Thanks to mom, we were able to witness the amazing Godavari Pushkaralu and be a part of it. The pushkaralu this time is said to be occuring once in 144 years, hence called ‘maha puskaralu’ and hence said to be very auspicious. Based on mythology, pushkar is a brahmin who gained this boon from Lord Shiva through penance, that he can live in water and purify any holy river. On request from Bruhaspati, he enters into each of the 12 rivers, every year when bruhaspati enters into new Rashi. Each river is associated with a zodiac sign and puskaralu comes for each river for once in 12 years. Though the effect stays throughout the year, the first 12 days are supposed to be very auspicious (aadi pushkaralu).
I had only heard of pushakaralu, but never thought of witnessing it. I must attribute it to TV to most extent. Godavari river flows all the way from maharashtra, through Basara, bhadrachalam in Telangana, through Rajahmundry, Kotipalli and ends in Antharvedi in Andhra. After the formation of the new states, both telangana and andhra governments have made grand arrangements to celebrate the first 12 days of pushkaralu. The TV channels made sure to cover the arrangements even a month before the start. Watching it daily on TV did create some awareness and also the enthusiasm to be a part of it.
The internet (godavaripushkaralu.co.in) was so helpful too.When I was clueless as to how to plan the trip, the contact numbers provided on the website did help a lot. After a couple of calls, we managed to find an accomodation (by Uma travels) and all set for the trip. Once the pushkaralu started, the unfortunate accidents at the pushkar ghat on the first day did cause some confusion in me.there was a part of me thinking, is it really necessary to go in the crowd .
But then mom was so enthued to go, we dint want to disappoint her. From the news on tv, the arrangements seemed fine and extra care was taken by the government from the second day onwards.
As we reached vizag and were waiting for our bus to rajahmundry, we could see the effect of this massive event. The bus got delayed by 2 hours and it reached almost late in the night. The accomodation was kind of a dormitary with some individual rooms. The whole town was illuminated by colorful lights, police patrolling all over the place and a beautiful festive environment everywhere. The river ghat was very close to our accomodation and the lights reflection in the godavari river was a sight to see.
Next day morning we woke up early to take the dip in the river. The ghat was at a walkable distance and not as crowded. We had enough space and time to have our time with the water. The environment there was very nice, everyone taking dip in the holy river with their friends and family, people making offerings to their ancestors. There was announcements all the time directing people whichever ghats were free. Contrary to the stampede and rush, the place was well maintained and peaceful inspite of the crowd. There was water packets distributed and free prasadams given by some temples.
After the dip we went around and visited some temples around. We also performed Go-puja(worship of cow) and danalu (offerings).. Also there was a boat ride organized by andra tourism which was also beautiful experience. There were many other attractions, like the replica of Lord Venkateswara swamy by TTD, the Godavari harathi in the evening and many more.
On the way back, the bus stand was highly crowded and there were long queues to enter the bus stand. We came to know that it was taking almost 5-6 hours just to enter the bus stand. One police suggested to take a bus to kakinada and go to vizag from there. The buses to kakinada were stopping at a different bus stand, but they were also hugely crowded. With great difficulty we got into a bus and somehow reached samarlakota as the bus broke down there. We checked-in a hotel for the night and had a peaceful sleep after the tiring bus journey. Next day we hired a cab, reached vizag after visiting kukkuteswara swamy and simhachalam narasimha swamy on the way.
Inspite of minor hiccups with travel,the overall experience was beautiful, spiritual and awesome. Visting Godavari dist for the first time, the route was beautiful with greenery all around,coconut trees, mango groves and the people there were also very hospitable.