Some time 1992 to 1994.
During one of the many trips to Chilamkur Cement Works, I got an opportunity to visit Gandi an important pilgrim place in Kadapa region of Andhrapradesh. Mr.Pulla Rao, one of the company employees with whom we worked closely wanted to visit Gandi on particular day which was supposed to be auspicious. Our visit coincided and dad offered to take our van ...which meant I had go. I was expecting one family 2 adults + 2 kids. Next morning ...the van was packed, 7 adults and 2 kids.
I think we left by 8AM ...it was pretty warm by then. Roads in Kadapa region were terrible as it is. After an hour's journey, we had to leave the main road and took smaller roads. The roads got worse, I remember a kilometer or two stretch of road under repair had cricket ball sized stones spread out. I had no choice but to drive over them. SUVs are the right vehicles for these roads. Anyway we ploughed way deep into the country. The van's battery terminal was loose, I had to fiddle with the cable to close the circuit ...and because of bad roads the terminal would get loose more often. What a a journey- driving in hot weather on terrible roads with a loose connection which killed the engine when it felt like.
I was getting impatient. The terrain was changing, we could see hills now. Also the traffic was increasing ...people visiting Gandi. We were close to the first destination of the day- Gandi. Interior Andhra roads barely have bridges across major streams and even some minor rivers. Roads actually pass over just a few feet above the stream/river beds. One storm these streams flow rapidly. There's a saying in Kannada- nadi nambabohudu aadare halla nambabaradu -which roughly translates to "rivers are predictable but streams are unpredictable." It's true. Gandi is on a stream bank and road passing through the stream bed was under repairs. It was loose soil and I had a tough time driving this short stretch.
pic by cvsharibabu
At last were reached. I'm not the type to go into crowded temples, while my passengers went to the temple, I hung around near the van looking at the hill rising above the temple. Monkey population was considerable. Pilgrims kept them busy by feeding them coconuts and banana. I could see people walk across the dry stream bed to another hill. It seems there was another temple. I liked this place, it would be fun to visit during rainy season. Mr. Pulla Rao et al were done with their pooja & prayers and ready to leave. While we had pooja prasada Mr.Pulla Rao told me that monkeys here turn taps to let out water, drink water and turn it back. Some humans need to learn from monkeys here.
Our second destination for the day was the Devunikadapa Venkateswara temple on the outskirts of Kadapa town. Mr.Pulla Rao told me this temple is considered as the gateway to Tirumala temple and pilgrims visit this temple before going to Tirumala. The word 'Kadapa' is supposed to have been derived from Gadapa- threshold in Telugu. This temple was peaceful with just few people. I remember seeing a man totally sloshed and rolling on the floor ...combined effect of alcohol and sun is something else. We had lunch, typical Andhra dishes- rice, dal, pickles and chatnis. We rested for a while and headed back towards Chilamkur. Back at ICL staff colony my passengers thanked me for the safe journey.
Research shows that there are many places of historical importance around Kadapa such as Gandi Fort, Ameen Peer Durgah, Masjid e Azam, Khajpeta, Bagwan Mahaveer Museum, Chand Peera Gumbadh, Sri Lanka Malleswara Wild Life Sanctury and many more.
Even though we have passed through Kadiri several times never once did we visit the ancient temple. Some where between Kadiri and Chilamkur I remember seeing an ancient well with steps leading into it. These must have been made to make journeys comfortable for travelers of those days. The view from top of Kadiri hills is lovely ...not much greener around but it has it's own beauty. During one of our night journeys we had stopped at the top. It was silent, clear sky full of stars sans moon, fresh cool air ...we just stood there taking in the wonderful feeling.
I want to tour Andhrapradesh once ...starting with Belum Caves.