Lammasingi, Andhra’s Kashmir

February 10, 2013 By:

Table of contents for Tribal Terrain

  1. Araku valley
सुहाना सफ़र और यह मौसम हसीं 
हमें डर है हम खो ना जाये कहीं 
Shailendra, the poet who came up with these  memorable lines, must have been inspired by a place of extraordinary beauty. The place I shall be writing about in this blog is one such place. Lammasingi (लम्मसिंगी) or Lambasingi (लम्बसिंगी) as the tribals call it, is a tiny hamlet nestling on a ridge at an altitude of 2600 above sea level in the Eastern Ghats, a little over a 100 kilometres to the west of Vizag.
A thick fog envelops the road to Lammasingi

The road to Lammasingi

It was an unknown, remote tribal settlement till a discovery was made which stripped the place of its anonymity and earned it the sobriquet of “Andhra Kashmir”.  A few years ago, weathermen found that it was the coldest place in Andhra Pradesh, with night temperatures occasionally dipping to sub-zero levels. This news was broadcast by TV channels and the resultant hype has made it a popular tourist destination.

The route map from Vizag to Lammasingi

The route map from Vizag to Lammasingi

We set off on a cold January morning from Vizag when it was still very dark. About 50 kilometres south of Vizag, on the Golden Quadrilateral towards Chennai, we turned right and proceeded along the state highway towards Narsipatnam, a sub-divisional town,  which is the gateway to the Chintapalli forest zone.

L2

The thick fog brings the visibility down to almost nil

After crossing Narsipatnam, the ghat section starts and we go up a winding road cutting its way up the Eastern Ghats through dense vegetation. The entire route is cloaked in a dense fog which forces us to crawl at a snail’s pace due to the extremely poor visibility. However, one felt like we were making our way through the clouds and it lifted our spirits.

The veil of fog adds an element of mystery to the landscape

The veil of fog adds an element of mystery to the landscape

There is a fork in the highway at a tribal hamlet called Korrubayalu (कोर्रू बयलु), which, in the local tribal dialect means stiff as a stick. A gruesome tale has it that a thief was caught at night and was tied to a tree as punishment and in the morning, his body was found frozen stiff due to the cold weather. That is how this hamlet acquired this name.

The signpost at Korrubayalu

The signpost at Korrabayalu

At Korrubayalu, we take the left prong of the fork and 1 kilometre down the road, we enter Lammasingi. Other than a few ramshackle huts, there is absolutely nothing remarkable about this nondescript tribal settlement. We drive a few metres ahead and park our cars in a small clearing.

A beautiful vista at Lammasingi

When we step out of our cars, boy, was it cold! Not as bone-chillingly cold as we had expected it to be but in a bracingly pleasant way (must have been about 5⁰C). Both sides of the road were flanked by tall trees and thick shrubs and flowering plants. Botany being an area of darkness for me, I cannot identify them but like any lay person, I was captivated by their bright colours. Maybe Gita or Praveen can identify them for our benefit.

Wild buttercups?

A wild but beautiful yellow flower; is it a buttercup?

Other than a few shacks, there are no facilities whatsoever. Even the usually ubiquitous chai shop is conspicuous by its absence. However, having been forewarned by those who have been here before, we had brought some hot beverages in thermos flasks along with us and we stood in the middle of nowhere sipping piping hot coffee out of paper cups in the deliciously cold tribal hamlet.

L16

A spider’s web captures pearls of dew on a wildberry plant

“यह कौन हँसता है फूलों में छुपकर 

बहार बेचैन है किस की धुन पर 

कहीं गुनगुन कहीं रुनझुन 
की जैसे नाचे ज़मीन “
The unspoilt natural beauty of Lammasingi

The unspoilt natural beauty of Lammasingi

As the sun rises up in the skies, some of its rays pierce the leafy canopy and gradually, the fog thins out, revealing the landscape around us, a hilly terrain populated by a wide variety of trees and flowering shrubs.

