For a bored, over-worked techie, a weekend spent in nature’s lap is just the ticket to rejuvenation and replenished vigor. Araku valley in Visakhapatnam (Vizag) turned out to be the right choice for me. Being one of the closest hills – stations from Hyderabad, it had the right amount of nature’s attractions to laze off and enough interesting places to don your Tourist pants and check them out. First and foremost , the train journey from Vizag to Araku is valley picture-perfect with beautiful green hills, mysterious tunnels and streams. We went by train and returned by road, which is advisable so you can check out the other places in between like Borra Caves, Anantgiri coffee plantations and so on.
We checked into the APTDC resort and it was pretty comfortable. While the food isn’t exactly delicious, you can always buy food supplies from the market and get the food prepared by the locals. They make absolutely delicious Bamboo Chicken. Padmapuram Gardens was first on our list and the horticulture nursery and tree-top cottages looked beautiful and adorable. The cottages are ten-feet above the ground and it is believed that one can experience a rare swing when the trees sway. Then there is a tribal museum which showcased the tribal artifacts reflecting their culture and customs. It is indeed very interesting to see how the tribal people, so disconnected from technology, could come up with innovative and useful daily-use devices.
Our next stop was the scenic waterfalls, Dumbrigunda Chaparai. Situated 15km from Araku, you can easily reach the place by the city buses or private vehicles like autos and cabs. We went in winter season when the water flow wasn’t too low or too high. The beauty of the water gushing through the natural rocks is lovely, this one shouldn’t be missed. From there we went to Jungle bells in Tyda, a jungle resort. While the atmosphere here was cool, you can surely give this a miss. Except for keen bird-watchers and serious trekkers (might be the only night-halt in the vicinity), there is nothing here except thick vegetation and unkempt cottages. I recommend going there in broad daylight because from the evening, there are no street-lights and you don’t want to get caught in a RGV film kinda forest.
After a quick stop at the Ananthagiri coffee plantations (don’t miss their wonderful brew), we headed to Borra Caves. These limestone structures have beautiful stalactites and stalagmites and present a captivating view when the lights are turned on. These are well-connected by road and rail. While you are there, order your food choice in the restaurants nearby before entering the caves and hog on the yummy fare after a tiring tour in the caves.
If you are not travelling in your own vehicle, it is advisable to be aware of the prevailing rates there before itself because all the people in the place are pretty much united and are hand-in-hand with the auto-drivers, hotel maids, cab-drivers, etc. Overall it is an enjoyable trip with good places to explore and delectable local cuisine.
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