Bye Bye Bangaram

18.01.2017:

We woke up before sunrise and refreshed ourselves and headed towards the eastern side of the island to get a glimpse of the sunrise. The beach is full of activity. People are cleaning the left-overs on the dining tables, clearing off the vessels, arranging tables etc; the fisher-folk and the divers are getting their equipment and boats ready to take the tourists for deep sea diving, fishing and angling; the locals were pulling out the fishes stuck to their nets in the lagoons and the tourists are lazing on the chairs waiting for the sun to rise from the horizon!

Bangaram is every photographer’s wet dream and yet, I find myself taking far fewer pictures than I usually do while travelling. Every where we can find a standard-issue desktop wallpaper 🙂 The island is a paradise, a tropical heaven on earth. It’s a piece of the planet that’s as manicured as it is naturally stunning. It draws divers, leisure swimmers, and beach bums. It does its best to soothe one’s soul with blushing sunsets, shallow ocean sightings and by sheathing us in luxury.

Though the process of getting permits is frustrating and the cost of the packages is high, it’s seems so justifying when we visit these islands. From a conservation point of view, the pressure of tourism isn’t yet visible on the reef. In other island destinations like Havelock, one see broken coral and the impact of pollution, but not so much in Lakshadweep. And that’s because tourism is so heavily regulated and in that sense, the regulation is a blessing. Perhaps this is one of the reasons, why these islands are still so stunningly beautiful!

While watching the sunrise, we sent Jaleel to give a word to our boat’s captain that we would be leaving in another 30 minutes. We headed back to our room and packed our luggage, prepared ourselves some instant noodles for our breakfast and left for the boat. Our next destination is another small island near to Bangaram. The word ‘Bangaram’ in Telugu language literally means ‘Gold’. And this ‘Bangaram Island’ is truly bangaram for me as it left me with some of the golden memories which I can cherish throughout my life 🙂

Bye Bye Bangaram.. 🙂 🙂

Beach No. 7 and The Barefoot..

Day 10:

Time to go to another beach which is once rated as the No. 1 beach in Asia by the Time magazine! Radhanagar beach, also known as Beach No. 7 in the Havelock Island, is the largest of the islands which comprise Ritchie’s Archipelago, a chain of islands to the east of Great Andaman in the Andaman Islands. It is on the south coast of Havelock Island is a beach of outstanding quality. It was pretty crowded by the time we reached.

At Radhanagar Beach, we got no time to breathe as we got soaked in the natural beauty. Not only does Radhanagar beach casted a spell over with emerald and indigo colors of the sea and soft powdery white sand, it transported us to a different world no sooner do we set foot there. The beach is flat and of a low gradient it continues for almost some 100 metres from the shore. Ideal place to play and swim! This beach is also famous for undersea activities and almost all the resorts in Havelock throws packages for the tourists.

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This one is also perfect for lazy ones like me who just wants to sit, read a book and pass the time 🙂 One can just sit at the seaside and plunge oneself in the serene beauty all around; swaying palms, forests with branches swooping down intermittently to kiss the warm water, sea shells punctuating the white stretch of sand a few noisy sea-birds competing with parakeets. And not this alone, hills spring up at a distance – the sight better than any on a painter’s canvas.

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Radhanagar beach has got good changing rooms and they were clean too. Time for our lunch; we had our lunch at a resort, where the food is ok-ok. Went back to our dolphin resort, loitered around the shore and took small naps before we set out for the next activity. The important thing is one should not miss the sunset at Havelock island and the best place to watch the sun set is the Island jetty. The beauty of the sky and the sea is unparalleled.

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We took a walk along the roads of this beautiful island. There are lots of coffee corners, excellent seafood to gorge on and several local garment and trinket shops and Sahil and I brought some bright colored beach T-Shirts, while Harsha and Mounica settled out for some accessories 😉 . We had our dinner at the Barefoot resort, which is one of the best resorts in the island and probably the most known thing about this resort is the elephant ride in the sea-waters provided by them.

The food is great over here and the ambiance is simply awesome. The tree huts and restaurant with dim lights and the wide range of cuisines are amazing. We walked back to our resort and called it a day 🙂 🙂

Havelock – A Natural Paradise of White beaches

Day 10:

The debate started in this way.. Should we go on the “Makruzz” – the oldest catamaran or should we hire a speedboat. Havelock Island is around 30 kms from Port Blair and a lot of catamarans operate in between the two islands throughout the day. It takes around an hour-and-a-half to reach the jetty at Havelock. But we didn’t choose the catamaran as few of our friends have sea-sickness and we were not ready to spoil our plans.

