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A Memorable Picnic to Punyagiri in Vizianagaram District

It is almost 10 years back I visited this less known place called Punyagiri. It was our school picnic on a bright winter day in the Hindu month of Karthika Masam. We were nearly 80 teachers apart from the non-teaching and class IV employees. It was a lively bus journey from Visakhapatnam to Punyagiri in the school bus.

The bus took the NH (National Highway) 5 route towards NAD and turned towards Pendurthi from here. This is the road route towards Araku Valley. The bus crossed Pendurthi, Kothavalasa and Srirampuram and reached Srungavarapukota, popularly known as S.Kota. From here it is only a 4 Km drive and our bus reached Punyagiri within no time.

If you take the rail route to Punyagiri, you have to take the Araku train (Kirandal) and get down at S.Kota.

This place is well known for one of the oldest Shiva temples known as Uma Kotilingeswara Temple. As it was the auspicious month of Karthik, we all first visited the temple and had the darshan of Lord Shiva.
Image Credit: www.manatemples.net 
An interesting thing to mention about the temple and the place. The temple is located on a hill named Punyagiri which was known as Virata Parvatham in the olden days. This is a hill on the Eastern ghats which is 1000 feet high above the mean sea level. There is also another ancient temple known as Dara Gangamma. There is underground flow of water under the Shivalingam in the temple.

The place and the temple has historical and mythological significance which is worth mentioning.

There are few legends in connection with the place. It is believed that Pandava princes (in the great epic of Mahabharata) were in 1 year incognito during their exile period, on this Virata Parvatham. It is also believed that Arjuna - the great archer - performed severe penance on this hill and received 'Pasupatastram' (the power-packed divine arrow) from Lord Shiva. It is also said that it is on this hill there was a fight between Arjuna and Lord Shiva who comes in the disguise of a 'bhil' i.e a tribe.

After a divinely treat we proceeded to the nearby Trimurti cave and the waterfalls. That's a real cool place which is worth experiencing. We precariously walked on the slippery rocks and reached the entrance of the cave. Out of curiosity we peeped in the dark cave but didn't dare to enter into it. We were drenched in the cool splash of waterfalls which was quite enjoyable on a cool winter day.
Courtesy: Google Images
We had lots of laughter and experiments at this spot. After a tiresome and thrilling experience we took rest under shade. Though it was a Karthik month, we did not observe fasting but had a sumptuous meal and had a small afternoon nap.

That was a real enjoyable and memorable picnic with colleagues. It was time to wind up and return. We got into our buses and were back home with a refreshed mind.

Mahasiva Ratri and Karthika masam are specially celebrated in the temple at Punyagiri when people from the districts of Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam visit the temple.

Punyagiri is easily reachable from Vizag or Vizianagaram via S.Kota.

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