The Western Ghats in India are synonymous with the monsoons. There is no denying from the sheer beauty of the lush green carpets spread across miles. However, their less hyped counterpart – “The Eastern Ghats” is an equally enchanting land. Araku Valley, in Andhra Pradesh is a popular yet less explored South Indian tourist destination. Though it is advisable to visit in winters owing to heavy rainfall in monsoon, the beauty increases manifold in the rains.
How to Reach
- By Air: Vishakhapatnam (Vizag) airport is the nearest and from there, a private taxi, bus or train journey can be opted.
- By Road: Private and State transport buses (through APSRTC) run from Vizag to Araku daily at frequent intervals. The distance is about 125 kms.
- By Train: Train no. 58501 (VSKP – KRDL passenger) departs from Vishakhapatnam at 06:50 AM and reaches Araku at 10:40 AM.
Best Time to Visit
- Summer (March to May) mornings are hot with comparatively pleasant evenings.
- During monsoon (June to September), the valley is in full glory. However, trekking and sightseeing might be difficult.
- Winter months (October to February) are considered the ideal time for visit.
Where to Stay
- Haritha Valley Resort: It is one of the best resort chains in close proximity to the major tourist attractions.
- Ananthagiri Haritha Hill Resort: In the quaint hill station, this is a perfect place to unwind and relax.
- Shri Lahiri Bamboo Resort – At a distance of 1.5 km from the main town, away from the crowd, this resort lies in an extremely peaceful location. It has bamboo cottages, tents and is a perfect set-up against nature to spend in solitude.
The scenic train journey
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ernest Hemingway
The morning train journey from Vizag till Araku is definitely the USP of this route. If you want to opt, there is a special Vistadome / Glass top coach (Fare details on IRCTC website) attached for an uninterrupted experience. Expect normalcy in the first few hours and gradually witness the dramatic unfolds. Leaving behind the plains, as you enter the hilly territory; it will feel surreal. Over four hours, as the train passes through 58 tunnels and 84 bridges, there is no escape from the grandeur of the valley. The bridges are fairly smaller and frequent. The enthusiastic child in me couldn’t stop trying to count the number of tunnels and lost count every time amongst the loud cheers from fellow passengers on entering one.
Araku – The town
The main town is at a distance of about 2 kms from the station. If it were to be compared, the place has a fair resemblance with the fictional town of Malgudi (created by R K Narayan) in South India. Somewhere, I was trying to draw parallels between the places, people and Malgudi’s characters. Within close quarters, everyone exists in balance and harmony.
What I loved the most (apart from the breathtaking views, of course) was the daily walks from my resort to the town. Be it the sight of children going to school, further little ones playing outside without worldly worries, the vendors on either sides of the streets; watching ordinary people attending to their daily ordeals with utmost simplicity was wonderful.
Local Transport in Araku
At first, it might seem a bit difficult with language barrier; however, some patience and you would realize how wonderfully the locals interact. I did not find any trouble commuting through local transport. Except for a few places, buses and shared autos go everywhere with nominal charges. The shops near the bus stand are the best place to get any information, if stranded.
Top Tourist attractions in Araku
For detailed information on must-visits in and around the town over a weekend, please go through the travel guides below:
Must try food items
- South Indian delicacies and Araku coffee – Hotel “Annapurna” is a clean, popular choice as a recommendation.
- Last but not the least; do not come back without tasting the signature Bamboo Chicken/ Bamboo Chicken Biryani. The preparation time is a minimum of 2 hours; so, ensure to order in advance. No need to recommend a place as they are sold like hot cakes everywhere.
Souvenirs to collect
- Araku Filter Coffee
- Varieties of sinful chocolates from Coffee museum
- Aromatic spices
- Bamboo mugs
There are places with an unhurried sense of approach to life, yet they know how to keep pace with the world – Araku is one of them 🙂
The information provided is based on firsthand experience. For any further queries, feel free to leave a comment below or email. I will revert at the earliest.
**All images used in the article are courtesy From My Lens