Railway and bus stations in Hyderabad are packed with passengers while the road leading towards Vijayawada is choking with vehicles as lakhs are heading home to celebrate Sankranti, leaving the city roads almost deserted.
Trains and buses to various destinations in Andhra Pradesh are overcrowded with people, who are in a hurry to be with their near and dear ones to celebrate the harvest festival Jan 14 that is also celebrated with enthusiasm in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Dozens of special trains run by the railways and hundreds of buses operated by the state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) are proving inadequate to tackle the unprecedented rush this year.
Families were seen waiting for hours to board the trains and buses to their destinations. Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS), Jubilee Bus Station (JBS) and other bus stands at Dilsukhnagar and L.B. Nagar were teeming with people, looking to catch the next available bus to their hometowns.
Chaos prevailed at Secunderabad and Hyderabad railway stations as thousands were jostling to board the trains. Even those who had not reserved their tickets were seen boarding reserved passenger coaches while many were waiting in long queues for travel in general compartments.
Families which found no seat on bus or train, left in their own vehicles. The Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway was choking with hundreds of cars as those owning four-wheelers preferred to travel in their vehicles. Thousands of families were using the route to reach their hometowns in coastal Andhra.
Witnesses said there were two-km to five-km long traffic jams at toll gates on the highway in Nalgonda and Krishna districts.
Those who are not lucky to own the cars, left on their motorbikes or even boarded trucks and other goods vehicles.
The government employees and those working in IT sector left for hometowns late Friday or early Saturday to enjoy an extended holiday. Others left Sunday for the three-day festival.
Every year, an estimated two million people from Hyderabad and its surroundings visit their hometowns for Sankranti. Majority of them head towards coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions.
The rush on APSRTC buses this year is unprecedented as many private bus operators have suspended their services due to the drive launched by the transport authorities.
Following the fire on a private Volvo bus, which claimed 45 lives at Palem in Mahabubnagar district in October, the transport department began a crackdown on private operators for violating various regulations. The authorities have seized a large number of buses.
The APSRTC is running 5,500 special buses while the South Central Railway (SCR) is operating about 50 trains to clear the festival rush.
Hyderabad, which witnessed unprecedented economic activity and emerged as a key Information Technology hub in India during the past 15 years, has a population of eight million under Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Area (HMDA). An estimated 25 percent of the city population comprises migrants from Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra).
On no other festival people in such large numbers go home. It leaves the usually busy roads and intersections in Hyderabad rather deserted.
Sankranti offers an opportunity to people to re-visit their roots. A large number of techies, students, government and private employees and also businessmen from coastal Andhra never miss the opportunity to visit their native places.
Their children enjoy the holiday with a feel of the countryside. They celebrate the holiday by visiting the fields, flying kites, watching decorated bulls, cock-fights, bullock-cart races, and other rural sports that are organised on the occasion.