Araku Valley is a hill station and a Mandal in Visakhapatnam district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Araku Valley a part of Eastern Ghats and is known as the ‘Land of Red Soil’ nestled at an altitude of 1166 meter (3084 ft) above sea level and surrounded by Silver, Oak, Pine and Eucalyptus Trees on all side. The scenic beauty of the region comes alive with its natural landscapes. Araku is spread over an area of about 36 sq km. Araku Valley is inhabited by 19 different tribal groups some of these are Bonda, Maris, Muria, and Gold groups. Araku Valley is perched with thick greenery of jungles all over, in between small ponds, coffee gardens. The highest point of Araku Valley is Araku Valley top and it offers panoramic view of the whole region. From Araku Valley tourists can visit the Botanical Garden, Tribal Museum and Coffee Gardens. Most of scenic beauty of the route from Vizag to Araku will be on the right side, on this route tourists get too see the locals and tribal peoples those practicing step cultivation on the valleys. The route will passes away by Pendurti, Kotavalasa, Mallividu, Sarungavarapukotar. On the way to Araku the tourists will be greeted with 58 tunnels as the train passes through these, the scenic beauty of the whole journey is full of dense greenery. The government’s ‘Silk Farm and Mulberry Gardens’ is worth watching and Damuku Viewpoint offers panoramic view of Araku Valley. In the month of April – May, the locals of Araku Valley organize a hunting festival named ‘Itika Pongal’, in this festival the local tribal people performs Dhimsa dance festival, songs and other cultural programs. Rolling Grass land, lush green orchards, please climate, friendly tribal people all makes Araku Valley a prefect destination for one or two nights. Through Araku can be easily reached by both surface transport and railway, but most of the tourists prefer the rail route as it offers the pleasant view of thick forests on either side of the route.
Places of Tourists Visit:
Borra Caves: Borra Caves also called Borra Guhalu in Telugu language (‘Borra’ means something that has bored into the ground and ‘guhalu’ means caves) is the most prime attraction of Araku Valley. Borra Caves are deemed to be among the largest in the country and are perched at a elevation of about 705 meters. These are basically Karstic limestone structures extending to a depth of 80 m and are considered to be the deepest cave in India. It takes around 03.00 hours to reach Borra Caves station, from railway station tourists can reach Borra Caves by walking and tourists also need to collect their tickets to enter the cave. The route to Borra Caves in via jungle trail. From the entrance gate stair cases are made those reaches at the interior of the cave. The Gosthani River, which originates from these caves and flows between the solidified stalactites and stalagmites in the Karstic lime stones formation, is the cause for the development of the odd shapes of structures. Water percolating from the roof of the caves dissolves limestone and trickle drop by drop to form stalactites at the roof of the cave and then dripping down to the ground form stalagmites. These deposits have developed into interesting forms and structures inside the caves such as Shiva–Parvati, Mother–Child, Rishi’s beard, human brain, mushrooms, crocodile, temple, church, etc. Inside the Borra Caves numerous routes are carved out from the stairs. At the top most part of the cave there is an idol of Lord Shiva. From Borra Caves station area cars are available those reaches Araku Valley. Borra Caves is around 35 km from Araku Valley. According to archaeologists Borra Caves dates back to 150 million years old. In the year 1807 a Geologist of the Geological Survey of India William King George found this cave and made it famous worldwide. Borra Caves is about 60 meter deep and it has 118 stair cases to reach the main part. As tourists enters the Borra Caves they gets to see from some parts of the roof sunlight enters and gives a natural spotlight, apart from this Andhra government has also arranged for lights inside the Borra Caves. Gosthani River that dates back to millions of years back still flows through the interior part of Borra Caves. Anthropologists have also unearthed many weapons and stone cuttings those were used during the middle Paleolithic culture 30000 to 35000 years back. Borra Caves lies 31 km before entering Araku Valley from Visakhapatnam. From Borra Caves station local car and trekkers are available those Araku via complete sightseeing of Borra Caves. Borra Caves remains open from 10.00 am to 01.00 pm and again from 02.00 pm to 05.00 pm. Entry fees are required for both adults and children. Also special entries are required for still cameras and video cameras.
