WORDS: AURELIA FERNANDES
PHOTOGRAPHS: T KRISHNA PRABAKAR
GREAT FROM: Chennai, Hyderabad
GREAT FOR: Temple- and fort-hopping
Earning the bragging rights that come with being a major Indian city is no easy feat. The list of requirements is long, ranging from high-rise buildings to plush shopping districts. If you’re on the hunt for a place with all the makings of a metro sans the chaos that comes with being one, Vijayawada awaits. Situated 275km from Hyderabad, in Telangana, the city has everything you need to keep yourself entertained for several days.
Located in the Krishna District, Vijayawada is a well-planned city complete with public beautification projects that have been successfully carried out over the past year. Start your day by paying your respects at the Kanaka Durga Temple, the city’s most popular attraction. A trip to the temple is best enjoyed in the morning, when the crowd is sparse. While the drive to the top offers a lovely view of the Krishna River and Bhavani Island, the real highlight is the temple itself. Nestled in the emerald green arms of the Indrakeelaadri Hill, the temple stands out thanks to its white-washed walls, gold-plated sanctum and vibrant entrance arch, which is reminiscent of Madurai’s Meenakshi Ammam temple.
After you’ve received your blessings, ditch the crowds and drive down to the rock-cut Undavalli Caves. Built around the 7th century, the temple caves retain most of their original structure with minimum modification. Although they’re mostly incomplete in structure, you can still identify meditation spots, shrines and even the floor layout for the pillared hall. The stone carved sculptures pay reverence to Vaishnava deities, and the 5m-high statue of Buddha is particularly impressive. While the caves themselves are stunning, the view from the third level is of the blue waters of the river, making it easy to slip into a Zen mode. Finish off your history lesson for the day by visiting the Kondapalli Fort. Set high in the Kondapalli hill range, the fort was constructed by Musunuri Nayaks and later used as a British stronghold. All that remains today are scattered ruins, threatened by cement remodelling in the name of restoration. While the fort itself will leave you yearning for tales of old, the little stores outside selling brightly-coloured Kondapalli crafts make for a great photo. If the slow-paced sightseeing has you craving a rush of adrenaline, make your way to Adventura, Vijayawada’s very own go-karting track, complete with arcade games, ATV motorcycles and go-karts. Put the pedal to the metal and let your inner speedster loose. After braving Vijayawada’s driving prowess or lack of it, you’ll find this rather therapeutic.
Once that’s out of your system, hit the roads of Vijayawada once again and drive to Prakasam Barrage. Built across the Krishna River, this bridge is the perfect place from which to catch the sunset. If you have time to kill and nowhere to go, find a spot on the stairs of the small temple nearby and take in all the beauty around you. If you’d rather enjoy a bird’s-eye view, make the trip up to Gandhi Hill. With a tiny park and a toy train to take you around, it’s the perfect place at which to stretch your legs. Hop on to the toy train to get that perfect panoramic shot of Vijayawada. As the train trundles by at a deathly slow pace, call it a day as you take in the beautiful sights of the city from up above, ready to take in all else that the city has to offer.
NOW is the perfect time to go to Vijayawada to explore its many attractions – find out more in LPMI’s September 2018 issue. Pick up a copy from your newsstand or click to subscribe via Zinio or Magzter.