Sunday, March 24, 2013

Visit to Chirala Beach - Sea Breeze Beach Resort

When my friend VJ said he was heading to the beach at Chirala I did a double take. Was that not Bapatla - where the famous Surya Lanka beach was located? No, he said, he had information about an amazing resort on the Chirala beach. Now I had no clue about either beach but Anjali decided it for me by starting to make a list of things to carry including her 'swimsoot'. Shobhs was keen too so there was no turning back. I got the car in order and took off from Hyderabad on the morning of the 11th, for a drive that was to be around 5 hours from the town.
Sea view from the infinity pool

I took the Hyderabad - Vijayawada highway up to Narketpalli which is about 80 kms from Hyderabad. The road is a toll road and in excellent condition. We bypassed Narketpalli and followed the signboards to Nalgonda which was the next town on the list. The state highway was in excellent condition too, though  there are a few ups and downs because it is being widened, and we went past Nalgonda and then Miryalaguda. We passed by Dachepalli and sometime after that started looking for a turn on the state highway to Narasaraopeta. the road narrows a bit but it is still in excellent condition and you hit a prosperous Narasaraopeta and drive through it until you hit Chilakaluripeta across the NH. From Chilakaluripeta you head towards Chirala which is a road that takes you through the towns of Paruchuru, Karamchedu and then we enter Chirala, a famous textile town, weavers and all. (Chirala actually means saree in Telugu). We drove through the town and sought the Ramapuram Beach road which comes after we pass the Baptla-Ongole bypass. A 4 km drive and we hit Sea breeze Resort which is sitting right on the beach with fine white sands.
View of the pool

The first thing that hits you about the resort is that it looks too good to be in a place like Chirala. The reception area to the construction, the signboards to the general activity around it, the proximity to the beach and the lack of other crowded structures around it makes Sea Breeze Beach Resorts pretty inviting.
View of the rooms from the poolside

We checked in and found that the sea facing rooms really open out on to a lovely view of the sea. The beach is not more than a five minute walk from the rooms, there is a lovely swimming pool that straddles the land between the rooms and the sea, a well laid lawn in the open auditorium, a restaurant, a garden cafe and pretty much all that you would like to have in a beach resort.
Play area that leads to the beach

The rooms are clean and well appointed, the furniture is extremely comfortable, the bathrooms are clean and functional and there is hot water running.
Open air auditorium

The air conditioning works, cable tv works (goes off during power cuts though while all else runs on generator) and there is nothing much to complain. The tea was good, the food was fine. There were swings tied to tall palm trees and the extra length of the swing made it all the more fun.
A private beach all to yourself

But the biggest attraction of Sea Breeze to me is the fantastic private beach it offers you. You can step off the property directly into the soft sands of the Bay of Bengal coast with not a soul around for miles. 
Sea Breeze resorts from the beach

To the left there’s a fishing village but that’s faraway from the privacy of the Sea Breeze beach. 
Fishermen shelter
Fishermen's boats
Shobhs and Anjali walking along the beach

What is truly magical is the bonfire and the table they set up for you on the beach at night if you wish. We skipped the bonfire because it was a bit warm but the dinner under the sky by the sea was magic. On a moonlit night it must be sheer poetry.
Sunrise at Chirala's Ramapuram beach
I chanced to meet the owners, a well-known doctor couple from Chirala, Dr. Manikyam and her husband Dr. Dasarath Ramaiah and asked them how and why they came about starting this property. They told me that after their children grew up (two daughters in the USA, and their son and daughter in law now taking care of the Hospital in Chirala) they had been looking for a beach property to build their guest house. They found this rather large tract of land and then decided to build a resort there beside their lovely guest house. They started the construction in 2008 and got it formally inaugurated in 2010. Their entire focus is on quality (and it shows) and it has all facilities for families and corporates. 
‘We’d rather not encourage walk in couples but have a decent lot of people coming in’ they say. ‘We try to provide the best experience we can. It is safe, secure and we provide good food. We pay our staff higher than the average here.’
Indoor Conference Hall

The power goes off once in a while as it does in all Andhra Pradesh but they have a back up DG set. ‘For corporates,’ said Murli their Manager, ‘we have a conference hall that can accommodate up to 150 persons at one go. We have a small pub constructed beside the auditorium as well. There is Wi Fi connectivity too.’ There are games to play, volleyball, basketball, swimming, movies etc to watch and lots to do on the beach.
Anjali in the pool
Jai and Anjali watching something apprehensively

What else does one do near Chirala I asked? Murli told me that one could go and visit the Kotappa Konda temple at Narasaraopeta, the Hanuman temple at Ponnur, visit the weaver industries in Vetapalem and Jandrapeta (both extremely close) and watch sarees being woven on handloom. Chirala is famous for its sarees, bed sheets and covers as well as the cashew industry. You could pick up cashew and if its summer the town offers some great mangoes and bananas. 
‘They taste a lot different,’ said the doctors.
‘It’s also famous for its plays,’ said Dr. Dasarath Ramaiah. ‘There are folk artistes here who perform the plays of Satya Harischandra, Krishna Rayabaram. They also perform the famous burra kathas as well.’

