102.ANDHRA PRADESH. (6) Sacramento, Yanam, Coringa.

Between Antarvedi in the south to Yanam in the north the river Godavari meets the Bay of Bengal by means of 4 distributaries, forming a classic river delta, rich with soil brought in by the river. This is the rice bowl of India made all the more useful and productive by an intricate network of canals and waterways. The irrigation system is credited to the British administration and more specifically to an irrigation engineer who has become a legend by the name of Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton. The importance of the irrigation system built by Sir Cotton is of immense importance to the region and is so acknowledged by the people benefited by it. You will see the statues raised to the memory of Sir Cotton everywhere competing for space with the post-independence political leaders. In 2015 a ‘Pindaparidhanam’ ceremony was conducted on the banks of Godavari to the memory of Sir Cotton, a honour reserved for one’s departed ancestors. That gives us an idea about the degree of reverence the people have for this irrigation engineer.

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Sir Cotton on Horseback at a village square.

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Sir Cotton with Lord Parashurama for company.

 

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Bust at a village in West Godavari district

  

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Among the statues at Yanam

 

Starting from Dindi on the banks of Godavari we decide to make a stopover at Yanam (which is a part of the Union Territory of Puducherry) but before we do that we have another spot to visit, a lighthouse in fact.

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The new Lighthouse (L) and the old one (R)

 

 

 One has to pass through Bojjavaripeta and Kandikuppa in the Amalapuram Taluk to reach a fishing village called Pora to find a lighthouse named Sacramento Lighthouse. Is the name not a contrast to the surrounding places? Does it not sound very foreign? The lighthouse got it’s name from a ship that floundered and perished in the sands near the coast. The sand bars formed along the coast in this area of east Godavari district are notoriously treacherous. To ensure safety of the ships the Sacramento Lighthouse was completed in the year 1895.

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The orignal 1895 lighthouse, now discarded.

 

 The picture below shows the lighthouse compound with the staff quarters bearing the imprint of colonial administration.

 

 

 Sacramento Lighthouse is difficult to reach. It is not the distance but the terrain. One has to drive through a maze of village roads, cross a number of fish and prawn culture ponds, cross a couple of mangroves and at last a bridge so narrow, a car can barely pass. This must be one of the narrowest motorable bridges anywhere!!

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village on the way.

 

 

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A Bridge Too Narrow

 

 The striking part of the region indeed the whole of Andhra Pradesh is the existence of large number of statues at every conceivable place.

 

 

XXXXXXXX  YANAM

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Yanam Entrance

 

 

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The trademark gates of Puducherry at all the 4 places

 

When you cross the last distributary of the mighty Godavari, you drive into the former French territory of Yanam. Yanam which is now a part of the Union Territory of Puducherry and the surrounding areas of Andhra Pradesh have nothing to distinguish between them. One can walk from one to the other without knowing. The only differentiating factor perhaps is the price of fuel and liquor which is lower on the Yanam side.

We try to find some ‘French’ past- architecture, art, food, monument etc. There is none or next to nothing. Yes, there are a couple of government buildings and a Church. Surprising? Or we were not properly guided.

 

 

 What dominates the town is the post-independence riverside beach and recreation area on the north Bank of Godavari, replete with statues of politicians and the large plaques indicating which politician inaugurated the statues.

 

 

Yanam has a couple of good restaurants purely local and do not indicate even remotely any French influence. Culturally the place is pure Andhrite. We could witness the procession of Virabhadra right in the centre of the town.

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 Yanam is now shaping up in a different way. It is the hub for the KG-2. The Krishna-Godavari Gasfields. Reliance group is quite active here.

 

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XXXXXXXXXXXXXx Coringa.

The area north of the mouth of Godavari where there is considerable drilling activity for natural gas is also a bilogical hotspot. The dense mangrove forest has prompted the Andhra government to declare a sizable area as a wildlife Sanctuary. Coringa is located between Yanam and the port town of Kakinada to the north.

