This past friday, a few of us at work planned an impromptu trip to Kurnool – former capital of Andhra Pradesh. Why Kurnool? Well, we just wanted to test whether we can travel with kids and with each other ;). A convenient 200 kms away it was a perfect spot to test the waters. Roshin ( Rathi and lil A in tow), Manu ( Ranjana with baby M and lil P with her) and Anand enthusiastically agreed, convinced their families and off we went on a road trip.
Fri -12:00 PM
Debated various destinations within 2-3 hours driving distance. Looked up a clean hotel with AC and called them for availability. Checked with other folks to join us. Kurnool was ON.
Fri 5:00 -6:00 PM
Picked up Varun, came home with a game plan of packing. Others had already left to help their spouses with packing and prepping dinner, snacks for the kids.
Fri 6:00 – 7:00 PM
Had tea, packed clothes and a few toys for Varun, while Vipul made pasta for dinner.
Fri 7:15 PM
Packed and loaded in Manu’s car, we were on our way to Kurnool :). Vipul had to stay back for work reasons and Varun found it fascinating to be in Manu’s Scorpio with 2 little girls around.
Fri 9:00 -10:00 PM
We packed dinner at Udupi ( near Office) as we were warned about lack of restaurants on the Bangalore highway. But the Bangalore highway has a lot of restaurants all along and we had ‘garam garam khanna’ along the way.
Fri 11:30 -12:00 AM
Finally reached Kurnool. The highway is well maintained till the exit. After the exit, we saw Tungabhadra river with farms around in the moonlight. With the help of a passing drunkard, we found directions to our hotel -DVR Mansion and were checked in by midnight. Luckily Varun slept on the way and continued to sleep after check in.
Sat 7:30 AM
Varun woke up earlier than usual which signalled start of the day for us. Both of us had bed tea and milk and snuggled in while we waited for everyone else to wake up. Around 8:00 ish, we all met and made a plan to go to Mahanandi temple mainly to bathe in the tanks which have water flowing-in from Tungabhadra and Krishna river. After breakfast, the plan was to leave around 9:00 AM.
Sat 9:30 AM – Noon
The drive to Mahanandi temple is initially through rocky terrain and then along side countryside, farms and lakes. Turmeric, banana, castor , sugarcane , paddy fields and some sort of maize-like plantations were along the road with a few teak, chickoo (sapota) and mango plantations. There were large lakes with lotuses in them. Banana, coconut and kewra sellers dotted the way. Although the 100 km stretch is being expanded and is really bad in some stretches, the company and scenery made it bearable.
Noon – 2:00 PM
Few folks had a bath in the temple pools. Varun was more than happy to take a plunge in the cool water with fishes and didn’t want to come out. I kinda had to wrestle him out of the water and the sun so we could go inside the temple for darshan. The temple has a surrounding pavilion or verandah for pilgrims to rest in shade. I am not a temple person so had a quick darshan. Even in the middle of the day, the place was fairly busy with other devotees jostling us to get ahead in the queue. I loved the carvings ( the temple carvings has Gandhi and Nehru in them which is very unique), while Varun was taken to the cow mooing outside ( with women crawling under the cow’s belly to seek blessings – a first for me) and monkeys all around.
2: 30 – 5:30 PM
The kids were tired from swimming in the temple tank, running around and with the mid day heat, and promptly slept when we started driving back to Kurnool. So we decided to postpone lunch till after their nap. Along the way we had coconut water, bananas and even plucked turmeric leaves from a farm. Once the kids woke up, we stopped to buy Kewra flowers ( they are an excellent aromatic for food as well as lightly scent clothes if kept in closets).
Famished by now, we stopped 30 kms outside of Kurnool at APTDC’s Rock Garden restaurant for Rayalseema food – a particular style of Andhra cooking and my incentive for the trip. Most restaurants stop serving lunch after 3:00 pm so we had to make do with this restaurant. The food was strictly ok other than tomato curry which we all relished. Kids played in the lawn and were generally happy to be out of the car. Varun specially was notorious and was covered in sweat after running behind other kids, stray cat and a dog.
Back in town, we went to the original Pula Reddy sweets shop – famous for their Pure ghee Andhra sweets. After buying most of their temptations ( doodh pedha, khaja, kova puri, mysore pak) the owner tempted us with kova bun- a Kurnool speciality. Rich sweetened khoya stuffed in a soft dinner roll. If you love buttered toast with sprinkled sugar on top, you will love this richer creamier version. Needless to say, we all went overboard in this store and have unhealthy amounts of sweets in the house.
We went back to hotel, freshed up, packed and checked out. I had to give Varun a hot bath after his busy afternoon in the garden. Exhausted and freshly bathed, he went to sleep as soon as we started driving back to Hyderabad.
Earlier our plan was to stop mid way around Jedcharla for dinner, but most of were still stuffed from late lunch and as the kids were asleep we continued to drive back to Hyderabad. Back home, we distributed bananas and kewra that we had purchased in bulk. Varun was happy to see Vipul and continued to sleep once Vipul picked him up. Next morning, we were enjoying the kova bun with steaming hot tea and bananas!
This was my first trip with collegaues – and it was fun ,though it was at such short notice. Roshin, Anand and Manu volunteered their cars and their night driving skills 🙂 Rathi and Ranjana made delicious cake and aloo parathas. Varun and I simply showed up :). Food, fun, laughter and scenic drive -looking forward to more such quick getaways from Hyderabad!