2020 was the year of pause but also the worst for tourism and travel lovers like us. Let us hope and pray that 2021 becomes the year of rebound and safe travels. Let us restart but cautiously. We cannot deny the fact that travel has a different face now and it will remain such for quite some time. Health and hygiene are meant to be the defining terms and they will rule the future travel plans. Maybe it is also the time to go back and do some of the things right. Instead of taking long & tiring trips and rushing through a gazillion things to tick it off from our bucket lists, it is time to travel slowly and discover the nearby gems. Road tripping and rural tourism have become popular choices and its great to see that driving is new flying. Short road trips are something that I have been relying on lately.
Why Short Road trips?
The reason is obvious, I am in complete control of my itinerary and also the mode of transport, thus reducing the risk of infection. For the longest period of ten months, I was apprehensive of overnight stays in hotels and resorts but that did not stop me from exploring my backyard. The short road trips made my life easy. I could travel as well I could always return home at the end of the day.
As a travel blogger and influencer, I have missed travel but I have been very cautious. I completely avoided long distance travels for 8 months. Only in the last two months, I have taken a few flights to home. In fact, I am still not comfortable about going on a leisure or work trip. I have also been reminding others to observe self-restrain and keep away from crowded places. For me, the road trips in and around Vijayawada (my current location) really helped me to break the monotony of cooped up life. The pandemic is yet not over but if you are really bored and stressed, you may resume with short road trips.
Exploring local gems and not so crowded places is the safest bet for now because I am in no rush to take bigger/longer holidays.
7 Short Road trips from Vijayawada
On the banks of Krishna river, the city of Vijayawada has a very strategic location and some of the most relevant, culturally rich and artistic places are close-by. Located only 4 hours from Hyderabad and 7 hours away from Vishakhapatnam, the city not only has two big cities as its neighbours but also many culture rich small towns and village. If you are in Vijayawada like me, here are 7 short trips that you might want to drive to take a break from the regular schedule.
I love the smaller villages and towns around and thus, I would love to recommend Kondapalli, Amravati, Machlipatnam, Kuchipudi, Pedana, Mangalagiri, right at the outset. They are all located within the span of 75 kilometres and they are valuable assets of the state. They have so much to tell us about the history, heritage and culture of Andhra. A true traveller will definitely love to know more about them.
Kondapalli fort is one-of-its kinds and a great place to learn about the rich history of the Reddy dynasty and the South Indian rulers. The green forest area is also one of the densest patches in Andhra. The bright and cheery toys of Kondapalli (GI Tag) are made here and one can visit the village and meet the toymakers too. I visited their houses too and bought some toys and bangles directly from the artists.
Then there is Mangalagiri, the city of temples and also the Mangalagiri cotton sarees. It is located only 25 kilometres away from Vijayawada. The town offers stories of its temples, volcanic hill and the sarees and if you do have a interest in handloom, you must look for the weavers who live on the outskirts. I had a great opportunity to see them at work. Here, I tell you more about the Mangalagiri legacy. There is a dance gurukool and an old dance temple too.
Some 50 kilometers away, there is this famous Kuchipudi or the dance village of India. One can easily do a road trip to see the Sri Bala Tripura Sundari Sametha Ramalingeswara Swamy temple and the dancing school. Kuchipudi is one of the major dances of India and this village is one where it originated. Almost every house here has a trained dancer.
During my visit to Kuchipudi, I learned about BHATLA PENUMARRU, the native village of Pingali Venkayya. Until I visited this small village, I had no clue that he was the designer of our Indian National flag, Venkayya or also known as ‘Jhanda Venkayya’ was not only a freedom fighter but also he was the Andhra lad who handed over the first designs of the Indian flag. He had done a thorough research and had studied many flag designs before doing that. Read more about the flagman of India.
Kalamkari (pen art) hails from Andhra. There are two types of it and if one is keen to see how it is done through block prints, you must visit Pedana village. It is here that you can see the artists do the art work on fabrics and also learn about the whole process. Don’t miss the Kalamkari museum here. It is an attempt by the local artisan to keep the love for it alive.
6. Manginapudi or MACHLIPATNAM
Then there is Manginapudi or the black soil Beach, approximately 85 kilometres from Vijayawada. It is located on the coast of Bay of Bengal and is famous for its powdery sand and black soil. It is very close to Pedana village. Machlipatnam used to be a huge fishing village and trading centre. Even today, it is one of the most popular areas of Andhra.
Last but not the least, I would also recommend a day road trip to Amravati to know more about its glorious history as a Buddhist haven. Drive down to the city one days to see how it is developing. The city was growing really fast when it was declared the capital for Andhra. Currently, it is known as the legislative Capital and the de facto seat of government of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Dont miss the Dhyana Buddha statue in Amaravathi village, Amaravathi Mahachaitya, a ruined Buddhist monument and the Amaravati Heritage Centre and Museum.
Do go for a ride and let me know how was your experience. Also if you have more places to suggest to expand my list, please do.
Updating this list and adding 8th place after my recent visit to Bhavani Island.