Ep 10 Exploring Vijayawada | Undavalli Caves | Kanak Durga Temple | Babai Hotel | Andhra Pradesh
Namaskar friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali. We will start our day with breakfast at the Babai Hotel. Let's go in. After breakfast, we will also have filter coffee here outside. Babai Filter Coffee! Guys! this area is known as Gandhi Nagar. Here, I've ordered the famous idli of Babai hotel.
So, chutney one! Chutney two, ok? I think this is Carram powder. I've had it earlier. Alright, ghee! What is this? Butter? Butter! Alright! Interesting! I had visited Hyderabad five years ago.
There, I had had Babai idli at the Chutneez. Something similar (to this). Look at this! This is interesting! They have served ginger chutney along with coconut chutney. And this is Carram Powder. I've been having it for many days now.
I've had idli many times in the past few days. At some places, it was served with Carram powder. But the softness of idli here...
...that is quite different. By different, I mean it is amazing. Wonderful! Idli, ghee, butter! And carram powder. Amazing! The idli tastes the best with this Carram powder.
Here, they don't call it Carram powder. Its name here is Karapodi. Dal, adarak (ginger), chili, all taste beautiful with ghee. And a lovely combination with idli. I am happy! Wonderful taste! I will have to get more powder. Karapodi! That is enough! Very tasty! This would be the best idli I've eaten in the past 12 days. Oh, man! I don't have words to describe this killing combination.
Texture of this coffee looks amazing. Wow! What a taste! In the past 12 days, I must've had filter coffee at least 12-14 times. This would be the No. 1 flavour among all those. What a taste! Delicious! See, this is their decoction machine. I asked them, so they opened the machine to show me the coffee decoction... ...which pours drop by drop from above. So, here they pour decoction, and the milk is being heated next to it.
Both are mixed, with a little sugar, and coffee is ready. Seriously, one could easily get addicted to such a good coffee. You won't be able to get rid of that addiction.
You will have to have at least one coffee daily. This coffee is so good! One more thing that I've realized. The only way to enjoy coffee is like this, in this tumbler called "Dabra." I remember, in Chennai, this is how coffee is served. It is neither too strong, nor too mild.
This coffee is of a medium flavour. Too good! After coffee, we are going to visit the Kanak Durga Temple. And I will join you again when we reach Krishna Barrage. We've parked our car by the roadside, after we crossed the Barrage. From here, we have a spectacular view of the barrage in front of us.
This barrage, built upon the Krishna river, is, I think, more than 150 years old. This barrage is also known as Prakasam Barrage. When Chennai and Andhra Pradesh were separated...
...there was a freedom fighter in that era,... ...whose name was Sri Tanguturi Prakasam Panthulu Garu. This barrage is named after him. It feels nice to stand here, watching the hills in the distance. Especially the two in front of us are really tall. And there is railway bridge on that side. I saw a train passing over that bridge when we reached here. It was looking good! Now the train has passed by.
The two major rivers of South India are Godavari and Krishna. We've been seeing Godavari for the past few days now. Today, you can see Krishna river too. Krishna originates from Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra. After passing through Karnataka and Telangana....
...it drains into Bay of Bengal in Andhra Pradesh. Looks good! Great! The place where I am standing right now (I am talking about this place)... ...is the Guntur district. And we came here from that direction, beyond the mountains. That is basically Krishna district, or that was its previous name. It was named after the dam but now it is called NTR district. So, this dam divides Guntur district from NTR district.
Amravati, Andhra's capital, is nearby. By nearby, I mean 10-15 KM away. We won't be able to visit Amravati because of the limited time available. We had a very late start to the day today. I really wish that... ...if I had a day more, I would've definitely visited Amravati. Also Guntur. Though I'll still try to visit Guntur for a couple of hours tomorrow. So nice! Very good photography point and otherwise also, this place is lovely.
Now, we will go to Kanak Durga Temple. Right now, I am inside the parking of Kanak Durga Temple. We reached here at approximately 12.15 pm. It is 2.30 pm right now. We went into the temple and had darshan of Ma Durga.
