THE GODAVARI, one of South India’s most sacred rivers, swells to a wide torrent (at Places 6 km/4 miles across), just north of Rajalunundry town. Lush paddy fields and sugarcane plantations characterize the countryside.
Rajahmunciry, the largest town in East Godavari district, is best known for the many Chalukya temples in its vicinity, and for the 2,743-m (8,999 -ft) long bridge that spans the river. The lookout points on Dowleshvaram Dam (built 1848-52), 10 km (6 miles) downstream, offer spectacular views of the river. Every 12 years, the Dakshina Pushkaram festival – the Kumbh Mela (see p211) of the South – takes place here.
Peddapuram, famous for its fine handwoven silk and cotton, is 30 km (19 miles) northeast of Rajahmundry, on the road to Visakhapatnam. Annavaram, 70 km (44 miles) to the northeast of Rajahmundry, is the site of the Satyanarayana Temple, on Ratnagiri Hill, renowned for its 4-m (13 fü-high statue of the Hindu Trinity, and its ancient sundial. The Godavari Gorge begins 80 km (50 miles) north of Rajahmundry. A drive or boat ride along the Gorge, which Ghats, offers views of spectacular scenery, with a series of beautiful lakes that many visitors have found reminiscent of Italy and Scotland. Ryall , 24 km (15 miles) south of Rajahmundry, has a Chalulcya temple dedicated to Vishnu. It houses a stone image of the Goddess Ganga , from which flows a continuous trickle of water. Draksharamam , 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Rajahmundry, is famed for its 10th-century Bhimesvara Temple, which combines the Chalukya and Chola styles of architecture, and houses a 5-m (16-ft) high linga. The Godavari is said to have been split into seven streams by the Saptarishis (seven great sages) of Hindu mythology and three of these streams are believed to have gone underground here. Close to the town is an old Dutch cemetery, locally known as 011andu Dibba (“Holland Mound”), with gravestones dated between 1675 and 1728, some with very elaborate designs.
Antarvedi, on the banks of the Vashishta river, a branch of the Godavari, is 112 km (70 miles) south of Rajahmundry. It is best reached by boat from Narsapur on the south bank. The Lakshminarayana Temple (built in 1823), with its brightly painted tower stands on the river bank, and is usually thronged with pilgrims who come for a dip in the holy river.