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Road Trip to Paderu - a tribal agency near Araku in Visakhapatnam District

Paderu is a small tribal agency near Araku Valley in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. It is located at a height of 3214 feet above MSL (mean sea level) on the Eastern Ghats. The surroundings of this tribal agency are full of scenic beauty with terrace cultivation and coffee plantations. The place is easily reachable from Araku Valley and from Borra Caves.This small tribal hamlet is being developed by the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA).

It was during one summer, we traveled to Paderu from Visakhapatnam by APSRTC (Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation) bus. The road trip on the ghat roads with dense forests and tall trees on either side of the road is captivating and awe-inspiring. The ghat road starts from a small place called Garikabanda. Through out the journey on the ghat roads, we enjoyed the beautiful sight of Terrace Cultivation, Coffee Plantations by the Coffee Board (which starts nearly 10 Km after a place called Vantlamamidi), tall Silver Oak trees around on which there are pepper plants as climbers and many more such tropical trees like the Jackfruit, Bamboo etc. It is a three and half hours journey on the ghat road.

After enjoying the captivating scenic beauty of the ghat roads, we reached Paderu and were overjoyed to experience the cool weather in peak summer when the maximum temperature. I guess, it doesn't cross 28 degrees Centigrade in summers and in winters the mercury level drops to nearly 2 degrees Centigrade. It was evening by the time we reached our destination. After refreshing and having a hot cup of chai i.e tea, we had some chit-chat and then went to bed early. The next day morning, we got up early. When I stepped out of the house, I was thrilled to see the surroundings mountains covered with thick fog, that too in peak summer. Each morning in the summer season, you can enjoy watching such foggy mountains till 7 a.m. It makes you feel as if it is winter though it is mid-summer.

Every year a local tribal festival / fair is held in this small tribal village as a part of Modakondamma Jatara. This fair is celebrated for three days in the month of May. 'Modakondamma' is the local tribal deity. The Jatara i.e. fair attracts large crowds from the entire Visakha District. It would be an exciting experience to watch such a fair which is out and out ethnic and indigenous too. The highlight of the fair would be the famous Dhimsa Dance - the local tribal dance. The Jatara also has some urban-style entertainments like the pop musical nites. This fair becomes a platform for the tribal people to get a glimpse of the urban culture.

There is a beautiful place called Matsyagundam near Paderu which is at a height of 2844 ft above MSL with an annual rainfall of 1200 mm. There is a Shiva temple here by the name 'Matsyalingeswara'. Every year the annual Jatara is held here for three days from Mahasivaratri Day.

There is a Hindu mythological story in connection with this place. In the ancient times, there was a battle between the fishes led by Matsya Raju (the King of fishes) and the snakes. The fishes were protected by Lord Matsyalingeswara. Hence the local tribes seldom net the fishes in this area, on the contrary they pay tributes to them during the 3-day Mahasivaratri festival. This place has a beautiful stream with dangerous whirlpools and with the temple on the bank of the stream.

On the 1st day of our stay, we visited Matsyagundam. From here we proceeded to Machkund Power Plant in the Odisha border. It was a good educational trip as we could see the Hydro-electric power plant and the process of power generation.

On the 2nd day, we visited Borra Caves when there was heavy downpour and Mother Nature was at her best. We didn't care though we were fully drenched as we enjoyed the beauty of Mother Nature in the rain. And then we proceed to Araku Valley where we spent the evening and were back home by night.

There is a lot of tourist potential in the agency areas in the Visakhapatnam district and the AP Tourism Department along with the ITDA are making a lot of efforts to attract the tourists. The Punnami Resorts by the APTBC is an example. The people of Andhra Pradesh in particular should these beautiful locales, avail the tourist facilities and thereby help in promoting AP tourism. This would also help in the economic development of the agency areas and help in mainstreaming of the poor tribal brethren. For a cool summer with a productive purpose one can visit many such places in and around Vizag district – this are indeed far from the maddening crowd.

In fact, that was a wonderful short stay in Paderu during peak summer. The moment we reached Vizag, once again it was sultry and hot summer. Unfortunately, we didn't take our cam, so no snaps of the trip.

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