September 2008
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Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh

Location: Near Vishakhapatnam (115 km), 18.3333° N 82.8667° E
Elevation: 911 meters (2992 feet)
Best time to travel: October To February

Araku Valley is a famous hill station located in Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh (India). Located on the Eastern Ghats of India, the valley is inhabited by tribal people. One of the other attractions of this valley is a tribal museum.
Araku is located approximately 115 km from Vishakhapatnam (and Vishakhapatnam is indeed the best starting point to get to the Araku valley), close to the Orissa state border, and the reason it is so popular is that it lures tourists with a combination of pleasant weather, hills and valleys and has a rich landscape, that contributes to the natural beauty of the place. The area of the valley is roughly 36 km², and the altitude is between 600 and 900 meters above sea level.
Even getting there is a very pleasant experience, whether you do that by road or by train. The train travel is a wonderful experience, passing through tunnels and beautiful locations. Shimliguda Railway is the highest Railway Station in Indian and is located at Araku Valley.

By road, the road to this place on the Ghat road has thick forests on either side. This makes the journey pleasant, non-stressful, and makes you realize that even a journey can be as good as the final destination. Forty-six tunnels and bridges will greet you on the way.
On the way to Araku, 56 km before you can reach Araku, falls the 1168 m high Ananthagiri. The primary attraction is the stalactite cave formed by water droplets. The longest rail bridge on this route lies across the river Kolaba in Ananthagiri. In between, on the Waltair-Araku route, 33 km from Araku and 99 km from Waltair, near the Borra Guhalu station is the biggest cave in Indja. It is 300 m wide and 40 m deep at an altitude of 722 m, and has steps going down, leading to an enormous Sivalinga that has water trickling over it. Like many other caves and natural spots in India, there are legends associated with the Ramayana or the Mahabharta; in the case the legend says Ram, Lakshman and Sita stayed in this cave during exile in the forest and worshipped this deity.
Once you reach Araku, you can realize why the valley is so beautiful. The valley is spread over a 36 kms area, encompassing small mountains, lush green fields and beautiful pathways. Araku is interspersed at many places with thick forests and everything seems to be done as per nature. When we were there, we actually climbed a small hill, and had great fun when we reached the top, feeling like we had a great achievement.
Araku Valley offers great opportunities for trekking with the paths being through interwoven hills, adventurous tracks, woodland, plantations and clear blue sky. The valley is a great place to chill and relax, especially during hot summer months. The place is very much like a hill station, although it would be difficult to find snow over here. The coffee plantation and picturesque view of the valley are very resourceful. For a peaceful, clean and green environment there is one place and that is Araku Valley.
The Sangda Falls has been discovered recently and is considered to be the best tourist spot in Araku Valley. It is located in the Sangda Village and offers spectacular scenes. Moreover Paderu is another picturesque Valley located few miles away from Vishakhapatnam and has an altitude of about 900 meters from the sea level. Hill streams locally known as Geddas offer a comforting view here. The Shiva Temple at Matsyagundam is another pleasant sight. This is a beautiful place in the Araku Valley and is a unique locale for the anglers.
At about a distance of 75 kms from Vizag, on the Araku road is the Tyda Park, an eco-tourism project that is being developed to provide tourists an opportunity to experience wilderness with camping facilities. It’s home to a number of wild animals and birds and is an ideal place for wild life viewing and bird watching.
Other attractions include rock climbing and trekking. The primary attraction of Araku Valley is the Bheemunipatnam Beach which is about 25 km from Vishakhapatnam. The calmness and serenity is what makes the beach so attractive. This beach is also known as ‘Bheemli’ and is considered safe for swimmers.
Paderu located at a distance of about 74 kilometers from Visakhapatnam is a wonderful valley at a height of over 900 meters above sea level.
On the way to Araku Valley, 90 km from Vizag, Borra Caves house spectacular, million-year-old stalactite and stalagmite formations, standing as a testimonial to its pristine glory and age woven into intricate design through the centuries. While the formations resembling mythological characters are an added attraction, illumination of the caves by AP Tourism turns the naturally sculpted glory into a grand visual feast. The natural Borra Caves are a million plus years old and said to be discovered by William King in 1807. The river Gostani, beautiful hills and valleys surround these caves. The local tale says, the tribals discovered the caves, when a cow fell into the caves through the hole of the cave.
These caves are said have their origin from the river Gosthani. It was said, due to the flow of the river Gosthani through the layers of lime earth, the caves were formed, over the course of millions of years, The 300 ft. thick roofed Borra caves spread over one square km., presenting a mind-boggling and breath-taking display of naturally sculpted splendor. This is truly a worth seeing.
Deep in the caves there is a “Shivalingam” over which there is an idol of a cow “Kamdhenu” and the river Gosthani takes its origin from the udder of this cow. The mercury and halogen lamps lit inside make the interior of the caves colourful and spectacular.

Araku Tribal Museum :- The Tribal Museum in Araku Valley explores the tribal culture of Eastern Ghats. The Tribal Museum exhibits rich tribal tradition and several artifacts. One can see the tools used by the tribes and avail information about the social and cultural aspects of the tribal people. There is a stall in the museum where handicrafts items of the tribes are sold.
Bheemunipatnam Beach :- Bheemunipatnam Beach is about 25-km from Vishakhapatnam and prime attraction of Araku Valley. The most important aspect of interest at the place is the beach, which is perhaps matchless for its beauty all along the east coast.

How To Get There:
By Air: The nearest airport is Vishakhapatnam at a distance of 112-km.
By Rail: Araku has a railhead. (Daily at 7am Kirindole Passanger starts from
Visakhapatnam Railway sation and Returns in the evening at 4pm from Araku)
By Road: Bus service is available from Vishakhapatnam. A.P Tourism also conducts excursion trip from Vishakhapatnam everyday.

About the native people:
Ananthagiri Ghats are covered with thick forests and they are also replete with Orchards and offer some scenic beauty to the landscape. Araku Valley is a home to many tribal people; about 19 tribal groups reside here. The women of the tribal community wear saris beautifully and bedeck their hairs with brightly colored flowers. Dimsa and Mayur are the age old folk dances at the Araku Valley and it is still performed during the Itika Pongal Festival.
The favourite dance of these tribes is Dimsa which is performed by old and young men and women, during the month of chaitra i.e. in March/April, during weddings and other festivals. During festivals people go from one village to another to participate in the dance and are honoured with community feasts. People of different villages enjoy such festivities and dances called ‘Sankidi Kelbar’. Dimsa Dance not only provides amusement to the dancers and spectators but also develops friendship and fraternity between people of different villages. The instruments accompanying Dimsa are mori Kiridi, tudumu, duppu and jodukommulu. There are eight varieties of the Dimsa Dance.
Itika Pongal is a renowned Hunting festival in the Araku Valley attended by the young and old alike with exceptional vigor and enthusiasm.

Places To Stay:
Cottages & Guesthouses
A.P Tourism’s Mayuri complex.
Punnami Yatri Niwas
Jungle Bells Nature Camp
Punnami Hill Resort
Padmapuram Hanging Cottages

Other articles:

Blog Post (link)
Link to photos (link)
Photos at Ap Image Gallery (link)
Beautiful photos (link)

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