Sunday, March 2, 2014

Trip to Vizag and Araku Valleys



It was long time since we were planning a trip to one of the southern hill stations. Last week, we, Sankalpites, had our trip to Vizag and Araku Valleys. It was a memorable trip for me and hence, I want to pen this down, so that the memories remain afresh.

We started our journey from Kolkata by train. We enjoyed the train journey by playing cards and small games. Our train reached Vizag (Visakhapatnam) in early morning and our trip planner has arranged vehicles to go to hotel. We became fresh there and started our site seeing around 10AM. The day we reached AP, the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) passed the AP division bill. The major fear that all of us had in throughout the trip that the division of AP should not impact our tour.
We started our trip by visiting the Simhachalam Temple, where Narasimha abatar of Lord Vishnu is worshiped. The temple is situated amid the mountains, close to the top of a mountain. The visit to the shrine is well planned and queues are formed, so that devotees can visit the deity in a disciplined manner. We had to leave our shoes and go to the temple in bare foot in the hot Sun. Apart from the temple, Simhachalam has a small stream called Gangadhara. Though the devotees are not allowed to the stream, People can take bath in the water. The temple administration has supplied stream water to the bathing place of devotees though pipes. Multiple social rituals are also observed in the temple premises, like marriage, mundane etc. The road to the temple is well maintained by the VUDA (Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority). The view of the city and the mountains from the temple is beautiful. From the bottom of the mountain till the temple, the road has multiple sign boards and gates describing different incarnations of Lord Vishnu and how they relate to our lives.
From the temple, we directly went to the sea beach at Rishikonda and spend some time in the water and few of us took bath in the sea also. We cold sea wind was very well compensating the hot Sun and hence we enjoyed the place without being exhausted. The place also has a sea view cottage, but due to lack of time we could not visit it. After spending some time in beach, we left for Kailashgiri, a hill top park, where lord Shiva is worshiped. Few of us went up the hill by the ropeway and rest went by the reserved vehicle. The park is maintained by VUDA and has the local weather forecast station in it. The view of the sea beach, mountains and the marine drive road was awesome from the deck of Titanic (A concrete view point in the park, in the shape of ship deck). We spent some quality time there, took some pictures and had some snacks also. The taste of south Indian Dosha was good and very much different from that we generally get in Kolkata. We came to know that this park has received multiple national level awards, being well maintained and attracting huge visitor. The park also has children’s park and toy train facility. 

We left the hilltop and went to the RK beach, names after Rama Krishna Paramhansa, the famous Kali Sadhaka. On our way, we also visited the lone Submarine Museum in Asia, Kurusura Museum. For the first time I saw a submarine close to my eyes from inside it. The guide described us about the history of the submarine and why that is converted into a museum. We saw, how our naval officer in the submarine stay and move from one compartment to another in the giant submarine. Apart from these, we also had an opportunity to see such huge machines that actually run the submarine and the fire arms that the submarine carries. The Kurusura submarine has serviced our nation for more than 30years. From the museum we went to the RK beach. Close to the beach there is the Dakhineswar Kali Temple and an aquarium. Few of us visited the aquarium also. From the beach we were able to see the light house and the dock. We spent some time in the beach and returned back to our hotel.
We had to get-up early in the next morning, as we had to leave for Araku Valley by train. We packed our luggage, checked out from the hotel early morning and boarded the morning passenger train from Vizag to Araku. The train journey was a lifetime experience. We had to go though close to 60 small and big tunnels. The train went through the Similiguda Railway Station, the highest broad gauge railway station in India, located close to 996 meters above sea level. We reached Araku by 12:30 PM and went to the hotel to get fresh. Araku is a prominent hill station in Andra Pradesh that is famous for its scenic grandeur on Eastern Ghats with lush of green nature, Valleys, Waterfalls, streams and coffee gardens. We had our lunch in the hotel and took some rest.


In the afternoon, we went to the Padmavati Garden / Padmapuram Garden, which was just at a walking distance from our hotel. The garden is a beautiful landscape garden, famous for tree top cottages, is located in the midst of sylvan surroundings of Araku. It also has beautiful rose gardens of different colors. In the evening, we went to the market and bought some handmade coffee chocolates and powders from the Coffee House (very close to the bus stand). Due to lack of time, we failed to visit the tribal museum. We enjoyed the Bamboo Chicken prepared by the local shop and almost all of us appreciated its test. Bonfire started around 8PM and we had dance, games (musical chair, candle lightening, etc) and chicken for the evening.



 The very next morning, we started our journey back to Visakhapatnam by Bus. On our way, we visited the Coffee gardens and bought some coffee powders and took some coffee fruits (red colored berry shaped fruits). From Bora Caves, we took 4 wheelers to go to the Katiki Waterfall, which took us close to the falls. From there we had to go by walk, basically climbing the mountain. The experience was awesome and adventurous, as there was the fear of falling down. Though none of us took bath in the fall, we had our hands in the water. Then we visited the Bora Caves, situated in the banks of Gosthani River. There are multiple stories behind the caves and the river. We had to book the tickets to enter into the caves that include the insurance of the visitor. The guide also told us how the cave was discovered. We visited the most portions of the caves, along with the temple. The experience was really unique and amazing. I had been there alone; it would have been a horror land for me, with the sound of bats invisible from my eyes.

 After visiting the caves, we came back straight to Vizag and booked few hotel rooms to get fresh and from there board the train to Howrah. The journey was awesome. Had it been only one location, we could have enjoyed a lot and could have done more sightseeing. Any way it was a great trip.