Vizag, indeed a little gem
Vizag, original name Vishakhapatnam, is a little coastal town on the Eastern shores of Bay of Bengal in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is also a Naval port having headquarters of the Indian Navy, Eastern Command and thereby strategically important. But, it is also a major tourist destination and full of natural beauty and rich flora and fauna and charming places to visit and boasts of some of the most beautiful beaches in India. This is my looking back at the 2013 trip I took for a vacation here.
First half in Vizag
So, on this beautiful November morning in 2013, I boarded the flight from Calcutta to Vizag along with my parents, with lots of excitement and happiness to ultimately visit the coastal town I have heard so much about from so many. I was wanting for this vacation for long and couldn’t wait much longer….:)
I had planned to visit three places on this trip…..1] Vizag, 2] Araku Valley and 3] Rushikonda. Of these three places Araku valley is actually a hill station, leaving the sea beaches of Vizag behind and going up to it, whereas Rushikonda is in Vizag only but is treated as a separate tourist destination with amazing beaches and scenic beauty.
Like my previous writings on travel destinations, I will not go into factual information of the logistics or itenary including hotel bookings and travel, they are easily found…….rather I will go into my personal experience of the places I visited, the way I had discovered the treasures within these places and felt myself being a part of.
Some glimpses of Vizag
It was a very serene drive from the airport to the heart of the city and then to the seaside marine drive where my hotel was located…..most of the hotels are very naturally by the sea-side and on the marine drive….that’s where everyone wants to stay.
The entire drive was with the views of the surrounding hills and sea by your side, and the outskirts of a busy thriving naval port town. Well maintained roads, lots of greenery and the sights of the very disciplined establishments of the Navy will greet you all the way to tour hotel.
My hotel stay was very comfortable and decent with sea-side views and lovely food….I was even lucky to get a Bengali chef from Calcutta who made it possible in every way to enjoy our foods even more.
Our SUV driver Mohan was a happy-go-lucky local chap…..he knew his home town really well, and took us to all the sight-seeing spots including the famous Dolphin’s nose[you can easily see in the snaps above why the name Dolphin’s nose], and entertained us all the way with his anecdotes.
I loved the Ramakrishna beach, which is the main beach you will see all throughout your stay in Vizag….the beach is very long and the marine drive has ample opportunities for anyone to cover the entire stretch on foot, with so much activities buzzing.
There are local shops, children’s park, temples and every other thing of interest to keep you merry. And the most star attraction of this beachside drive is the huge Submarine museum which you must see…
I loved it. I never thought nor expected to see a Russian class de-commissioned submarine of the Indian navy to be kept on the marine drive of a sea beach well maintained as a museum and allowing visitors to take a tour inside to see what a submarine is all about……really amazing.
There are several other areas you would like to visit in this beautiful town, including, the Kailasagiri Hills, the Lighthouse giving breathtaking views of the Bay of Bengal, and the naval port also will spark lots of enthusiasm.
I was enchanted with such abundant scenic views and well maintained view points, and the friendly and hospitable locals around, the hills, the sea, and a well thronged modern city with all modern facilities yet keeping its natural beauty intact…..Vizag is mesmerising……..and with this happy thought, I prepared to get started the next morning to the enchanting hill station Araku Valley……….to soak in all its natural beauty.
Second half in Araku valley, Vizag
I have heard a lot about Araku from many of my friends, office colleagues and other visitors and was really eager to visit it. And, it was worth every penny. Araku is unmatchable in its breathtaking beauty.
Andhra Pradesh state is well-known for its coffee plantations and many of them are in Araku valley and you will be greeted by many of them along your journey to the valley.
Lush green hills, undulating valleys , lovely roads, almost silent natural beauty will give you every feeling of going through a sleepy English town with its churches, rail stations and occasional houses of local residents.
My stay at the government rest house in Araku was another of the journey’s highlighting point as it is located right in the middle of the valley giving all around view of the scenery.
My stay was greeted by occasional cloudy skies and light rains in the hills, making the surroundings far more dreamy and ethereal.
And a warm cup of coffee in one of the various coffee shops around will enlighten your spirits and encourage you to stay back a few more days.
A must visit on an Araku trip is Borra caves, a naturally made cave which runs deep into the valley and excites visitors with its natural wonders…….sadly I couldn’t go to visit it due to paucity of time.
A few days rest in Araku amidst the silence of the hills will rejuvenate one for sure for more onward journey and adventure………..as I proceeded back to Vizag to stay at Rushikonda, another wonderful spot by the sea.
Rushikonda is a pristine beach offering breath-taking views of the Bay area and is a favorite destination for anybody visiting Vizag. Be sure to book the government guest house there as it is situated on the hills directly above the sea beach, and from its huge floor to ceiling glasses in the rooms you will be awestruck at the view of the sea below. My stay thus was beautiful and enchanting. The path from the guest house to the sea beach is a collection of many stairs that passes through several other hotel establishments and eateries, and always throbbing with activities and tourists. The sea is amazing as well as the beach as it gives such ample opportunities to enjoy it in leisure. I enjoyed every moment of my stay at Rushikonda.
Few things I saw around Rushikonda
We stayed at Rushikonda for two days, to relax, take in all the beauties the beach side has to offer, saw some stunning sunrises and sunsets on the sea. But, leaving aside the beauty of the sea-side, Rushikonda has some other things on offer for sightseeing. There is the Indira Gandhi zoological park, Ross hills, RK studios atop the RK hills, all very notable and lovely visits with much natural beauties. I loved the battery operated Golf cart safari ride inside the zoo, with occasional stops to see the enclaves with the animals in, kept in natural surroundings with lots of space to move freely. RK studios gave me the experience of touring movie shooting spots and studios, and was lucky enough to catch a shooting going on for a local movie……..and then again back to the sea-side for some relaxing times.
Takeaways from the Vizag trip
Lovely weather in the month of November, not so hot in the plains by the sea, cooler at Araku valley, lovely rains and winds……really enjoyed sumptuous lunch and dinner at the stately regal ‘Dus Palla'[Ten Doors] restaurant[ a must visit in Vizag]……much happy people around, found many of them on my visit to the local market….plenty of natural beauty, lovely views of the Bay of Bengal…..visit to temples, churches and monasteries……travel to Araku valley and enjoyed every bit of it…..the cleanliness of the city and everywhere else…..the Naval museums and establishments………all of these made my trip to Vizag memorable by every means.