Araku – An All-Weather Travel Destination
Where is it?
Araku valley is a beautiful hill station of Andhra Pradesh located in the Eastern Ghat region. With several mountains and waterfalls, scenic beauty of this region is enchanting. A beautiful place for weekend holidays for 2-3 days, it is mostly travelled in September to February. With an average temperature of 28 degree Celsius, it is a comfortable summer destination (March-May) too. It can be a good monsoon destination (June-August) for nature, greenery and monsoon lovers, though sometimes landslides may occur. Also referred to as “Ooty of Andhra Pradesh”, it can be reached by road and rail from Visakhapatnam and Koraput. It has a small peaceful town area, a small market area, several premium and budget hotels and good transportation.
With this knowledge in mind, and taking into accounts our leisure time and other constraints, six of us from two families decided to visit Araku in February 2023, and planned accordingly.
We boarded night train from Bhubaneswar and reached Visakhapatnam in the morning. After spending one day in Visakhapatnam, we left for Araku next morning.
Visakhapatnam-Kirandul passenger train chugged off Visakhapatnam station (VSKP) at 06:45 AM in the morning of early February. We boarded a vistadome coach (EV Class) of the train. The train was supposed to reach at 10:50 AM at Araku station (ARK), but it reached an hour late.
Train journey in VSKP-ARK route is enthralling. Our train passed through mountains and jungles, with several streams flowing through the region. We enjoyed this 131 km, 5-hour travel route, which passed through about 58 tunnels and 84 streams.
From the station, we hired a taxi to Haritha Hill Resort (Mayuri), a budget resort of APTDC located at the center and main market of Araku valley. It has nice reception, spacious lobby and a restaurant. All rooms are quite spacious with a nice hill view. Room charge per night varies from approx. Rs.1000/- to Rs.5000/- (incl. GST). We preferred two Non-AC standard Double-Bed rooms, as blankets were still needed there.
Where did we visit?
After a quick fresh-up and lunch, we walked up to Coffee Museum and Tribal Museum, adjacent to our resort. After a comfortable visit for 1 to 1.5 hour, we took local auto-rickshaw to ‘Padmavati Garden’ and ‘Chocolate Factory’, both located at distance of 2.5 km side by side. We skipped ‘Chaparai waterfall’,(13 km) in Araku-Paderu road due to time constraint.
As the darkness crept in, we returned back for an evening stroll to market area with warm clothes, enjoyed palatable ‘Bamboo Chicken’ on the road-side jhuggi. After dinner in resort, we went to bed.
Next morning, after morning walk in the resort campus and breakfast, we took a taxi for Borra Caves at a distance of 36 km on the Araku-Visakhapatnam road. On the way, we visited ‘APFDC coffee plantation’ (13 km), ‘Galikonda view point’ (16.5 km), ‘Anantagiri waterfall’ (28 km). We skipped ‘Katiki waterfall’ (19.5 km) located on a diverted route, 7 km from Sunkarametta.
Borra Caves (locally called ‘Borra Guhalu’), one of the largest caves and probably the deepest in India, is a limestone cave with speleothems ranging in size and irregularly shaped stalactites and stalagmites.
We had lunch at Borra Caves in APTDC restaurant and came back in the afternoon. After a little rest, we had a stroll in the market, took local snacks and came back to resort. After dinner, we left resort for night train journey to Visakhapatnam and then, we took morning train to Bhubaneswar.
Araku is known for a tribal dance ‘Dhimsa’. Bonfires are also arranged by the hotels and resorts during winter. Though buses are available from Visakhapatnam and taxi journeys are comfortable, a day-time train journey in Vistadome coach is a special attraction.
With this, I conclude my travelogue on an all-weather travel destination, Araku.
Kishor Kumar Mishra