There is no denying the fact that travel has been amiss from our lives this year and starting afresh in this social-distanced scenario calls for some serious planning. After eight months of home quarantine, when my heart ached for a scenery change, I did not dare look far away but in my own backyard. Merely 30 kilometres from my abode in Vijayawada, Kondapalli, a small town in the lap of immaculate forest reserves got my eye and charmed me with bountiful history, nature and art. Join me here, if you are a curious historian, archaeologist, nature lover, artist or simply a traveller.
After driving on NH65 for nearly twenty-five minutes, there came the most crucial turn towards the Ghat road. A patch of dust and grime came first, but then, it conveniently gave way to a picturesque ascend. The weather was perfect, the side views were fantastic and the greenery from the outside, almost touched the insides of the vehicle. It seemed as if everything made up for the loss of traveling days. After a few edgy turns, I was there, where once stood a majestic fort, also a military fortification. Fort often conjures a distinct image of grandeur and magnificent façade but when you are here, you must know, you are in for the ruins of an Eastern Ghat beauty and its tales of the bygone eras.
After procuring an online ticket, I made my way through the ‘Dargha Darwaza’, next to the Dargah of Hazrath Syed Galib Shaheed. Next, I downloaded the free app (interactive audio tour) to make the most of the museum. The inscriptions, idols, portraits and the heaps of information in there set the mood right, for any curious traveller. To my surprise, the facts were not at all verbose but enough to unravel the salient features of the charming fort. From there, the stairs led me to its granite ramparts and the remains. In no time, one could conclude, the fort must have been huge and a sight to behold during it hey days. It felt surreal, like turning the pages of history.
The ‘killa’ was built by Prolaya Vema Reddy in the 14th century, but gradually it carved its own destiny, as it passed through the hands of the Gajapati kings, Sri Krishna Devarayalu of Vijaya Nagar empire, Delhi Sultans, Kutub Shahis of Hyderabad, Moghals and finally the Britishers. While walking through the ruins, I did not miss to notice the forecourt, royal prison, Durbar hall, dance hall, water tank, prison, Rani Mahal, market yard, Tanisha Mahal, arsenal and granary for storage of grains. Also, the views from the periphery are one of the best, as they look into one of the most fertile lands here, the Krishna basin. I must add here, the facelift being done is a good idea for future tourism of Kondapalli.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, one must explore Kondapalli forests, to indulge in the quietude of nature. I did not trek but I must share that Kondapalli forest reserves offer rewarding treks for the nature lovers of the neighbourhood. The greenery of this region is breathtakingly inspiring. While the hill ranges are indeed very impressive, the vegetation is also home to some rare and endemic medicinal trees and plants. Last but not the least, the forest also offers surprises with 100 tiny and moderate-sized waterfalls.
Not to forget, Kondapalli is also called the toy village of Andhra. The use of local softwoods (Tella Poniki) and natural colours, makes them unique and has led to a GI tag for the area. The toymakers village is stone-throw away from the fort, so don’t miss your chance of being vocal for local.
Important Tip – Don’t forget to wear masks and carry sanitizer, water bottle, ear plugs, camera, cap to make the best of your visit to Kondapalli town.
This article was originally published in Deccan Herald.