Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, located in the coastal town of Antarvedi in East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, is one of the most important temple in the entire region and has people thronging to it despite it's remote location, especially on pilgrimages.

temples andhra pradesh antarvedi east godavari
Inside the Lakshmi Narsimha Temple
As the name suggests, the temple is dedicated to Lord Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy, one of Lord Vishnu's incarnation. It was originally built Vedic Yagnas and hence it got its's name - Antarvedi. It is located close to river Vashishta, which is tributary of Godavari river. Close to the temple is the confluence of the river with Bay of Bengal and the sangam is also an important point to visit, especially for religious travelers.

temples andhra pradesh antarvedi gopuram
Gopuram of the temple
temples andhra pradesh antarvedi east godavari
Photographing Gods closely...

Architecturally, it's a stunning temple and I actually visited it twice to get these shots. The first visit was after sunset and without a tripod, but I could see enough to make a plan to come back again. You can also climb to roof of the temple (most temples don't allow this) and so there are even more opportunities to explore photography.

It follow the well known South Indian temple architectural form, with a prominent Gopuram, courtyard and the tall Vimana over the garbhagraha. The temple is also painted in rich colors which bring all the idols to life.

Here is a photo-story from the temple.

temples andhra pradesh antarvedi east godavari
Another view of the Gopuram
temples andhra pradesh antarvedi east godavari
An apsara...
temples andhra pradesh antarvedi east godavari
Horses of Sun God
temples andhra pradesh antarvedi east godavari
So many Gods in one frame!
temples andhra pradesh antarvedi east godavari
Climbing up...
temples andhra pradesh antarvedi east godavari
Saraswati - Goddess of knowledge
temples andhra pradesh antarvedi east godavari
Intricate work like this is what I love the most in South Indian temples
temples andhra pradesh antarvedi east godavari
More intricate work
temples andhra pradesh antarvedi sun god
Sun God once again
temples andhra pradesh antarvedi gopuram
Another view of the Gopuram
temples andhra pradesh antarvedi east godavari
Walking around on the roof
temples andhra pradesh antarvedi east godavari
The Lions - protectors of the temple!

To reach:

It's at a distance of about 100 km from Rajahmundry and 130 km from Kakinada. There is an airport at Rajahmundrywith decent connectivity through Hyderabad. From Rajahmundry you can also drive or book a cab to come here. The road is nice, but passes through many small villages so the journey takes a little longer than what you would imagine.


For any information, enquiries, bookings etc. please contact:
Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Vari Devasthanam,
Peruru is a small village located near Amlapuram in the East Godavari district of coastal Andhra Pradesh. It's an old village that has been around for centuries, but what makes Peruru so interesting?

Peruru is one of the few villages of the region which has chosen to stay with their traditional heritage architecture even as the rest of the state around them modernized. It's a small place, but even a quick visit by a non-discerning visitor will likely leave an impact. Taking a walk in Peruru is akin to a walk in a centuries old Andhra town. The houses have remained unchanged for a few hundred years, most of the roads are still mud-roads, there are ancient temples just like they did in the past, and there is noticeable calmness in the place.

peruru old heritage village coastal andhra pradesh
A traditional house at Peruru village
peruru old heritage village coastal andhra pradesh
A simple, typical Peruru house
peruru old heritage village coastal andhra pradesh
The village temple

History of Peruru

The town has a very interesting history and one that needs to be told. In fact the story came about when I was talking to a retired headmaster, GSN Murthy(more on him later), about his past and he mentioned that his family came here from Tamil Nadu hundreds of years back when a large number of Vedic Brahmin scholars migrated. Some more research and learnt that it was not migration by force or choice, but their movement was a result of marriage between children of two kings - one from present day Andhra Pradesh and another from present day Tamil Nadu.  As Rani Ammanga Devi moved from the banks of Kaveri to the banks of Godavari, a large number of Brahmin priests came along and later settled here. These people came to be known as Konaseema Dravidulu.

peruru old heritage village coastal andhra pradesh
I loved these lanes, only red mud...
peruru old heritage village coastal andhra pradesh
More hosues - look how calm this place is...
peruru old heritage village coastal andhra pradesh
Entrance to a house

Much has changed now and the original Tamil population is completely integrated with the local culture and there little trace of Tamil seen anymore. As the population was scholarly even then, they continued to give heavy importance to education and even in pre-Independent India, most pupil were educated and many went for higher education as well. With more opportunities in independent India, United States became a preferred place to study and that's how a large part of the population shifted there. It's jokingly even mentioned that each household has at least one member in America.

