts. The huts don’t have any doors, except for a curtain for a little privacy. As this was a new phenomena for us and we were not expecting it, we didn’t know how to react. But within 10 minutes, seeing some families around, we were assured of safety. The huts are a feet and a half to 2 feet above ground level, so getting in can be problematic if older people come to stay. Inside, 3 mattresses were placed with pillows. Since we were carrying our bedsheets, that was enough for us. The washrooms for the tourists are decent, so no worries there. We can pay a little money and ask for hot water to bathe.
Towards the left side in the above picture is where food is served for all the tourists. People who want to have Bamboo chicken, which is a tribal delicacy can order beforehand and have it during dinner. The organisers provide vegetarian food.
Few of our friends went for trekking into the forest. Going in past 5.30pm is strictly discouraged, as the terrain can make you lose yourself in it. We had some anxious moments when the ladies who went for the trek didn’t come soon. Thankfully everyone returned safely, though a couple of them had got lost for a few minutes in between.
Some parties arranged for campfires. We all just sat out, enjoying the rustic and peaceful surroundings, in the lap of nature. From the time we get onto the boat, we do not have phone signals, hence we are not disturbed with any distractions. Nowadays everyone is so addicted to whatsapp and facebook, that no matter how peaceful your surroundings are, instead of enjoying it, people tend to spend time with their phones. Here that chance was not given, so it was a blessing.
Early morning the next day, I was up by 5 am as I didn’t want to miss the sunrise. The above picture is before sunrise, with lots of fog and mist. I enjoyed the beautiful sunrise, though my pictures didn’t come out well, so I am not sharing it and later at 8 am had breakfast.
The boat that was booked exclusively for us arrived at 9.30 am, but we started at 10 am.
Having an entire boat exclusively for us was fun.
Beautiful scenery around
This is the narrowest place where the Godavari flows between 2 hills. It is a mere 500 metres. The serenity envelops you and you are at peace.
Later we were dropped at a point from where we had to board a van to go to Bhadrachalam.
Bhadrachalam is in the Bhadradri district of Telangana state. Built by Kancherla Gopanna in the 17th century, it was built for Lord Rama. The deities are Lord Rama with Sita Devi and his brother Lakshmana. After having a darshan of Bhagvan, had lunch and took rest for sometime as we had to take a bus at 6 pm to get back home.
Thus ended our weekend getaway to Papikondalu. Peaceful and lovely.