One could visit the famous Surya Lanka beach at Bapatla which is 18 kms from Sea breeze.
What about local cuisine I asked? ‘Chirala offers some great sea food,’ said Murli. ‘Natu kodi pulusu, fried prawns, gongura mutton curry, chinta chinguru prawns and mutton curry, fried crab, ulava charu are some of the local specialities if you love your sea food and spicy Andhra non-veg dishes.’ They can all be prepared at Sea Breeze if one gives half a day’s notice.

‘We’re planning to expand our facilities,’ said the ever smiling Dr. Manikyam who is always on the property guiding her staff and goading them to perfection. ‘We’re now building 24 more news rooms, adding indoor games like snooker and pool, table tennis, add some more conference rooms. We also have plans to introduce water sports. And certainly there are plans to open up spaces for locals to sell their merchandise here – cashew, sarees, bedsheets, covers and other such local items that one does not need to go into town to buy.’
I wanted to know if they could organise a visit to the weaver colony and Murli was kind enough to arrange that for me. It was wonderful to see the old handlooms working adnd the weavers working hard at it through the afternoon. ‘a dying profession,' said the weavers. ‘Our children have found better paying professions through their education and handloom is dying anyway once power looms have arrived.’ It was an experience to see the care and work that goes into making one saree. 
Sreenu weaving

‘Could take me anything between one day of 12 hours or 3-4 days,’ said Sreenu the first weaver we met. Sudhakar, a more experienced weaver said he does complex jobs only -3-4 days per saree. They get paid according to the job and their expertise of course. For example Sreenu could spend a whole day making a normal saree and would end up making Rs. 400 for it. Sudhakar could make anything up to 3000 or more. The better weavers get better work and more remuneration. They are all paid for in advance by the master weavers who give them the design the material and then the weavers get to work on their looms which are installed in every home in Jandrapeta. 
Old lady helping in the process

The clackety clak of the loom being worked at rings in your head as you walk by and wonder how much work goes in for so little. But they are happy and I am happy that I  could witness this profession and the concentration and focus the weavers bring to their work. One knot and it could all go for a toss said my guide. It’s well worth a visit to the weavers.
Beach walk

On the last day I spent time finishing reading 'The Snow Leopard' which has been on my hands for a long time but which was a truly enriching and fulfilling read. A walk on the beach in the morning with Anjali and Shobhs set the tone nicely for the day. 
Road to the sea

Then of course the mandatory dip in the pool for Anjali. We left at 10 and took another route back – the one that the resort recommends. This route goes to Chirala-Parachur-Guntur-Vijayawada-Hyderabad. It adds another 80 kms to the journey and though the road from Vijayawada to Hyderabad is in excellent condition it still takes longer and adds a further Rs. 300 cost through road tolls. I think I prefer the Chirala-Chilakaluripeta-Narasaraopeta-Miryalagua-Nalgonda-Narketpalli-Hyderabad route which is about 310 kms or so compared to the 390 kms from the other route.
Old mosque
Old mosque
Another one

As for stay I’d recommend the Sea Breeze Beach Resort unreservedly for anyone looking for a nice, quiet holiday on a great private beach in Andhra Pradesh. The drive would be about 5 hours and some, the view is wonderful, the pool is great, food and service good, rooms and loos clean and comfortable, great beach to walk in solitude for miles. For reservations and further details call Murli at 08594-202011 or 098499 60727 and check out their website


Unknown said...

Great Review, we are planning for a visit in the next month, can you please let me know if i need to make advance reservation or can i walk in directly. What was the tariff and was it crowded.

Harimohan said...

Thanks Pramod. I would think it would be advisable to make reservations in advance as I believe it can get pretty crowded on weekends. It was not when i went though. Tariff was in the 3k-5k range if I remember right. Have a good trip.

Unknown said...

The amount you specified is for how many people?

Harimohan said...

Dear Manoj,
I don't remember the details now. Perhaps its best to call and find out since it has been a while that I went.
Have fun.

Malik Ahmed said...

Appreciate your patience .The way you have explained your trip . Quite informative . Thank You.

Harimohan said...

Thanks Malik. Hope it helped.

Kishorepasupuleti said...

Hi hari planning to go to chirala on sat return on Sunday ...which is better road via sagar or the one you travelled ...I thought there are many speed breakers in that road via nakrekal...and also did you visit surya lanky also..if so what r ur comments...

Harimohan said...

Hi Kishore, Have fun! Chirala is lovely. Haven't been to Surya Lanka but I hear very good reports of that place too - cottages on the beach etc. Chirala's advantage is the almost private beach you have for yourself and the resort which I found really good.
The Nakrekal route and the Sagar route should be almost similar and I think they may meet up at some point. The road was good and not too much trouble in terms of speed breakers etc.
Happy vacation.

Rajneesh NS said...

Great review Mr Harimohan.
Highly informative. I'm planning my next weekend there.
Your review will be very helpful for me. Thank you.

Harimohan said...

Thanks Rajneesh. Have a great time.

Unknown said...

I am planning to visit next month.Thanks for an extremely wonderful review Mr.Harimohan.Already got the bookings of sea facing Deluxe rooms.

Harimohan said...

That's wonderful Ajay. Wishing you a great vacation. :)

Anonymous said...

Greetings! Very hlpful advice within this post! It's the little
changes that will make the most importznt changes. Thanks for sharing!