Avani -> Chandragiri -> Pulicat -> Vontimitta -> Nandalur -> Siddavatam -> Pushpagiri -> Gurramkonda -> Horsely hills
Andhra has held our fascination since our past trip when we realised it has a lot of places to explore that are not popular at all. So on a 4 day holiday, we decided to use it as a chance to discover what it holds.
Just as we started off on the road, we noticed a signboard by Karnataka tourism to Avani. We took a detour to check it out. It’s a small group of temples with no visitors other than ourselves .
The only other people around were the caretakers. The places houses a group of small temples, each having mostly lingas in the names of not-so-frequently seen characters from the Ramayana in addition to Rama, of course. Shatrughaneshwara, Lakshmaneshwara, Vali and Sugriva, Bharatheshwara – there are lingas supposedly installed by each of them to make up for the sin of fighting against Lava and Kusha without knowing of their being related to them. There’s also a small temple for Sita too with a very pretty Ganesha idol sculpted on one of the pillars in there. As typical, each of the temples with the linga also has a Nandi facing it. One of the temples had a fine ceiling.
This group of temples has a rocky hill making up its backdrop.And atop it is said to be one of the few temples dedicated to Sita and a couple of other temples. Lava and Kusha were supposedly born there. We decided to come back for it some other time since we had quite a distance to cover and it looked like small trek that would probably be better earlier in the day when the weather was cooler.
Beside the group of temples is a large temple pond that’s easy to miss because of the shrubs growing around it. But we love temple ponds, so visit it, we did.
We had also seen a board to Mulbagal and we went in search of it. It was a Someshwara temple but in our opinion, its charm was lost by painting over its natural shades of stone to make it a more technicolour palette. It also had a smaller temple pond in front of the temple.
We got back on the main route towards the Chandragiri fort while munching on some sweet, fresh guavas we bought from kids on the way. The route was scenic with marigold fields in brilliant shades of orange and yellow cheering us on.
Chandragiri was the place for royalty to stay when they visited Tirupati. The Raja mahal and the Rani mahal are the 2 structures you’d see as you enter the area.
The Raja palace houses, across multiple floors, a museum of artifacts from various historical places in Andhra Pradesh including our special favorite- Gandikota. What we found interesting were the idols of the various planets as per Indian mythology, each with its animal of choice. Apparently, Krishnadevaraya was housed in this palace till his coronation, so just as a reminder are life-size statues of him, his brothers and each of their consorts made in plaster of Paris. [Spoiler alert : he is much thinner than one may have imagined him to be.]
There are monkeys all over the place, one even threatening to snatch my wallet as I tried to pay the entrance fee! The place has a huge oak (?) tree and the monkeys will tease you by eating its fruit and throwing it at you. They may also pee on you from atop the tree. You have been warned. The littler ones, however, are painfully cute as they scamper around the place.
There is a small pond with pedal boats but they didn’t seem functional. There is also a sound and light show towards the evening but considering how far we were from our next pit stop we didn’t deem it worth the wait. Also, there were people exploring the area behind atop the rocky hills but with no lunch in sight yet, we didn’t have the energy to try.
We visited the small Rajarajeshwari temple with a big well near the fort too.
Tip : Eat a meal at whatever place you can find, however modest, BEFORE getting here. There is nothing in the surroundings, and the canteen inside the premises was closed. The place is perfect to have a packed meal.However, the monkeys will make it very hard, if not impossible to actually eat in the open.
We reached our pit stop for the night at the AP tourism hotel at Kalahasti. The food was not the best, but the rooms were decent. We played a while on the swings in the kids’ park and called it a day.
Tip : If you see “Snowfeast” ice creams, do not eat them. They were the first ice creams we have ever discarded 😐
Coming up next : What lies in store for us at the 2nd largest lagoon in the country!