Stories, photographs and thoughts from a travelling couple taking walks and mapping their routes, while backpacking around India, and parts of the world.
We kicked off the day by waking up around IST 0530. Unfortunately, Hyderabad has nothing great to offer within a 200-kilometer radius and we were left with very few options. So, Nagarjuna Sagar it was! During my 6+ years in Hyderabad, I had never been here, hence I was excited to learn what the huge deal was about. Everyone spoke greatly about the dam and the lake there. The time had come for me to witness it first hand.
We got ready and took a walk down the Mornington Road and caught an auto-rickshaw to Tarnaka.
We met Nikhil and Rebecca and off we were to the outskirts! But hunger kicked in, so we stopped for a quick bite at Surya Tiffins where we had a nice South Indian breakfast and coffee.
And back on the road we were, listening to Goddamn Devi suddenly!
A little over a couple of hours later, we reached Ethipothala Falls. The place is filled with monkeys, who are not afraid of humans and try to snatch things from you. So, if you are carrying any eatables, soda cans, water, etc, then be be alert as there is a monkey just waiting to pounce onto your belongings.
The average crowd visiting this place are uneducated, filthy, tourists with really low IQ and comprehension power, not knowing what purpose dustbins serve. Keeping that in mind, the staff here does a great job in keeping the place clean. Cleaning up after all the plastic trash and cans that the tourists just throw wherever they feel like. Which is why the Indian race will never evolve anytime in the next million years.
Nikhil, as usual, managed to find the 8 year old in him and put the swing to the test. Later on, he landed on his butt while trying to do some acrobatics while alighting. Luckily, he did not kill himself.
We also encountered a pile of stray puppies taking refuge in the shade, saving themselves from the wrath of the afternoon sun. A couple of them bolted off when they saw us approaching. But the rest were too lazy to get off their lazy bums and just stayed there rolling around in the dirt.
The Ethipothala Waterfalls were quite impressive even though summer was just around the corner. We weren’t expecting this much water flowing down the cliffs. I’ve been told that the waterfalls look like a mini-Niagara during peak monsoons.
We hung around for a while soaking in the beauty of the waterfalls while keeping an eye out for rogue monkeys.
Lunch time it was, so we got ourselves some chicken and egg noodles, along with a couple of masala omelettes. The food was decent. The icecream on the other hand, was hard as cement. But after a while, and thanks to the heat, it returned to a consumable condition.
Dining with us, at the next table were two dudes. They were here for refreshments. A few minutes later, a monkey ran onto their table and snatched the soda can from the dude with a can in the photo above. Which prompted the staff to send out a sentry, armed with a bamboo stick, who stood guard at the restaurant and kept the monkeys at bay.
Tummies full, our next stop was Nagarjuna Sagar.
We passed by the Nagarjuna Sagar dam, which is massive! One of the biggest dams I’ve seen, in India, till date. And, I was impressed.
Nagarjuna Sagar Dam is a masonry dam on the Krishna River at Nagarjuna Sagar in the border of Guntur and Nalgonda districts of Andhra Pradesh State, India. The construction duration of the dam was between the years of 1955 and 1967. The dam created a water reservoir whose capacity is 11,472 million cubic metres. The dam is 490 ft (150 m). tall and 1.6 km long with 26 gates which are 42 ft (13 m). wide and 45 ft (14 m). tall. Nagarjuna Sagar was the earliest in the series of large infrastructure projects initiated for the Green Revolution in India; it also is one of the earliest multi-purpose irrigation and hydro-electric projects in India. The dam provides irrigation water to the Nalgonda, Prakasam, Khammam, Krishna and Guntur districts along with electric power to the national grid.
We drove a little bit more and found our way to the jetty. The last ferry out was scheduled at IST 1330. We reached there at IST 1320. Just enough time to make it to the counter and purchase tickets to the Nagarjunakonda Museum, situated at the Nagarjuna hill.
Finally after an hours ride on the ferry, we reached the Nagarjuna Konda (Hill). If it weren’t for the retarded locals and tourists, this place would have been an amazing place to spend the afternoon, appreciating its beauty. We waited back while the mob went on rushing to the museum like there was no tomorrow. Their objective being to see everything before anyone else and maybe destroy some ancient artifacts or two in the process.
Note that photography and videography is not allowed inside the museum, which is closed on Fridays. The artifacts date back to the 2nd and 3rd century. It is amazing how some of them are so well intact. Also, you have it give it to the archaeologists and team who have done a great job in recovering and maintaining the the artifacts. More info about the Museum and some useful info can be found below.
Archaeological Museum, Nagarjunakonda (District Guntur, Andhra Pradesh)
Nagarjunakonda (Lat. 16° 31′ N, Long.79° 14′ E) is situated in Macherla Mandal of the District Guntur. The nearest railway station is Macherla, at a distance of 24 km. The museum is situated on an island in the Nagarjunasagar dam. To reach the Island there is a jetty point at Vijayapuri, south of the Nagarjunasagar dam.
