Monday, 20 September 2021

Araku Valley: An Epic Train Journey, Thick jungles,84 Bridges,58 Tunnels, and Borra Caves

We planned a tour of Vizag (Visakhapatnam) and Araku Valley. It was long time since we were planning a trip to one of the southern hill stations.

Kirandel passenger train journey from Vishakhapatnam to Araku Valley was really an Epic Train  journey full of adventurous. It passes through the thick jungles of Anantagiri Mountains, spanning 84 bridges and 58 tunnels.


Nestled deep within the heart of Andhra Pradesh, Araku Valley is without a doubt a spectacular holiday in the making. If train journeys are your love, do make it to this trip. Araku Valley has something for everyone.

And for a traveler like me, this journey was etched in my memory forever, and canvassed in my heart as an yearning for more.


Araku Valley is balm for tired souls

Araku is a famous hill station of AP. It is located at a distance of 120 KM from Visakhapatnam (Vizag), famous for its scenic beauty. Located on the Eastern Ghats, waterfalls and streams flowing by the side of the train track and roads. The journey to Araku Valley is the most enjoying as the rail passes through tunnels, hill sides and streams.


The towering mountain ranges of the Eastern Ghats stand at a height of 2,990 ft., and envelop the Araku Valley in a snug embrace. Within this is contained a treasure trove of natural attractions that will leave you spellbound.


One fine morning we reached Vizag.Vizag is the nearest railway station for Araku. We preferred to stay in retiring room inside railway station.


Journey for Araku Valley starts      

Kirandel passenger leaves at 6.30am from Vizag rly station. We were in retiring room, so after a cup of hot coffee with special aroma and some snacks, we took our reserved seats.

Fortunately my seat was window side seat. To add my excitement, train moved and left the platform and got speed. It was early morning, a light breeze was blowing, sky was clear blue and red sun was playing hide and seek with a chain of hills the train was passing from one hill to other hill, in sharp curve. I was very excited in clicking and clicking.


Journey on this route is an epic in itself. I stopped counting the tunnels coz there are plenty of them. One after one, a lot of tunnels, bridges and splendid views across.


The rail passes through 58 tunnels and over 84 bridges. Marvel The Kottavalasa-Kirandul line on East Coast Railway is engineering marvel of Indian Engineers.


On the way to Araku is Shimliguda, a station perched at 997 m above sea level, which was the first highest broad-gauge railway station in the country till the construction of Qazigund in Jammu and Kashmir. On this route, there is only one train that leaves Visakhapatnam early in the morning and returns late at night.


After 3.30 hrs. Magical journey, we reached Borra Guhalu station (Borra means Hole in Oriya, Guhalu means cave). Outside station there were plenty of taxis waiting for tourist for a pleasant trip around valley. We hired a Tata sumo for our ride of valley and in last it dropped us to Araku railway station


Borra Caves-our first stop

The million-year old Borra Cave is located at a short distance from railway station. It is deep in the Earth; the cave is at a height of 800-1300 m from mean sea level and was discovered by British geologist William King in 1807.


The main entrance of the caves is at an altitude of 705 meters mean sea level and the inside of the caves goes down to the 625 meters mean sea level.


At the entrance of the caves, you would observe that there is a train track laid above the caves. Gosthani river, flowing below the mountains in the valley, originates somewhere near this area.


These caves have a trek distance of 350 meters once you are inside. One of the main attractions of the caves is the brain-shaped formation. There are several such interesting formations.


Another attraction is a natural Shiva Lingaa (Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction), which can be reached by a small man-made bridge inside the caves. These caves are thronged by thousands of tourists throughout the year.


Natives believe that Rama, Sita and Lakshmana lived in the caves for a while during their 14-year- exile and that the forest was a part of the mythological Kishkinda forests. The way and stairs inside cave are very sharp deep and are  slippy, it needs special care to walk

Nestled deep within the heart of Andhra Pradesh, Araku Valley is without a doubt a spectacular holiday in the making.


What makes Araku Valley so special?

It is just the right mix of majestic mountains, verdant forests, low-hanging clouds and a pleasing climate all year round. If you are looking for a break from the daily grind that never seems to change or end, then may we recommend a quick getaway to the Araku Valley?


