13-Dec-2003 -- Our Expedition to the Discovery of 17N 80E
By Chandra Dasaka, Abhay Singh and Praveen Goggi
On Saturday, December 13, 2003 at 1130 hours
At Mandapalam Village, near Kodad town, Andhra Pradesh, India 508206
Having heard about it from Chandra Dasaka, I (Praveen Goggi) became immensely interested in visiting at least one confluence point at the first possible chance. We shared the thoughts with Abhay Singh and he too found it very interesting and readily agreed to join us on our expedition.
The next challenge for us was to decide the “best” place. Chandra was most experienced person in our team as he had visited a confluence point (17°N 78°E) last year. Chandra also had the GPS (etrex), which was the essential ingredient for our success (borrowed from Guenter).
I must also mention Guenter Walser here, to whom we dedicate this expedition (and all similar expeditions which we would carry out in future). Guenter was the person who introduced Chandra (and now me and Abhay) to the world of confluence points. Incidentally, Guenter, Chandra and couple of other colleagues had been to 17°N 78°E earlier.
On 11th December (2 days before our expedition), Chandra and me spent time on the website to find out the “best” point to visit. After a lengthy discussion on approach roads and distances, we decided to visit 17N 80E on coming Saturday. On the cold winter morning of 13th Dec, I started at 5:30am from house in Hyderabad, picked up Abhay and Chandra on the way to hit the highway (India National Highway 9) at 6:30am. We had to drive towards Vijaywada (South East of Hyderabad) according to the map.
Chandra had marked the destination location on GPS and it showed 220 Kms towards South-east of Hyderabad (near a town called Kodad). With an average speed of 70 Kms per hour and couple of short halts, we were speeding towards the destination; we were all excited about it until we reached Suriyapet, where we tried to reconcile the GPS readings. GPS kept saying 100+ Kms still to go to destination, whereas all the maps showed only 40 Kms to the destination. We halted and discussed for about 10 mins and decided to go further till Kodad and then check-it-out, because the site-map did say it was very close to Kodad (which we deduced it to be in the range of 10 kms only).
At Kodad, the confusion prevailed when GPS showed 54.7 KMS towards East. I had my doubts and asked Chandra (who held GPS all the time) to keep an eye on the current co-ordinates, while I took a smaller road towards left, which would lead to Khammam town (40 Kms away). After passing about 5 Kms, Chandra observed that we have already crossed 17N and 80E, but the distance to destination, still showed 52+ Kms. Chandra also observed that the coordinates were steadily increasing, but the distance to destination was still. Abhay and myself asked Chandra to reset the GPS to point to destination from this current point. He set the destination coordintates (17N, 80E), but kept on looking at the older coordinates, and we went further 5-6 Kms down East.
At this point, Chandra looked at something on GPS and was alarmed and asked me to stop the vehicle. Chandra realized his mistake (he had set it incorrectly to 80.30.000 earlier) and looked at correct marking, which was now showing 9 KMS towards West!!!! We took a U-Turn, drove back 7 Kms West, this time completely believing on GPS. When we were 1.5 Kms from the 17N 80E, GPS pointed towards a smaller village, which was full of paddy fields and small houses.
We drove my car till I could manage to take it in the Village and parked it. GPS showed 1.05 KMS and we decided to walk down to our destination! We walked in middle of houses and farms. At about 315 meters from our destination, GPS pointed towards a small stream. We decided to walk across this knee-deep water. We were absolutely excited as we neared our final destination.
We walked across the paddy fields, knee-deep water and thorn-bushes to come to a point where GPS reading showed 16.59.999 and 79.59.998. We all became very excited and walked haywire balancing ourselves between paddy fields on one side and water on the other. We thought of getting into the waters again and search for THE DESTINATION. In the meantime, Chandra took two small steps towards East and Lo and Behold, we GOT it, he yelled. We had done it, we felt heavenly. We were in a small village named as Mandapalam, near Kodad town in Khammam district, Andhra Pradesh, India, 508206.
Dedicating this discovery to Guenter Walson, admiring our interests and discussing solid plans of visiting few more confluence points in coming months, we silently drove back to Hyderabad. Reaching Chandra’s house at 1530 hours, Abhay and myself had a sumptuous late-lunch in an authentic Andha Cuisine, chatting away our great feat.
Praveen Goggi, +91-98851-98951 or +91-20-295-3090
Chandra Dasaka, +91-40-3090-2105
Abhay Singh: +91-98850-02023