I learnt about the temple's history and the ancient lores associated with it. All this took about 2 to 2.5 hours to complete. Since photography & videography isn't allowed inside the temple... ...we left our mobile phones in the cloakroom. Now I will tell you about this place. The hill that you see in front of you... ...this one... ...it is known as Keeladri Hill. This hill is believed to have been named after the Keel Rishi (Sage Keel).
'Adri' means a hill and 'Keel' after Rishi Keel. Happy with Rishi Keel's devout meditation, Ma Durga chose to reside here. We are talking about an era older than the Dwaapar Yug. Ma Durga's temple is locally known as Kanak Durga Temple. The locals are also known to call Ma Durga as 'Vijayadurga." That is also the reason why the city, where we are right now, is called Vijayawada.
Another tale associated with this temple is that during Mahabharata... ...Arjun came here and meditated to Lord Shiva. Arjun did so because he wanted Lord Shiva to grant him a special weapon. He needed that weapon to fight the Kauravas in Mahabharata.
Lord Shiva appeared before him as a tribal. He fought a battle with Arjun and by the end of it, granted him special weapon. And also blessed him to be victorious. That is one thought why this place was named Vijayawada. Ma Durga is seated here by her own approval since times immemorial.
Krishna river is right in front of me. In fact, I can see it till far in every direction. The Keeladri hill, where we are right now, is located at the banks of Krishna river. I have shared all the information that was with me. There are 2-3 ways through which you can have darshan inside the temple. Obviously, one is free darshan.
3 categories of VIP tickets are available at the cost of Rs 100, Rs 300 & Rs 500. We had Rs 100 darshan but if you purchase Rs 500 ticket, you can... ...I mean we could have darshan right from the front row. Let us leave here now. Next we will have our lunch. For lunch, we've come to Ramaiah Mess. In Ramaiah Mess, you need to purchase a token before your meal.
There are three options. In fact, not three but four options. Rs 100, Rs 150, Rs 200, Rs 250. I have opted for this one what is it called, Pelli Bhojanam. So, it seems this is what we will get to eat here for the meal. I think people sitting on the right side are in the waiting line. Untill they serve the meal, let's look at the chutneys served at our table.
This is called Kari Patta (curry leaves) chutney. Kari patta, black pepper, Guntur pepper! Since we are in Guntur, I am sure that is the pepper used here. It is very delicious to eat with rice. This is called tomato chutney! It is made with red chili. Mango pickle! Ulavacharu (horse-gram)! I've had Ulavacharu quite a few times. Horse-gram (Urad Dal).
It takes 10-12 hours to cook. See, this is how it looks! It also tastes great with rice & it is Vijayawada special! Chips! Pachi Pulusu! Pachi Pulusu isn't cooked as such. It is just imli (tamarind) water mixed with onions, green chilies, etc. It can also be eaten with rice. Mudda Pappu! Pappu is dal and Mudda Pappu means 'thick dal.' Badam milk! Alright! Badam milk with meal! Interesting! Here, they serve water, not in a glass, but in a bottle like this.
Glass would've been better, could've saved on plastic. Let us taste Badam Milk till the meal is served. It is delicious! The Badam Milk that I had in Machilipatnam yesterday was next level.
This one is good too. This will taste better after the meal. Lemon, lemon rice! So this comes with tamarind, right? Veg biriyani! Okay! Raita! Lovely! Here in Andhra Pradesh, they cook amazing lemon with with imli & lemon. It tastes great with curry leaves and all the spices! I've tasted this lemon rice at least 7-8 times in the past 12 days.
Really delicious flavour! Amazing! It has an abundance of kari patta and sour flavour. Highly impressed! Seriously, this veg biriyani is so good, it is so good that just one bite is enough! This is filled with the wholesale flavour sof whole spices! Each rice grain is full of flavours. What a taste! Very good! Now, please serve me the vegetables too.
Mudda Pappu! Mudda Pappu is plain dal. And what do you have here? Dal! Alright! This must be with all the tadka (tempering)! Ahna! Lovely! What is this? Dondakaya Fry! In the past 12-13 days, I've become so impressed with the flavours of Dal here... ...that I have liked eating Dal-rice mixed together. This Dal would never disappoint you.