I am sure that you will find peace and tranquility in these surroundings, allowing you to head back to your life recharged and revived. Soothe your mind and make the inner you happy.

Katiki Waterfalls

Katiki Waterfalls was our next stop. The falls is named after Katiki, the place where it is located. 

The waterfall is about 50 ft. high and lies around 4 km away from Borra Caves. Katiki Waterfalls originate from the Gosthani River and contains greenery and clear water in its vicinity.


Considered as the most beautiful waterfalls of Araku Valley, the surroundings of this water fall is very popular for trekking activities. At the foot of the waterfall there is a pool formation. Landscapes and gardens are located surrounding this place. One can experience the beauty of water gushing through natural rocks.

Chaparai Waterfalls

This is one of the amazing and utmost beautiful waterfalls of Araku Valley that is well located about 16 km away from Araku Valley. There is sliding down the string and the scenic yet picturesque views witnessed here are worth your time and money.

There is amazing food served in nearby restaurants such as bamboo chicken and chicken kababs. This is indeed a great weekend gateway spot to have a great time with friends and family by virtue of being an absolutely mesmerizing charm and beauty.

Bamboo chicken

On way to every tourist point, local tribal women were selling bamboo chicken- Bamboo Chicken is a traditional tribal cuisine of Araku Valley Tribals near Vizag, locally known as “Bongalo Chicken”.


Bamboo Chicken is cooked inside a piece of green bamboo stalk without oil, making it healthy but delicious. The Bamboo chicken recipe has been passed from one generation to next and most of the herbs used are found locally giving it a unique taste.


Galikondalu view point

Galikondalu view point (3800 ft. above sea level) the view of valley is excellent.  On the way from Anantagiri after 15 KM there is a small market place known as Sankarmatha.


This serves as a market place for local tribal and many traditional vegetables and forest products are available in this rural market. It is a popular point among film and T.V serials shootings.


Araku Tribal Museum

Araku Tribal Museum is situated on Araku Road in the heart of Araku Valley. Located in the vicinity of Padmapuram Botanical Gardens, the museum offers a glance at the lifestyle and cultures of the tribal communities indigenous to the Eastern Ghats.


Araku Tribal Museum is built with mud and clay and has a rugged theme to it. The museum comprises various tribal clay figures, engrossed in their day-to-day chores. Other artefacts belonging to the tribal community that are on display in the museum include jewellery, hunting tools and kitchen utensils.


Araku coffee aroma captures global market

Araku is popular for its famous coffee plantations. India’s first tribal growers' organic coffee brand was launched in the Araku Valley in 2007.


Organic Coffee cultivated at Araku and Anantagiri in Visakhapatnam district has earned a name for itself in the international market. The organic coffee cultivated in non-traditional areas is being marketed as “Araku Emerald.

On our way we found in plenty tribal women selling hot coffee on road, at different tourist points. The coffee was rich with unique flavour and aroma.

Coffee Plants in Araku Valley

After a long drive and walking to enjoy the natural beauties of the valley, we were tired and hungry. So asked taxi driver to drive fast for main Araku town. There we have our lunch in a hotel.


After a visit to local market, we reached Araku Railway station. Our return journey ticket to Vizag was reserved in a sleeper coach .Station was in a small building.


A clean and peaceful place, no crowed and loudness, some lazy local tribal folk were lying on floor ,tribal ladies were selling guavas and some wild fruits. The train was late by one hour. There were some group of tourists from Kolkata and Andhra Pradesh.


I utilized this time in clicking some good shots of locals at station. Refreshed us with coffee, selling on platform. The train arrived, we took our births, tired, so we laid down on our births. After 4 hours journey train reached Vizag railway station.


End of Epic Adventurous journey

The beauty of gushing rivulets, surging waterfalls, plantations and swathes of green fields sprinkled with small villages, was etched in my heart for ever. My camera is fully loaded with shots of sweet memories.


Though civilization has made deep inroads, still steeped in the culture of its ancient tribes. In the interior parts of the valley, the PTG (primitive the valley is tribal groups) have still not changed their lifestyle, and are hospitable to outsiders.

Tribals at Araku Railway Station

If train journeys are your love, do make it to this trip. Araku Valley has something for everyone. And for a traveler like me, this journey was etched in my memory forever, and canvassed in my heart as an yearning for more.

The End


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