13-Dec-2003 -- I planned to attend a cousin's wedding in the town of Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh on 14-Dec-2003. I also found this to be a great opportunity, time permitting, to visit a few confluences nearby. As I did not have a direct train from Bangalore, I traveled to Vijayawada a day before and reached there early morning 13-Dec-2003.
I was to meet up with an uncle (Ananda Krishna) in Vijayawada and both of us, along with an aunt who lives there, were to hire a car and travel to Machilipatnam later in the evening. Since we had a few hours, I put across my plan to hire another car and head for 17N 80E as soon as we finished breakfast. My uncle and I planned to visit this confluence and get back to Vijayawada for a late lunch.
Anand and I put our gear in the car and set off. We headed north-west out of Vijayawada on NH9 (National Highway 9) towards the town of Kodad near which the confluence lay. We passed a lot of roads leading to cement factories on the route. Apparently, they find their raw materials in that region.
As we neared the point, the GPS began to indicate a right turn from the highway. This was about 3 kilometers before Kodad. Luckily, we found a village road leading in the exact direction we wanted to take. The GPS indicated that the point was about 1.5 kilometers from the highway. After traveling down the road for about a kilometer, we reached the village of Alvalapuram and the road took a turn to the right.
We followed this road even though the GPS indicated the point to be a few degrees to the left. At a point about 440 meters from the confluence, the GPS pointed a full left. We stopped the car and I requested Srinivas, the car driver to accompany me on this short walk through paddy fields. Anand, my uncle, decided he'd stay on the road as he felt he would not be able to walk the distance on those narrow bunds that we had to use. We walked on a bund between adjacent fields which seemed to lead right up to the location. But at about 50 meters out, we had to change direction a little and we finally reached a point on a bund that was about 2 meters from the confluence. To get an absolute spot-on reading, we would have to step into the paddy field which had a few inches of water. We decided to do it anyway and found 17N80E at 1042 hrs. The altitude recorded was 89 meters.
We took the mandatory photographs including a sequence for a panorama and headed back to the car. We met a couple of village folks there by name Mohan Rao and Lakshman Rao (they were father and son) who explained to us that rice and sugarcane were the predominant crops there. There were a few farms growing groundnuts (peanuts) too. Mohan Rao and Lakshman Rao were extremely friendly and spoke Telugu, the language spoken in Andhra Pradesh. We found it easy to talk with them as all of us speak the language. Lakshman Rao took a photograph of us before we thanked them and headed back to the highway to return to Vijayawada for lunch.
We traveled to Machilipatnam in the evening, visited a few relatives and then got a hotel room to rest. The next day was going to be a busy one as we were to be present through a few functions that precede a typical Andhra wedding and also had to find some time to get on the road to Avanigadda to try and locate 16°N 81°E.
Note: It is extremely interesting to note that another team led by Chandra Dasaka also visited this confluence on the same day! They seem to have approached the confluence from a different direction and we missed meeting each other by just about 15 minutes! India is a huge country, but isn't it such a coincidence that we and Chandra's team decided to head to the same point on the same day? It would have been fun meeting in the rice paddy field though! You can find Chandra's submission on the confluence.org site too.