You learn something new every day. While researching Kakinada, you hit upon a new surprise. This was nothing new - Andhra Pradesh has been surprising you on a regular basis these past few days. Apparently Pondicherry comprises of four districts spread over states of TN, Kerala and AP. Pondicherry or Puducherry as we all know was a French Colony established by folks famous for raising white flags everytime Germany invaded. The geographical spread of territory is similar to the Portuguese colonies that were spread out in Hooghly (yes, this was news again), Daman, Diu, Mumbai, few other places and of course Goa. It seems the Europeans set their colonies wherever their ships hit the rocks. Dutch too hit the rocks here in AP but that is another story!
We all know that Pondicherry is south of Chennai surrounded by Tamil Nadu. South of Pondicherry on Bay of Bengal is Pondicherry’s district Karaikal. Mahe is another district in Kerala on Arabian Sea. The district in AP is called Yanam and is just 32 kms from Kakinada. You have not visited main Pondicherry yet, so you are certainly excited to grab this chance to get a slice of Pondicherry in Yanam and on a hot Sunday evening you set out south from Kakinada.
Welcome to Yanam
Yanam, all of 30 sq km, is also known as French Yanam even though it is a part of India since 1954. It is tantalizingly located on the Godavari just a few kms before Godavari merges into the Bay of Bengal along the Coringa mangroves. The drive from Kakinada is scenic as you encounter backwaters and related flora and fauna. A sign finally confirms that you have entered Yanam which is a part of Union Territory of Pondicherry. And here stands the majestic Lord Hanuman resplendent in bright colours.
Yanam - French Riviera
Yanam - The Godavari River
You get off just before the massive bridge over the Godavari. Below on the left is the paved riverfront. The beach named after Rajiv Gandhi is a centre of activity. The entire stretch is paved and is quite well maintained. Boats bob on the water. In the middle of the river, fisherman check on their nets.
After a hot day, the evening is pleasant and the crowds swarm the area. On the other side of the beach tall coconut trees sway in the breeze. On the water, aquatic activities are in full swing. Speed boats roar over the water and get airborne packing. You settle for something mild and ride the launch run by local tourism department.
The launch coasts languidly over the river. The river is quite wide here and to the east water stretches into the horizon as Godavari makes her way into Bay of Bengal. You soak in the atmosphere: soothing sight of water all around, the wake of the water behind the boat, the sun about to set over the bridge in the west, the drone of the engines lulling you into the nirvana zone.
Yanam - Rajiv Gandhi Beach
Yanam - Bharat Mata
Grudgingly you get off the boat for a walk on the beachfront. The main attractions on the riverfront are a series of huge statues - There are two elephants performing abhishek of a massive shivling; Bharat Mata stands proudly blessing everyone; and statue of Jesus Christ similar to the Christ The Redeemer at Rio lights up as dusk falls.
In the distance a boat with an orange sail glides over the water. In the west just beyond the bridge the sky gets painted in gentle sunset hues. The waves lap at the feet. Andhra Pradesh, here on the west coast of India is full of surprises. It is time you discover the little known charms of Yanam.