The Nallamalas also called the Nallamalla range is situated on the Eastern Ghats. Nallamalla hills forms the eastern boundary of the Rayalaseema region of the state of Andhra Pradesh and the Nagarkurnool district of Telangana, India.
Nallamala hills are located between Pennar and Krishna rivers. The highest peaks of Nallamalla range are Bhairani at 1100 meters from sea level and Gundla Brahmeswara at 1048 meters level.
The climate of the Nallamala range has a warm to hot climate throughout the year.
The average rainfall range is somewhere around 90 cm. And, the rainfalls are frequent in the months of the South West Monsoon (June–September). As, Nallamala range is formed of fissured rocks, they prevent any water from percolating underground. So, the water discharge runs off as mountain streams to join the Gundlakamma River, the largest river in these hills. The temperature in the Nallamala range in winters are 25 degrees Celsius. While, Summers are very hot, with temperatures as high as 45 degrees Celsius.
Flora and Fauna
Nallamala range is mostly covered with forests. As, the water supply is less, the vegetation in the hills consists of dry deciduous forest with the trees Terminalia, Hardwickia and Pterocarpus.
The Nallamala Forests are the largest stretch of undisturbed forests in South India apart from the Western Ghats till the 1970s. A large part of the Nallamala forests belong to Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve that has good amount of tigers and leopards. Another notable thing is many of Kenneth Anderson’s writings are set in these forests.
As Nallamala range consists of thick forests and the uneven terrain and the scarcity of water has prevented the growth of any large cities in this region. Kurnool is the largest city in the Nallamala region. Next comes Nandyal being the second largest and little nearer than Kurnool to the forest.
The population in the Nallamala forests consists of the Chenchus, a forest dwelling tribe who have remained remote from the modern world even today. The populations primary occupation is farming in the plateaus. But, Chenchus, a forest dwelling tribe are still hunter gatherers. The Nallamala range was spot for ongoing Naxal activities until recently. In 2005, Police of the Indian government has taken serious action and cleared the forest of them.
Modes of Transportation
A state highway and the Nallapadu-Nandyal railway line pass through the hills. The railway was constructed by the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway. The train has 2 tunnels at Bogada, Chelama, and the most famous being the now abandoned Dorabavi Viaduct. The railway enters the Nallamala hills at the Nandikama Pass near Cumbum Lake.
Coming to the highway, it passes through a zig zag alignment and thus avoids any tunnels. The primary exports of the Nallamala region are forest goods like timber waste, honey and molasses.
Srisailam located on the River Krishna is the site of a large hydroelectric power project. Moreover, it is famous for an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Some other popular temples are Mahanandi temple and Ahobilam Nava Narsimha Temples.
A stream from the Gundla Brahmeswara peak ends in a waterfall and sacred pool called Nemaligundam (Peacock Pool). Another waterfall that is located in Nallamala forest is the Mallela Theertham waterfall on the river Krishna.
The Cumbum Lake is one of Asia’s oldest man made lakes dating back to the 15th century. The lake was built by the Gajapati kings of Orissa for irrigating about 420 square km farmland. The construction was done by damming a narrow opening between two adjoining hills. The lake was later renovated by queen Vardarajamma of Vijayanagara kingdom in the 16th Century.