“Ooty. It will be a pity if we don’t go there while we are here in South India.”
“Its too commercialized.”
“Vizag & Araku?”
The endless discussions went on for a week amidst frantic Google search sessions and Moi, Lokesh, Atipriya and Vidya finally settled down for Vizag trip. Tickets were booked in a rush and we were lucky enough to chart out the whole trip before we started.
14 March, 2008. Friday.
We all decided to cook our own food for the dinner on wheels. Lokesh came back early from office to cook some yummy Paneer Masala dish. The girls cooked Rotis in the evening while I ran from one shop to another to collect all the Munchables I can lay my hand on. The train was on time and at 21:30 hours, we bid farewell to Chennai. The home made food, Antakshari and Fortune teller kept us busy till our eyelids grew heavy and sleep engulfed us.
15 March, 2008. Saturday.
A bread, butter and cutlet breakfast kicked off the day. We reached Vizag(Vishakhapatnam) at around 10.30 am. After a quick bath and a very delicious lunch we set out towards the harbour for a ferry ride. The ferry took eternity to take off as there weren’t enough people in the afternoon to take the ride. The Vishakhapatnam skyline looked splendid from the waters and we ended up clicking it from every damn angle. Unfortunately, out of the four of us, only Atipriya was equipped with sunglasses, so we took turns and thus the glasses passed over a lot of ears and noses while we clicked our photos. 😉
Our next stop was the visit to the Kursura Submarine which is kept at the RK Beach. Its a real submarine with all the machinery inside intact and is open to visitors. It looked like a huge black whale from outside and as we entered it, we were quite surprised by the mind-boggling intricacies inside the vessel. Believe me, you have to be some sort of an Einstein to operate that thing. And I felt so claustrophobic inside that it was hard to imagine how the crew would have felt when they went deep inside the water. By the time we came out of the 91 meters long giant, we were nothing less than amazed. And yes, I took a lot of photos inside – from toilets to torpedoes. 🙂
Next on the hit list was the Kailasgiri Park situated above a hill which overlooks the sea. We took a cable car to the top and the view was breathtaking from there. The whole city lying in the valley between the sea and the hills was visible from there. Its a very beautiful picnic spot and you can spent hours there feeling the fresh gush of winds and eyeing the vast expanse of sea and land. The spot also boasts of a train ride around the hill and a huge Shiva Parvati statue in the middle park. As the sun slided towards the west to doze off, we finally moved up to the highest point of the hill to view the changing colours of the sky and the city lights. As the sky changed from blue to red to orange and finally to grey, the whole city came alive and for a second it felt the city was a mirror image of the sky, holding millions of stars in its lap.
By the time we reached the bottom of the hill, it was almost 8 pm, so we went to the Kali Temple at the RK Beach and then roamed around on the beach for some more time before retreating back to our hotel.
16 March, 2008. Sunday
The alarm went off at 4 am. Lokesh could never ever wake up for his office morning shifts but the speed with which he woke up to get ready for the Araku trip was commendable. We had taken an Andhra Pradesh Tourism package for a trip to Araku Hill-station and had to report at the railway station at 5.30 am. Somebody just forgot to tell us that the train leaves at 7 am and robbed us of our half an hour of precious sleep. Araku is around 120 km from Vizag and it took almost four hours to reach there as the train tossed and turned through 32 tunnels and over a dozen bridges through the deep mountains. The longest tunnel is about a kilometer long. At Araku we visited the Tribal Habitat Museum and the Padma Rao gardens where we almost scared a lady to death when we asked her to take our pictures. She almost ran away thinking that we wanted to click her for some reasons. We also tried our hands on shooting using bow and arrows. Except for Lokesh, who managed some decent shots, the rest of us were quite miserable. A quick lunch followed at the AP tourism guest house followed by a tribal dance called “Dhimsa” by the local tribal women. Soon everyone started dancing with them and it looked like a pub with some really out of place and scared tribal ladies.
An evening snack later and we were off to GaliKonda, the highest point of Araku. The scenery looked like the windows wallpaper which has all the blue mountains. We sighed at the sight and clicked numerous pictures before heading to the Borra Caves. The caves house the ancient stalacites and stalagmites formation of rocks and are a visual treat. There are natural Sivalinga formations inside which are being worshipped and the width and height of the caves is amazingly huge. Its definitely not worth a miss. From the Borra caves, the bus took us back to Vishakhapatnam which was again a good 3 hours journey which we covered dozing off.
After reaching Vizag, we roamed around in the market place trying the local sweets like Mamiditandra ( a South Indian version of Aampappad) and Pootharekulu ( Rice starch and sugar rolled together).
After reaching I took the much required foam bath in hot water. It was Vidya’s birthday the next day, so we had planned a small surprise for her at 12 am which meant that we had to be awake till 12 which meant that I had to be awake till 12. I woke up Lokesh 5 minutes before 12 and we landed up in the “Girls” room with the cake and gifts. After the gala event we crashed on the bed at 12.30 am as we again(!!!) had to wake up at 4 am the next morning to see the sunrise. 😐
17 March, 2008. Monday.
We were ready and roaming on the beach by 5.45 am. The sun had yet to make and appearance above the foggy ocean, filled with large ships on the east and the huge Dolphin nose towards its west. Its hard to describe the colour of the beach as the sun emerged from the thin layer of clouds. See the pictures above and you would understand what I mean. We stared at the sun and the golden waves for sometime after which we headed to Rushikonda Beach.
At the beach, we were greeted by local fishermen who offered us a ride in their motorboat for 50 Rs per person. Before I nodded my head, a bright red life jacket was tied around me and my bag and I was ushered into the motorboat. By the time we four settled on the boat there were two other tourists who joined us. We were scared and excited as all four of us were doing this for the first time. As the boat moved towards the deep ocean, the water changed its colour and the sounds of human activities faded away, replaced by the whining of the motor and the calm of the deep sea. It was an experience which we would forever cherish. When we reached the shore, Vidya was very happy that she was still alive as it was her birthday. 🙂
From Rushikonda we moved further up to Bheemunipatnam Beach which is around 24 km from Vishakhapatnam. The remains of a Dutch Cemetery dating back to the 17th century are preserved here. After spending some time here we headed back to the city to have a quick lunch before we moved to the opposite side of the city to visit Simhachalam.
Simhachalam is a well known place of pilgrimage and houses the Sri Varaha Lakshminarasimha temple which is beautifully sculptured. I finally found a copper “lota” here which I have been frantically searching from a long time now.
Finally we moved back to our hotel for a buffet and picked our luggage to catch out train at 14.50 pm taking with us the memories of a unique city and 750+ photographs. 🙂
18 March, 2008. Tuesday.
And…ohh…yes…we again had to wake up at 4 am on Tuesday, as our train reached precisely at the same time at Chennai Central. 🙁
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