There are some moments in life that make one say ‘Wow! It’s a wonderful life.’ The past weekend contained many such moments. The venue for our weekend getaway was Surya Lanka beach located near Bapatla, in the remote locales of District Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. This place beats all the themed resorts we go to to enjoy the flavor of rustic life. Surya Lanka has
it all; a picturesque beach, lush green countryside, unadulterated air, curious locals and a reasonably well-maintained APTDC resort to provide respite to city bred kids who have had too much of the country. The resort has literally been built on the beach itself. You need to get out of your room walk barely 50 metres and lo and behold, you are in the water.
The nearest railhead for reaching Surya Lanka is Bapatla. We took a late night train from Hyderabad and reached Bapatla in the wee hours of the morning. We were up at the break of dawn since the train had a stoppage of only a minute at the station. The gradual transformation of the pitch
dark sky to a light crimson in a span of 15 minutes, viewed while standing at the open doors of the train compartment, was a sight to behold. We were greeted by a handful of insistent autowallahs and rickshaw-wallahs outside the station. As we made our way out of the station, we felt as if we were in a time warp. The town was waking up gradually. Bapatla is on its way to development but it is still in the early stages and hasn’t yet managed to obscure all the things that give a place character.
Surya Lanka beach is 9 kms from Bapatla. An auto-wallah agreed to take us there for 80 bucks. The single lane road was quite well maintained and seemed to have been carved between farms. Cool morning breeze and the unpolluted country air drove away whatever sleep remained in our eyes. Small ponds, canals, scarecrows, paddy crops, farmers, thatched roofs, buffaloes, you name it, and it was there. 15 minutes later, at around 7 am, we were standing at the reception of the resort where we had a reservation 8:00 am onwards. We walked towards the beach, which was a stone throw away. The beach was serene and mostly deserted but for some locals, fishermen and a few other tourists like us.
In the morning itself we found out that the resort had a provision of making cycles available to its guests, free of cost. A couple of hours later we took the cycle and were out on the road. We were surprised that the resort had cycles at all, and on top of that they were quite new and double rider cycles. And so we went all the way back to Bapatla on the road that we had so relished while coming in the auto. We explored several sideroads leading into sleepy villages, some even ending in dusty pathways. So high was our enthusiasm that we rode around for about 2 hours. The local villagers were surprised at the sight that we were. City folks on a fancy bike, riding along, laughing and talking all the while. People were actually stopping and slowing down their cars to look at us. A small crowd of admirers gathered around the bike when we stopped at a shop for air and oiling. It was truly amazing (not to be the talk of the town but) to be so close to nature, listening to the birds, the breeze, the constant whirring of the tyres and the sound of us breathing.
In the late afternoon we went to the beach and then into the water. The sea was warm from the afternoon sun and the waves were gentle but growing in intensity as the evening approached. Later in the evening, after dusk, we went out to the beach for a stroll. It was completely deserted except for a few rowdy drunks at a distance who were guffawing around with their car lights on, destroying the peace and quiet of the beach.
Next morning were back on our cycle, riding around on the beach, which is atleast a few kilometres long. Oh! Did I mention, you can drive on the beach. The fishermen were sitting on the beach, with their nets spread out in front of them, separating the squids from the fish. Many of the boats were already out, looking for their ware.
The resort restaurant doesnt open until 8 so we had a sumptuous breakfast at a nearby tea stall. A dosa, idly, bread omellete and 3 teas each later, we were stuffed. We made sand castles on the beach, went into the sea once more and finally settled down by afternoon for the world cup cricket match. In the evening the floodlights on the beach were on, giving it an almost supernatural look. We walked around, yet again, looking at crabs of all sizes running around on the sand. They duck into the little holes they make in the sand each time they hear someone approaching.
Surya Lanka is a place where you only laze around. There are no waterfalls, museums, parks or caves that you have got to see. (There are a few temples though. We chose to skip them.) You can just relax. There is the beach and there’s your resort. That’s it. For the hyperactive fellows like us there’s walking, running and biking too. Go there expecting to rest and rejuvenate. We enjoyed the country side as much as the beach, may be more, but take your pick.