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The government of Andhra Pradesh has given the green signal to Papikondalu tourism, which is attracting tourists from across the country. Everyone is excited that it will start in another two days. About 50 people drowned in a launch accident at Kachuluru in Devipatnam Mandal a year ago.
The government has stopped tourism to Papikondalu in the wake of the tragedy, which has caused a stir across the country. All motorboats were banned in the Godavari. It was decided to resume river tourism only after tough measures are taken to save the lives of tourists.
There are 23 AC luxury boats and 5 launches from Rajahmundry in the Godavari. Also, 32 launches and 4 AC luxury boats ply from Bhadrachalam. So far, the government has not allowed a single private luxury boat due to non-compliance with the standards set by the Kakinada port authorities.
AP Tourism Development Corporation has given full approvals to the green AC luxury boat. Papikondalu tourism will resume from the 15th of this month with this boat. Overall, both the tourists and the families who depend on this tourism are excited about the resumption of Papikondalu tourism amidst many precautions.
Papikondas stretch for about 40 km between the East and West Godavari districts on either side of the Godavari. Thousands of tourists from all over the country flock to this place every year to see the beauty of the Papikondalu, the forest area, and the Godavari Soya flowing through the hills.
As a result, tourism in Papikondalu has been growing day by day. This has become a source of employment not only for the Kondareddy tribal people living in the villages but also for the non-tribals of the nearby villages.
About 300 tourists a day from Pochavaram Boat Point in the VR Puram Mandal and over a thousand tourists visit Papikonda during the holidays. They used to go to Papikonda in 15 to 20 boats.
By the time tourism stopped, the boat would have cost Rs 700 for adults and Rs 400 for children, and an additional Rs 100 was charged for AC boats. The ticket charge included tiffin in the morning and lunch in the afternoon.
After visiting Bhadrachalam Sitaramachandra Swamy, devotees and tourists reach the Pochavaram Boat Point, 75 km away, by road. From there, one can take a boat ride on the Godavari River to visit Papikondalu. Also, among the high hills in Perantapalli towards the West Godavari district, one can visit the ancient Shiva temple adjoining river flow.
Thousands of families depend on tourism for their livelihood. From the drivers of minivans transporting tourists to Bhadrachalam, to the workers working at the ticket counters there, to the lodge operators, to the hotels and other businesses in the Koonavaram and VR Puram Mandal in the middle of the route.
Also at Pochavaram Boat Point, traders, boat owners, clerks, boat workers, catering staff, photographers, boat dancers entertaining tourists, Kondareddy tribesmen selling bamboo artifacts in Perantapalli, along with bongu chickens selling Kollu sand dunes to about 5 thousand people.
People believed in this tourism and made a living. For the past four years, the excursions to Papikonda have come to a standstill, putting a brake on the lives of all of them. They aspire to bring Papikondalu tourism back to its former glory.