Sunlight filters in through the leafy canopy and gradually dispels the fog away

Sunlight filters in through the leafy canopy and gradually dispels the fog away

There is a clearing in the trees and I spot a cheerful looking graveyard with tombs sporting a fresh coat of paint in pastel shades. I stop to look at the graves and photograph them. I suspect that its is a tribal graveyard as I see neither crosses nor crescents. My wife urges me to hurry up since she doesn’t like spending so much time in such a place.

A colourful graveyard on the way to Tajangi

A colourful graveyard on the way to Tajangi

We stop at the Tajangi “hotel”, a smoke-filled thatched hut with a charpoy and a couple of wooden benches. The eatery is run by a tribal female duo comprising a garrulous mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law. While the daughter-in-law does the cooking on a firewood stove, her mother-in-law chats with my wife and they swap information in the effortlessly easy way that comes naturally to women (where are you from, how many children, who are all the people accompanying you, etc., etc.)  Steaming hot idlis are served on banana leafs along with coconut chutney and something the call “Bombay chutney”, a gruel made from gramflour (besan), onions and green peppers. Notwithstanding the downmarket ambience, the food tasted great.

An artificial waterbody created by a check-dam at Tajangi

An artificial waterbody created by a check-dam at Tajangi

A short distance from Tajangi was an artificial lake formed by a small check-dam. The water from the dam was released through a sluice gate valve into a channel which irrigated terraced fields on the downstream side. I was told that this was the only source of drinking water for the tribals of Tajangi.

Another view of the Tajangi lake

Another view of the Tajangi lake

The lake was pleasant to behold; ringed by hills on all sides. the blue skies reflected off its still waters and a pleasant breeze wafting across. We spent some time there, fascinated by the pristine beauty all around us.

L9

A small shrine to village deities who are considered to be manifestations of Adi Shakti

Near the lake, we came across a tiny temple dedicated to tribal deities. These goddesses are considered to be manifestations of Adi Shakti, the primeval energy that permeates the manifested universe. Its interiors are neatly maintained and the walls are covered by red granite tiles. Opposite the temple was a clearing in the trees, a place which seemed to be popular with picnickers, going by the amount of litter they left behind.

A manifestation of irresponsible behavior of uncultured picnickers who lack respect for nature and the environment.

A manifestation of irresponsible behavior of uncultured picnickers who lack respect for nature and the environment.

It was a horrifying sight to behold. The ground was strewn with non-bio-degradable polystyrene plates, plastic spoons, plastic bags, plastic mineral water bottles and food waste. It made my blood boil that people who had the economic means to travel to these pristine,  beautiful and remote places in cars for picnicking did not have the civic sense to take back their wastes with them. This is a sight I keep seeing everywhere and I wonder why the authorities do not take stringent action to tackle this menace.

A monkey peers inquisitively through the dense foliage

A monkey peers inquisitively through the dense foliage

By now it was nearing 11 AM and we decided to head back home since we had to return to Vizag for lunch. The visibility was good now with hardly any traces of fog. On the way back, we saw several monkeys flitting about.

L12

And here’s another of our simian cousins

It is a pity that the touristic potential of this beautiful place is not being unlocked by the state tourism authorities. It is tempting to think that tourism will degrade the pristine environment of this area but it is a specious, self-defeating argument. Tourism, if developed responsibly, is a win-win situation for all concerned.  For the stressed out city dwellers, it will be a much needed break. For the impoverished locals, it will provide incomes and much needed employment opportunities without having to migrate to cities. All we need is the political will to make things better. Since tribal lands cannot be bought by non-tribals, it is for the authorities to develop these places. The best way forward is to involve the private sector with strict supervision to ensure that the best practices are being followed. Am I expecting too much?

In the next in this series, I shall talk about my visit to another part of the same sprawling and beautiful forest.

About D.L.Narayan

D L Narayan has written 18 posts at Ghumakkar.

