A Joy Ride in a Coracle in Nagarjuna Sagar
Coracles ( singular- Coracle) or the round boats have been around for millenniums, Julius Caesar found the English using them during his invasion. And while the indigenous shipbuilding industry in India was slowly decimated by the British, ( probably as an act of revenge to supply ships to American Navy for the British American war in 1812. A little-known fact: American national anthem was written on a ship made by the Wadia Family of India) still the art of making Coracles survived. Although one wonders what happened to shipbuilding in India when just a century ago we were supplying naval ships to US Navy to fight the British of all the people!
So I was very happy to discover Coracles or round boats made from bamboo in a circular shape and steered by a single Oar by the boatman. To keep the boat dry the bottom of the boat is covered with a thick black plastic sheet, to keep the boat top and your bottom dry. Though don’t count on it as a lot of water comes to the boat when your kids decide to play with it and some more comes when the kid in you decide to give competition to the kids you brought in this world. Soon everybody is a kid in the round boat all adults are lost somewhere. Duh!
Normally Coracles are used in streams and rivers like you will find in Kaveri and Tungabhadra near Hampi.. The Coracles used in Nagarjuna Sagar are similar but hold the record for being used in one of the deepest reservoirs in the world. But don’t worry these boatmen we met were more skilled than the captain of the motorboat we took to the Nagarjunakonda Island.
There is a lot of life happening on the banks of Nagarjuna Sagar, families were enjoying the water body, people taking bath, people thinking about taking bath, boats drying, people enjoying the sun, some people hiding from the sun, holy men telling future and unholy men worried about their future. Some people were carrying goods in both the coracles and some in motor boats. Spoiling the perfect scenery was the motorboat going to Nagarjunakonda island spewing black smoke polluting the pristine air around us. I wonder is any pollution control certificate is required by these boats?
We saw them first from our hotel balcony, and later when boarding the motorboat to the Buddhist Museum on Nagarjunakonda Island. They look tiny when compared to the motorboats and but can hold 7-8 people easily with only one boatman using a single Oar to direct the boat. The highlight is when the boat guy takes the boat to the deeper water and swiftly rotates it in a circle that is when the kid in you enjoys the most. The more swiftly the boat rotates the more your head spins and the wider is the grin on your face. Oh, Boy was I glad I had brushed my teeth in morning and could display my teeth to fully enjoy my spinning head.
Traveler Tips: You can do this after coming back from the island. Charges INR 50 per person for about 15 minutes of the ride, though I am sure in the end you will also say like we did “ Yeh Dil mange more” ( My heart is asking for more). A few things you need to remember is there are no life jackets on these small round coracles so go on your own risk ( what a spoil sport I am), second don’t stand on the boat no matter what as it will change the center of gravity of the boat which is not a good thing. Otherwise, they were found and we enjoyed all the shrieks and oohs and aahs that we were making. Much better than going to those theme water parks!
So whenever you are visiting Nagarjuna Sagar don’t miss the boat ride in Coracles even if you want to miss the motorboat to the island.
Other posts in Nagarjuna Sagar series are here
- A Road Trip from Hyderabad to Nagarjuna Sagar
- Boat to Nagarjunakonda Island Museum in Nagarjuna Sagar
- Buddhist Museum On Nagarjunakonda Island
- Ethipothala Waterfalls
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