Hill station 1: Araku Valley 1
Often termed as “poor man’s Ooty” and very moderately commercialized place in Andhra Pradesh. This is the only hill stations that can be termed as the best to escape the summer temperatures and to enjoy the winter bliss around the states of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
It is a wonderful valley which is at an altitude of 911mts (2992 ft).It carries the mother nature on its lap along with the green paddy fields, oil plantations and mountain waters providing a wonderful sight for its visitors and a great relaxation for the mind.Let me narrate to you the ways in which I reached this beautiful place over the past 10 years.
Road ways(my way of adventure)
The best way to enjoy any hill station is by riding on a bike along the curvy ghat roads through the chilled breeze. Riding on a bike along the ghat roads of Araku brings out the latent child in you. Nature can be enjoyed to its best.
The best way to reach Aruku valley is through Visakhapatnam route as it is well connected with transport (air, road and rail) or from Jagdalpur (Orissa side).If you own a bike that is an excellent option for travel or if you are new to the place there are places where you can rent a vehicle or a bike (more info will be provided).Renting a vehicle will be the best option as you can stop for a snap or for a view or for a nature call. You can travel even by public transport(apsrtc) or by A.P. tourism tour package(will be discussed later).
While going through road you can travel by two different routes one is through
• Pendurthi Chodavaram, Madugula, Paderu and Araku
• One through pendurthi, S.kota, Tyda, Borra, Anantagiri and Araku (the usual one).
Each route has its own beauty and charm. The best way is, climbing through the normal route and coming down through the other route(my journey was always been through these two routes so my first version will be this).
Araku via S.kota (climbing up)
The actual ghat road starts after 60 km of plain road (approx 10 km after s.kota).The total ghat road is 42 km length with 9 steep curved hairpin bands. As you start climbing the ghat you can feel the calmness of the nature, cool climate and the earthly fragrances of the mountains. Most of time you hear your vehicles engine sound only. If you stop your vehicle besides a water streams, you can really experience the clarity of sound made by the running water with its rocky partners Its the digital studio provided by mother nature oh! Sorry not comparable!
.You can have the taste of purity in natural waters.
As you move up, you can find small villages where you can stop for a refreshing tea and can even have the taste of local food like mini dosa’s,idlis* etc.(*subject to availability).Trust me the food tastes really good.
Tyda hill resort
Tyda can be said as the first main stop in the Ghat road after you pass from S.kota .Tyda is famous for its railway station as it is situated at a higher altitude and also for its nature resort-"The Jungle bells". There is a lot to tell about this place. The place does not carry a telephone line ,hence no land line. The only mobile network present is BSNL and the resort manager carries it. The resort consists of different kinds of accommodation options like
1.New Bridge Cottage(A/c)
2.New Wooden Cottages A/c
5.Igloo Type Cottages A/c
, 7.The tent house etc. It also has a decent restaurant. A days stay in this place is really worth it. The booking can be done at the APTDC office.
The Borra caves which are 29 km away from Aruku valley takes the place as a major tourist attraction.The place is worth visiting and has historical significance. The Gostani river runs beside the caves and can be reached with a little amount of trekking from the side ways(local people can direct the way).People are generally warned of the whirlpools that are formed in the river and also of wild honey bees and animals near the cave where the river come out. For more you can find out at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borra_caves .
Several waterfalls, adorn the hillocks along the ghat road as you continue your journey through the mountains. You even find the coniferns along the roadways.I always experience the chilling effect while passing through these coniferns.The next beautiful stop in the journey is 'Anantagiri village'.
Anantagiri is famous for its coffee plantations, Watrerfalls and the climate it offersA.nantagiri waterfalls are situated about 2 to 3 km from the beautiful Punnami resorts (aptdc).Local people can easily guide you through the way. The road to this particular falls is mostly damaged, steep, rocky and sometimes hard to travel on your vehicle till the end. (Any way if you take your vehicle you got to stop at one point, from where you have to walk till the falls).The falls is a beautiful site and a place for a refreshing bath . You can enjoy the freshness and the chillness of the mountain water.The fall has many slippery rocks and a little care will help you a lot. Around the falls you can observe a beautiful scenery with the clouds and the fog covering the Eastern Ghats(subject to availability). The falls are surrounded by step farming and lot of trees(jack-fruit mainly). You can have the taste jack fruit if you are a good tree climber.