Love reading, travelling and photography, proud father of two highly accomplished daughters and trying hard to be the greatest grandfather in the world to my precocious and precious Aishwarya

43 Responses to “Lammasingi, Andhra’s Kashmir”


  1. Another Great post DL Ji
    I always though Andhra as a rugged and dry country but you are presenting its other side also.
    This area is always mystic to me and so far I never made it to this side except my Puri visit. Even Puri, I visited very late because once I read that Puri is a treeless beach that was a turn off but when I visited there I fell in love. Of-course the beach is still treeless.

    But the Andhra you present is reflects as we are in some western ghat sections.
    Thanks.

  2. That yellow flower is not buttercup. Buttercup is a tiny flower and a variety of poisonous Ranunculus family. It appears Thevetia.

    Other red flower (wildberry) is the famous Lantana species that is invading India.

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Thank you Praveen jee for your valuable feedback and the botanical information. The Andhra terrain is very varied, ranging from lush green tropical forests to semi-arid regions, from coastal plains to the rugged hills of the Eastern ghats. The culture and cuisine too is diverse too; in addition to the mainstream culture, there are strong influences like Islamic in Telangana region and the border areas show the influence of adjoining states like Odisha, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

    • injamaven says:

      Thanks for identifying the yellow flower. Do you know where Lantana comes from? All red like this one is rare, I think. You do certainly see it all over, blossoms usually in pink & yellow.

  3. SilentSoul says:

    What a lovely post DL.. ! and it started with my favorite song of my most favorite film…Madhumati.
    Although Madhumati was shot around Darjeeling, yet this place is also mystic and beautiful.

    Are the local tribals muslims…because they bury their dead ?

    It is really pathetic to see the litter in such beautiful places… and it is normally done by rich and educated people. In Rewalsar when we had fed the fishes, laxman saw many polythene bags lying around lake which people have left after feeding the fishes…Laxman with a smile said – I still remember the oath taken after your Khatti Meethi post… and he collected all 10/12 polythene bags and brought them up to the road and gave them to shopkeeper to throw them suitably…the shopkeeper kept the bags saying he burns them to heat water. Dont know when we Indians would learn to keep our environments clean.

    Thanks for sharing this FOG story of a beautiful unknown place

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Thanks, SS, for the encouraging response. The tribals are nominally Hindus but there is a proliferation of Christian missionary activities in tribal areas. There are no Muslims among the tribals. The graveyard appeared to be designated for tribals, going by the names on the tombs and the absence of crosses. Maybe this particular tribe prefers to bury their dead.

      I think that it is essential that schools should inculcate good practices in students such as zero tolerance for littering. There should also be a system in place where prior permission should be taken for outdoor picnics and the organisers should be heavily fined if they litter the place or degrade the environment in any other manner.

  4. Abheeruchi says:

    Hello DL sir,

    What a beautiful place. It is also untouched but under advertised too.

    Really liked the whole post except litters pic. Really hate these types of people who all just spoil the place where they come to enjoy.

    Thanks again for sharing such a beautiful place details.

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Thanks, Abhee, for liking the post. Most ghumakkars have reported incidents like vandalism, littering and degradation of environment by tourists. It is high time that domestic tourists behave responsibly. Indians do not break rules when they go abroad, I can’t understand why they cannot behave in the same manner in India.

      I hope you have read my insight article on responsible tourism. http://www.ghumakkar.com/2012/07/22/ghumakkar-insights-responsible-tourism/

      • Dr Hemant datye says:

        Excellent write up D.L Narayanji that helped to brush up my knowledge of eastern ghats of Andhra. I have been a Wildlife Scientist and a traveler for almost 3 decades have traveled length and breadth of this beautiful country of ours. It would have remained much more beautiful if our population was half or even less of what it is today. What am I dreaming…..!
        My personal observation about littering is that Indians who travel abroad and do not litter will not litter here to. Those who litter here, rarely go abroad and if a small percentage that may go in the present time, with new means of earning money, would be punished and would rarely have the guts to come back and tell the sordid story. The same goes with the spitting and painting the town red — literally. Kashmir valley is virtually devoid of plastic now and the only plastic thrown around is by the uncouth pilgrims of Amarnath and tourists – a personal experience of 2014. We can not have policing every where and we as Indians are turning into spineless entities who do not step forward to stop these things happening in front of our eyes – be it a matter of spitting, littering, wrong parking, public smoking or eve-teasing and foul mouthing. I have digressed from the main subject of your beautiful writing – my apologies. Thanks.

