Sunday, September 11, 2016

Vijaywada Weekend Trip summary

This post shares details of my 2 day visit to Vijayawada last weekend.

Vijayawada is doable with an overnight bus journey from Chennai but a tempting sale from Spicejet made me plan a trip to this AP town, which I had not yet explored. Vijayawada airport's official website said they operate a shuttle bus to nearby RTC bus stand. But upon arrival, we realized that there is no such shuttle service in operation. With city some 16 kms away, I hailed an Ola. This proved to be a complete rip off due to a strange pricing Ola is maintaining, which I forgot to suspect or check in advance. Earlier this year, in Cochin, a 32km ride from airport to city had costed us Rs 600+ in Ola. Proportionatly, I was hoping to reach our hotel 16-17 kms away, in about Rs 300. But in Vijayawada, Ola maintains a special tariff for airport pickup, which is Rs 299 for 25kms (base fare, applicable even if you hail the cab for say 2 km). This, + time charge, airport parking fee etc got us a bill of Rs 435 for 17 km ride Had I known this, I would have been more careful. Lesson learnt: Never assume anything.

We stayed at Hotel Lotus Green Park- which is a budget hotel with daily rental of Rs 2000+ tax. Rooms were fine, 24 hour hot water was great, they gave enough drinking water. Some mosquitoes right outside the door were a bother and staff were good. Don't have much to write about this hotel as a separate post.

There was an Andhra mess in adjacent block, where we had full meals for Rs 70.

After lunch we head out to explore Vijayawada. Bhavani Island came up as #1 thing to do in Vijayawada. I hailed an Ola again and asked me to drop off at the point where we can take a boat to Bhavani island. This chap refused, saying there is lots of traffic, it is long distance away and I should book a package-like 8 hours/80 kms for Rs 1500 or 4 hours/40 kms at Rs 800. He said I will never get a return car from Bhavani island in the evening. That puzzled me- I wasn't sure if he was genuine or bluffing. I asked him to take us to Undavalli caves- he refused again. (This cave is some 11 km from Benz circle, we visited it later on our last day while returning from Amaravathi). Then I shifted to my 3rd item- Gandhi hill, to which he agreed. Anyway on the way I asked him to terminate the ride near a Ghat closer to Rajiv Gandhi park. Later realized that a cheaper option was to take a city bus to city bus stand as the Rajiv Gandhi park is walkable from there.

Spent some time at the Ghat clicking the bridges, we entered Rajiv Gandhi National Park. It is a small park but had many creative structures inside, was worth a quick stroll. Park was filled with love birds.

Next we walked up to the Prakasam Barrage bridge, asked the policeman if we can go to Bhavani island- he showed us the direction and said it is about a km from where we were. That was a relief, so we started walking in the direction.
Next we took an Auto to Berm Park. Paid entry fee of Rs 10 per person, went inside. From this point one can take a boat to Bhavani Island. Return ticket fare is Rs 50 per person. A boat was about to leave as we entered (it was almost 5 PM, last return boat from Bhavani island is at 6.15 PM, we were told). Boat ride lasted about 10 minutes across the muddy waters.

Once in Bhavani island, we roamed around to check it out. Bhavani island has many accommodation units, including tree houses shown below and standard cottages for rent.
If you are not staying overnight, next best thing to do is indulge in some mild adventure activities or watersports. Prices were reasonable.
This big cake like structure was fascinating

We spent an hour there and returned to mainland. Didn't feel like trying any adventure activities as I have tried them all. River was very muddy and inviting. Took another auto to Gandhi Hills. It was night by then. Gandhi hills gives good view of the town
 The Prakasam Barrage bridge is illuminated in the evening and was looking great.
The Vijayawada junction railway station is just across the road from Gandhi hills. We took bus no 5 to go to Benz circle and call it a day.

Day 2 was spent in Dindi and Rajahmundry- took an early morning train and was back in Vijayawada by mid night after exploring these two cities. Auto drivers charged Rs 100 for a 6 km ride at 4 AM/12 mid night, which I felt fair enough. Beware of tricksters (one biker came close to me asking if he can use my phone for an urgent phone call). City bus stand has a 24 hour food court, which was great.

Day 3: We went to Amaravathi, which I will cover in separate post. On the way back, Undavalli caves were also explored.

Andhra Pradesh probably has more statues per square meter than any other state. Statues of former CM Rajsekar Reddy could be seen in many places. Big billboards saying "Thank You CM" was also visible all over- not sure why- probably for selecting Vijayawada as preferred capital.

Once back, we checked out, planned to visit same Andhra Mess for lunch but because of festivals every hotel was closed. We grabbed some fruits and snacks, took Tata Magic share auto at Benz circle which dropped us on the main road near Airport for Rs 20 per person or Rs 40 for two people, compared to Rs 435 it would have costed in an Ola. One shop in airport was selling minute maid mango juice at its MRP of Rs 10. God bless them. The trip helped me refresh my small vocabulary of Telugu words and explore a bid of central Andhra.

Expense summary: 
Flight: for 2 people, round trip About Rs 4500
Stay: Rs 4300
Travel to Dindi, Rajahmundry, back and Amaravathi- Approx: Rs 2000 (half of it was for Rajahmundry-Vijayawada 3 tier train ticket)
Local Travel- bus, auto, taxi: Rs 1000 (including Rs 435 airport to benz circle)
Food and miscellaneous: Rs 1000
Total: Approx Rs 13000 for 3 days/2 nights, all inclusive for 2 people.


Alok singhal said...

The time at the island should have been great for you, surrounded by water and the beauty around.

rupam sarma said...

Loved to read, Amazing place. Awesome pics.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Alok- yes- was happy to make it there just in time

@Rupam- THanks

Jyotirmoy Sarkar said...

Beautiful place to visit, nice shots.

Dipanwita said...

Beautiful place. The pictures are really awesome. Added to my to-visit list :)

Rashmi Rao said...

Nice post! Have been wanting to do this since long.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Rashmi, Dipanwaita and Jyotirmoy

divsi said...

Those treehouses look lovely! Thanks for an informative post. Didn't know much about the place until I read your posts.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Divsi... Vijayawada is not really projected as a tourist destination but is worth a visit