Dal is known as 'Pappu' here. I am eating this Dal and this Mudda Pappu (thick dal). This one has tadka while this one is without tadka. Impressed! The best thing about this Dal is the imli flavour in it.
And it also has sarson (mustard seeds) in the tempering. Too good! I find it interesting that they are serving Chapati as well as.... ...papad, which others serve as well, They also serve dahi (yogurt), gulab jamun, pootharekulu. There is also banana and paan. This is something I haven't seen anywhere but here in the past 12-13 days.
I've eaten Dondakaya 3-4 times so far. Besides, there is a vegetable named Kundru, which is very popular here. Amazing! During the season we do eat Kundru vegetable 2-3 times. ...the taste of this vegetable here is due to use of local spics. The ones cooked at home don't taste this good! Kakarakaya Fry! It is bitter in flavour. Nice! Today is the last day of Andhra Pradesh tour.
Ulavacharu! It would be better if I actually taste it. In the past days, I've asked 6-7 restaurant owners & their staff about... ...whether they cook Ulavacharu themselves? They said they don't cook it themselves but receive it from Vijayawada.
And now I am in Vijayawada. I asked the same question again. They said here that they use a readymade packet made by a local company. Its taste doubles when we use this cream.
It tastes good with rice and they cook it over 12-15 hours. Now, I am interested to watch how they cook Kulath ( Horse Gram) Dal for 12-15 hours. Because I've eaten this Dal many times before but... ...this doesn't taste like Kulath ( Horse Gram) Dal. This Dal takes a lot of effort to make.
This Ulavacharu takes as much time to cook as the Dal Makhni in Amritsar. This Dal is cooked for a long, long time and that affects its taste. It also becomes thick in consistency.
Honestly, you must experience this taste if you are in Telangana or Andhra Pradesh. I won't say that everyone serves it but you can find restaurants where it is served. Very delicious taste! And even if you've had Kulath Dal it in Uttarakhand, you won't be able to identify its taste.
Now, I will join you later, once I've finished the lunch. It is then that we will plan our journey further. Since we've only about two hours left before sunset We will plan where we will go in this time.
Now, I will join you again in a short while. Look at the greenery on both sides of the road here. It looks amazing! After lunch, we've travelled about 9 KM. We have reached the Undavalli Caves. We have bought the entry ticket. See, the cave in front of you is at least 1500-1700 years old.
These were built during 5th & 6th centuries. Marvellous! One thing that I have noticed, since I've been visiting Vijayawada, is that... ...this place is a lot cleaner. Look at all the greenery! Amazing! Really great! Let's go into the cave! This ground floor of the cave has been carved out of a huge rock. Look at this beautiful Ganesha idol on the first floor of the cave. These caves were built by Vishnukundina kings between the 4th and 6th centuries.
Most of the sculptures here depict Lord Vishnu in different forms. Each sculpture has been cut and carved out of the rock on the cave's third floor. Like this sculpture of Lord Narsimha killing Hiranyakashyap. Really good! Look here or there, look at this Varaha Roop! Beautiful! Let us go there. We've now reached that part of the cave where we took off our shoes outside.
Here, we can see Sri Padmanabha Swamy in supine form. There is Sheshnag too. Here they are also showing how Brahma Ji was born out of his navel. Here is Garuda Swamy, Lord Vishnu's vehicle. And there you can see a carving of Vyas Rishi (Sage Vyas).
Right in front, you have the carvings of Brahma Ji with other deities. It is feeling so good to be here. I seriously wish I would have come here at least 1-2 hours earlier.
The ASI closes these monuments by 5.30 pm. It is almost 5.30 pm, so we will have to leave here soon. Seriously impressed! Imagine, these sculptures were carved out during 6th-7th centuries.
Really beautiful! On the top floor, there are 3 large sculptures, which we don't know... ...belong to whom. But these sculptures are beautiful. Let me show you a sculpture of Sri Tumburanada. Here it is. So beautiful! So good! These sculptures were visible from the ground floor as well but...
...looking at them from here makes them clear to us. Right now, we are on the third floor. So, we can see the hills in the distance. I had assumed this is the Krishna river but it is not. But it could be the backwaters of Krishna river.
