Saturday, 30 August 2014

Kakinada - of Boats, Beaches, Coringa Park, Draksharamam and Sunsets

You had never heard of Kakinada before and it sounded like a station on Mumbai’s Central Line. But here you are making your way south in a bus from Vishakhapatnam. Kakinada is about 150 kms from Vishakhapatnam and is the capital of Andhra Pradesh’s coastal district of East Godavari.

Mere Desh ki Dharti
On the mighty Godavari - On the train from Rajahmundhry to Samarlakota

What is markedly different during the journey are the lush paddy fields and apparent affluence of the people in coastal areas. All this can be traced back to a certain British named General Sir Arthur Cotton, an irrigation engineer, who supervised water management and canal construction projects in AP. Through his efforts an Anicut or dam called Dowleswaram Barrage was built on Godavari at Rajahmundry in 1852. Entire coastal AP has prospered with the resulting extensive irrigation. Today East and West Godavari districts are called the rice bowls of AP. With about 3000 statues in these two districts, Arthur Cotton is revered and worshipped like a God!

A little research reveals a trove of attractions along with the fact that Kakinada is a natural port with both anchorage and deep water ports. Kakinada is nicknamed Fertilizer City owing to two huge fertilizer plants and is popular as Pensioners’ Paradise. You were just lucky to visit Kakinada twice over a period of few months and that gave you few Sundays to explore the town and the nearby areas.

Tiptoeing in Kakinada
The best part of being in Kakinada is the sea. Try spending an evening at the fishermen wharf with a temple in the neighborhood. The setting is perfect: you are in a vantage position in the shallow waters photographing the sea birds as the sun gradually sinks in the west. It is all quite as the birds tiptoe in the waters looking for fish. Your floaters sink into the sand and you take them off to tiptoe barefoot in the waters just like the birds. The water catches slivers of the setting sun.

Coming Home to Kakinada

Catch of the Day - at Kakinada
At this moment, from the east a procession of fishing boats start chugging in. They seem to line up and follow a curve probably hugging a trench unseen below the water. The fishermen are happy and wave at you - probably the fishes have bitten and the catch is good. Women folk from the village have joined and the shore is beehive of activity. The catch is being unloaded from the boats. While in the distance you can see the big tanker ships unloading their cargoes. A Coast Guard cutter keeps a watch. It is the first time you are witnessing something like this - it is an altogether different world and you love it. The sun sets on another glorious evening in Kakinada spreading golden hues on the water. 

You can never have your fill of sea. There is something about water and sea that just draws you in. By the time you were free on the first day in Kakinada it was already dark. You had driven to the fisherman colony just to hear the lap of the waves in the pitch dark. Next day you set out for Uppada Beach about 5 kms north of the town while the evening is still young.

Uppada Beach in Kakinada

Ships Twinkle in the Distance - Kakinada
On a hot day, a big crowd has gathered on the beach to cool off. The waves come in quick succession working up quite a surf. Boats bob on the surface. Red crabs come out of their holes only to disappear at the slight sound of your feet. The best part on a beach is the feeling when the sand below your feet is slowly drawn away by the receding water. It puts you in a state of bliss. The sky turns a different shade every few minutes - another beautiful sun set over Kakinada. Even the moon has made an appearance. In the distance ships anchored in the high seas light up as they wait their turn at the port. In the dusk the the lighthouse starts throwing the light. This is utopia for you - cool wet sand beneath your feet, lap of waves, salty air in the lungs - it cant get any better. Well, until the local cop starts blowing the whistle and it is time to go back to the real world.

This Aint Kerala - Coringa Park in Kakinada

Coringa Park
About 20 kms south of Kakinada on the way to Yanam is the Coringa Wild Life Sanctuary. Coringa is home to mangroves and is the second largest mangrove forest after Sunderbans. On its south side Godavari empties into the Bay of Bengal. The forest is an oasis of green spread over 260 sq kms. With water on two sides, Coringa provides an amazing backdrop to spend few hours in total isolation. The forest department has installed raised walkways around the forest where you can walk while the water during high tides flows below.

Mangroves in the Coringa Park
Here under the canopies of the trees listen to the birds and just feel at peace. Branches of the trees twist around the walkways tempting you to climb the trees. The mosquitoes are plenty and huge so carry a mosquito repellent cream. Through the leaves and branches just beyond you can see the water. This is part of Godavari’s delta. Walking to the edge of the river brings you to the jetty where Forest Department has boats which will take you on the Godavari river to the sea and onwards to Hope Island. The views here are awesome and it seems you have been transported to the backwaters of Kerala.

Prawn Farming on way to Draksharamam
Draksharamam, about 35 kms south west of Kakinada is an interesting place. On the way, enjoy the sights of temples, coconut plantations and prawn farms. Stop to feast on fresh coconut water. If you are lucky, you will get coconuts for ten rupees - a steal. In AP, here on the coast there is always a risk of you becoming coconut water intoxicated!

Shri Bhimeswara Temple at Draksharamam
Shri Bhimeswara Temple, Draksharamam - Garbh Griha
Draksharamam is home to Shri Bhimeswara Temple which is one of the most celebrated Pancharamas of Andhra. It is one of the Trilings which give the name of Triling Desa to Andhra Desa. The temple is known as Dakshin Kashi or Banaras of the South. The temple carries inscriptions from 10th to 15th Centuries. With two enclosure walls, huge gopuras, mini shrines and two storeyed structure, the temple with lofty ling is quite majestic.

Sunset at Uppada Beach in Kakinada

Another Amazing Sunset over Kakinada
On the way back enjoy more of the sights and the amazing sunsets you have seen all through your stay in Coastal AP. Living and working in the city makes you almost forget how beautiful sunrises and sunsets are. Of course, the horizon from your office cubicle window extends to the building across the road. Here, every evening you are treated to wonderful sunsets - over the sea and over the swaying coconut trees.

Kakinada has something to offer to all travellers. If you are looking for an offbeat destination along with a slice of Pondicherry, come to Kakinada and get pleasantly surprised.

Getting There: Kakinada is 150 kms south of Vishakhapatnam. Samarlakota is the nearest railhead 20 kms away. Kakinada has hotels of all budgets. The beautiful Hope Island is about 5 kms into the sea. Tourism department has introduced boat services from the city’s Jawahar Jetty to Hope Island. Enjoy slice of Pondicherry about 32 kms south of Kakinada in Yanam. Visit the Coringa Mangroves on your way to Yanam.


  1. Dear Nirdesh Sir,

    This is such a fascinating post - loved the descriptions and the photos are simply fabulous! Wish I could describe everyday scenes like you do.
    Awaiting more such gems!


  2. Hi Sahil,

    Thanks for visiting the post!

    Take an overnight train to Vijaywada and discover a new world! Coastal AP is amazing and I have been lucky to travel to quite a few places from Vizag to Sriharikota.

    Best Wishes

  3. Hi..Thanks for sharing the wonderful blogpost. :)
    Apart from being an industrial hub, Kakinada is home to many temples, mosques and churches. Click here to know about numerous hotels in Kakinada providing you the best stay experience while being in the city.

    1. Thanks Anjali - Kakinada is indeed a little known blockbuster surprise.