“Travelling – it leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller” – Ibn Battuta
The sunny morning of Sunday saw the Ghanian students of SRM Amaravati, AP, along with Ms. Saalai Manikam, Founder Secretary of Periyar African Foundation and Mr. Rana Vikram Singh, Assistant Director – Student Affairs Department, traversing the agriculture farmlands of Neerukonda village in Amaravati. I had the opportunity to accompany them.
The day started off with Ms. Saalai Manikam having a chat with the Ghanian students sponsored by her foundation at Ghana over a cup of tea. Experiences were shared, incidents were discussed and gifts were exchanged. The students from Ghana gifted Mr. Ish Bagga, Mr. Rana Vikram Singh and Dr. Gunasekaran (Registrar, SRM Amaravati) the traditional Ghanian Smock as a token of their love and appreciation.
After the introductions, the students started off on a journey to the local farmlands of lush green fields of Gram, Jute, Cotton and Sugarcane. We made the best of the opportunity and let ourselves become one with the nature. The green fields framed by the rugged hills of Neerukonda was a picturesque sight. Ms. Saalai Manikam took these Ghanian students to the farmlands for the purpose of making them understand the importance of agriculture, export and entrepreneurship to support their country after they are engineering graduates.
Next, trudging through cotton fields and occasional paddy ones, we reached Thulluru, the abode of the Dhayana Budda Project of Andhra Pradesh Tourism. The lovely architecture of the Buddha shaped temple never failed to astonish the Ghanian students as well as ourselves. The trip was made even more delightful by the presence of young students of various local schools who were there along with their teachers on their Sunday expedition. The students surrounded all our Ghanian students with curiosity and clicked many photographs and selfies. They had several questions to ask for. The Buddha Temple had ever-intriguing inscriptions of the Jatak Tales on the walls of the temple which kept us engrossed for hours. The peaceful aura of the structure was the most attractive aspect of the building.
The next stop was the Amareswara Ghat, the bank of river Krishna harboring Sri Amareswara Swamy Vari Devasthanam. The huge queue and the pressing heat never failed to deter our Ghanian crew. Mr. Rana Vikram Singh engaged himself in a small career counselling session with the girls and teachers of a local school. These girls were not only curious about our group but had dreams and plans for their career. One of them wanted to become an agriculturist, so Ms. Saalai Manikam shook hands with her and wishes her well in life. In between the tales of “Kalash” and its significance and the lapping water nearby, we let spirituality calm our minds, but that was before we boarded the bus in search of fresh coconut water. Wanna estimate my level of thirst, courtesy the heat? Consider the fact that I forgot to take any pictures.
The Coconut Water was followed by savory Biryani at a local restaurant called “The Spice” – I totally second the name selection. Though spicy, the food was extremely good and depicted the “Andhra” culture precisely. Somewhere in between burning eyes and juicy chicken, we made memories too precious to let go of.
Bumping along the dirt tracks of Amaravati, we reached the Undavalli caves next. The impressive four-storied rock cut temple is now an archeological site. It dates back to the 7th century A.D., featuring an unfinished pillared hall in the ground floor, the trinity in the first floor, Anantasayan Vishnu in the second floor and an unfinished shrine in the last floor. Here also, we were surrounded by school students who made us feel like celebrities by shaking hands and clicking selfies.
The trip was enriching and fun. I can’t wait to go on another one- probably to the Buddha caves next.
Article By: Aayusi Biswas, CSE, 1st Year
Supported By: The Student Council, SRM Amaravati, AP, India