  5. As usual a great post equally supported by beautiful pictures , especially the artifical lake.

    Thanks for introducing us with less explored place

  6. Vipin says:

    Thanks for sharing the tales of these little known places, DL Ji! Your efforts are pretty much appreciated…lovely blog & pictures too are eye catching…i guess it’s raining lakes, Rewalsar, Lake Pichola, Dodital & now Tajangi…am loving it…

    Your expectation are pretty justified, it’s more of a sensitive mindset that people need to develop individually for positive and long terms results…am sure things will change for better with the correct education and the educational posts like these…you are doing a great job in this direction through your posts & your comments…keep it up!

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Thanks Vipin bhai, for your valuable comments. India is a huge and diverse country and there are literally lakhs of places which are worth visiting. As Indian economy develops and incomes increase, the pressure on tourist facilities will go up and it is essential that responsible tourism practices are inculcated at a very early age among school children. However, it is heartening to see Ghumakkars spreading the message and highlighting the need for protecting our beautiful but fragile environment.

  7. Rakesh Bawa says:

    Narayan Sahib, Namaskar
    A beautiful post whose uniqueness lies in the fact that it introduces a rather unknown place to the readers.

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Thank you, Rakesh Sahib. It might interest you that this tribal region was the arena for an armed struggle against the British in the 1920’s. Popularly known as the Rampa revolt, it fought for protection of tribal rights and was similar to the Santhal Rebellion in Bengal in the 1850s.

  8. Gita AM says:

    What a well written post DLN with lovely pics; particularly interesting to me as we had planned a trip to these areas some years ago but had to cancel last minute due to Naxal problems.

    The village Gods of Andhra and TN have always fascinated me. I have a vintage book “The Village Gods of South India” researched and written during the British era by Henry Whitehead. Those who are interested in such things may like to peruse this, it is also available as a free text Google book if you do a search.

    Your yellow flower is Thevetia peruviana and the one below it is common Lantana. The last monkey has such expressive eyes!

    I will be re reading this series with more attention later, I will not have access to high speed broadband for the next two to three weeks but for sure I will return.

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Thanks for your kind appreciation, Gita, and for identiying the flora. Yes, the Naxals ruled the roost for a very long time in tribal areas but the Naxal influence is on the wane right now and the tribal youth are no longer joining the ranks of the rebels.

      I too am fascinated at how village deities (grama devatas) have been seamlessly integrated into Buddhism. You might recall about Hariti, the Buddhist goddess who has also become a village goddess after the decline of Buddhism. Thank you for giving me the info regarding Whitehead’s book. I would definitely like to buy it if it is available. BTW, I shall shortly write about a beautiful shrine to a tribal goddess called Talapulamma.

  9. venkatt says:

    Great to get details of a hill station in Andhra where the mercury could go as low as 5 degrees. The pictures look lovely. Pity there aren’t are any facilities for the tourists to spend a night at the place. Thanks DL Sir.

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Thank you for your appreciative comments, Venkatt Sir. Long time no see; have you written any blogs after the great series on the Temples of Karnataka? The temperature in Lammasingi goes down to sub-zero levels in the peak of winter. At the moment there are absolutely no facilities for tourists but I believe that there are some projects in the pipeline.

  10. Nirdesh says:

    Hi DL,

    Seems like you have a bit of Delhi winters in your Vizag neighborhood. Unadulterated fog on a cold morning is heavenly. Here in Delhi it is laced with pollutants!

