23rd - 25th December 2012
Araku valley is a hill station in Andhra Pradesh located
about 120 km from Vishakhapatnam. Situated
in Eastern ghats bordering Orissa, it attracts many people from Andhra Pradesh
and West Bengal.
Araku valley is connected by rail from Vishakhapatnam. The
route from Vishakhapatnam goes via Araku valley reaching the maximum height at
Similiguda station and continues further into Orissa finally ending at Kirandul
in Chattisgarh. The total distance of this line is 472 km which is completely
electrified. One might wonder why railways would have constructed this line in
such remote area. The intension of this line was to enable transportation of
ores from the mining fields of Kirandul to Vishakhapatnam port!! And for
general public, they have granted one passenger train running daily.
The best mode of transport to reach Araku is undoubtedly
train as the route passes though series of tunnels and bridges. But
unfortunately we could not take train as railways did not put additional bogies
nor enabled “tatkal” tickets for this train. Mistake from my side was assuming
that booking starts 90 days before journey whereas it was 120 days. A three
digit waiting list number was of no value!! We had no option but to take the
taxi to reach Araku.
We started from Vizag after breakfast. The first place we
visited was Borra caves. It comes 35 km before Araku. We were there on a Sunday
of Christmas weekend and hence it was very crowded. But the cave itself was so
huge that it could house 1000 people!! The entrance of the cave was very big
with 100 meter width and about 75 meter in height.
While I and my wife liked the place our daughter hated it
immediately. It was dark and also the crowds irritated her. But she had no
choice than to follow us!!
The total length of the cave is 200 meters where we need to
walk for about 350 meters to reach the dead end of the cave. Steps are
constructed and lighting arrangements helps people to see interior of the cave
better. It was an amazing experience for
us to see such a huge cave. The cave is the best place in Araku.
Near to Borra caves was Katiki waterfalls. The journey to
the falls involved some amount of travel on Jeep and walk. It was already 2PM
and we were extremely hungry. Since we did not find any good restaurants near
Borra caves, the plan was to reach Araku and have Lunch. We skipped the falls
for next day.
The view point is next to the main road before Araku. Beautiful
views of hills and the valleys can be seen here.
A museum that contains many collections of the tribals
leaving in Araku and nearby areas. In front of the museum is a Coffee house
which is a nice place to have drinks and snacks.
Nothing great and only kids can enjoy this place.
This place is near to Borra caves. We had to travel by Jeep
for 7km and then walk for about 1km to reach the waterfalls. The walk was not
difficult as my daughter easily managed it without much assistance from us.
We had to cross railway line during our trek.
It is two stage falls. The height of the falls may be about
100 feet. A nice place to enjoy.
Trip to the waterfalls would have been uneventful but for an
altercation that broke out. Since the Jeep people were charging a lot for the
trip, we decided share with another family. They were 6 of them including 2
kids. We were given an hour to spend in the falls which I feel was fair amount
of time. We came back exactly after one hour but there was no sign of the other
group. The driver waited for sometime then he lost patience and went out in
search of them.
Having been prompt on time, it was frustrating to wait in
that heat and dust. We were also very hungry. After 2 hours, the other group
comes in. I was angry but a simply sorry from them would have cooled me. But
typical to a breed of gene, they were arrogant. He started asking why the
driver was no seen and such questions.
I had lost my cool by then and started blasting them.
Me: “Driver has gone searching for you. Why you people are
so slow? Even old people are faster than you!! Don’t you understand that you
are late by an hour and causing hardship to others?”
He: (Clearly insulted on me comparing with old people) “Look
at us. We have kids. It will take time”.
Me: (I showed my daughter) “We have even younger one. But we
were on time and also spent a good time in water”.
He: (Now giving the actual reason) “It never came to our
mind that there was another group waiting for us. Only after seeing you we
Me: (This made me even angrier!! Here is a breed of gene
that only outside their self) “Only people without common sense can have such
thinking” (and did some animation).
I must say that my words were not gentle and was hurting
their ego a lot but I had an upper hand as the mistake was on their side. I
also knew I cannot go too far as they were localities. It was good that we did
not have common mother tongue!! Such words would have caused a physical fight
but when you speak in other language, it generally comes out milder.
Our war of words was broken when driver appeared on the
scene. A delay for him costs money and
so he started arguing with them. But he was silenced by huge onslaught of bad words
by the other group. Driver was milder and could not continue the argument
This is another waterfall 15km from Araku. Not strictly a
waterfall but water cascades down a huge rock. One can slide down the rock and
enjoy the water.
Hotels and food:
APTDC has hotels at Tyda, Ananthagiri and
Arakku. Since I did not stay, I cannot comment on the hotel but we had lunch at
Ananthagiri which was bad.
Vihar holiday Inn: This was the hotel we stayed.
It was decent and clean. The food was OK.
Horticulture department cottages: Cheapest one
but I think they have a complex procedure for booking.
Other than the restaurants attached to the hotels mentioned
above, there are hardly any good eateries. Most of them are road side Dhabas
serving oily food. Coffee house is a nice place to have drinks and snacks.
Alternate means of transport:
APTDC conducts one day/ two day trips from Visakhapatnam. Onward
journey is by train (They have 3 compartments reserved for them) and return by
Labels: Andra Pradesh, caves, hill, travel, Waterfalls