Nagarjunakonda, meaning the hill of Nagarjuna, was named after the Buddhist scholar and savant Acharya Nagarjuna. It was a great religious center promoting Brahmanical and Buddhist faiths, molding the early phases of art and architecture affiliated with them. It was an extensive Buddhist establishment nourishing several sects of Buddhism that culminated into the full-fledged Mahayana pantheon. At present it is a unique island in India housing an archaeological museum and transplanted and reconstructed monuments of Nagarjunakonda valley datable to prehistoric to late medieval times endangered with the submergence under the Nagarjunasagar project.
The museum established to collect, preserve and exhibit the antiquities retrieved from the excavations, is housed in a spacious structure simulating a Buddhist Vihara on plan. It is located amidst the remains of a medieval fortification, in the northern part of the island spanning about 2.5 km east-west and 1 km north-south. The museum presents precious artifacts of all cultural periods through which the valley and the region have passed. The objects displayed in five galleries include carved limestone slabs, sculptures, inscriptions and other antiquities all assignable to 3rd-4th century AD constitute a majority of the exhibits.
The key gallery is known for the masterpieces of Ikshvaku art and architecture in the form of all pervading serene Buddha, well sculptured ayaka-slabs, the cross beams of ayaka-platforms capturing in all finesse the episodes of the life of the enlightened one punctuated with joyous mithunas and elegant tree nymphs, etc. A separate section with showcases all along the wall highlights the development of human civilization in the region from Stone Age to the Megalithic period through excavated artifacts and adequate illustrations. Representative minor antiquities like terracotta and stucco figurines, seals and coins form part of the display.
Two galleries located in a large hall, exhibit the decorated drum slabs, dome slabs, cornice beams and other architectural units of a stupa, a few Brahmanical sculptures besides a variety of earthen ware of the Ikshavaku and subsequent periods. The carved architectural units which once decorated the various stupas, capture the life of the Master from his birth to Mahaparinirvana passing through the events of great departure, meditation, enlightenment and preaching. The popular miracles he performed during his life time and the stories of the previous births known as Jatakas like Sasa-jataka, Champeya-jataka, Sibi-jataka, Mandhathu-jataka, etc. also form subjects of carvings. Attractive Brahmanical sculptures displayed here include Kartikeya and his consort Devasena, a Sivalinga, a unique representation of Sati and a few figures of Vidyadharas. Exquisitely carved mandapa pillars capturing joyous moods of children at play, war scenes and other secular themes, medallions showing elephants in majestic postures and an example of a drawing (hastalekha) on a slab are also exhibited. The ceramic repertoire from excavations form another aspect of display. Fashioned out of fine riverine clay and kaolin, these utilitarian household articles are wheel thrown, polished, designed, inscribed and speak of the technical and artistic excellence of the potters.
Third gallery houses models of the submerged valley along with models of secular and religious edifices. On the floor of the hall is the model of the valley with its topographical environs locating over 120 excavated sites. In the wall show-cases all around, are models of important excavated sites and remains. These include Neolithic and Megalithic burials; stupas showing a variety of plan including the Mahastupa; viharas such as the Mahisasaka, Bahusrutiya and Kumaranandi-vihara; Brahmanical temples dedicated to Sarvadeva, Kartikeya, Pushpabhadrasvamin, Ashtabhujasvamin etc. and secular edifices like the amphitheatre (stadium), bathing ghat, etc.
One of the galleries displays select specimens of the epigraphs, decorated architectural members and medieval sculptures. The inscriptions are written on pillars forming part of the structural complexes, sculptures, pedestals, memorial pillars and detached slabs. Mostly, the script is ornate Brahmi of 3rd-4th century AD. Majority of them are in Prakrit language and some are composed in Sanskrit. Among the exhibits the inscriptions of Vijaya Satakarni, the memorial pillar depicting king Vasishthiputra Chamtamula, ayaka pillar of Chamta Sri, the Buddhapada inscription and a Sanskrit inscription on a pillar invoking god Pushpabhadrasvamin are noteworthy. A Telugu inscription issued by king Purushottama of Orissa is also on display. The medieval sculptures on display include ornate Yoga-Narasimha, Mahishmardini, Durga, Siva and a Jaina Tirthankara seated in Yoga-posture, ranging in date from 14th-17th century AD.
After stepping out of the museum, you can find a canteen that overlooks the lake. We did not head there as it was bustling with tourists who were turning it into a filthy picnic spot. Unfortunately, the paths are not well demarcated after this spot and we missed out on finding the ruins and other archaeological site which were further down the island. We headed back and decided to find a quiet spot where we could sit in peace, away from the mob.
We sat here for while, had a few refreshments and enjoyed the cool breeze, while we waited for the last ferry to begin its journey back.
It was then time to head back. I shall leave you now with a few photos from our ride back to the jetty and back home.