    Photos are beautiful – misty photos do have a charm of their own. One downside of wintry afternoons that I am experiencing on my weekend trips to monuments in Delhi is that the photos do not come out looking sharp. I am waiting for clear blue skies so that I do not have to tweak the contrast in the photos.

    I went through your Araku post also. It is on my to-do list next time I am in Vizag.

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Thanks Nirdesh for your appreciation. Nowadays, shooting good cityscapes has become a challenge due to smog and haze due to pollutants in the air. High up in the hills, the air and the ambience is so pure that we feel that we are despoiling it by intruding into their world with our polluting cars and unfriendly lifestyles.

      I shall be visiting Araku again early tomorrow morning. If there is anything to add to what I have already written, I might write about it once again.

  11. Saurabh Gupta says:

    A very nice & informative post DL Ji.

    You have changed my mind for Andhra as I have never heared about any cold place in Andhra.

    Pictures are good. to see litter at such beautiful place is shameful for those people who are responsible for that but it seems most of the place.

    Thanks for shariing such a nice post.
    Regards.

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Thanks Saurabh ji. Andhra has a varied topography and up in the hills, it is very different from the hot and humid coastal plains. Yes, sad about how people litter up places but by drawing attention to such acts of vandalism, we might contribute in a small way in spreading awareness about responsible tourism.

  12. Stone says:

    Fog, flowers, sunshine, lake, deities, monkeys and one of my all-time favorite song ( such simple words evoking strong imagery) – as usual a brilliant well-balanced post DL sir!

    “Cheerful looking graveyards” brought smile to my face and didn’t leave till that litter-strewn pic.

    Looking forward to the next one.
    Regards.

  13. Ritesh Gupta says:

    Hello D.L. Ji…

    Thank you very much for wonderful informative post & amazing Beautiful Clicks. I have never heard about Lamasingi & Tajangi but now known well through your post. I think that western ghat would be very beautiful. Lets see, when will our journey to western ghat.

    Many Thanks for Sharing us……..

    Ritesh…

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Thanks Ritesh bhai for your kind words. Yes, western ghats are very beautiful and so are the eastern ghats. India is truly a beautiful country.

  14. Harish Bhatt says:

    A wonderful travelogue DL Ji… Your choice of words is amazing. Thank you for showing us this side of Andhra…

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Thanks, Bhattsaab. Where have you been all these days? We have missed your presence here and we are all looking forward to reading more posts from you.

  15. Another good post on an unknown, untouched beauty of Andhra.

    Yes, the yellow flower is Thevetia peruviana, as said by Praveen & Gita. The Bengali name of this flower is “Kalke”….it is commonly found in every village and almost every home has a Kalke tree. We used to pluck Kalke phool (flowers) and suck the honey out from the bud end. If you see the flower next time, try that and I am sure you will like it.

    There should be a subject or chapter on responsible tourism in our school, otherwise, it will never be possible to educate people of our country and you are not asking much…this is a demand felt by almost everyone of us.

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Thanks, Amitava, for liking this post and for the info about the Kalke flower. I agree with you that inculcating a healthy respect for our heritage and the environment is essential at a very early stage. The purpose of education is to make our children responsible citizens, not just on imparting skills that help them make a living.

  16. Nandan Jha says:

    Ok, so tribal tale continues with a FOG.

    I think a Google-Map probably would have more helpful since one can interact with it. I understand that inserting one is a tedious process. But many thanks for the route. It sort of gives a good context of the place and helps one to understand the overall topology.

    Korrubaylu is scary. May be its a legend. Though this seems like a great quick-spot, but it is heartening to read that people live there (and in their old styles). White washed graves does give us a hint of their inclination towards cleanliness.

    The yellow flower is very common in Bihar as well in Delhi. Back home we call it ‘Kunail’ and in old days of Inland letters, we would use the fruit of this plant and open it and use the jelly (which acted like a gum) to fix the inland letters. :-)

    And as for expectations, I am hopeful that a lot of it would happen for sure.

