The Araku Valley lies close to Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. The altitude range of the scenic Araku Valley is from 900 to 1400 meters above sea level and spans over an area of 36 sq. kms. There are tribal people in the region who make a living out of the coffee, honey, ginger, tamarind, spices and nuts which are found there in abundance. In the Eastern Ghats, coffee and black pepper are grown in good amounts. This small town on a tribal belt is a center of tourism because of the rich presence of nature with its Ghats, caves, waterfalls and the diverse flora and fauna. The coffee plantations are grown and maintained with the help of tribal farmers.
One can reach Araku from Visakhapatnam by train. The morning train goes through a number of tunnels. There will be the valley on one side and on the other side, there will be hillocks. There are as many as 52 tunnels, the shortest being 26 meters and the longest being 896 meters. HCC built this rail link in the year 1958 through a collaboration with Japan. It was mainly built to transport Iron Ore from what is now Chhattisgarh to Visakhapatnam port. The train ride at Araku Valley takes people from a height of 5.6 meters above sea level to 996 meters above sea-level at Shimliguda. This railway station is the country’s second highest rail station. The highest is the one at Udhampur which is near Jammu. Before arriving at the Borra Guhalu station, the train runs above the Araku Valley Borra Caves. There is a rail and road package which is run by APTDC. It will take you by train and bring you back by bus and the package covers major tourist attractions. There will be a guide too.
Araku Valley is in fact one of Andhra Pradesh’s lovely hill stations. It is a good place to spend a vacation with your family. It is near to the state border of Odisha and 120 kms from Vizag. The forests such as Sunkari Metta and Anantagiri are parts of the Araku valley. Mountains such as Chitamogondi, Galikonda, Sunkarimetta and Rakarakonda surround the valley. It is connected to the city by rail and road.
Araku is an enjoyable destination for all nature lovers for spending some lovely time. The forests growing on the slopes of the hills and the coffee plantations make breath-taking views. The Borra Guhalu caves in Ananthagiri hills have rich flora and fauna. The valley gives good trekking opportunities too. You can buy old and beautiful silver jewellery for your loved ones back home. The Araku Tribal Museum is a very interesting place of visit. You will be able to know about the tribal culture and lifestyle of the Eastern Ghats. You can visit the Dumbriguda waterfalls which are surrounded by forests and have great views.
Araku is a place which has the power to make you feel completely relaxed with the help of its natural beauty. You will find tree-top cottages built ten feet above the ground with the lovely valley surrounding them. One of the major attractions is the Padampur Garden and its toy train. While it runs, the train crosses through hillsides, tunnels and streams. Then there is the Coffee House where you will get different kinds of coffee. The park has a small museum too.
The months from June to October are the best time to visit the valley but this is also the time when it will be crowded.
Lambasingi or Lambasinghe is like Kashmir because of its foggy and cold weather. It is a hamlet located on Visakhapatnam district’s Chintapalli Mandal. It is situated at a height of 1000 meters above sea-level. Moist deciduous forests cover the area making it a lot cooler than the plains around it. Lambasingi is a beautiful village which is surrounded by apple orchards and hills. The Lambasingi viewpoint gives excellent views of the valleys nearby. One can do adventure activities in the village too.
Kora Bayalu is a place which is the only place in the state which receives snowfall when the temperature drops at a suitable level in winter. The name means that one can become frozen like an ice stick if they remain in the open here for a long time! Lambasinghe village is situated 100 kms away from Visakhapatnam. One can reach there by train or road. Don’t forget to carry your thick jacket, muffler and woolen socks when you plan to trek there. There is tent accommodation arranged by APTDC for travellers. Apart from that there are four tent accommodations which have been put up for tourists by private firms. Homestays are also coming up and it will not be long before this place becomes a popular tourist destination. The little village receiving snow attracts families and couples who have a great time trekking while also being able to sip hot beverages and gulping down piping hot food.
The Jindhagada Peak is the tallest peak that is found in Andhra Pradesh and is located on the Eastern Ghats. It is actually situated in the splendid Araku Valley. We will definitely trek to this peak which will take us through coffee plantations. Then we will hike through the valley which will be blanketed with greenery. The Jindhagada Peak Trek is an offbeat trek that should be on your trekking list if you love to go backpacking. The highest peak of every mountain range found in this region cannot be missed when you are visiting Araku. The trail is both fun and challenging and as it is so near to Araku Valley, hiking through coffee plantation estates make the trek memorable.
You will be able to see the green valley covered with fog after you successfully trek through the hard wedged passage. The Jindhagada Peak Location is one of the top trekking destinations of the Eastern Ghats. The Jindhagada trek distance is a little over 10 kms one way and the difficulty level is medium.