The large population outside India also sent money back home and were very particular about conservation of their heritage. Money was spent not just on their families but also on the upkeep of their old homes. Even though not many people live here, it's filled with huge mansion like old and heritage houses.

peruru old heritage village coastal andhra pradesh
Tulasi in the central courtyard
peruru old heritage village coastal andhra pradesh
Simpler houses...
peruru old heritage village coastal andhra pradesh
I loved the colors - green was certainly very popular

If the village was settled due to migration centuries ago, it's now being kept intact due to another wave of migration to another country. It's quite a strange connection.

My visit to Peruru

I visited the village on my recent visit to coastal Andhra Pradesh and here is the story of the visit and my conversations with the people.

"Saar, I think you will like Peruru", my driver-guide Subbu mentioned.
I had told him a few times since morning how beautiful the few old houses looked as we traveled across villages. He spoke little Hindi and even less English, but so far we had no trouble communicating.
"It's an old village", he continued, "and now a days many movies are also shot here. Tourists don't go there often, but film stars come for shoots."
Now he had my attention and we quickly made plans for a trip to the village after lunch skipping the planned rest.

peruru old heritage village coastal andhra pradesh
Celing of the porch

As we drove from the resort to Peruru, the landscape remained fairly consistent and stunning. I dozed off quickly and woke up only when we were already at the village after an hour long drive. I looked out of the window and enamored by the place. No vehicles, no people, just beautiful old houses.

"Subbu, Do you know anyone here?"
"No saar", be replied with a sheepish smile.
"Oh! But I want to go inside a few houses and talk to people."
By now Subbu knew that I always wanted to go inside homes of strangers and talk to them here. He was certainly amused by my odd behavior but his knowledge of Telugu had ensured a few visits to local houses already. I had also threatened him that if he didn't take me to the houses of strangers, I will visit his house. I think the threat had been effective :)

Over the next three hours we went from home to home and spoke to a few families. Everyone we spoke to opened their houses and told us their stories. It was exactly how I love seeing a place. We even got delayed as one family insisted that I have chai with them.

Here are a few stories and dreams of people from the town.

GSN Murthy
What is your dream?
"I am an old man now. I dream of happiness for my son and daughter now. I also hope all religions come together for the success of the country, without any discrimination."

peruru old heritage village coastal andhra pradesh
The headmaster - Mr GSN Murthy

GSN Murthy was born in 1946 in the house in the Peruru village of East Godavari district. His family originally came from Tamil Nadu about 300 years back but not they are fully ingrained here and speak only Telugu.

He comes from a Brahmin family where education was always highly valued. He also went on to get graduated and later became the headmaster of the village school. Now he is retired and runs a small coconut business.

Murthy stays with his wife and both their kids are working outside. His large house used to be full of people till a few decades back, but now it's largely empty. That's the case with most other large houses in the village as well.

GS Bhaskar Rao
What is your dream?
"I have no dreams as I have no interests. I just want to continue worshipping God like I do right now."

peruru old heritage village coastal andhra pradesh
Mr GS Bhaskar Rao

GS Bhaskar Rao works at the State Bank of Hyderabad and spends his evenings at the village Shiva temple everyday. He often sits at the temple till about 9pm with friends and then goes home for dinner and then sleeps.

He grew up in the Peruru village and can't imagine living anywhere else. The village used to have many residents, but now most have left. It's said that every home has at least one person in United States.

He is married and his wife teaches in a school in a different village. In Peruru he lives with his brother and his wife in their ancestral house.

peruru old heritage village coastal andhra pradesh
I had some great tea at her home :)

How to reach Peruru?

Peruru can be easily mapped on Google maps and it's best to follow that and ask occasionally for directions. The nearest big city is Rajahmundry which also has an airport, with connecting flights from Hyderabad.

It would take anywhere between 3-4 hours to reach here in a car. You can easily get a cab there.

