By Ravi Valluri
“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,” is a captivating sentence in the Rudyard Kipling poem ‘The Ballad of East and West’. Never the Twain Shall Meet is also the title of two prominent Hollywood blockbusters, including a 1925s silent movie.
Dhowleswaram is a prominent place in the Godavari delta. It is here that the majestic River Godavari assumes the shape of the geometrical figure of a triangle. The Vasishta River which is on the west delta forms the boundary between the two districts of East and West Godavari.
The landscape west of Vasishta is West Godavari and locales east of it fall under the jurisdiction of East Godavari. The twain indeed do not meet, just a physical contiguity. The prepossessing Konaseema is the area between Vasishta and Gouthami rivers. This is the verdant and alluring triangle. Konaseema is an integral of East Godavari. Konaseema lies south of Gouthami and east of Vasishta.
West Godavari district or Paschima Godavari Jilla is one of the 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh. The administrative headquarters of the district is the viridescent town of Eluru. The town is sandwiched by Krishna district on the west, East Godavari (on the east), the gargantuan Bay of Bengal on the south and the newly carved state of Telangana to the north.
The Chalukyas were once the potentates of coastal Andhra (700 to 1200 AD), with Vengi as their capital. Historical evidences of the empire have been discovered in the villages of Pedavegi and Guntupalli (Jilakarragudem).
It is noteworthy to mention that Eluru was then to become part of the Kalinga Empire until 1471. Later it fell under the Gajapathi dynasty. In 1515 Sri Krishna Deva Raya overran Eluru and subsequently when the Vijayanagara kingdom capitulated to the Sultan of Golkonda, Kutub Shah, the town exchanged hands once again.
In modern times during the reign of Britishers, West Godavari District was formed with Eluru as the headquarters and all the district offices and regional offices were set up at Eluru. West Godavari district was hived from the existing Godavari District in the year 1925. The erstwhile Godavari district was renamed East Godavari district and the new district was named as West Godavari district.
West Godavari has a flat terrain and generally the rivers in the district move from western to eastern direction. Three rivers cut across the district, namely Godavari, Yerrakaluva and Tammileru.
Paddy, banana, sugarcane, and coconut are the principal agricultural products of the district apart from the buoyant fisheries and prawn cultivation. Further, cashew nut, mango and tobacco have received impetus over the years, making them significant products from the district.
Some Important Towns
Bhimavaram or ‘The Gift of Bhima’, named after the celebrated Pandava is a prominent township. Legends mention that around 890–918 AD, an Eastern Chalukya king named Chalukya Bheema built a famous Shiva Temple here.
The town was originally called ‘Bhimapuram’ but was subsequently changed to ‘Bhimavaram’. Some important temples dotting the landscape of Bhimavaram and nearby towns are the Sri Someswara Temple, the Amararama Temple in Amaravathi, the Kumararama Temple in Samalkota and the Ksheera Rama Temple in Palakollu.
The Shiva lingam at the Sri Someswara Temple is known for its unique properties. It is believed that the lingam had been installed by Lord Chandra. The colour of the linga assumes alterations as per the penetration of the lunar rays. During full moon days it dramatically transforms into shimmering white while on the day of ‘Amavasya’ (no moon) it metamorphoses into black.
Sri Adikesava Embermannar Swamy Temple at Narsapur is of similar architecture and design as the renowned Sriperumbudur Temple in Tamil Nadu. Interestingly this is the only temple where Goddess Lakshmi has a name attributed to a devotee of the lord; the Goddess of fortune or “Varaprasadi”, the one who bestows all wishes. The Aasanam (altar) of Sri Emberumanar Swamy is called Bhadravedi or Thrivedi, exemplar of authority in the triad of Sruthis namely Bheda, Abheda, and Ghataka.
The Jagan Mohini Kesava Swamy temple is renowned at the township of Rayali. The exquisite idol, made of black stone depicts Maha Vishnu and Mohini on the anterior and rear respectively. The surrealistic idol is a marvel of sculptural dexterity. As per popular folklore once a flower from the plait of Mohini fell on the ground during a squabble over sharing of the Holy Divine Nectar (Amrit) and thus the town acquired the name Rayali (‘to fall’ in Telugu language).
It is widely believed that unmarried girls discover a suitor by performing 108 Pradakshinams (circumambulations) on seven continuous Tuesdays, paying obeisance at the Maddi Anjaneya Swamy temple at Gurvaigudem. Worshipping the Lord unflinchingly on Saturdays diminishes the malefic effects on the devotee from demonic forces and unfavourable planetary configurations.
Scenically situated at the banks of river Godavari, Rajahmundry is often described as the cultural capital of Andhra Pradesh. There are twenty nine important temples in Rajahmundry and it is among the major Hindu pilgrimage sites in India.
The bustling city is also popular for the duo decennial congregations of Pushkaralu. Rajahmundry witnesses a spectacular festival where millions of devotees throng its soil.
There is the famous Kotilingeswara Temple, a prominent religious site which was built in the 10th century. This temple has bathing ghats all around it. The loftily constructed temple attracts thousands of pilgrims. The Draksharamam Temple, Mahalaxmi Gudi, Markandeya Temple, Iskcon Temple, Somalamma Temple are other significant places of worship in Rajahmundry.
Only by travelling across the swathes of East and West Godavari can a tourist appreciate the pristine fragrance and unalloyed culture of the place, populated by people who are by nature highly emotive.
“Whether we like it or not, we all come from someplace. And at some point in our lives, we have to make peace with that place”, writes the author Jeffrey Stepakoff.
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