The Vanjangi hills of Easten Ghats is a beautiful destination which one can head to in winter especially. It is a new and upcoming tourist destination near Paderu and is a three-hour drive from Visakhapatnam. Though tourists throng this place in October during the vacation time of India. It is near Paderu village in Visakhapatnam district. After Lambasingi, Vanjangi Vizag is another new tourist destination attracting a large number of visitors daily.
The north hill which is 1523 meters is the Vanjangi viewpoint, the south hill is best for rock climbing which adventure lovers and trekking enthusiasts would love. Vanjangi is actually a hamlet located in Andhra Pradesh. It is almost 49.3 kms from Araku Valley Hill station, 180 kms from Vizag city and 6kms from the village Paderu. Visitors throng this place to see ‘Megha Samundram’ which means ‘ocean of clouds’.
If you only want to go trekking here, you can reach Paderu first. From here you will see road signs to help you reach Vanjangi by road and arrive at the trekking spot. There is a small hill there beside which there is a parking area. You can park your vehicle there to start your trek. After trekking for about one hour and forty-five minutes to two hours and crossing hills, you will reach your destination – the vantage point to see the sunrise. You have to trek carefully on the slippery slopes and rocky hills. Trekking is the only way to reach the Vanjangi viewpoint.
The winter season, between November and January, is the best time to go there. The ideal time to be at this viewpoint is sunrise, so try to reach there by sunrise. Start trekking early to be there by 5.30 or 6 in the morning so that you don’t miss out on seeing the clouds. The clouds greeting you a good morning will be an unforgettable moment. Being surrounded by clouds right at dawn with the cool breeze blowing will make you feel that you are in Cloud 9. Looking at the sunrise with its orange hue will make you feel warm. Another way to start the trek if you are not an early-riser, is to put up your tent and camp for the night near the parking area. Then you can simply set your alarm to 4.30, wake up and start trekking without the need to drive at that time.
As it is not a developed area where trekking equipment or accessories are available, be sure to carry not only your tent but also trekking or hiking shoes, athleisure outfit, sweatshirt, shawl, snacks, water, mosquito repellant and so on. There are small tea=stalls near the parking area which sell Maggi too. After completing the trek, you can enjoy sipping on hot tea and energizing warm noodles before heading back home.
The Borra Caves, walking on steep slopes of hillocks and viewing coffee plantations makes an excursion to Ananthagiri hills worthwhile. Ananthagiri is situated about a hundred kms from Visakhapatnam and is near Araku Valley. The trekking distance is 7.5 kms on one side and is an easy trek which can be done by mostly all. The sloppy tracks of the hill range goes through dense forests. The Borra Caves and the Anantha Padmanabha temple are two important places of interest here. Borra caves not only have ancient architecture but it is also the deepest cave of the country. If you are a trekker who longs to be in the lap of nature whenever you can, you must go on this trek.
Araku Valley is known for the caves there which have a hole! The caves are located in the Ananthagiri Hills of the valley. The Borra Caves on the Eastern Ghats of the country is situated at a distance of about 90 kms from Visakhapatnam, the coastal city. It is one of India’s national wonders and is called Borra Guhalu locally. It is India’s largest stalactite and stalagmite cave. Such caves are millions of years old. The random and pillar-like formations can make you imaginative too! The Borra Caves are the origin of a river called Gosthani which flows from the cave till Visakhapatnam.
The caves are not so well-maintained, we say this specifically because humans keep touching the surface which has stopped its growth. People look at the caves from a cultural angle more than an archaeological or scientific wonder. The growth from the floor in the caves of India are often worshipped as Shiva Linga and other incarnations of God, Borra Caves are no different too. There are a few Shiva Lingas here too. There is a small temple built around a Shiva Linga and a steep and narrow staircase is there which can be used for approaching the temple.The formations of rocks which are a result of water falling are locally called Jalashilas. People have interpreted the formations to be different things like temples, Sai Baba, bedroom and bathroom of Sita. It is also believed that yellow water flows out of her bathroom which is actually turmeric water, whereas it is sulfur making the water appear yellow. There are other formations which look like Hanuman’s mace or feet, human brain, running horse, corncob, sitting elephant and monkeys. Because there is Silica and Magnesium, the walls seem to be shining at some places.
There is a gigantic end-to-end joint which is noteworthy. The two sides have been named after Sita’s two sons, Luv and Kusha. The joints divide the two sides. The caves get illuminated fascinatingly when lights come in through the hole. You will be able to see the reflection of the caves on the water as you approach the end.