You can also come to Vijaywada first and then come from there in your car or cab.
There are three things that I am fascinated by, and much of what I do in life revolve around these - Design, Travel and Technology. Anything new happens in these three fields always gets me excited and I am particularly very keen to try them out. The world is changing, and changing fast and I love to embrace NEW innovations which combine these three.


Something happened a few years back that's bound to change the way we travel and experience new things. A young guy, Palmer Luckey, combined virtual reality and 3D experiences into a head mounted display which was both better than current products and also affordable by the users. A company called Oculus was founded as a kick-starter project which went on to be acquired by Facebook. 

So what was so cool about Oculus?
So all you need to do it wear the headset and get anywhere for a fully immersive 3D experience. You can of course us this for gaming, but what's most interesting to me is how you can use it for travel experiences. 

However, to use the Oculus technology, you actually don't need much - you need the Google cardboard viewer, your smartphone and the app called Cardboard (available both on google playstore and iOS app store). My cardboard viewer is coming soon and I will add more details to the post when I get it in my mailbox, so do come back again to the article in a few days :)

Experience Spain with Oculus

And this is where Spain comes into picture. The Spanish Tourism has developed 360 degrees videos which when seen through the cardboard viewer give the users an immersive experience. To watch 360 degree videos, you'll need the latest version of Chrome, Opera, Firefox or Internet Explorer on your computer. On mobile, use the latest version of the YouTube app for Android or iOS.

Try this video out on your browser, but it's much more fun when viewed on your smart phone using the Cardboard app.

Oculus Rift

For those looking for even more immersive experiences, Oculus Rift is coming up early next year and it will be the first product after many prototypes in the last few years. It's so cool that if I were in America, I would have pre-ordered it already - well maybe I will buy it there on my next US visit :)

The Rift is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Whether you’re stepping into your favorite game, watching an immersive VR movie, jumping to a destination on the other side of the world, or just spending time with friends in VR, you’ll feel like you’re really there.

The Rift’s advanced display technology combined with its precise, low-latency constellation tracking system enables the sensation of presence – the feeling as though you’re actually there. The magic of presence changes everything. You’ve never experienced immersion like this.
It was a warm and sunny day (warm and sunny by Norwegian standards) when we realised that we wanted even more warmth and within minutes made a plan to visit Spain. We were a bunch of friends - three Indians and one Chinese-American, and our agreement on Spain was instantaneous. I was working in Norway then and this was my first trip to Spain, and so I was super kicked about it!

Barcelona skyline

Our plan was fairly simple - reach Barcelona, and then decide what to do only after that. I love such fluid plans where the place leads you to unexpected adventures and not the other way round. There was just one thing that I was clear about - explore the works of Gaudi, and of course laze around, swim and just chill on the beaches. Over the next few days, we did all this and more.

Now Barcelona is exactly how you would imagine it to be - beautiful and welcoming. But there are so many charming facets to the city that you discover only when you reach there, for example the great vegetarian food, amazing street life and very warm people. 

After we settled in our comfortable airbnb flat (200 years old), we charted our plans. Interestingly we didn't think too differently and we all agreed on Gaudi, old city, flea markets and lots of Sangria. In fact the first day we did nothing but eat good food and drink loads of Sangria. Barcelona sleeps late and so did we! Check out more details on what all you can do in a night in Barcelona here.

Beautiful stained windows

Me being myself, I always got up before everyone else did and went to a neighborhood cafe, and had conversations with the locals over a cup of coffee. Not everyone spoke English there, but it was still fun to have conversations with facial expressions and hand gestures. We discussed India, weather and tips for local places to eat.

For me Gaudi was the highlight of the entire trip, especially Sagrada de Familia. But there are so many more, not so obvious, Gaudi gems that it can take days to explore them all. Read more on Gaudi here.
Ah! Gaudi!
Ceiling of Sagrada
More Gaudi :)

We spent the last day on the beach just outside Barcelona and easily accessible by local trains. I swam while others relaxed, and it was as good as we imagined it to be. We all loved the city and the country, and were very reluctant to go back. We knew there is so much more about the country that needed to be explored and even now I am constantly making plans in my head to revisit the country, and check out all the wonderful delights that it holds. 

