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Ravi

Solo Sojourn! Hyderabad - Srisailam - Nalla Malla - Gandikota

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Right from childhood, I always had this inner desire to stay alone for a certain period of time, do my chores, live my life all by myself, without my mother helping me nor my dad telling me what to do. I wanted to lead an independent life. This was because I never left home for any part of my life. So I took up this oath for myself that I would travel solo for at least 1 week of the 52 weeks in a year.

 

This year,2017, was no different. It was 4 day trip within the Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

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Hyderabad- Srisailam-Nalla malla forest- Nalla malla jungle camps- Gandikota- Hyderabad

 

The numbers :

Car : Hyundai elite i20

Mileage : 16.5kmpl (tank full to tank full)

Total trip : 935kms

 

 

It was not a pre- planned trip. Just as when things at home were at peace, a little effort to persuade mom paid off, a quick search in the India-drive paved the way for this trip.

 

A Teaser !

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Day 1

Drive day is the only day I would wake up so early in the morning (read 4 am) without even alarm setting off.

Started at 5 am, and the plan was to reach Srisailam Dam before crowd sets in and explore the route from Srisailam temple to Nalla Malla Jungle resorts

 

Gachibowli ORR - Dindi Reservoir- Srisailam

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Smooth roads and early morning fog made the drive refreshing!

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Reached Dam by 8:30am, crowd was sparse

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Clicking ample pictures, chugged along at a leisurely pace

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Moving along reached the top of Srisailam. I wanted to savour the moment, found a calm place over looking the dam. Spent a moment in tranquility and drove on.

 

I am a self proclaimed atheist, so skipped visiting the temple and drove down the hill towards Dornala.

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With smooth tarmac and winding Ghats, the roads up until Dornala Junction were smooth as silk

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The drive got rugged and bumpy after taking a right at Dormala Junction, leading towards Bairutly on the Vijayawada- atmakur Highway.The road passes through thick and dense Nalla Malla Forest.It is a single lane, potholed road with heavy truck traffic, often veering off the road to allow truck to pass by.

 

As irritating as it can get, and as bumpy as it could be, the silence in the forest and green cover has more than made up for the effort put in driving through this route.

 

Stopped by a thick canopy of heavily grown bamboo trees/plants on either side of the road, turned off the engine, windows rolled down and a breath of fresh air brushes your hair.

 

Blisss!! Savour the moment!The canopy was so dense, even sunlight couldn’t peek through, hence no photographs!

 

Reached Nalla Malla Jungle Camps by 2:30pm. The manager was kind enough to arrange for some home made meals for my lunch.

The resort had 4 double occupancy cottages and 3 tent like looking rooms and one dormitory.

 

This was my allocated cottage!

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The rest of the day was spent in leisure, talking to the staff about the safari the next day and their lively hood in such dense forest.

 

Day 2

It was quite a while since I had such peaceful sleep. Owing to such calm, non-polluted area and beautifully maintained rooms sound sleep was inevitable.

 

Since it was holiday and festival of Diwali, the resort had no guests. I was the only moron I guess who wanted to elude the city pollution.

 

So I had the whole day to myself and I was up and ready by 6am for the safari.

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A quick breakfast and off we went

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The safari vehicle

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The crew consisted of a driver (working as a driver for forest officers for the past 6 years) and local ‘gudem’ guy, Saidulu, who entered the safari vehicle with an axe. Safety I would think!

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It was a 8km circuit through the jungle I was told and would take about 2 hours for the safari

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When I asked the driver, what would be the odds of finding the Big Cat, he replied recklessly “very very very slim”

 

Just then, he slammed the brakes of the shoddy safari vehicle and spoke to Saidulu

 

He got down with the axe and did this ..

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Meanwhile,continuing my chat with the driver and looking around to spot the tiger, he asked me to get down the vehicle and walk with him. Apparently he found something odd at a distance.

 

Walking along..

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“Its a female” the driver reckoned!

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How? I spurted out!

 

Looking at the edge of those pug marks, the rounded edges denote female. Male would have claws which would have dug deep into the mud, he explained!

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We decided to leave the vehicle behind and start walking.

 

In excitement left my Camera in the vehicle (Facepalm Moment!)

 

As we walked along, we found more pug marks and we were sure to find a few a small distance ahead.

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We walked for almost an hour, in search of the Wild cat but to no avail.

 

We came across one of the bunkers/ rest areas for men who patrol the forests. There is one such bunker for every 40sqkm and they have 8 men guarding the area round the clock from poachers!

 

Sadly though there have been reported cases of deaths caused by Tiger attacks on these men.

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This is the path taken by people who visit the Holy shrine of Srisailam during Maha Shiva ratri.This path transverses through the thick jungle, amassing a distance of 80kms.

 

Enroute they have 3 pitstops, each at a temple which provides free food.They would cover the distance in about 11hrs flat.

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We were already Walking along the thick forests for almost 3hrs now and I was almost drained.

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Spotted a few deers here and there

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We sat down at a small pond under the shade of a tree.

 

I asked Saidulu more about his life and what do they do to survive.

 

He very simple replied “ government free rice isthadi, avi udakapedithe ganji osthadi, ullipaya & mirapakaya ikkada pandistham, aviti tho tinestham.dabbulu sampadinchali ani em undadu saaru ikkada”

 

(Translation: Govt gives free supplies of rice, we cook and extract porridge. We grow onions and chilli, we eat rice along with it. We don’t think about earning money)

 

He was very vivid in whatever he told us, what problem they often encounter, how his childhood was.

 

After a while he was kind enough to invite me to his ‘Gudem’

 

It was an hour walk through the forest again. My eyes never stopped trying to spot a tiger though.

 

There were about 35 people living in the ‘gudem’. They seemed content with what all they had, the kids were smiling and the ladies had their own avagatxion of either raising kids or singing their daily chores away.

 

Lunch, was their staple food. A bowl of rice porridge, onion and chilli as accompaniment!

 

(Left my camera in the vehicle & phone battery drained out. Hence no pictures)- Sorryyy :(

 

After spending time with the local ppl , we started our long walk back to the resort. While we were walking back i was fortunate enough to spot a few cubs playing at a distance.

 

No means to capture, it was just see and enjoy.

 

After a long day, dozed off early as I had made plans to visit Gandikota the next day.

 

Day 3:

Plan was to reach Gandikota as soon as possible and relax during sunset time at the view point.

 

After breakfast, spoke to the manager there and bit adieu to the staff.

 

Bairutly- Atmakur-Jammalamadugu- Gandikota

 

It was a 3.5hrs drive with roads varying from single late to beautiful 4 lanes.

 

Reached Gandikota by 2pm.

 

Explored the surrounding area of Kottalapalli, famour for windmills

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The service road leading to the Windmills

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It was too hot and humid, and I drove back to the resort to rest till evening.

 

Made it to the view point by sunset time, and it was heavily crowded.