Nagarjuna Sagar Wildlife National Park
The Nagarjuna Wildlife National Park lies in the state of Andhra Pradesh in the catchments area of the Krishna River. The sanctuary spreads over the five districts of the state namely Kurnool, Prakasam, Guntur, Nalgonda and Mahboobnagar. The sanctuary extends between latitude 16�15�-16�45� in the North and longitude 78�45�-80�00� in the East. The Nallamalai Hills borders the sanctuary from the southern side and the Krishna River in the eastern side. The sanctuary is 13 km from Macherial.
The Nagarjuna Sagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve is the largest tiger reserve in India and is also the largest wildlife habitation in the country. About eight kilometers from the temple town of Srisailam is Sunnipenta, where the office of the Project Tiger and the Field Director are situated.
The Nagarjuna Sagar tiger reserve lies in the Nallamalai Hill ranges, which is an offshoot of the Eastern Ghats. There are cliffs, gorges, ridges and plateaus with in the tiger reserve. The Tiger Reserve is well endowed with a variety of flora and fauna. The Nagarjuna Sagar Tiger Reserve protects a vast area of the once flourishing ecological system that existed here. Pilgrims from all over southern India found their ways to reach Srisailam through these forests. The forest was declared as a sanctuary in 1973 and incorporated under Project Tiger a decade later in 1983.
The sanctuary has thick forest cover of the Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest. There are plain vegetation of herbs, some shrubs, few trees and marshes with sedges. The scrub jungle and climbers are found at the foothills. There are thorn forests on the well-drained hill slopes. The hilltops have the dry deciduous forest. Niebuhria apetala, Ziziphus xylopyrus, Cissus vitiginea and Pterolobium indicum are some of the rare plants of the region.
Fauna includes Bonnet Macaque, Bengal Fox, Blackbuck, Chinkara, Four-Horned Antelope, Giant Flying Squirrel, Indian Muntjac, Indian Pangolin, Indian Spotted Chevrotain, Indian Porcupine, Indian Tree Shrew Jackal, Jungle Cat, Langur, Leopard, Nilgai, Palm Civet, Sloth Bear, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Smooth-Coated Otter, Striped Hyena, Tiger, Wild Dog, Wolf and Wild Boar. There are 150 species of avifauna including the gray hornbill and the peafowl. Indian Python, Indian Soft-Shelled Turtle, Monitor Lizard and Marsh Crocodile are among the reptiles found in the sanctuary.
The Rollapadu Grasslands are a little over 6 sq km in area near Srisailam. The region is dotted with dry, thorny bushes and provides a natural habitat to about a hundred blackbucks. one can spot the families of blackbucks out on their breakfast trail, a couple of bustards gazing at the horizon while taking a tentative foot forward. The day visits to Rollapadu Sanctuary is permitted.
Nagarjuna Konda, situated amidst the vast Nagarjuna Sagar Lake, derives its name again from Acharya Nagarjuna. Konda is the Telugu word for hill .
There is an Archaeological Museum that houses the remnants of rich bygone era and all the Buddhist findings unearthed in this region. The museum is constructed in the shape of a monastery or a "Vihara". There are models of "Aswamedha altar", Royal Bath Ghats (some of them reconstructed) where you can spend some good time near the water. The greenery and tranquillity of the place is a real treat all along your trip to Nagarjuna Sagar.
The collection in the museum is of great historical significance. Some of them are the great Stupa, which belong to the class of uncased Stupa (the brickwork was plastered and the Stupa was decorated by large garland ornament). It is said that Chamtisiri, the Ikshvaku princess renovated the original Stupa in 3rd century.
The museum houses relics from Stone Age to Medieval Age with beautiful stone sculptures, inscriptions, picks, hammers, spears relic caskets, jewels, library and articles from Palaeolithic and Neolithic Era. A small tooth and an ear-ring believed to be of Buddha and the coins and coin moulds of the Satavahana period are also on display. There are sculptures of large and attractive women apart from the Jataka stories on the large slabs. A partly ruined monolithic statue of Buddha is the centre of attraction of the museum.
Basically a mountain stream, gushing down the hill, is what is called as Ethipothala Waterfalls. "Ethipothala" in Telugu means, "to lift and pour". Just about 11 kms from Nagarjuna Sagar, Ethipothala Waterfalls are formed from the combination of three streams Chandravanka Vagu, Nakkala Vagu and Tummala Vagu, all tributaries of River Krishna. The water at this point falls from a height of about 21 metres (about 70 feet) forming a small lake at its foot. This lake has a crocodile-breeding centre managed by the Forest Department of Andhra Pradesh where you can see these water beasts from very close.
You can see the water fall from a table land on the other side. You can even go on the hill from where the water flows down. After flowing for about 3 kms, this stream again joins River Krishna. There are two temples at the foot of the waterfall, dedicated to Ranganadha Swami and Dattatreya Swami. As these temples are situated in the beautiful valley, you have to get down a few steps to visit these temples. You can also see some small caves besides the waterfall. People say and believe that these caves lead the way to Srisailam, the abode of Bhramarambika Mallikarjuna Swami. The tranquil atmosphere in which the waterfall is situated gives you a pleasant experience of your visit.
Towards sunset, these waterfalls are illuminated with colourful lights, adding marvel to the already existing beauty of Ethipothala Waterfalls. This beautiful scene is worth seeing.
Nagarjuna Sagar Dam
One of the highlights of your trip to Nagarjuna Sagar is the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam. Stretching across the mighty River Krishna, the first sight of the dam evokes a feeling of awe, significance, brilliance, praise and definitely leaves you astound for the engineering excellence it has been built with. Nagarjuna Sagar Dam is the tallest masonry dam in the world built across the world s largest man-made lake/reservoir!
Nagarjuna Sagar Dam has left and right canals called as Bahadur Canal and Jawahar Canal that are used for irrigating over 2, 000, 000 acres of land of the surrounding regions. The sheer size and enormity of the dam is about 124 metres tall and about a kilometre long. It has 26 crest gates through which millions of gallons of water gush out when the water level in the lake increases. This is one of the remarkable sights and a feast for the eyes. Whenever the gates are opened, large crowd from all over the nearby places throng to see this spectacular sight.
Four kilometres away from the dam is the view point where you can get the panoramic view of the dam and the picturesque region at its foot. You can also go to the power station, which is one of the earliest hydro-electric projects in India. There is a small lawn just outside this power station from where you can have view of the dam at its foot.