Araku Valley, an idyllic weekend getaway spot in the north-eastern corner of Andhra Pradesh
- Around 115 kilometres from the city of Visakhapatnam,
Araku Valleyis ideal for those itching to get away from it all.
- This rustic hill station is perched at about 1,200 metres above sea level in the Eastern Ghats.
- The Borra Caves, also called Borra Guhalu, is considered one of India's largest and deepest caves in India.
AdvertisementAround 115 kilometres from the city of Visakhapatnam, the truly tranquil hill station of Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh is ideal for those itching to get away from it all. Frequented by people in Visakhapatnam (Vizag) who are, perhaps, sick of staring at the sea and need to get away from the sweltering heat, the picturesque hill station has also become increasingly popular because of its coffee plantations. In fact, the Britishers realised the potential of the region's microclimate in the 1900s and set up coffee plantations here.
This rustic hill station is perched at about 1,200 metres above sea level in the Eastern Ghats. So lovely is the terrain, that it features in a bunch of popular Telugu movies. Like most hill stations, Araku has a plethora of 'touristy' hotspots like the Borra caves, Chaparai cascade waterfalls, Tribal Museum, Katika waterfalls, Ananthagiri Hills, Araku Waterfalls, Tyda Nature Camp, and Tatipudi Reservoir. However, brand consultant, Shilpa Colluru, who stayed at Sunkarametta Village, recommends this place because "it is quiet, peaceful and lovely if you want to spend a few days doing nothing except stare at some gorgeous views, take long walks and generally unwind.”
The Borra Caves, also called Borra Guhalu, is considered one of India's largest and deepest caves in India. It features a variety of cave formations - stalactites and stalagmites ranging in size and shape. Tribals of the area share a legend that a cow apparently fell through the roof of one of the caves and miraculously survived, and the cowherd who found his cow noticed a ‘Shiva Lingam’ shaped stone in the cave and surmised it was Lord Shiva who saved the cow and thus to this date there is a tiny temple outside the cave that is frequented by locals and tourists alike.
While the area is teeming with waterfalls, it is also, unfortunately, overflowing with tourists, and discerning travellers may want to skip the experience. But if large crowds are not a deterrent, you can scope out: Chaparai cascade waterfalls, which are not traditional waterfalls, but water flowing over massive boulders that make for a unique experience. Three kilometres from Ananthagiri village, Ananthagiri waterfalls, also known as Tadimada waterfalls, is a bit of a trek to get to, and therefore you may find it less crowded. Araku waterfalls, also called Ranajilleda waterfalls, is a 60-feet high waterfall requiring a small amount of hard work (15-minute trek) to get there. Around seven kilometres from the Borra Caves, the 100-feet-high Katika waterfalls is yet another tourist hotspot accessible by jeep, and people have permission to cook there.
Tyda, a small village 70 kilometres from Vizag, is popular because of an ecotourism resort run by AP Tourism and the forest department called Jungle Bells Camp or Tyda Nature Camp. The camp is strategically located amidst rich flora and fauna and offers several adventure activities, including trekking, hiking, and bird watching, making it a great place to visit with family.
Getting there: Araku Valley is about a 3-hour drive from Visakhapatnam, which is where the nearest airport is located. Alternatively, one can also opt for the 'glass train' fitted with massive windows for travellers to soak in the gorgeous views. Upon arrival, travellers can hire a rickshaw to take you to your place of stay.
Places to stay: While the options are pretty limited, very basic and mostly government-run establishments, they are all clean and decently maintained, and the food is usually good — a wholesome South Indian spread. Colluru recommends trying out the special delicacies made by the tribals living in the area like the Bamboo Chicken.
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