India: From bullock cart to helicopter, worshipers use all means to reach Medaram

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 came 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 jam-packed little remote 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 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 trip and Rs 3,700 per person for an aerial view.

As many as 12.5 million people are expected to visit the Jatara, which started on Wednesday.

The TSRTC plans to transport nearly 3 million people operating 4,000 buses while the rest are expected to arrive by 350,000 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.

Tribals and non-tribals from various parts of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and other states will converge for the fair, which marks the celebration tribal traditions.

Officials said that due to Covid-19, many worshipers have already visited Medaram to offer prayers.

It is estimated that 400,000 devotees have already visited Medaram in the last days before 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.