After your trek from the Anantagiri water falls you may have a night stay which is really worth staying.Actually Anantagiri is not only famous for coffee plantations and waterfalls but also for its low temperatures and cool climate through out the year.It is often much colder than Aruku valley as it is at a higher altitude.So enjoy the climate with a memorable night stay in this small village where A. P. Tourism has developed a beautiful wayside restaurant cum hotel to cater the needs of the tourist.
After passing through Anantagiri, Sunkarametta and Ghalikonda view point you will pass through Simliguda railway station where you can find the famous film shooting spot. From there the Ghat road mostly ends and you are left with about 8 km to reach the beautiful Araku valley.The rest of the road is a plain road which runs besides the rail track and also sometimes from below the rail bridge.The mountain view on this road is really awesome and worth taking a snap.The paddy fields and the oil plantations (yellow flowered plants) can be observed through the way .As you enter Araku valley you find the petrol bunk(which is the only one after S.kota), a police station, the government school and APTDC punnami resort. Then you find the core Araku where you find restaurants, shops, banks etc. Near the bus stand you find the famous 'Tribal museum' which is worth watching and next to the museum you find the famous Mythri guest house which provide accommodation at reasonable price.This is the place where I stayed for the first visit to Araku.
As you move further on the main road you will find a cinema theatre and good food providing restaurant ,there the road divides into two.The right, taking you to the famous padmavati gardens and the left, to Araku railway station, Chaprai , Paderu etc.
Padmapuram Botanical Gardens:
This garden is famous for its flowers, tree and plants and also for its tree top guest houses.The arch like entrance to these gardens really make a good impression on the tourists.Actually the tree top houses can be hired for a night stay but i am not aware of the procedure and ways for booking.The gardens are closed around 6 pm in the evening.After reaching again on to the main road you can easily find out hotel Rajadhani which has good restaurant and lodging facility.Besides this hotel there is a much cheaper lodge with apt lodging facilities mainly suitable for backpackers, student groups etc.
Road to Chaprai
Chaprai is another famous tourist spot which is around 15 km from the valley.As far as my knowledge is concerned Chaprai means smooth stone in telugu.Near this place the water flows over rock which are smooth and slippery.Making yourself wet by slipping into the waters, while climbing up the stream is real fun and a favourite time pass for all.Sitting on the rocks ashore and enjoying a snack or a puff or a drink while dipping your feet in the chilled waters gives you immense pleasure and a happy feeling.Another fun sport can be going on for a trek on the opposite side of Chaprai.
Climbing Down the Valley
From Chaprai if you continue your foward journey you can reach 'Paderu' which is at a distance of 35 km from Chaprai and 50 km from Araku valley.If you plan ahead it is possible to climb down directly after having fun at Chaprai.
On the way to Paderu you encounter step farming and normal farming along the roadside.IF you travel during a harvest season, then you are lucky to hear the sweet rythmic songs sung by the women working in the fields.It is a fact that these songs have no textual compilation and they are only an oral outcome to escape their tiresome work in the fields.The water that flows to the paddy fields makes a pleasant sound which tickles you ears.The road to Paderu is plain and no ghat road found.
Paderu village is a Mandal and much more developed than Araku valley.There are 2 film theaters,some good lodges, banks, shops, tiffin centers.The water is served hot in all the restaruants in order to prevent the prevaling disease.Paderu is famous for its Modhaka-mamba festival which is held during Dushera season(i have doubt regarding the time ...let me check).As you travel down from Paderu you will reach the Ghat road.This road is much more denser and less busy than the uphill road.The Ghat road runs for 20 km and after that you reach the way to Madugula.Madugula is famous for its Madugula halwa which is made in Ghee.It is really tastes good and worth tasting once in life.
From Madugula you can reach Vishakapatnam through Chodavaram(famous for Ganesh temple and my dad worked in choodvaram SBI as bank manager for 4 year and got transfered in july 2008)-Subbavaram-Pendurthi-Gopalpatnam route.
So in this way you can say bye-bye to your memorable excursion to Araku through road ways.Now we will see the Road cum rail ways travel to Araku.
An Enthusiastic Traveler