I planned a trip with my friends to the jewel of east coast, the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command of Indian Navy, the beautiful city of Visakhapatnam fondly known as Vizag. Somehow I had a sort of attraction and urge to visit that place. No reasons as such. But whoever knew that me and my friend are going to Vizag gave us these reactions: ‘Why Vizag?, ‘What’s so special in Vizag?, ‘Go to Goa for beaches.’ and few even asked ‘Where is Vizag?’ Yeah yeah, all said and done but we were hell bent to visit Vizag. May be because we love to travel new places and none of us had been to Andhra area before. Lately I had been in contact with many people on twitter from that region who made me fall in love with that place. A place with beaches and hills. Above all, the cultural curiosity made me shut my ears to others’ suggestions and book my ticket to Vizag.
My friend flew down from Mumbai and I boarded from Delhi. Every time I travel I feel nervous, curious, excited and happy to explore what lies next. Waiting at Delhi airport, I interacted with my co-passenger and a native of Vizag, asking her about places to eat, see. Basically rechecked the information I had gathered. I was about to fly to a whole new culture that I had been curious about. Yes I am in love with South Indian culture but didn’t get many chances to visit that area. After the movie Baahubali, that love came out in open and madness prevailed. Well that’s another story.
As the flight took off, those 2 hours 15 minutes looked like years because my friend had already reached. Soon the landscape changed and so does my mood when I saw the beautiful sea-line from the sky. The Bay of Bengal was flattering its jewel Vizag with a swag. At the hotel we childhood friends greeted with a sense of achievement that YESS, WE ARE IN VIZAG. FINALLY!!
Without wasting any time, we headed to the RK Beach. It was festive time of Dussehera so the beach road was glittered up and some AP Tourism sponsored cultural evening was going on. A happy, festive, exciting environment welcomed us to the city of Vizag. Enjoying and singing Telugu and Hindi songs loudly along the singer, and feeling the beach vibes, it was a great reunion. As suggested (and I also suggest) we had our dinner at Sri Sairam Parlor. With people flooding in, we somehow got a table for ourselves. While everyone around was beautifully and traditionally dressed, we definitely were out of place. Gulping dosa, idli, yummy chutneys and sambar, the feeling was heavenly. That’s how that day ended.
Next day I planned to live my dream to watch sunrise over the sea. But nature had other plans and it was a rainy morning. Still, I went out alone to the RK beach just to feel the air. Lazy friends, whatever. I had my alone-time there, something I have always craved for. A little disturbing experience due to a pervert I came across there but it certainly didn’t affect my love for the city and its people. We need to keep our own security no matter where we travel. Later I met my twitter buddy Mounika, who was such a sweetheart to accompany to show me around. It is great to have a local friend.
Perks of starting off early, we went to less crowded Kailasagiri by bus. Finally I saw the view that I had only seen in pictures. The weather was simply awesome, cloudy and cool. My eyes were overwhelmed to watch lush greens and the blue sea. Two of her friends also joined us and it became an amazing day out with new buddies. Spending time there and posing, clicking madness, we came down by the rope-way and saw how crowded it became. Cheers to Mounika who led me to an awesome experience.
Next stop was Ramanaidu Film Studio. Mounika being a Rana Daggubati fan, was more excited to find his pictures there. For me, it was the first time I was visiting some film studio. What structures we see in movies versus what they actually are. It was fun entering multiple film sets at the same time. While coming back we crossed Rushikonda Beach and we hungry folks then landed to Sri Sairam Parlor again to EAT. I love the Andhra meal and various items they serve in thaali. What a satisfaction to eat that yumminess at the home turf itself. Various curries, daal, sambar, rasam, pickle, rice.. I was living my foodie dream.
Next we went to Tenneti Park, which by far is my most favorite place in Vizag. A park overlooking the beach. Spend time in park, go down to enjoy waves at the beach, climb up to the park again. Easy. I cannot describe the peace and tranquility that I felt while sitting there. Mounika and me pondering how neither of us ever thought of meeting and spending time like that. Well, destiny introduces people in our life and also make us meet to create memories for life.
Due to cloudy day, I missed watching a proper sunset but nevertheless we made our way to Kurusura Submarine Museum on the Beach Road. It was a long queue as tourists had poured in during holiday season. But it was worth waiting for our turn to visit the Indian pride. INS Kursura, an Indian submarine that participated in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. It was was decommissioned in 2001 and was preserved as a museum for public access on Ramakrishna Beach in Visakhapatnam. To whosoever visiting Vizag, it is a must visit place. As we entered into the submarine, we were briefed about it. Honestly my eyes and mind were shocked to see such a complex structure. Such narrow area to live and spend time when one is on national duty. Around 20-30 minutes of tour inside the museum and I felt suffocated. I felt myself lucky as an Indian and grateful to have such brave folks guarding our seas. The day ended with such pride.
Day 3. Ready to explore the celebrated Araku Valley. We got late in booking ourselves train tickets but as suggested by many, one should take this train route. It is gorgeous as train goes through many tunnels. So let me save this for next time. Anyhow we lazy souls booked ourselves an Ola Outstation cab. I love road trips. Weather was again in our favour. It was cloudy, it rained, it was 50 shades of green as we drove towards our destination. I swear I was dying to see such area and lush green views.
First stop was Borra Caves, some ages old limestone caves. It was so crowded but somehow we timely made our way to see the caves. Point to be noted, network issues in that area. However my Airtel SIM worked. Hence that Airtel ad became true for me. When we came out, it started raining. A native dish of Araku, Bamboo Chicken (chicken cooked inside bamboo stick) could be seen around. It looked very tempting but we all were vegetarians. May be we could have suggested them Bamboo Paneer. Afterall, paneer is chicken’s substitute for vegetarians (yeah, whatever!)
Our cab driver bought Raw Banana fritters (banana bajji) for us. We were asked to guess what it was and yes my taste buds won. I guessed it absolutely right. We had to skip our visit to Kataki Waterfalls due to heavy rain and went straightaway to Araku Valley. We were welcomed by more lush green views and floating clouds. The fog and mist and cool breeze. The peace around and fresh air to breath in. Our cab driver took us around to some small waterfall. All I desired was to feel the air, the vibes that I won’t get once I go back to the concrete jungle. That peace that hovered in mind and heart, it touched the soul. Peace.
One must drink the coffee there as that area is coffee growing region. Many view points etc. but just feel the beauty instead of rushing around. With that we returned to Vizag to end a wonderful day. I intend to spend a night at Araku and spend a little more time if life gets me there once again in future.
Last day, I met few more people I became friends on twitter, who came to meet me. Sitting in a hippy theme Cafe Moksha it was such fun to meet them. Later we went to Simhachalam Temple, a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu‘s incarnation Lord Narasimha. I simply loved the temple architecture.
Soon the moment came when I had to bid goodbye to this pretty city. I boarded an evening bus to Hyderabad for more surprises. With fond memories I made my way to Hyderabad to make more memories.
I actually felt I needed more time to spend at the beaches. I missed Yarrada Beach, Bhimli Beach, Light House, driving two wheeler along the beach. May be it means I need to plan another tour to the Andhra Pradesh and its coast. Hopefully life will surprise me again with such pleasant trips. Till then, keep dreaming.