That is where this water body ends. Earlier, I thought the river continues further. Look at this beautiful greenery and scenery here.
This is all farm area, these are plantain trees. Wow! This cave is built across four levels. Right now, we are on the third floor. The fourth floor is inaccessible. Though it is empty but they have tied ropes like these to stop approach. Wonderful! I really wish they had a guided tour, that would increase tourist flow.
In the absence of a guided tour, tourists come here but don't understand much. They just click few pictures and leave. But if someone could guide us for half an hour, describe each sculpture...
...how good would that be. If tourists understand things better, it motivates them to revisit & talk to others. It was a good decision to visit here. So nice! While visiting temples in South India, we often notice their Dravidian architecture.
Do you know the origin of these temples? It was the Chola rulers who started these cave temples. We just saw this cave temple with sculptures of all the deities. We saw many sculptures, one after another.
This is where the Chola rulers started building cave temples and.... ...300-400 years later, rath-based (chariot-based) architecture took roots. The temples that we see today, belonging to 11th-12th centuries, 1000 years old... ...were the beginning of Dravidian architecture. Most temples in the North India are built as per Nagara architecture.
For a long time, I've been wanting to visit the cave temples built by Chola rulers. And this is where we got to see it and share it with you as well. Really beautiful! Today is the last day of our journey. So, I thought let me purchase a few powders (spice mixes). So, we've come to Swagruha, Swagruha Foods. Bhaiya, will you help me a bit? Yeah! I will help.
My God! You have so many spices! 20 types of powders! This is 320 gm for Rs 153. This is 300 gm for Rs 132. Nice! These two are final. So, what else do you sell? Laddoos, sweets! What is this? I forgot its name. Kakinada Khaja! Kakinada Khaja! I remember, we ate it in Kakinada. (Speaking Telugu) This is gongura? Gongura! How many grams in this packet? It is 260 gms.
260 gms for.......Rs 104. Gongura pickle! This is a famous pickle of Andhra Pradesh. It is good that I recalled to buy it here, otherwise, I would've regretted it. These three are confirmed. Please get it packed.
Apart from the powder and pickle, I've bought 250 gms Chegodi. And 250 gms Chekkalu. It is made with maida (refined flour) and has a beautiful flavour of jeera (cumin). And this is made with Urad Dal. Does it have rice in it?
Little bit of rice! I've bought gongura pickle for myself. I thought I will taste a bit as well. It is delicious! We've reached exactly the place where we were this morning. And looking at the dam. Right now, this place is lit with multi-coloured lighting.
When I was told about the lighting here, I came thinking that the railway bridge... ..would also be lit. But there is no lighting on the bridge. Nice! Good! Still, it is beautiful to look at. Right now, the time is 9 pm.
We've got to have dinner. After that, we will end our day. Let us spend 5-10 more minutes here. We will leave here after clicking a few more pictures.
For dinner, we decided to eat at the "Eat Street" food. This is the local night street food market. This market has a lot of street food vendors. Biriyani, chicken tikka, kebab, falooda! There is idli and a variety of dosa.
There is a lot more! There are shops on either side of the street with cars passing through slowly. Like there is this scooter. Then there are people who are also passing through here. I was roaming around looking at the food, because I hadn't decided what to eat. I want to eat something cool. So, it would be better if I eat falooda.
Bhaiya, which falooda of yours is the best-seller? You are bound to visit again, no matter which falooda you eat here. Is that right? You give falooda in a glass? This market remains open till what time? After lockdown, the market remains open from 9 pm to 11 pm. Before that, we used to remain open from 10 pm till 2 am.
I was also thinking you must be open till 2 am at least. Yes, but after lockdown, we can open only between 9 pm and 11 pm. May be the timings would be extended later. Yes, they might.
Today, after a long time, I am eating a falooda with no falooda in it. Imagine eating a falooda called "Delhi ka Falooda". And there is not a single layer of falooda in all this preparation. Wonderful! Lots of Kaju (cashew nuts), Kishmish (raisins) & cherry on the top! Not four, but three different flavours of ice cream! First layer of tutti-frutti! Sabja seeds! Vanilla! He has put in so much of ice cream, I've forgotten which flavours.
