From bullock cart to helicopter, worshipers use every means to reach Medaram: The Tribune India

Hyderabad, February 16

The eight centuries old tribal festival – Sammakka Sarakka Jatara – held in the small village of Medaram in the Mulugu district of Telangana has seen many changes over the decades.

There were times when people from near and far walked for miles while some took ox carts taking days and days through thick jungles to reach the place. They used to pay homage to the tribal goddesses who camped there for a week or more long before the jatara. They used to camp in the jungle by erecting temporary sheds with tarps or bamboo cut from the jungle to stay in place. They used to come from Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Khammam, Bhadrachalam and many other tribal dwellings all along the Godavari river on both sides.

As the crowd began to swell, the state government made arrangements to welcome worshipers. Now worshipers can reach by any means – even a helicopter to reach this small, isolated hamlet which is overflowing once every two years during jatara.

Helicopter flights to Medaram started in 2010 from Mamnoor Airport in Warangal. Charging Rs 6,000 for round trips, the Turbo Aviation Company organized helicopter trips. But it didn’t click as expected.

Again another attempt was made to organize helicopters for worshipers in 2014 and 2016 which proved unsuccessful.

Now Telangana Tourism Department in conjunction with a private company Thumby Aviation private limited has started offering services from Hanamkonda College of Arts grounds to Medaram village this year. It charges Rs 19,999 for round trips and Rs 3,700 per person for an aerial view.

Up to 1.25 crore people are expected to visit the Jatara, starting Wednesday.

The TSRTC plans to transport nearly 30 lakh people operating 4,000 buses while the rest are expected to arrive by 3.5 lakh private vehicles.

Improved road network, clean water supply and sanitation, among other amenities, are motivating more people to attend the event, often described as the Kumbh Mela of Telangana.

Officials said that due to Covid-19, many worshipers have already visited Medaram to offer prayers. It is estimated that four lakh devotees have already visited Medaram in the last days before the Jatara.

Adivasis living in forest edge dwellings in several states along the Godavari River gather once every two years to celebrate the valor of the legendary warriors Sammakka and Sarakka.

Tribals treat them as goddesses and salute their bravery in trying to protect them. Belonging to the Koya tribe, the mother-daughter duo died fighting against the Kakatiya Empire around eight centuries ago. IANS