Tribal Museum: The Tribal Museum of Araku is another famous point of tourists interest located just near the bus stand. The exterior wall of the tribal museum is decorated with paintings and colours and the interior part exhibits the age old lifestyle of the local tribal peoples, their hunting skills and weapons and dresses and ornaments of these local tribes those were used long years back.
Tyda Eco Tourism Project: Tyda Eco Tourism Project located within few distances. Inside the Tyda Eco Tourism Project tourists can enjoy Nature Camping, Rock Climbing and Bird watching. Tyda Eco Tourism Project lies on the valleys of Anantagiri Hills and surrounded by lush green trees, undulating mountains and valleys. The project management also organize tribal dance. The ambience of Tyda Eco Tourism Project is a blend of age old nature and modern architecture. There are few tree house at Tyda Eco Tourism Project which are worth watching. From Araku Valley around 37 km is Tyda Eco Tourism Project which is a part of Eastern Ghats Hills and lies at an altitude of about 750 ft. From Tyda around 14 km is Katika waterfalls, 12 km is Tatigura waterfalls, 15 km is Borra Caves, 13 km is Anantagiri and 24 km is Galikonda View Point.
Padmapuram Horticulture Garden: Horticulture Nursery or Padmapuram Garden spread over an area of about 26 acre. During the Second World War vegetables were supplied to English soldiers from here. In the later days this place was transformed into a Horticulture center of Araku. Presently around 35 different species of roses are seen in this Horticulture Nursery. It remains open from 08.00 am to 12.30 pm and again 02.00 pm to 05.00 pm. Tree house facilities are also available inside this Horticulture Nursery for tourists and all over the area many idols of Lord Shiva, Parvati, Dinosaur and Mermaids are seen. Toy train facility is also available inside the Nursery. Near Araku bus stand ‘The Tribal Museum’ is another point of tourist’s interest located within 2 km from the Padmapuram Horticulture Garden and it remains open from 10.00 am to 05.00 pm.
Galikonda View Point and Anatagiri Hills: The nearest Galikonda View Point nestled at an altitude of about 1650 meter, this is the highest point of Anantagiri Hills and offers panoramic view of the whole landscape of Araku Valley. Tourists get to see numerous coffee gardens those spread all over the valley, desired tourists can also taste some of these garden fresh coffees. Near the Galikonda View point the locals of Araku Valley sells Coffee beans, Coffee powder and different types of spices. Anantagiri is about 87 km from Visakhapatnam and about 53 km from Araku. Anantagiri is mainly famous for its coffee plantations and the availability of different spices. From Anantagiri Hills tourists can visit the nearest Katiki and Tatigura waterfalls. On the way to Araku from Anantagiri to the right side is Galikonda Valley View Point.
Doomri Caves and Saparai Shooting Spot: Doomri Caves and Saparai Shooting spot. This shooting spot hosts many of the Tamil along with Bollywood and Tollywood movies shoot. The shooting spot is surrounded with numerous long trees, small streams and coffee gardens all over. Saparai Shooting spot is around 15 km from the main town of Araku. By local cars tourists can get around and visit Chapparai and Napparai waterfalls.
How to reach:
By Train: Araku can be reached from Visakhapatnam. From Howrah railway station and other major cities of India, Visakhapatnam is well connected. From Visakhapatnam 58501 Kirondul Passenger reaches Araku Valley. The rail journey from Vizag to Araku is full of natural wonders. From Vizag at 06.50 am Kirandul express reaches Araku.
By Road: Araku is about 118 km from Visakhapatnam and can be easily reached by direct bus service. Hired cars are also available those reaches Araku from Visakhapatnam. Times takes around 04 hours. Araku bus stand is near the Tribal Museum. From Araku bus stand around 2 km is Araku railway station.
By Air: The nearest airport to Araku Valley is Vizag Airport. Several flights connect Vizag with major Indian cities.
Best time to visit: Araku Valley can be visited throughout the year except the monsoon season.