98.ANDHRA PRADESH. (2) NELLORE To CHIRALA.

From Armagaon we drive to Nellore for the night halt. Geographically we should have first touched Krishnapatanam first as it is to the south of Nellore.For logistical reasons, we come to Guntur first, check in a hotel, arrange for servicing of the car next morning and take some rest.

Nellore  is a commercial town and except for a couple of old temples there is nothing of interest to be visited. We decide to take some rest.

The car is delivered back after servicing in the early afternoon next day and we drive to Krishnapatnam. The port appears to be used mainly for imported coal meant for use in the thermal power stations. The long conveyor belts bear this out.

There are a number of power stations in the area and the landscape is almost completely dominated by them.

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The lighthouse is unremarkable but has a pretty garden in the compound. It has a Relay Station as well.

The beach is quite good but do not seem to have many visitors. Firstly, it a bit far from Guntur the nearest town, then one has to cross the port area to reach it.

The main purpose of the beach appears to be for immersion of idols. Or have these idols come from another place, thrown ashore by the sea?

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We return to Nellore for the night halt and start early morning next day for Kavali which we decide to make our next stop. There is not much to be explored here except the Lighthouse at Ramayapatnam.

The highway up north is a beauty. You drive through the rich green landscape for miles and miles:

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You cant miss the Hanumans- Anjaneya, on the way. there are a number of them- in all shapes, sizes and colours. I think there is a competition in Andhra Pradesh to build these statues- bigger, taller and colourful.

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Thinly veiled Christian evangelism is in competition:

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Ramayapatnam is a small village. You cross the Buckingham Canal and enter it. This is the second time Iam referring to this canal and I will have to defer the expalanation a bit to the next post. In the meatime you can have a look at it as we enter the village:

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This fishing village has a lovely beach.

The Lighthouse is the highlight of the village.

As we move around the village and the beach we across these fishermen mending their nests in the village square:

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There is a small temple as well just opposite the Christian ‘ Meditation Park’. It has a number of megaphones mounted on it, in all direction. A brilliant recipe for a communal riots. If the village folks manage without it, they are great.

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And then my attention is attracted by a solitary man sitting in a corner and working quietly on something. As I approach closer I realize that it is something close to my heart- Shellfish. They find a species of it here which I am seeing forthe first time:

It is difficult to separate the edible portion without breaking the shell. They break the shell and recover the edible flesh. very tedious and very time-consuming. I guess they cook it after separating ( as is done with some types on the Karnataka coast) or the flesh is dried for storage. The language barrier is huge and I am not able to communicate with the person and he does not appear to be very happy doing what he is. It is like forced labour to him.

This area also happens to the groundnut growing area. You will find the groundnut shells being used as fuel for cooking- in large quantities:

We drive through the villages for quite some time and see a rich agricultural region. Watermelons are one of the fruits grown in large quantities here. We stop at a farm to buy some fresh fruit.

We retire to Kavali for the night halt but not before a flat tyre in a remote village. A couple of young guys were very helpful in getting us out of the trouble and make sure that we reached Kavali in time for dinner.

The next day early morning we start from Kavali for Vodarevu Lighthouse and with the intention of  staying at Chirala, probably the best and the most famous beach in Andhra Pradesh after Vizag.

We start very early without breakfast and with the intention that we will have breakfast at one of those small roadside eateries who serve fresh home-made south Indian items. That was not to be.

We are a Tanguturu Toll Plaza and find a ‘Food Plaza’ on top of the Toll Plaza. This is novelty for us:

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We park and take a lift up. The view is good and the food is not bad either.

We proceed towards Chirala bypassing the large town of Ongole on the way. The distance we cover today is about 130 Kms which is not we intended initially but there was nothing much to be seen on the way. Ongole could have been made a stop but that being not on the seashore we decided in favour of Chirala.

Before we reach Chirala we stop at a small village for some coconut water and witness this phenomena.

A small Pick Up parked by the roadside attracts my attention as some people have gathered around it. As I go closer I realize that fish is being sold from the Pick-Up.

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Fish is sold on the roadside on Sunday morning. What is the big deal?

The big deal is that the fishes are alive,in water in the load body of the Pick-Up.

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And to keep them alive an Oxygen cylinders are carried in  the vehicle to keep the water oxygenated.

The fish variety is from freshwater ponds and seems to be in great demand here on this Sunday morning. It is expensive but people are willing to pay for the live fish dressed in front of them.

The cleaning involves ‘skinning’, removing the skin off a living fish. Look at this video:

 

 

After this new experience we reach Chirala after midday to find that there is no accommodation available anywhere. The hotels and resorts are full for the week-end. What is the option? try Vodarevu beach six kilometers away.

Vodarevu is an extension of Chirala, the only difference is that Vodarevu is a fishing harbour and Chirala is an upmarket beach destination. Vodarevu does not have many places to stay at but the beach appears to be quite nice although a bit smelly because of the fishing activities.

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One resort agrees to provide us a room but the same is not ready. Some people who checked in on Saturday are likely to vacate. When? the manager is uncertain.

Which is the nearest other place where we can rest? The unanimous advice is -Bapatla.

We turn towards Bapatla but after having a look at the Lighthouse at Vodarevu.

The Indian Roller has been keeping us company from the time we touched eastern coast of India. He shows up every day from the telephone or electrical wires.Here we find him close by on a mound of paddy straw.

We move on to Bapatla.

 

Text & Video by Suryakiran Naik

Pictures Suryakiran Naik & Veena Naik

 

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