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Uncle hired us a speed-boat and we set off to Havelock from the Phoenix Bay Jetty around 5.30 AM in the morning and reached the Havelock Island at 6.15 or 6.30. The ride was pretty good and we got a chance of watching some flying fishes and dolphins almost in mid-way. We tried our hands at steering wheel of the speed-boat on the rough sea at the early hours also 🙂

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We booked our rooms at the Doplhin Resort which is government-owned and well-maintained. We checked-in, had our complimentary breakfast and rushed back to the Havelock Jetty. As we slipped into our speed-boat, it coughed to life and in 10 minutes we were at a white-sand beach where the sea appeared like endless shimmering blue delicate chiffon laced with sparking white forth.

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The beach covered with tropical forests is calm and there were not many visitors in the early hours or by the time we reached. It was almost as if I had landed in a beach which just seemed like Maldives or Mauritius, but it is India, my own India. The blue waters which just looks like reflecting the mirror image of the blue sky was breathtaking.

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The Elephanta Beach offers a wide-variety of underwater activities like snorkeling; glass-bottomed boat rides to watch corals and especially scuba-diving. We have come with our own snorkeling gear and were out into the waters to snorkel, while my uncle and his brother were swimming and my aunt was watching us sitting under the tree shade sipping the fresh coconut water sold by a vendor over the beach.

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I don’t know whether the North Bay water were not that clear or is it just my snorkeling gear that was not clear, my snorkeling experience was way low when compared with that of the Elephanta. I saw few oysters opening up and closing down, colonies of colorful corals, groups of fishes and a sea snake too. Lucky me :-p . As my aunt and uncle missed this snorkeling part, we went on a ride on one of the glass-bottomed boats to watch the colourful corals once again and I tell you no matter how many times we see those, we won’t be bored 🙂 We ended up taking hundreds of photographs on the beach, in the water and on the trees 😀 😀 . After enough of snorkeling and swimming, it was time for us to wrap up and head towards another beautiful beach, not perhaps only of Havelock, but of the world too.

Stay tuned to see what happened in the second half of the day 😉 🙂

Rajahmundry – The cultural capital of Andhra Pradesh

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Rajahmundry or Rajamahendravaram is a beautiful city located on the banks of the mighty Godavari River. Rajaraja Narendra, a Eastern Chalukya king has built this city in 1022 AD. ‘Adikavi’ Nannayya, the first Telugu poet, belongs to this region and he gave script to Telugu to make it a language, and hence the name ‘Cultural Capital’.

Places to Visit:

# Havelock Bridge or the Old Godavari Bridge: The construction of the bridge commenced on Nov 11, 1897 and opened for traffic on August 30, 1900. The Bridge was named after Sir Arthur Elibank Havelock, the then Governor of Madras. Having served its full life span of 100 years, it was decommissioned in 1997.

One can get the best view of this bridge during the evenings from Pushkar Ghat. Watching the sunset over the bridge during the evenings is simply a mesmerizing experience.

# Kotilingeswara Temple: The name itself indicates that this is all about the Lingas. The form in which Lord Shiva is offered prayers in India. According to the historians, the temple was constructed between the 10th and 11th centuries.

For the spiritual lovers, a must visit place. Especially on the eve of Maha Sivarathri, I don’t think there could be any other place better than this. Secondly, the temple is located on the banks of the mighty river Godavari, and the view from here is amazing. For adventure lovers, there is a ferry point here, from where one can get a country boat to travel to those small riverine islands.

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# Kandukuri Veeresalingam Town Hall: The loving son of Rajamahendravaram. Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu was the great Social Reformer, who fought for education for women and remarriage of widows. He was considered the father of renaissance in Andhra. He wrote the first Telugu novel Rajasekhara Charitam. One can find the house where he lived in, the place where the first widow marriage took place and also the printing press used by him.

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# Dowleshwaram Barrage: Dowleshwaram is the village at which the River Godavari splits into two streams or distributaries, ‘Gautami’ on left and ‘Vasistha’ on the right. An irrigation engineer, Sir Arthur Cotton constructed the barrage over this river. The total height of the masonry structure was 15 feet. A museum in the memory of Sir Arthur Cotton was constructed here. It narrates the stories behind this barrage and it is the only civil engineering museum in the state. A must visit place for the historians.

Other places to visit: ISKCON Temple, Damerla Rama Rao Art Gallery, Chitrangi Palace and Rallabandi Subbarao museum.

One cannot assume that their trip is complete, if you don’t have a ride on the river waters on that country boats. Of course those who are not that much interested in adventures, can venture out on the waters of Godavari in a cruise boat to enjoy the scenic beauty of those small riverine islands as well as the lush green fields in and around the river Godavari.

Rajahmundry is a blend of various qualities that make the place unique, interesting, and suitable for tourism for all ages. And trust me, one can enjoy the best delicacies of Andhra here. Because people they don’t just serve the food, they serve their love too..

How to reach?

Rajahmundry is well connected by road with all major cities in Andhra Pradesh. The nearest airport is the Rajahmundry Domestic airport (Madhurapudi), The Visakhapatnam Airport and Gannavaram Airport, Vijayawada.