Though I saw it being prepared in front of me. He must've taken 78 minutes to prepare those 10-12 glasses at a time. I was thinking when the process would be over. I was, in fact, waiting for the falooda to be added.
The falooda was never added. First bite is a a burst of kaju, kishmish, mango and strawberry crush combined. Lovely! I am finding it delicious! This flavour is mesmerising. Highly satisfying taste! My most favourite ice cream flavour is lying at the bottom of this glass.
My favourite ice cream is tutti-frutti! Each bite brings out different set of flavours! We will finish it and go to our hotel & there we will say bye to you. Andhra Pradesh tour comes to an end now. Tomorrow we are going back. If I start making a list of all the things that I enjoyed on this tour, it'll be a long list. Like imagine spending 13-14 days in a state. You travel from morning till evening, interacting with a lot of people.
There are a lot of points but I haven't jotted those down anywhere. Otherwise, I would have told you all those points. Therefore, I would be sharing my random thoughts with you. If I start with the food here, I liked the local meal system. One, you are served faster, without any wait at the restaurant.
The food is warm! There is a variety of dishes & that was our experience at different places. The overall meal system rocks! I tried the rice, ghee, podi (spice powder) combination at various places. And I liked it everywhere. Talking of sea beaches, out of all the places, I liked Yarada beach the most.
That was an exclusive experience! I interacted with a lot of local subscribers, who live here. I learnt from them there lifestyle & got to know something that... ...each house has a rangoli (drawing) made out front. I forgot its name. It is considered to be a sign of good luck. The rangoli should be ready before head of the family leaves home for the day. The lady of the house takes a bath every morning before entering the kitchen. That is the rule, even if one has to make bed tea.
People start their day early. They also end their day early. I've noticed that even in larger cities like Vishakhapatanam & Vijayawada....
...life comes to a standstill by 10.30 pm. It is a different matter if someone's work finishes beyond 10.30 pm. Otherwise, there is nothing like late nightlife. I also tried to find from people about their preferences while investing money.
If I talk about myself, if I get lumpsum money, I would invest it in a new car. I am just saying a thought! Like, if someone has money at hand, he might spend it in shopping. But here I found out that the first preference of people looking for...
...investing money is gold and land. Within these two, the first priority is given to land, and the gold comes after that. These were the two findings. The locals are really humble. There is language problem even in cities like Vishakhapatanam & Vijayawada. See , you can get to converse in Hindi at hotels because the staff is trained. But, by and far, language is a big obstacle.
While travelling in deeper pockets, we even had to use sign language, or.... ...a word of English here & there, to convey what we wanted to say. But we were never stuck anywhere because of language barrier. We were able to manage somehow, as there was a person who would help us. Now, since I started with food, let me end this experience with food itself. During this whole journey, the best filter coffee that I got to taste was....
...this morning at Babai Coffee. You don't get very good filter coffee here. I am sure you might ask me in the comments how could I say that but.... I didn't get good filter coffee wherever I had it.
Since it is Chennai that has been my benchmark for filter coffee,... ...even if you go for a random place, the filter coffee won't disappoint you there. But that is not the case here. Rest is all good! Our journey ends today. Tomorrow, we are going back. In Vijayawada, we are staying at the Sky Ridge Hotel.
Though the rooms are nice, this hotel is located far from main road. We also faced difficulty in turning around our car this morning but that's ok. This accommodation is decent! We paid Rs 2500 as room tariff for double occupancy. Including taxes! They don't have a restaurant here.
So, even if you want tea, you can ask their staff to get it from outside & pay for it. You can also ask them to buy you food from outside & it'll be served in your room. Hotel staff informed me that they're going to open a restaurant in a few months. I will now say bye-bye to you here.
We will meet again soon. New destination, new journey! Till then, bye-bye! Thanks for your time! I can't help but think.... ...the experience of a shikara ride on Dal lake is unmatched! Isn't it? Yes, Bhai, what do you have here? Kahwa? Kahwa, coffee, hot chocolate, cappuccino, bournvita, complan! Sharbat! You are carrying all this with you!