Vizag formally known as Visakhapatnam is the largest metropolis city in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and is located between the Eastern Ghats mountain range and the Bay of Bengal. Being a commercial hub and significant tourist spot of the state of Andhra Pradesh, the city is often known as The Jewel of the East Coast, The City of Destiny and the Goa of the East Coast. Near to Vishakhapatnam, there lies a beautiful Araku valley which is famous for its tribal communities and it is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Andhra Pradesh.
Two years back we planned a 2 day trip to this port city from Vijayawada which is approx 350 km. We took a night bus from Vijayawada and reached Vizag early morning. Having the sea on one side and mountains on other, the city gives you an opportunity to visit variety of places for sightseeing like-beaches(such as Ramakrishna Mission Beach and Rushikonda Beach), parks (such as Kailasagiri and VUDA Park), museums (such as the Kursura Submarine Museum and Visakha Museum), and other areas of natural beauty (such as the Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary, Araku Valley, and Borra Caves) .
We started our sightseeing tour with a refreshing morning walk on beautiful beach road which is a major Highway along the sea shore in Visakhapatnam and most of the tourist spot of the city are located on this road only. The road is very neat and clean, with stone benches all along the shore to relax and enjoy the beauty of vast ocean waves breaking on the shore and ebbing away. Shore is open everywhere, you can go and just sit on the rocks and enjoy the breathtaking view of the ocean or play with the majestic waves.
After enjoying the serene atmosphere of the morning on beach road we headed for Kailasagiri which is a park situated on top of a hill. From here you can get an excellent view of beaches, forests, and the city of Vishakhapatnam. Kailasagiri was awarded as “Best Tourist Spot” in 2003 by Government of Andhra Pradesh. On average, around three lakh Indian and foreign tourists visit this spot every year.Some of the major attraction of this park are Shiva Parvathi Statue, Shanku Chakra Naama, Floral Clock, Jungle Trails, Food Courts, 7 Wonders of Vizag, Shiva Temple, Titanic View Point, Shanti Ashram, ViewPoints, Art Gallery, Road Train, Gliding Base Point, Children Play Park, Conference Hall, Telescopic Point. It is also one of the favorite location among the filmmakers all over India. There are few shops of tribal welfare society from where you can buy beautifully crafted wooden and clay artifacts and accessories on a very reasonable price.
After returning from Kailasagiri we spent some time in VUDA Park.It is another attractive picnic spot in Visakhapatnam operated By Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority.(VUDA) located in close proximity of Ramakrishna Beach. It is an ideal place for all to spend evenings and leisure times on seashore with eye-catching and eco-rich surroundings. The Park is well equipped with a variety of children playpens, boating club, musical fountains, a multi Gym, Yoga Center, Kala Vedika, Pagodas and much more. MGM Dizzy World is another attraction in the park.
INS Kursura Submarine Museum:
It is a “must-visit destination” of Visakhapatnam. INS Kursura was the fifth submarine of Indian Navy and was decommissioned on September 27, 2001, after 31 years of service. It was gifted to Andhra Pradesh by the Navy and the Ministry of Defence and was thrown open to the public as a museum on the R.K. Beach on August 24, 2002.
Kursura is the same class of submarine, as depicted in the recent war film Ghazi Attack, based on the sinking of Pakistani Submarine PNS Ghazi off the Visakhapatnam coast on December 3, 1971.Kursura has the distinction of being one of the very few submarine museums to retain originality and visit to this submarine would definitely be a rewarding experience.
After this wonderful visit of the submarine, we spent our evening walking on beach road while enjoying various street food of the city. Next morning we started for Araku Valley, the most interesting part of our trip.
