Araku Valley: The Queen of Eastern Ghats.

Araku Valley: The Queen of Eastern Ghats.

I live by a hill. I began walking it and then I began jogging it and then I began sprinting it. -Tea Leoni

Vishakhapatnam is a great city sprawling with life and culture. This extended weekend me and my friends planned a trip to Vishakhapatnam(Vizag) and were having a great time. After exploring the city we decided to head to Araku Valley.

Tenati Beach.
Tenati Beach.

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Araku Valley is world famous for the coffee it produces as well as for the its beautiful valleys.

Araku is nearly 120 kilometres from Vishakhapatnam(which we didn’t know that time by the way). It can be reached by both road and rail.

As it was a sudden plan we decided to take the evening bus to Araku because trains were not available that time. A friend of ours told us that it’ll most likely take only 1.5 hours to reach Araku by bus.

We reached the bus stand at 5:56 pm and started running frantically to find the bus for Araku which was supposed to leave at 6:00 pm. None of us knew a single word of Telgu and were just asking “Araku, Araku,Araku” to everyone. I am a big fan of Telgu movies but there are subtitles to help me. I hardly knew any word of it. Finally a fine gentleman pointed us to a bus which had already started gaining pace. In that moment we would have even given a tough competition to Milkha Singh. Running with full speed, prancing over stuff, dashing against people while grabbing onto our bags tightly we managed to board the bus.

I as always took the window seat and the conductor gave us tickets for a fee of Rs. 73. As soon as the APSRTC bus left the interiors of Vizag City, there were no mobile networks available. At 7:30 pm there was still no sign of having been reached Araku. We asked the conductor that how long was it gonna take and he told us that it will take at least 4 hours. We all gave a glaring look to our friend who was pretty sure that we will  reach only in 1.5 hours. My friends were already tired and hungry from the bus journey and were really frustrated with his miscalculation.

I, on the other hand was quite comfortable as I like traveling by bus. Whenever I travel I always wish for the journey to never end. Seeing the pathetic condition of my friends made me smile. Though I was disappointed that I couldn’t see the view outside in the dark.

At 10 pm we made it to Araku. We hired an auto to help search for a hotel. The driver knew some Hindi and he went out of his way to help us find a decent hotel. He even gave us his Airtel sim card to use as only networks of Airtel and BSNL were strong here. We decided to hire him next day for our sight -seeing.

At 11 pm we went to a nearby hotel which had a good restaurant inside it and had dinner. After dinner everyone went to sleep.

Next morning, we checked out at 8 am and called that Auto driver. He was there in 20 minutes and we all left for sight-seeing. The weather outside was marvelous. It was sunny with clear skies and cool breeze was blowing. The beauty of Araku was something which we hadn’t anticipated the previous night. The cost of the whole day trip was agreed on Rs. 900 and it was a fair deal.

We are in Araku !!
We are in Araku !!

Padmapuram Botanical Gardens

First we went to Padmapuram Botanical Gardens . It was a big garden with variety of flowers and trees. It was well maintained and a treat to the eyes.

The Padmapuram Botanical Gardens
The Padmapuram Botanical Gardens

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Rose Garden.
Rose Garden.

 

Variety of trees in the garden.
Variety of trees in the garden.
My friends posing for a click.
My friends posing for a click.

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A Popular Movie Spot in Araku

Then we went to see a shooting spot where Telgu movie songs are shot. It was a large hilly area and I didn’t find anything special about it. But our driver told us that during November and December the whole place gets carpeted with yellow flowers and looks stunning. I tried to imagine it and realized that it would be truly mesmerizing.

The shooting spot of various Telgu movies like Happy Days. The Bollywood movie "Darling" was also shot in Araku.
The shooting spot of various Telgu movies like Happy Days. The Bollywood movie “Darling” was also shot in Araku.
Imagine this place covered in yellow flowers.
Imagine this place covered in yellow flowers.

Our driver was a pleasant guy and everyone seemed to know him. He must have been two to three years elder to us and was full of chivalry. We interacted a lot with him and within no time we became friends. He stopped at various locations on the road so that we could take nice pictures without even us asking him to stop. The scenic beauty of Araku Valley combined with his vitality and good nature made our trip a truly memorable one.

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The Eastern Ghats.
The Eastern Ghats.
A sight seeing spot.
A sight seeing spot.
Dhatura plant.
Dhatura plant.
Can u spot the Coffee beans left for drying in the roof?
Can u spot the Coffee beans left for drying in the roof?

Coffee Plantations

Then he took us to see coffee plantations and we also bought some fresh coffee beans and powder from there.

Coffee Gardens.
Coffee Gardens.

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Borra Caves

Our last destination was Borra Caves which was nearly 45 kms from Araku. It was also the last leg of our trip. It took us 45 minutes to reach there and we bid goodbye to our great host and friend. The entrance was closed for lunch break. So we decided to eat first. After eating we kept our bags in the cloak room as bags are not allowed inside.

At 2 pm the entrance opened and we booked tickets for a fee of Rs. 60 per head and Rs. 25 extra to carry our phones.

A flight of stairs led us down to the caves. It was vast and cold and truly mesmerizing. It was well-lit. Not too much light to ruin the ambiance of the place. The insides were easily accessible due to the presence of stairs. It was neat and clean and well maintained. I wondered in awe as to how many years it would have taken to form. Maybe hundreds, maybe thousands or maybe innumerable….

Entrance of Borra Caves.
Entrance of Borra Caves.

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Let's go inside!
Let’s go inside!

 

 

 

A small place of worship inside the caves.
A small place of worship inside the caves.

 

 

 

The beauty and grandeur of these caves cannot be captured in photos.
The beauty and grandeur of these caves cannot be captured in photos.

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Well-lit interiors.
Well-lit interiors.

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I can’t describe the beauty of the caves in words. You have to visit them to experience it.

After 1.5 hours we came out feeling relaxed. It was a therapeutic and healing experience.

The auto driver had told us that there was a railway station nearby called“ Borra Guhalu” where we would get a train to Vizag at 4 pm. We walked there and waited but there was no sign of any train. After enquiring with the station master we came to know that the train was late and will arrive at 7 pm. We were really angry and frustrated and started looking for other options. Outside the station there were cars for hire and they quoted Rs. 1500 for Araku and Rs. 3000 for Vizag.

After bargaining for half an hour we managed to bring a guy down to Rs. 1600 for Vizag. It was a feat in itself despite not knowing any Telgu.

So guys it is to be always kept in mind that you should hire a vehicle for return beforehand you go to Borra Caves. Otherwise it will be a great hassle arranging one when you reach there.

Bidding adieu to The Queen.
Bidding adieu to The Queen.

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2 Comments

  1. The caves look magnificent! Certainly a must-visit…

  2. Yes Sir! It definitely is a must visit 🙂

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