It was a cloudy day and what could one ask when just the previous day was scorching hot. Perfect weather for travel thought the husband. But the wife said it before he could. So off they went, planning to start at 10, leaving finally at 2!
The 16 km drive from Vijayawada to Mangalagiri was a little more than half an hour away through Trunk Road but we needed to stop for a quick lunch. What better way than a dhaba on a highway? The Delight Dhaba was delightfully crowded and noisily delightful. The chatpata service with the server offering to drop just-off-the-fire phulkas every few seconds was surprising. Hardly 30 minutes later we were full to the brim and ready to go.
Google maps often gives you the best routes to travel in areas unknown. The shortest and quickest routes that have little or no traffic often guide you through narrow lanes where you can’t travel by car. After navigating through such a long winding road, we were going up the hill to Sri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple. It was a small hill and once there, got to take in the view of a town that has transformed over the last 2 years. Mangalagiri is best known for its GI tagged sarees but this temple was also on the list of must see locations.
The temple has Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy as the main deity inside a cave like opening. The prasadam is water sweetened with jaggery and is given in bucket loads to all devotees. The temple apparently stays open only until 4 pm so we doubted if our next location too had such a timing. We hurried to get to the next temple just next to the hill.
The first view itself was awe inspiring. The temple tower looked a lot different than most others across India. It was not too tapering but rather had an almost rectangular shape, standing tall though. The temple itself, again dedicated to Narasimha Swamy, was really old and beautiful. The stone was a shade of brown and pink mixed together and walking around the temple made for a nice calm experience. The optional sitting down before leaving a temple became a no-no after the husband accidently kept both is hands on crow shit. 😊 Off we went then.
The next was like what most tourist buses do – drive through sight seeing – of the Andhra Pradesh secretariat that has come up in the middle of nowhere. Amaravathi, right now is quite bare but holds a million dreams and strives to be smarter than the smartest city. In between waste lands and farm lands stands the secretariat majestically like a stranded lion in a forest that’s been cut down. Past the empty and very new smooth roads, we decided to go past Undavalli.
10 km away, we stopped at the caves of Undavalli ,an incomplete rock cut temple. Not comparable to the rock temple at Mahabalipuram near Chennai, this falls under a league of its own. The 3 floor temple has a long sleeping Padmanabha Swamy that has been specially cordoned off but is still accessible by the public. The other rooms are locked or closed off and all we get are the lovely views from each of the floors.
The view all around has lush green fields, a bridge over a river or canal nearby with occasional loud Telugu music playing at full volume from passing tractors! But it was a good place to relax and spend time, that too with an unexpected cool climate, it was a much needed break. After spending more than enough time there, we started back to Vijayawada, home sweet home.