Its a Snap

 Kishor Krishna Moorthi headed to Papi Hills for a quick weekend photo tour. Read on as he shares  some of the moments he captured.
There was no cell phone reception. No plug-in points. No air-conditioned rooms. I guess I really was in for an unplugged getaway. Bliss for some, nightmare for others; for me, it was just what I needed. My weekend trip to Papi Hills – locally known as Papikondalu – along with fellow delegates of the Federation of Indian Photography Convention (we were a group of nearly 60) was to be a fun trip all the way.
Located along the banks of the river Godavari, Papi Hills can be easily accessed by a pleasant boat ride from Rajamundry. Set amidst the Eastern Ghats with scenic views, the hills are surrounded by dense forests. This spot is a nature lover’s paradise, and a treat for photo enthusiasts like me; the lush forests are filled with tiny waterfalls and beautiful streams jealously guarded by tall trees. Keep your eyes peeled and you could spot some of the many animals and birds who make their home in this forest. Walk a little more, and you will suddenly come across a small temple dedicated to Lord Yoga Rama. According to the legend of this region, Lord Rama spent time here in Dandakaranya under the Yoga Samadhi.

With a big group of people with shared interests for company, it promised to be an interesting trip. We set off by boat early on a Friday morning to our campsite by the river. As the boat started to make its way upstream, I found myself a nice cosy spot with a good view, and quickly settled down to enjoy the sights. We were to have breakfast and lunch on the boat itself. It was fun to sit by the window when a beautiful view was on the menu. After the midday meal, the gentle lull of the boat had us dozing off. I tried to fight off the drowsiness, but eventually had to resign myself to a good nap. A seven-hour journey later, we woke with our campsite slowly coming into view between the hills.
We trudged off the boats onto the sandy banks, and made our way to the bamboo huts where we were to rest for the night. At first I was a little skeptical about my sleeping quarters, but all my apprehensions were put to rest when I noticed that, as promised, the huts were sturdy and comfortable. They only had a single light bulb in each of them (which was switched off after 10 pm), but electricity was the least of my concerns when I had such a beautiful view. After settling in, I quickly set off to explore the tiny campsite. Sunset always gives you gorgeous photos, so I walked up a hill above the campsite with my camera. The sun cooperated and gave me enough time for some lovely shots – a good beginning.
Once it was dark, we got some bonfires going as our dinner prep was on. A few locals offered us an interesting dish called ‘bamboo chicken’, which as the name suggests was chicken roasted in hollow bamboo stems. It was delicious! We also discovered a small shop at the hilltop where we could buy a range of beverages that flowed pretty late into the night.

Being ardent photographers, most of us were awake and walking about well before the sun rose. I did a bit more exploring, found a nice vantage point and waited patiently for the sun to peek above the hills. And when it did, the valley was flooded with its golden light - a breathtaking sight. We had a couple of photo sessions in the morning and after breakfast at the campsite, but then it was time to head back. We grudgingly walked back to the boats, definitely not too keen to be going home so soon.
I did not get to spend as much time as I would have liked at Papi Hills; but I did manage to capture its beauty with my lens. If you need a short break away from the sights and sounds of the city, I’d definitely recommend the place.    

..... Kishor