There are three levels inside this cave and visitors are only allowed in the middle level as the other levels are unsafe. The bottom level is not unsafe because it is connected to the river flowing below. The river flowing through white rocks makes for a great view from the top. The opening of the cave which serves as the entrance is massive and you can see the visitors looking like lilliputs inside. The entire cave can give an impression of being a Shiva temple as there are two Nandis on each side of the entrance. Shiva was known to be a cave-dweller.
The caves have been named ‘Borra’ because the word means ‘hole’ in the local language. There is a hole on top of these caves. According to a legend, the local tribal inhabitants found this cave and the river source when a cow fell through this hole. The river has an udder-like formation where water falls right on the Shivalinga. The river thus has been named after the cow’s udder.
According to Modern History, the caves were discovered during British rule. More than 200 years ago, King William George, who belonged to the Geological Survey of India found these caves. The stone tools discovered in these caves by anthropologists date back to 30 to 50 thousand years ago.
If you are a true traveller, travelling to a new place should remain incomplete for you if you don’t try out their best regional dish. One such popular and traditional dish of Araku valley is the Bamboo Chicken. The tribal people prepare this dish in a bamboo shoot. The hollow part is used for cooking without using oil or water. Raw chicken is cut into small pieces and then marinated heavily using spices and ginger. The bamboo shoot is then stuffed with the marinated chicken pieces through the open side. Then it is stuffed with sal leaves to close that end. The bamboo is then put on a coal fire for cooking the chicken. The heat burns the bamboo and cooks the food. Whenever the bamboo starts to turn black inside, it means that the chicken should have been well-cooked at that moment. The sal leaves then should be removed and then the bamboo has to be opened. Ideally, the dish is served on sal leaves, in the traditional way.
How can you reach Araku Valley?
By flight – There is no airport in Araku Valley and one can reach there using bus or train. The Visakhapatnam airport is the closest one which is at a distance of 112 kms. There is a good amount of transportation available from the city center to take tourists to the airport and vice-versa.
By train – There is a railway station in the city center at Araku. The train leaves the Visakhapatnam railway station early in the morning. You will be reaching the valley in 6 hours.
By road – Tourists can reach the valley by bus too. The distance from Visakhapatnam to Araku valley is 117 kms. Many APSRTC buses run daily on the Araku Valley route. It is comfortable to go by bus.
Take a bus or train on Friday Night. Reach the boarding point timely and meet fellow travellers before the journey starts
Reach the base city in the morning and head for breakfast. We will freshen up on the train to save time.
8 am - Time for breakfast and leave for Lambasingi viewpoint.
11 am - Arrive at the base of the viewpoint
11 am to 1pm - Trek to the viewpoint and take a few photos. Then we will head to the waterfalls. Lunch to be had on the way.
3 pm - Arrive at the waterfalls and enjoy there for some time.
4.30 pm - Head for the campsite.
6.30 pm - Arrive at the campsite.
Distance covered will be more than 200 kms in five or six hours and the trekking distance will be four kms.
A.P.’s highest peak and visiting Borra Caves
4 am - Wake up and freshen up quickly and leave for Jindhagada base village.
6 am - Arrive at the base village and start trekking towards the peak. Carry dry fruits and snacks to munch on as we will return back to base at 3pm approximately.
11 am - Arrive at the Jindhagada peak and marvel at the view.
2 pm - Arrive at the base and proceed towards Borra caves.
3 pm - Reach Borra Caves and explore.
4.30 - Leave for the campsite.
8 pm - Arrive at the campsite. Have dinner by a bonfire!
120 kms will be covered by vehicle in three to four hours and the distance covered by trekking will be 12 kms.
Thing to note - The visit to Borra Caves depends on our speed during the Jindhagada trek. If we fall behind time, then we will visit the Chaprai Falls instead and enjoy the famous Bamboo Chicken.
4 am - Freshen up after waking up and leave for Vanjangi Peak. It will be an easy 90 minute hike to see an unbelievable sunrise.
6.30 am - Reach the peak on time for the sunrise. It is a 2km one-way trekking distance which will take about 2-3 hours.
11 am - Reach our stay and have breakfast.
11.30 am - Leave for the base city.
1.30 pm - Have a quick lunch.
4.30 - Stop for a small break at the waterfalls.
8 pm- Arrive at base city and have dinner. Then leave for the railway station to board our train.
More than 200 kms will be covered by vehicle and the Vanjangi trek is a 6km one.
Reach Hyderabad in the morning and bid goodbye to fellow travellers.