There’s no doubt that the state of Andhra Pradesh boasts some of the most interesting geographical features. With beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and verdant hills, its landscape never ceases to amaze me. But I have always found the most enchanting of all, is the luxuriant valley of Araku, tucked on the edges of the Eastern Ghats, on the western side of the state. Perhaps the most scenic and the greenest patch of this region, coupled with a pleasing climate, Araku Valley has always served as a respite for me, whenever I need a break from the monotony of urban life or just for an introspective getaway. More so, in the rainy season, when this valley area becomes a dreamy enclave with foggy hills and greener valleys. As a monsoon-lover, I make sure I make at least one seasonal trip to this tranquil locale.
So, a month ago, when the rains were at their peak, I planned a quick trip to Araku. I prefer renting a car for such trips and so, booked a dependable and convenient taxi from Vishakhapatnam to Araku. It was a short drive of 114 KM and took me about three hours to reach. Even the drive from Vizag to Araku was no less fascinating. I find this route to be the most beautiful part of the state and perfect for a road trip. One could just drive back and forth, without going anywhere, and still, feel revived.
By the time I reached the retreat in the heart of the Hills, the tiny hamlet was almost asleep under the blanket of a cloudy night.
Waking up in the arms of Araku
Next morning, I woke up to a relatively clearer day, much before my usual waking time. But when you are in a hill station, the mornings are the most beautiful part of the day and is the best time to explore and experience its real charm. Although there were no rains, the cloud still hovered on the hilltops, creating a surreal picture.
For those unaware, these hills and forests are home to numerous ethnic tribes, who have been the earliest settlers of the state and have a rich cultural contribution to the community. Some tribal villages also offer eco-tourism options for travelers to come and stay, and experience their traditions, see their artistic skills, farming techniques, and so on. But I had other plans, rather, no plans.
I went out to explore the hills on foot like I usually do, whenever I travel solo. The car came in handy when I had to go outside the main town and visit remote places.
As a trekking enthusiast, I love walking along the rocky terrain and nature trails. And the hill of Araku was perfect for that. The morning fog has still not cleared up and the valley was still waking up to the day. As I passed the villages, with the early morning workers getting ready for their daily chores at the fields and plantations. I walked along the slopes, along the mountain ridges, and down the grassy hills, smelling the smoky aroma of coffee and some wild herbs, which grew around the edges. Around the grasslands, colorful wildflowers were in full bloom, adding a touch of color, like prints on a green blanket. I continued walking, humming to a country song, and thinking of classic poetry. Perhaps, such environment evokes all the hidden creativity in people.
Later, I got my car to drive me up to the Ananthagiri Hills, right outside the edges of the valley. Ananthagiri makes for an integral part of the Araku Valley. Sitting at an altitude of over 1000 meters, and surrounded by hills, forests, and coffee plantations, it offers excellent views of the landscape. Nestled on the Eastern Ghats, and wrapped in clouds, these hills and their surroundings were a real treat for all the senses. For a convenient and hassle-free experience, I do recommend getting a reliable taxi service in Bangalore with transparent billing.
In my earlier trips, I have somehow missed a few scenic sites of Araku. So this time, I decided to make up for it.
So, next, I headed to Chaaparai, which is a waterfall. Locally called the Dumbriguda Falls, these torrential cascades flow in a crisscross manner across a table-like rocky landing and down a rugged slope, making for an interesting view.
I also saw the ‘fish pool’. Otherwise called the Masthyagundam, it was a watering hole, where shoals of different species of fishes would swarm every monsoon. It was so early in the morning that I couldn’t spot any tourists or even locals in the area, except for a bunch of village kids were trying to catch small fishes, with their bare hands, only to see them slipping away.
The day almost went by driving around, wandering through the hills, and randomly stopping for photographs. And thus ended my peaceful respite amidst nature, away from the maddening crowd, even if it was for a day and a half.