From ox cart to helicopter – now devotees take any means to reach Medaram

From ox cart to helicopter – now devotees take any means to reach Medaram

Hyderabad, Feb 15 (UNI) The eight centuries old tribal festival – Sammakka Sarakka jatara – held in the small village of Medaram 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 shelters with tarps or bamboo cut from the jungle to stay in place. They came from Chhattisgarh, 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 jam-packed little secluded hamlet 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 collaboration with a private company Thumby Aviation private limited started this year to offer services from Hanamkonda College of Arts grounds to Medaram village. 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. 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. The improvement of the road network, the supply of drinking water and sanitation, among other amenities, motivate more people to participate in this spectacular event. This year, the Jatara is scheduled for February 16-19. UNI VV GK