One of the most beautiful and most popular cities of Andhra Pradesh, Visakhapatnam or Vizag is truly a place worth visiting. The coastal city that is also the largest city of Andhra Pradesh is often referred to as "The Jewel of the East Coast". It consists of some of the favourite holiday spots and some unexplored gems. The region is attracting more and more tourists every day. Araku Valley, a hill station close to Visakhapatnam is a true gift of nature and learning about the tribes that dwell in the region is one of the main reasons for the place’s popularity. Peaceful beaches, popular hills and a wide variety of food, Visakhapatnam has something for everyone. The historic port is also the Eastern Naval Command of Indian Navy.
When to visit?
Due to the proximity of sea and high temperature, Visakhapatnam can be avoided during summers. If you enjoy the rain and wish to witness the fog covering most roads of the city during early mornings, visit the place during monsoon. Either way, Visakhapatnam has the best weather in winters and therefore, it is best visited between the months of October to February.
Approximate expense (For a day): Rs 500
What to eat?
There’s no reason to think too much about the food in Visakhapatnam. As a prominent city, it has every variety of cuisine that people usually serve in the country. Needless to say, sea food is a top priority in the region.
Araku Valley contradicts this quality of Visakhapatnam. Even though sea food is still a great option, there are very few restaurants on the hill. There are many road side shops but they are mostly found only at the centre of the hill station. Most guest houses do not have restaurants attached to them.
What to do?
The scenic costal city has plenty of attractions. It has beautiful hills and fabulous beaches. While beaches like R K Beach are crowded and commercialized, beaches like Yarada are calm and secluded. Friendly people and authentic dishes make Visakhapatnam much more special.
The hill top park at Visakhapatnam, Kailasa Giri is a popular hangout spot. It has also been awarded as the ‘Best tourist spot’ by the government of Andhra Pradesh. The scenic hillock has many attractions and receives many tourists especially on weekends. One of the main attractions of Kailasagiri is the Ropeway car.
R K Beach
R K Beach or Ramakrishna Beach is a popular beach of Visakhapatnam and so it is also one of the most crowded. It is named after the Ramakrishna Mission ashram found across the beach. Located in the prime part of the big city, R K beach is lined up with street food stalls and some shops selling sea shells and other knick-Knacks. Even though the beach is not safe for swimming, it is a great place to enjoy gorgeous sunrise and sunset.
Shopping at R K Beach
Yarada beach is located in the Yarada Village that’s at just about 15 Km from the city centre. The most peaceful beach around Visakhapatnam, Yarada Beach is also probably one of the most beautiful beaches. The beach is surrounded by huge, green mountains on one side and clear blue water on the other. Except for one restaurant, there are no other options available for finding food near the beach. However, lots of fresh tender coconut and corn are sold by people from nearby villages. One can take a local bus to reach the Yarada Village from the city.
The picturesque hill station is definitely the best getaway destination around Visakhapatnam. When in Araku, one can visit the tribal and coffee museums. There are also a few waterfalls that one can visit near Araku. More importantly, one can sit back and relax amidst the unbelievable beauty of the hill. Araku valley has tribal markets on Sundays, indigenous tribal people gather around to sell a variety of fruits and vegetables. There’s only BSNL and Airtel network connection in Araku Valley.
Where to stay?
As a popular tourist destination of the state, Visakhapatnam has a wide variety of options for accommodation. It has a hostel, many budget hotels and more luxurious places that provide accommodation at a range of prices.
There are no hostels in Araku Valley but there are many guest houses that provide accommodation. Most of the decent guest houses and cottages provide accommodation at a very low price. There are also some of the popular, artistic cottages that cost more but provide great service.
Hostels: YMCA is the only hostel that’s available in Visakhapatnam and there are no hostels in Araku Valley.
Tribal cottage, Araku Valley
Plan your commute:
Train: Visakhapatnam railway station (VSKP) is one of the important and busiest railway stations of Andhra Pradesh.
Araku Valley can be reached through train from Visakhapatnam and few others regions nearby. Araku railway station (ARK) is a small railway station with a scenic route. Train journey from Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley is a ride that no one should miss.
Road: Visakhapatnam has a great bus service. Many buses commute from Visakhapatnam to other nearby destinations on a daily basis. It has a number of buses that go to Araku Valley every day. However, it is difficult to find a bus back from Araku Valley late in the night as it is a hill station.
Air: Visakhapatnam Airport is a very busy airport in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It has a few international flights. It is also a custom airport.
Local Transport: The best way to go around in Visakhapatnam is in public buses. Other than that one can also travel in autos and cabs.
A note to the backpacker:
Explore the infamous gems that surround the city. When you visit Visakhapatnam, don’t just stick to the popular tourist spots but discover and explore the beautiful places that can be found in and around the city. Visakhapatnam is an extremely beautiful and relaxing destination. It is one of those places that should not be missed. If you wish to hide away on the hills, then go to Araku Valley. Even though there isn’t much that one can look around in the hill station, it is a best place to get away from the crowd, lay back and relax. However, one problem with the hill station is that the people in the region aren’t very used to tourists.
Sunday Market at Araku valley
This is an article from the Aao hostel travel fellowship series