Araku Valley is a Hill station located 114 km from Vizag, close to the Odisha state border and is inhabited by different tribes. Lying on the Eastern Ghats, the valley attracts the tourists with its breathtaking landscapes and pleasant weather. You can book one day or two-day “Araku Rail cum road” tour package offered by AP tourism department. We had booked one day package which included the onward journey from Vizag to Araku by train, local sightseeing in Araku Valley and returns journey by bus with a visit to Borra caves on the way. As per the guidelines, we had assembled at Vizag railway station at 6:00 AM, there we met our tour guide, Mr. Sripad Vaidya, a very humble and jovial person who would accompany us throughout the tour. The train departs at around 7:00 AM from Vizag and it takes around 4 hours to reach Araku. After the train started from Vizag station, South Indian breakfast ( two idlis and one Vada ) packets with a bottle drinking water were given to us. This train journey is one of the main attraction to visit Araku where the train passes through numerous tunnels, bridges, and hills.There are total 52 tunnels on the way. Dark shade and presence of sodium lamp inside the tunnel do their magic on travelers. The ascent up to the hill is gradual, provides an opportunity to view many Waterfalls, Orchards, gardens and forests on the way.
After 4 hours of this majestic journey, we reached Araku at around 11:30 AM. Buses of AP tourism were waiting outside the station. Our first stop was a Tribal museum where the lifestyle and culture of the local tribes were displayed. After a brief stay there we left for Padmapuram botanical Garden, which provides a beautiful atmosphere with unique flower gardens and numerous hefty trees like eucalyptus, pine etc.There is a toy train to take you around the garden. One of the main attraction of this garden is hanging cottages on tree top available for booking. If you are a non-vegetarian, you can enjoy the delicious Bamboo chicken sold outside the garden by the local tribal people. It is Chicken Kabab but prepared by using bamboo sticks and cooking is done by keeping them inside Bamboo tree trunks. As my husband is very fond of trying different cuisines, especially non-veg items, he bought 1 Kg and ate it all even before reaching our next spot. I was wondering, how his stomach managed 🙂
Our next stop was at Punnami resort of AP tourism for lunch. The view outside the resort was very beautiful with lush green surroundings. After lunch, Dhimsa dance, a famous tribal dance form of Valley was organized at the resort garden by the tourism department. We also joined the tribal dancers, it was fun to match the simple and rhythmic movement with those tribal women.
Now it was the time for the return journey by bus. The road journey was no less than the train journey. The surrounding coffee plantation, deep valleys, serpentine roads, tribal people working in their fields were so beautiful that you just want to capture those pictures in your memories for a lifetime. On the way, we first stopped at Galikonda viewpoint, the highest point of Vishakapatnam district at an altitude of 4320 ft from sea level, which gives a spectacular view of a lush green valley, hills, a railway track passing below and tribal cottages.
After 1 hour of journey from here, we reached Borra Caves. Borra caves are one of the largest in the country, at an elevation of about 705 m (2,313 ft) and are considered the deepest caves in India.The stalactite and stalagmite formations at cave are
marvelous. You can spot a number of bats and the golden gecko in these caves. Mosses and brown-to-green algae are some of the popular floral seen inside these caves. This magnificent structure and breathtaking surrounding offer wonderful experience to tourists. As we were about to leave the place, rain started heavily making the place even more mystical.We waited for some time to rain to slow down and then headed towards our next destination Jungle bell complex, located in the lap of nature in the hills of Araku with Jungle surrounding from all sides. Inside the Jungle Bells complex, there are 8 resorts and a nice restaurant to relax and enjoy nature. We stopped at Haritha resort, one of the APTDC resort for tea and snacks. You can hear the chirping of thousands of birds as if some melodious bell is ringing inside the jungle hence the name is Jungle bell complex. If you have time you can also engage in adventurous activities like the spider web, tree top horizontal ladder etc.
After spending one hour we left for Visakhapatnam and at 8.45 PM we were at Railway station.If you have time constraint then this one-day rail cum road package is very good for visiting Araku.
If you have some more time you can visit few other places nearby Araku like Dumbriguda Chaparai which is a scenic waterfall and forest area and located just 15 km away from Araku. There are many more places to visit in Vishakhapatnam, for a complete plan you can use any good travel app like VisitIn which shows you the complete list of places to visit and suggests you the shortest route covering them all starting from your hotel or place of stay.
Some Travel tips to visit Vizag and Araku Valley:
- Avoid summer-time visit (April – June) as it would be too hot and humid.
- Tour package for Araku valley provided by AP tourism is value for money. You can go for it.(But Dumbriguda Chaparai waterfall is not included)
- If you are planning to visit Araku, do not forget to take an umbrella.
- If you are planning to do early check-in your hotel, talk to manager beforehand as we had to wait for more than an hour to get a room.