20-Jan-2008 -- We both suddenly decided at 12 noon on 19th Saturday to visit 16°N79°E which is almost 480 Kilometers. We left Chennai at 3.00 PM by our SWIFT reaching Ongole town by 7.20 PM. After a brief stop-over there, we took left towards Srisailam, the famous pilgrimage centre (Srisailam) and the water reservoir (Shikaram), through the smaller towns of Podili, Markapur and Dornala. We took a right-turn here and by 9.30 PM, we were surprised at a forest check-post called Chintala, being the entry point to ‘Rajiv Gandhi Tiger Reserve’ of Nallamalai hill ranges (Pic-1). Though the gates were supposed to be closed between 9.00 PM to 6.00 AM, all the vehicles were allowed to cross over to Srisailam through 34 KMs stretch of this sanctuary for a small but unlawful consideration by the forest watch guards. While I quite enjoyed the night safari through this thick forest, I understood that our venture to visit this confluence may not materialize at all but I did not reveal the message to my friend. After traveling 482 kilometers, we reached our destination by 11.00 PM and took shelter in a small cottage at Shikaram.
Next morning from the locals, we came to know that the terrain is not only a vast thick (Pic-6) jungles with good population of wild animals especially the big cats like tigers and leopards but also a sanctuary to extremist elements of naxalites (mixed with criminals) who are waging war against the government. Dispirited, we have decided not to venture into the forest. While returning back, with the help of our GPS, we found that 16°N crosses (Pic-2) the down-hill road exactly midway (13 kilometers from each side) between Chintala and Shikaram (Pic-3 & Pic-4). Surprisingly, 79°E (Pic-5) crosses exactly at the Chintala forest check-post (Pic-7). We estimated that the confluence is located 5.3 KMs north of Chintala in the high mountains of the sanctuary which is quite inaccessible.
MISSION INCOMPLETE FOR THE PRESENT………..!