    Meri duniya, mere sapne milenge shaayad yahin
    Suhana safar…

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Thanks Nandan for taking out time from your hectic schedule to read this post. Actually, the legend about Korrabayalu might not be apocryphal. A local told me that during the British Raj, police used to strip suspects and tie them to trees. While criminals used to confess soon enough, freedom fighters endured the cold till they died of hypothermia.

      Thanks also for the info about Kunail. In Andhra, we still use grains of boiled rice as a glue substitute.

      Regarding interactive google maps, earlier, they used to appear by default. I wonder why they don’t anymore.

      • Nandan Jha says:

        Oh, that is sad to know DL. I guess the world has definitely moved on to less painful ways of punishment/sentence.

        For your next story, please send me an alert and I can look into the Google Map issue.

  17. Tarun Talwar says:

    DL ji,

    I was absent from Ghumakkar for a long time and now find such beautiful travelogues here that it is impossible to keep up.

    This is turning out to be a fantastic series. The beauty of these little known places, the landscape and the greenery is brought alive for the readers with your sharp pics and lucid narration. I loved the Araku valley and Rayagada part in particular. Thanks for taking us there.

    Eagerly awaiting the next part.

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Tarun ji, thank you very much for your encouraging words. I have also been to a lovely place with a tongue-twisting name (typical of the South!) which I shall try to complete, hopefully, in a couple of weeks.

  18. Muralidhar Chennoju says:

    This is the place where our Guruji (Sri Pakalapati Guruvugaru) was lived and its a sacred place. You can know more about this area in “Nenu Darsinchina Mahatmulu” written by Ekkirala Bharadwaja Master. Thaks for sharing the pictures of the sacred place.

  19. Kranthi says:

    Hello Narayan;
    I’m from Hyderabad. I’m very much eager to visit this place. Bur before that I want to know all the details of this spot; I mean how to go there. So can you please Mail me those details or call me (m.kranthi81@gmail.com , 9885404088).
    Thank You

  20. Kaarthik chinni says:

    Hello narayan…

    I am kaarthik chinni, working for an MNC as a software developer, in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. I am really glad to proclaim that , I am from from the place called chintapalli , that is 19 Kilometers away from Lambasingi , as you have mentioned above. We have a business that is dependent on that cold temperatures there. My father is a well known cloth merchant there. I was born and bought up there itself and i have a long relation with that place called lambasingi , for more than 21 years. We , a group of friends , always used to roam in those forest areas to get our mind relaxed. I always had a great fascination to my place.

    I would like to take a chance of appreciating u for such a good article with nice words and colorful pics. Thank you for visiting our place and bringing the hidden beauty of our place , come into light.

    Best Regards,
    -Kaarthik Chinni
    Software Engineer
    MagnaQuest Technologies
    hyderabad,
    kaarthik.chinni@gmail.com

  21. srinivas says:

    I hear that spending one day in this place will leave you with malaria. Is it true? Are there any hotels to stay? What about food and hygiene?

  22. Dr Hemant datye says:

    There are some tribal communities in India who bury the dead. They do not belong to any modern religion. Many of them are Animists with deities in different aspects of nature .

  23. Sagar Kokitkar says:

    Hi
    DL

    This is one of the important posts in the history of tourism, and the reason is not only that it is written beautifully but also for the fact that it is the first documentation on the internet of an unexplored place like Lambasingi.
    I chatted with the APTDC officials on their web chat module and i was shell shocked to know when they replied : ” Sir we dont have any information for Lambasingi”
    So great work done by you.

    Its an Earnest request to share some more information about Lambasingi.
    I am from Mumbai and I want to visit Lambasingi, what are accomodation facilities there, how to reach there and what are places to explore there, i will be really glad if you could throw some light on the above questions of mine.

    Thanks

  24. Gauri says:

    Hi,

    Lovely post, and such poignancy hwle describing the graveyards.

    Is there a place to stay there if I want to make it a 2-3 day trip?



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