Just to share with all, I made a short list of some of the places which are on top of my long list. I welcome all feedback and more suggestions as well :)

Ibiza - the world capital of Night

How has a Mediterranean island managed to become the world capital of the night? In the '70s, in the era of the hippies and before the opening of the mega clubs, Ibiza was famous for its hedonistic culture and its love of partying. Now it brings together clubbers from all over the world who travel there to enjoy the sessions of the most famous DJs and then relax on the island's white sandy beaches. If you really want to know what the word party means, you have an unmissable date with Ibiza.  Read more.
The island of Ibiza

Caceres - Spanish food capital

The city of Cáceres (in Extremadura) was named the Food Capital of Spain in 2015. And there are plenty of reasons why. The gastronomy tradition in this area is so outstanding that it has a large number of renowned quality products: Dehesa Iberian Ham from Extremadura, La Torta del Casar Cheeses, Ibores Cheeses, La Serena Cheeses, Gata-Hurdes Oil, Monterrubio Oils, La Vera Paprika, Jerte Cherries, Villuercas-Ibores Honey and Ribera del Guadiana Wine. Read more.


Tradition and craft in Seville

In the old, historic centre of the city is the lively shopping centre of Seville where you can find all kinds of shops. In the Plaza Nueva, the pedestrian streets of Sierpes and Tetuán and the adjacent streets, you will find the large franchises and fashionable establishments together with the more traditional shops selling typical souvenirs, arts and crafts, guitars, flamenco dresses, fans and embroidered cloths. In the mythical Macarena Quarter, also in the old centre, the calle Feria is filled with traditional shops, many of which are dedicated to the sale of furniture. And in the called de Mateos Gago and the plaza de los Venerables you can find typical souvenirs from Seville. Read more.


Santiago de Compostela

Discover Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the Region of Galicia. Millions of people from all over the world come to this city every year, many of them reaching the end of the Way of Saint James pilgrimage route. Its historic centre has been designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. This is not the only reason to come, however. Here you can discover the main reasons to visit Santiago. Read more.
Santiago de Compostela

Madrid - the Capital of Spain

Madrid, the capital of Spain, is a cosmopolitan city that combines the most modern infrastructures and the status as an economic, financial, administrative and service centre, with a large cultural and artistic heritage, a legacy of centuries of exciting history. Also, it's known for great food, especially Tapas. Read more.

Buildings in Madrid

Adventures in Spain

Spain is often called the adventure capital of Europe and for god reasons. There is a mix of all kinds of adventures and sports, though I would love to try some skydiving, Canyoning and hot air balloons. If you are looking for even more, there is much much more to be explored, especially since winters are coming up soon. Read more.

To know more about travel in Spain, check out their excellent website: I need Spain!

Images reference: Pixabay.

“Is it very spicy?”, I innocently asked. I wanted to reconfirm if I had understood my driver-guide right.
Subbu, my driver, looked confused and tried once again.
“No saar, it’s very sweet. We fill it with ghee, jaggery and cashew nut, and it’s very tasty. I know you will like it.”

We were discussing the famed Coastal Andhra sweet Pootharekulu, also commonly known as Paper Sweet, which I had misunderstood as Pepper sweet. Pootharekulu is a sweet which originated in the town of Atreyapuram in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh a long long time back. The word Pootharekulu is made of two different words - Pootha which means coating and Reku which means sheet. Muthu certainly had me intrigued and I inquired about it as soon as I reached my weekend home, and learnt who I had misunderstood the term Paper was lost in translation and I assumed Pootharekulu to be a spicy dessert!

Pootharekulu ready to be served

This, however, was least of my concerns as all I wanted to do was eat it soon and so dutifully ordered it along with my meal. The property manager was touched that I wanted to eat this local delicacy, but regretfully informed me that the cook at the hotel couldn’t possibly make it and it can only be had in a village home or a village sweet-shop. This little piece of news devastated me but I wasn’t ready to go back from East Godavari, the birthplace of Pootharekulu, without tasting it. I hatched a plan with may driver who promised to take me to a village where the women made it, but for that I needed to leave the hotel at the break of dawn. We agreed to meet at 6.30am the following morning to discover the origins of this fabled sweet.

Exploring Pootharekulu in coastal Andhra

Subbu didn't come as he was going to a girl’s house to ask her hand in marriage, so his elder cousin brother, Kasi, came. Much well versed with the region, Kasi became an enthusiastic guide to me, though he spoke very little English or Hindi and our conversations had more grunts, hand gestures and frowns.

