Friday, 22 April 2016

Bhavani Island An Ideal Getaway

Heat wave continues in most parts of India. If you can't make it to a beach or a hill station, at least 'cool' yourself through pictures and video! 

This picture story takes you to a river island named 'Bhavani Island' (named after Goddess Durga दुर्गा) in river Krishna, near Vijayawada Andhra Pradesh. APTDC runs an island resort there (Browse the link for a map of the river and the island). Ghumakkad went there on a Sunday night in April 2016. 

For last six months or so, an entrepreneur has set up water sports facilities jointly with the Tourism corporation. The resort at Bhavani Island is beautifully conceived. Set amidst large trees, it has both AC and non-AC suites, overlooking the river. Even in summer months, the island is cool because of the river and accompanying breeze. Four tree-top suites have been added recently. The view is superb and so is the thrill of being on tree-top height! Don't miss the spiral staircase!
 Visitors have to take a ferry from the eastern bank of the river. APTDC runs another resort at Berm Park Vijayawada. See picture below taken from the jetty- this resort too overlooks the river.
The tourism department has an exclusive jetty at Berm Park. Ferries ply frequently. Guest staying at the Island resort do not have to pay for ferry ride. You can park your car at Berm Park resort. It is a safe place with security at night as well. One suggestion-- travel light as you have to cart your baggage to the ferry at both ends.

Neeta boarding the ferry which can take about 50 persons.
 The island has five-tiered tower on western bank of the river. It is visible from Vijayawada city. 

As the ferry sails, Prakasam Barrage on the river catches your eye. Massive barrage with a road. The vast water basin is ideal for water sports. Just as these thoughts crossed my mind, a speed boat zoomed past.
A short fifteen-minute ferry ride takes you to Bhavani Island. Krishna river and its cool breeze had a soothing effect even though it was noon when we got there. Hope you are able to beat the heat as you 'feel' the pictures! 
After a quick lunch at APTDC restaurant, it was time to stroll up to the water sports jetty. Being a Sunday afternoon, people were waiting for their rides. The place looked well managed with an expandable pontoon serving as the boarding platform.
Variety of rides await you costing between Rs 200 to Rs 1500 per person per ride. Guests staying at the island resort get a complimentary ride upto Rs 500 for one guest only. Depending on your appetite for adventure, a wide choice is available. Pictures.
A rotating coffee table with contra rotating stools on board-- if your head is not spinning already!

There are rides for the young or old, boys or girls, loners or families. Take your pick!

We had chosen to take a speed boat ride. The same boat which had taken the para sailing enthusiasts had to come back and take us. The wait turned out to be worth it as Neeta and I had an exclusive boat ride as against 8 to 10 people in one round-- courtesy Mr Madan Rao, Operations Manager. Madan had also been in the Navy like me! Fringe benefits of professional brotherhood!

Here is a short two minute video of the speed boat ride. The noise which you will hear is the wind howling in the camera as we turned and twisted in sharp winds in Krishna river. Very exciting ride indeed-- fit for senior citizens like us! Watch the horizon go up and down. 

We then walked back to our suite and took pictures enroute. The picture below was taken using DSLR timer. The camera had been precariously balanced on a fallen branch of a tree. I ran to take my position. Beep beep and the shutter clicked. And with that the camera fell down from the branch. I skipped a heart beat. Dusted the camera and found no damage done! Thanked my stars as this was the second time the camera had taken a toss, earlier mishap having happened in Jaislamer sand dunes.

For those planning a trip to the island, here is a view of the cottage. Try and avoid AC Suites numbered 10X and 20X series as these suites are old and have no false ceiling. Takes longer to cool and furnishings are worn out. In comparison, suites 30X and 40X series are relatively better maintained and have a false ceiling for faster cooling. As with most government properties, the location is top class. However, they could do with better upkeep. 

Booking is online. Breakfast is complimentary. Restaurant serves good food. But they will serve you an early dinner as the staff leaves for the mainland by the last boat. Similarly, you have to wait for the breakfast till the first boat arrives next morning with the cook and fresh supplies! For emergencies, a ferry is standby. Most cell phones work. All in all-- a great place.
Tree-top suites are recent additions. Though fitted with ACs, we were told it is not functional. But in monsoon months, it would be magical to stay there. Only drawback is no clear view of the river. But I guess it is by design. You get a view of trees all around. You also feel the forest a bit closer, as these suites are tucked away from the dining area and rest of the AC suites. So take your call.
Why the name Bhavani island? As we had mentioned earlier, it means Goddess Durga who rides a tiger and is a symbol of  courage and valour. An idol of Gurga crated out of metallic waste has been tastefully erected in the Park. Picture for you.
Water sports end with sun set every day. Casual visitors depart the island. The resort has guests and a few duty staff not to forget few stray dogs which are like pets. You can feel the silence after dusk. As the night lights come on, the resort gets another look!
On that Sunday night, we were the only occupants of the resort. It was like having the whole island to ourselves! A picture.

Hyderabad-Vijayawada drive requires a bio-break mid way. An excellent facility exists called '7' mid way naer Suryapet (see map below, courtesy Google.). While driving from Hyderabad on NH-9, it will appear on your left with signages well in advance. The restaurant serves piping hot snacks and lunch/dinner. Very clean rest rooms with misty sprays in the lobby to keep you cool in the summer. And the best part-- there is covered parking for about 50 cars with no parking fees! All privately managed. 

So Hyderabadis-- get going and have an enjoyable getaway at Bhavani island! 

Thanks for browsing

     -Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 22nd April 2016

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