Avani -> Chandragiri -> Pulicat -> Vontimitta -> Nandalur -> Siddavatam -> Pushpagiri -> Gurramkonda -> Horsely hills
Continued from here
Day 4 :
It was our last day at Andhra Pradesh and we had a drive of 2 hours via marvellously empty roads for most of it. On the way, we stopped by some people selling honey since Anand wanted to buy honeycomb from them. The language translation app promptly failed to translate what we had to say, but I managed to show them a picture of the honeycomb on my phone. They insisted that the honey came from it and that it was what they were selling. The lady even inserted a lit matchstick into the honey to prove its genuineness. After a while of both of us failing to communicate, Anand went over to see the honeycomb itself that they actually happened to have with them. The lady came to me and then insisted that the communication failure was desperate and then to our shock switched to Hindi asking us if we spoke the language. Much to everyone’s amusement, we did and bought 2 small pieces of honeycomb and continued on our way after sharing some biscuits with them.
After that little incident, we drove further on and finally reached Gurramkonda fort. I thought the name was funny. Also, I was looking forward to the huge staircase leading to it and eager to explore the place for other interesting nooks. We were welcomed by a kingfisher right at the entrance and Anand stopped to take pictures of it while I walked on ahead. There was just one person who seemed to be the caretaker who followed me in at a distance. There were a bunch of young boys there and assuming I didn’t know the language at all, continued a conversation on how to reach out to me and ask for my name [at the least]. By now, the caretaker promptly decided to stand by the side and watch. Anand joined me and the caretaker then was quickly alert insisting that he couldn’t take photos with his camera there, while the rest of the folks there were clicking away. Apparently, cameras on phones were ok! The confusing rule meant that you could only have poorer quality images of the place but clear pictures were simply not ok. We figured he was confused that it was a video camera and told him it wasn’t one. Then went on to ask for someone else we could speak to, and that gentleman also insisted on a call that cameras even for photos weren’t allowed. Siddhavatam fort had asked for a fee with a receipt provided but apparently, even that just wouldn’t do.
By now, the caretaker was quite annoyed with us and insisted we do not go anywhere other than the main building itself. Even though the group of guys had just gone ahead. Overall irritated, we tried to still leave the place without letting the experience ruin the place for us. So we went ahead to the other side, happened to a ruined small structure and a humongous well, and headed to our next spot.
If there’s anyone who could figure out for us, please do:
- Is it privately owned property?
- Why the rule about cameras not allowed but phone cameras being allowed?
- Why there are no boards around about this ban?
- What else is worth seeing there other than the building itself? There was a passage uphill to what was a temple(?) but it seemed purely for groups of guys only 😉
Our next stop was Horsely hills, “the Ooty of Andhra Pradesh”. We had to admit it was significantly cooler than any place we had been in the last few days. The route to it was also scenic and filled with greenery. Though it was only 11 30 we were quite hungry post our early breakfast and interestingly there was no place to have a meal! There was just one small shop selling chips and soft drinks and the only “open” restaurant said they’d take open only at 1PM. We picked some snacks and then decided to walk around the area. There was an animal complex with random birds and a couple of crocodiles, separately of course. There was a Manasa Sarovar- “the only natural water source there” but that was dry too. The Nature study centre had a few exhibits of animal taxidermy, snakeskins and trivia about the flora and fauna of the region. Overall the place had nothing breathtaking but is probably a nice place to bring a book and your own food to spend the day or even come with a group AND food to relax there. At 1 PM, however, the restaurant staff told us they’d only start taking orders at 1:30pm and we decided our stomachs deserved better. We drove ahead and at a petrol bunk staff’s recommendation finally had a modest meal at a newly opened restaurant on our way back.
And there ended our trip with more highs than lows and an opportunity to look back in wonder at its sights and scenes. What will stay with us other than the grandeur of Sidhhavatam is probably the magic of Pulicat that we were lucky to witness.
Up next: A different country, a personal favorite of mine