Kaikalaru may not ring a bell even among the born Andhrites. It is a very small town. The only reason this place has achieved some kind of fame is perhaps the presence of a bird sanctuary and that precisely is the reason for us to be here. The Sanctuary is called Kolleru Bird Sanctuary.
The first hurdle is finding a place to stay. We have driven all the way from Kuchipudi and don’t want to dance here looking for a hotel. There are not many options available. There are a couple of lodges in the town. The best one among them admits us for a night with a condition that we will wind up and disappear from the place before 8 am. A ‘marriage party’ has booked the entire hotel from early morning onwards, next day. We agree to the terms and conditions and dump our bags and proceed to Kolleru, not very far, for a sunset view of the birds. This is the second time in Andhra Pradesh that we found it difficult to get a place to stay, courtesy marriages.
We dump our bags and rush to the sanctuary which is not very far off for a sunset view. Not bad. Lot of birds though not a great variety. The winter has ended and most of the migrants have found their way back to their homes. We have to make-do with whatever is left behind. Not bad. We enjoyed.
To their credit the Forest Department of the AP government has maintained this place very well. Creditable cleanliness. The guys around there try to make some money by taking people for a boat-ride in the lagoon which is not really required. You can see all the birds without the boat ride. Interestingly most of the people visiting the sanctuary do so for the boat-ride.
The steel structures that you in the picture above are unprecedented on a large scale like this. Anyways the birds make good use of these stands.
The silhouettes of the birds seen against the light of the setting sun are really worth seeing.
We get up early the next day to make sure we are not thrown out of the room by the ‘marriage party’. We get back to the Sanctuary for a sunrise session of pictures. Lovely. There is a bund through the sanctuary over which the locals take their buffaloes for grazing in the wetlands beyond which adds to the glamour of the place.
Among the species we found were Asian Pied Starling, not found on the west/south coast of India.
And a few other passerines.
After a round of morning birding we continue northwards. We drive through the towns of Bhimavaram and Narsapur to cross the Godavari at Dindi. The Godavari delta is charming. The greenery appears to be year-long. As much as nature there is a human being who takes the credit for this. Sir Arthur Cotton a British irrigation engineer is worshipped in this part of the world, deservedly. He will appear in detail in another post in this series.
The riverside is calm and serene:
Kaikalaru to Dindi is a long drive taking us the entire morning. We reach the Dindi Coconut Country Resort for a late lunch. This place is on the east bank of the river. The river is navigable for small craft and the surrounding countryside is lush green with coconut plantations and paddy fields.
This greenery stays with you all along the coastal belt and more particularly in what is called the Krishna Godavari Basin. We are in the month of February, but that does not seem to make any difference here with the irrigation-induced greenery.
The next day morning we drive to a place called Anatarvedi. Coconut plantations, harvesting and processing is a part of the life here.
Rope-making out of the coconut husk does not seem to be an industry here. We did not see it anywhere. Maybe it did not develop here or the locals here were quick to abandon it with the advent of the nylon. Or perhaps we did not notice it.
Antarvedi is where one of the three distributaries of the great Godavari meet the Bay of Bengal and is considered as a holy place by Hindus. The modern people in Andhra call it ‘MIXING’. The term ‘mixing’ here means mixing of the sweet waters of the river with the saltwater of the sea. ‘Mixing’ is a widely used term in Andhrite English. Is Teluglish the right word?
Before we reach the mixing place, we come across this very popular temple of Laxminarasimha . The pilgrimage to Godavari ‘mixing’ is not complete without visiting the temple.
The Mixing ( I continue with this word as I don’t know a better substitute. Confluence does not appear to be right term as it refers to mixing of two rivers) by itself is not a spectacular place. In fact it is not a specific place. It is a general area where the river meets the sea and this is not the only place. This river meets the sea at three different places and this is the last northwards ( or eastwards depending on how you hold the map).
The lighthouse is more than a kilometer from the seashore and does not give a much better view of the mixing from the top.
The Red Ghost Crab appears here in large numbers.
This boy insisted that he has a Driving Permit.
There is a temple between the town and the beach. We stop here for a few pictures of the Deepstambha, the lamp-post which is wooden, for a change. In most other temples they are made of metal.
Done with the mixing and we take a different route to get back to the Coconut Country Resort, through a different set of villages and diffrent canals, for a part of the way. And then we stumble upon another temple with a lot of artwork on its walls. Unfortunately we have did not bother to ask for the name of the place and the temple and all the writing are in Telugu. Anyway the paintings are done by someone who understands art.
As you drive around the rural and semi-urban areas of Andhra Pradesh, you cannot escape he Telugu love of statues. They are everywhere. This tempts me to make a separate post on that subject. Here are a few.
The above selection includes mythological figures, recent politicians, Irrigation Engineers etc. Andhra Pradesh is incomplete without these images.
Text by Suryakiran Naik
Pictures by Veena Naik & Suryakiran Naik