A trip to Machilipatnam
Motivation: I had two motivations for wanting to go to Machilipatnam. It is logical to suspect ancient civilizations in the Krishna Godavari basins, just as the Saraswathi-Sindhu-Ganga and the Euprates-Tiger etc.
The Historian, Nilakantha Sastry confirmed my thinking that South Indian pre-history has been significantly neglected. This is has a bit to do with the Saraswathi-Ganga civilizations viewing South India as a mystical place full of wealth (Dravinam) and magic. The view of the south is an external view. The internal view, or a history of the south by the south is much harder to get. Somehow I thought that if I went there, some insight might flash.
The other motivation is that my father is currently teaching in Machilipatnam and I was looking forward to a nice vacation.
Getting There: There is now a direct train from Bangalore to Machilipatnam and back. It has AC compartments which are quite clean. The train starts in the afternoon around 3 and reach the destination between 7 and 9 in the morning. The train from MTM on Monday is always late because it makes a trip to Hyderabad on Sunday.
Our Ancestral Home in Godugupeta, Bundar. It was sold in my grandfather’s time.
I was lucky to be in Bundar on Bhogi day. That is the day before Makara Sankranthi. People make community bonfires and heat water for head-baths. The ‘gobbemmas’, in the ‘muggu’ in the photograph are made out of cowdung. such muggus are made throughout Dhanur Masam. The cowdung is then patted into flat circles and dried. These are called Pidakalu. All the Pidakalu are collected and used to fuel the bonfire on Bhogi day. Other fuel like tree trunks and paper are also used. In my dad’s childhood, the kids would go around chanting, ‘bhogi manta poyyi lo karra’. This means the ‘Bhogi bonfire, a stick from the stove.’ People would contribute sticks which would go into the bonfire. In my childhood, we were practically the only people in Bangalore who had a bonfire. we did not have pidakalu, but we collected combustible, biodegradable junk for fuel for about a month and threw it into the fire. We also never heated water on the bonfire. We just warmed ourselves by the fire. sometimes curious neighbours joined us and made it more fun.
I wanted to see the sun rise on Makara Sankranthi day, at the Manginapudi beach near Machilipatnam. So we woke up and left very early to get there before sunrise. The drive is lovely and the road is good. That is when I realised that in Machilipatnam, the sun rises and sets into the mist several degrees above the horizon. You don’t see those painting style sunrises with the sun emerging out of the sea. Nor do you see the Uttarashada Nakshatram which rises with the sun on this day. So I put my cell phone and glasses in the car and went to bathe in the sea. The sun promptly rose out of the mist then. There were a lot of people who had come there to bathe. I have a short video, which I have to remember to upload and link to.