The sweet memories of Rajamahendravaram culminate into the emotional attachment you tend to develop with the place post a visit.
Since times immemorial, human settlements that sprung up on banks of the rivers have become the seats of civilisation, culture and literature. Rajahmundry, rechristened Rajamahendravaram, is a vibrant city that rose on the left banks of the river Godavari in Andhra Pradesh. Founded in 1022 CE by Rajaraja Narendra, the Chalukya king, it was the capital of one of the greatest empires the country has seen. A medley of heritage, culture, literature, art, business, science and nature, Rajamahendravaram is the cultural capital of Andhra Pradesh.
The three bridges that span the vast expanse of the Godavari form the first glimpse of Rajamahendravaram. As a train chugs along these bridges, travellers throw coins into the river for good luck. Some coins fall straight into the river, some hit the trusses of the bridge before they fall either on the tracks or into the river.
Rajamahendravaram’s temples lend the place an aura of serenity and sanctity
The ancient Kotilingeshwara temple was built in the 10th-11th century and is considered one of the Shakti Peetha sites. The main attraction over here is the lingam measuring 108 ft, considered one of the largest in the world, and the 35 ft tall Nandi statue, surrounded by lakhs of small lingams spread over an area of 15 acres. There are eleven small temples constructed within the premises. A water tank is set-up close to the lingam, which is used by the devotees to perform Abhisheka. This temple was founded by Swamy Sambha Shiva Murthy with the intent of installing one crore lingams, hence the name ‘Kotilingeshwara’.
Sri Uma Markandeyeswara Swamy Temple
It is believed that the temple got named after ‘Markandeya’, an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. The place draws many pilgrims because of its sanctity and prominence. The temple was a mosque in ancient times and later it was declared as Shiva temple after the studies done by Archeological Survey of India. It was reconstructed in 1818 by Gundu Sobhanadriswara Rao.
Ryali or Jaganmohini Keshava Swamy Temple
Located 40 km from Rajamahendravaram, this temple is situated between the rivers Vashista and Gautami, tributaries of river Godavari. The temple’s art and architecture are unique, but the most striking feature is the 5 ft tall and 3 ft wide idol of Vishnu or Keshava Swamy (on the front) and Jagan Mohini (on the back), carved out of a single black saligrama stone. Keshava Swamy is shown holding the Shankha (conch) and Chakra (disc) in two hands while the other two hands hold Gadha and Manthara mountain.
Of festivals, food, shopping
Soak in the colourful culture and indulge in local delicacies
While various festivals like Ram Navmi, Diwali, Shivratri, Hanuman Jayanthi, Krishna Janmashtami, Makar Sankranti, Durga Puja, Chalukya Festival, Christmas and the like are celebrated in Rajamahendravaram with gusto, Dussehra and Ganesh Chaturthi hold special importance. A grand showcase of culture is held on both the occasions at the famous Devi Chowk in Rajamahendravaram. Carnatic music concerts called as the ‘Gana Sabhalu’ are also conducted during Dussehra.
Twist of taste
The food in Rajamahendravaram is a culinary treat. Be it the spicy pickles or traditional sweets and savories, the city offers that twist of taste you look for. Pootharekulu (a wafer like sweet), palakova, mango jelly, tapeswaram kaja and atreyapuram kaja are some sweets that you must try. Andhra pesarattu, a dosa made with green gram dal is a speciality. It tastes best when relished with upma. Don’t forget to taste the rose milk in the narrow streets of Kotagummam. The Ilish fish, locally known as Pulasa, swims all the way from Australia, New Zealand and Tanzania to the Godavari, finding its way to the fish palates.
Silk and sparkle
Rajamahendravaram is a paradise for shoppers. The wholesale cloth market here is one of the biggest in India with facts its wide range of cooperative handloom houses. Mangalagiri, Venkatagiri, Dharmavaram, Kanjeevaram and Uppada silk varieties are sure to baffle you. The famous khadi or cotton fabric can be purchased from the many Khadi Bhandars. Bandarulanka, 80 km from Rajamahendravaram, is known for saris with gold and silver borders. Women can spend hours shopping for jewellery because Rajamahendravaram is also popular for its beautiful and intricate gold and platinum jewellery designs.
The outskirts of the city provide an enriching experience
A drive down the muddy lanes of Konaseema will enthrall you. Meadows of coconut groves, banana plantations and lush green paddy fields is all that your eyes can see. Hop onto a ferry and sail through the backwaters that stretch for kilometers. Thanks to the Godavari, the farms are fertile. The villages in the Godavari delta still retain their rustic charm with the canals, lagoons, estuaries, islands, temples and traditions.
Dindi and Maredumilli
Located around 80 km from Rajamahendravaram, Dindi holds some of nature’s most incredible elements with its serene backwaters, vast lakes and palm-fringed canals making it the ultimate location for a perfect riverside holiday. The Maredumilli forests have rich biodiversity and the area is evergreen with undulating terrain, which forms part of the Eastern Ghats. The area is dotted with streams flowing over the rocks. Nandanavanam in Maredumilli houses bamboo plantations and different medicinal herbs.
The main attraction of Antarvedi, also known as the Kashi of the South, is the sea meeting point of river Godavari to the Bay of Bengal. This village is 98 km from Rajamahendravaram and was named ‘Narasimhakshetra’. The Neelakanteswara temple here is one of the ancient temples of India and devotees throng this place during the Shiv Ratri Festival. The Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple is also worth a visit.
A hillock near Peddapuram, Pandavula Metta takes you back in history to the exile period of the Pandavas. There are two natural caves on the hill facing the East. It is believed that the Pandavas had lived here for some time during their exile. One can also see prints of Bheema’s feet engraved on the soil. Legend says that the Pandavas built a tunnel here, which they used to travel to Rajamahendravaram to have a bath in the river Godavari.
Papikondalu mountain range spreads over a vast area. To get the real essence of Papikondalu, one has to opt for a boat journey either from Rajamahendravaram or Bhadrachalam. Once here, you can visit the Papikondalu Wild Life Sanctuary, which is home to tigers, panthers, chowsingha, sambar and black buck, and a variety of birds.
Kadiyam is a hub of floriculture and horticulture trade. It is the biggest flower market in the state and one of the largest producer of plants in India. The huge number of nurseries, some of which have been developed as per the international standards, stock a wide variety of indoor, outdoor, fruit, flowering, garden, landscape, ornamental, shrub and avenue plants. Saplings from nurseries here can make lovely souvenirs for your garden.
Sir Arthur Cotton Museum
Constructed in 1988, this museum is dedicated to the memory of Sir Arthur Cotton who was Rajamahendravaram’s greatest architect. He transformed the Godavari river and made it a fertile water resource. He is popularly known as the ‘Delta Architect’ of the Godavari district. The museum contains models, drawings and tools, explaining exactly how he achieved his projects.
Pushkar is a famous ghat on river Godavari located at Kotagumam in Rajamahendravaram. There are various temples located inside the ghat. On every full-moon-day an event called Godavari Harathi is organised at this ghat that attracts a lot of visitors. Millions of people take a holy dip at this ghat.
This hill station has a serene atmosphere and its beauty is compelling. It offers options of trekking as well as fishing, which makes it a sought-after place by tourists. Variety of birds here attracts photography enthusiasts.
Written By: Anuradha Melanaturu