Anyway, we met as planned and drove straight (well I stopped the car to take some morning shots) to a village called Machili and knocked on the door of Mr Srinivas and his wife Renuka. Srinivas worked earlier as a farmer, then in a spinning mill and finally in the business of making paper sweet. His wife, along with other women form the neighbourhood, makes the sweets everyday based on the order received. The day starts at 4am and ends late in the evening, however many small groups of women come home and help in this.

Recipe of Pootharekulu

The process of making the paper sweet is not as complicated as I imagined it to be, though the process of making the thin rice sheets (the paper part in the sweet) requires a lot of skill.

Ingredients of Pootharekulu:

1. Paper-rice
2. Desi Ghee
3. Jaggery (or sugar)
4. Broken cashew nut (or other dry fruits)
5. Lots of skill and love

Here are the key steps to follow for making the sweet.

Step 1: Take three layers of the rice paper, the bottom layer is a complete one while the others on top are more like broken pieces and put them on a small wooden table in front of you.

Step 1: Pootharekulu
Step 2: Put a few drops of desi ghee, jaggery and broken cashew nut on it. Ghee makes the rice paper a little soft which allows it to be folded easily.

Step 2: Pootharekulu

Step 3: Make two folds and put some more ghee, jaggery and broken cashew nut.

Step 3: Pootharekulu
Step 4: Make more folds and the sweet is ready to be eaten or packed!

Step 4: Pootharekulu
Step 4: Pootharekulu

Step 5: Pack into plastic wraps and then in a carton box to be sent to homes or shop for sale. The plastic wrapper is used for holding it so that your hands do not get oily.

Step 5: Pootharekulu
Step 5: Pootharekulu

Step 6: It’s best served fresh and warm. However, if you eating it later, you can cool it down a little bit and that makes the roll a little less oily.

I had it when it was still warm from the warm ghee being used. The paper rice and the chew nuts added the crunchiness, while jaggery added sweetness to this delicacy. Each bite into it came with a distinct little sound and the paper melted soon after in the mouth. I ate two and was done with my breakfast already :)

Step 6: Pootharekulu
Pootharekulu on sale in a village shop

Making of the paper-rice

However, my Pootharekulu exploration was incomplete without witnessing the making of the rice-paper. The making of the paper is almost an art in itself and only a few women do it. We decided to trace the woman who supplies to Srinivas and then visited her house.

Dhanalakshmi is a widow who lives all by herself in the house of parents and makes paper from rice every day. It’s something she learnt from her mother and has been doing it all her life. After the death of her husband (due to excessive alcohol consumption), she made her living with the money she earned from it. Now she makes the paper for Srinivas only and it’s enough to sustain herself.

She actually welcomed us with open arms and heart and nicely showed us how to make rice papers also. The process can be broken down into the following steps:

Step 1: Make a very thin rice batter called jaya biyyam. It’s consistency is only slightly more than water.

Step 1: Rice paper
Step 2: Taken an earthen pot, invert it and light a fire underneath.

Step 2: paper rice

Step 3: Let the pot get very hot, otherwise the paper won’t be formed nicely. Coconut leaves are used to make and sustain fire. The earthen pot is good for retaining heat consistently.

Step 3: Rice paper

Step 4: Dip a thin cotton cloth and use it to spread a very thin layer on top of the earthen opt. This is done in one quick shot and the rice layer is barely even seen till it’s scarped off. The first few will get wasted, but then it comes out as almost circular rice sheet with a bulge in the centre.

Step 4: Rice paper
Step 4: Rice paper

Step 5: The rice sheets are stacked on top of each other and that’s how they are supplied for making Pootharekulu.

Step 5: Rice paper

I thanked Dhanalakshmi profusely and she gifted me a few rice-paper to take back home. I also bought some Pootharekulu from Srinivas, and it costed a paltry Rs 150 for 50 pieces. These are often sold for a much higher prices in the sweetshops in the cities.

Pootharekulu - a dying art

Making Pootharekulu is a special art and not too many people can do it well. Due to this it has not spread much beyond the twin Godavari districts and can sometimes be seen in nearby big cities also. There have been efforts to get the Geographical tag for the sweet as well, but so far no work has happened on that front.
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