 

This sanctuary will not survive long despite the dense mangrove cover. It is under threat from all directions. To to the south are the gas drilling activities. To the west are the prawn culture ponds which are almost inside the sanctuary. The overall picture of the sanctuary indicates that it is being turned into a picnic spot. A road  inside is even named. To add to the problem are the huge number of students who make the sanctuary a lovers lane.

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Nobody seems to be bothered about the wildlife for which the place was set up.

 

At low tide the mudskippers are quite active in the mangroves.

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The extensive wetlands facing the Bay of Bengal and the meeting of the Godavari made this area economically important during the British regime. This is born out by the fact that there used to be extensive shipping activity along this part of the coast. In spite of the wetlands and the mangrove cover the area boasted two lighthouses. We have seen one at Sacramento and another one was supposed to be functional at a place in the mangroves in the past. It is no longer functional and cannot be reached by road. There is a possibility of reaching the place by a boat journey of four hours as indicated by the boat operators. We decided to pass it and be satisfied with a pictureof it found in the sanctuary.

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Text by Suryakiran Naik. suryakiran.naik@gmail.com

Photographed by Veena Naik & Suryakiran Naik

22.NAVIBANDAR, MADHAVPUR, SOMNATH

We leave Porbandar without knowing what would be our next night halt. Our Google search reveals that the next town with any kind of hotel accommodation is Veraval 124 Kms away which would be quite a long jump for us. We start driving until we come to a place near Navibandar to be told that a bridge on the road to Veraval had collapsed more than a year ago and a diversion has to be taken. We take it and make it to Navibandar with some difficulty.

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Navibandar as a port does not have much of an activity especially after the collapse of the bridge. We visit it all the same  mainly because we had since beginning decided to visit all Lighthouses. The Lighthouse here is a functional unit and not a grand affair. It is manned by only person who was away when we visited. Hence we do not know if they allow to climb the place.

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We return to the main road which is at the other end of the collapsed bridge and are about to drive southwards when a flock of birds flying catches our attention. We stop and walk towards a small lake. This place would have been famous had it been near a city. Being a freshwater body near the sea, it supports quite a number of bird species.

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But the main attraction turned out to be a smaller pond with this:

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The road ahead is smooth and straight. A pleasurable drive brings us to another surprise. Madhavpur Beach is surprisingly long, sandy and clean. And more importantly it has a reasonably good hotel. So we decide to stay the night at Madhuban. As we move around we learn that apart from the bridge the village has the remains of a 12th Century temple. I think in the 12th century people did not have any work other than building temples.

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We also come to know that the village has a Osho Ashram. That’s quite interesting though not surprising. There also another Ashram called Gokul. Both these places offer accommodation presumably to their affiliated people. A long ditch between the two places offers birding opportunities.

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The next day (4th September) we start from Madhavpur and proceed to Mangrol. This is a large fishing harbour and boat-building place. The town is quite large ( 150,000 souls). We spend some time at the harbour watching some activities related to operationalizing the fishing boats after the same were laid up for the monsoons. Some were already at sea and the others were being readied.

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Some new ones are being built.

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Mangrol has a fish market, two in fact, one for the wholesale trade and one for retail.

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We buy some fish and proceed on to the New National Restaurant. It is too early for lunch and we have to help Khansaaab with his preparations including cutting the onions.

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Shri Goswami owns a tanker that supplies drinking water to the fishing vessels about to sail. He insists on being photographed with his water tanker.

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The Port has a Lighthouse. Permission has to be sought for visiting and if granted one has to climb 200 steps on the staircase. No, thank you.

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The next place we visit is Chorwad made famous by Dhirubhai Ambani, the founder of Reliance group. Before we visit the Memorial ( which is the place where spent his childhood), we reach the beach. A rocky beach with the remains of a palace built by the ruler of this principality. The palace built by Mohabat Khan was appropriately named Dariya Mahal. It was advertised as India’s first Beach Palace hotel. One can only see its ruins now.

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The beach is quite good but we could not see it at low tide. We wanted to stay back and started making enquiries about possible accommodation. There is none. During the enquiries an outrageous suggestion was made by the person selling coconuts on the beach. ‘There is a hospital in the town and they offer rooms’, We did not bother to verify the truth or try out the option.

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Of course we go on to see the Memorial to my one time employer. Nothing much from outside and photography is not allowed inside. This is the entrance to the town. the memorial is a short distance ahead o the left.

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Somanth is of course is among the famous temple towns of India. Apart from the main temple, it also has several other temples and also a large one under construction.

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Among the others is the Surya temple which has a lot of plants growing on it, in defiance of the powers of the Sun God.

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Then there is the Triveni Sangam, confluence of three rivers ( and probably the Arabian sea) , a place where Lord Krishna had breathed his last.

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Currently on the Triveni Sangam is the statue of Mr. Morarji Desai, ex Prime Minister of India being badly treated by crows

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In this story I have missed the town of Veraval. It will be included in the next.

3rd & 4th September

suryakiran.naik@gmail.com

Posted on 5th September.

 

 

 

Day 5. Naliya- Mandvi

We have done with much of Naliya and its surroundings. We are about to leave when we hear about a Heritage Village surrounding an old fort built by Jadeja rulers at a place called TERA, about 15 Kms. from Naliya. We decide to have a look. It was a disappointment. There is nothing like a Heritage Village except for the tourism department’s sign post at the entrance to the village. With some difficulty we could access the Fort. It was closed, locked. We could see the cows through the chinks in the main door. It is quite clear that it is used as a cowshed. Nobody could tell us anything about the fort and it’s history.

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The next place we are going to visit is Mandvi, another historic place and an ancient trading and shipbuilding centre. But before that we need to visit a Lighthouse which is located between Jakhau and Mandvi ports. The Lighthouse is about 18 Kms. from the Naliya- Mandvi road. Finding the place was an adventure. The lighthouse is majestic, the beach in the front is alluring and the babhul forest between the Lighthouse and the village is amazing. The person in-charge of the Lighthouse stays alone at this place, the nearest human beings about 2 kilometres away in the Chhachhi village

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Chchachi Lighthouse

During the return journey we lost our way and wandered in the forest for about an hour until Abbas rescued us and showed us the way out of the maze. He left his buffaloes and came to show us the way out. He refused to sit in the car. He has a phobia of automobiles. Does the English language have a word for this?
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Even the smallest villages in Kutch offer extremely good quality tea, made on coal fire. Here is such a small place between the Lighthouse and the main road.

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Back on the main road, the drive to Mandvi is a pleasure on the beautiful, smooth and straight road. As we enter Mandvi we get the first glimpse of the Coconut palm since we started. For those born in brought up in Goa, like both of us, the seashore is unthinkable without the coconut palm. However, the first about 150 kilometres of Indian coast does not have coconut palms. The ones appearing in the picture are tall plants and one of them has grown in a Zigzag fashion.

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We start looking at  Mandvi shortly after our arrival. This is the bridge on Rukmavati river which divides the town into two parts- one in the old fort (which no longer exists) and the other side, on the way down south towards Mundra.

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The Vijay Vilas Palace of the Jadeja rulers made famous by Bollywood movies ( including HDDCS) is billed as a highlight of the town. It is located about 3 kms from the town.

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On display in the palace are many photographs, paintings, stuffed animals hunted by the Maharaja. The admission to the palace is as under. At the gate for the vehicle rs. 20/-, visit to the palace Rs. 30/- (pp) , Still Camera Rs. 50/- Mobile camera Rs. 15/-, Movie camera Rs 100/-. They are not abreast of the technology.

Among the displays is this beautiful painting.

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On the way back we came across this group of deer. The rainwater accumulated in the ditches attracted quite a few species of birds as well.

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Mandvi is an interesting place. Will touch on the remaining aspects in the next post.

20.08.2016

suryakiran.naik@gmail.com