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Old 18th March 2009, 15:38   #1
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Default Hyderabad - Araku Valley

Long overdue travelogue.

Three of us went on a drive to Araku in December 2008, just after Christmas.

We had a slightly late start. Left at about 7.30 in the morning and shortly before 8, got stuck in a traffic jam at Dilsukhnagar. Once we cleared that, it was reasonably good going. Roads were ok with a fair bit of traffic till Suryapet, which we reached at about 11.30 am. We then turned off to Khammam and got there at about 1 pm and stopped for lunch.

We stopped at the first likely place we saw at Khammam – I forget the name but it was just after we came down a flyover. Good food, though the service was pretty slow. We left the restaurant a little after 2 pm.

Well maintained state highway between Khammam and Kovvuru – that was the part we enjoyed. Didn’t try to let rip much – we just stayed at a comfortable cruising speed enjoying the new surroundings and music and the almost empty road. The most peaceful and hassle free stretch of the entire trip. We reached Kovvuru a little before 6 pm, had our first bit of thick traffic on the bridge over the Godavari, found our way through Rajahmundry and got to NH 5 on the GQ for the final leg at about 6.30. Stopped for coffee and we were off again.

My first time on the GQ and it lived up to what I had heard about it. I was wishing I had reached it a little earlier though as the light was fading and we realized we would have to speed up to get to Tyda (that’s a hill resort about 30 km before Araku Valley), where we had booked rooms for the night.

Anyway we made reasonably good time and got to Anakapalle at about 9.30 or so. We decided to branch off from the NH and go through Anakapalle town to Tyda, and not touch Vizag at all. The usual route is to continue on NH 5 till Vizag and then take a turn-off to Tyda and Araku.

So at Anakapalle we asked for directions to Srungavarappukota which is the last major town before Tyda. The guy I asked started grinning and said “S’Kota, S’Kota”. It seems the name is too long even for people in that district. We got directions through Anakapalle town.

We crossed a bridge over a river in the middle of the town with a huge boulder in the middle of the road where the bridge starts and the entrance to the left lane was just about wide enough to get a car through. There was another boulder in the middle at the other end of the bridge, making the exit just as narrow. I wonder how trucks make it through the town – I suppose they need to go through Vizag unless there is an alternate bridge. I don’t know if a wide SUV or anything else wider than average would have made it without a scratch – maybe it would and it just seemed too narrow to me as I was not used to it.

Another guy told us of a shortcut through neighbouring villages to get to S’Kota. We tried to find the shortcut and ended up getting lost for a short while there. We kept stopping to ask people for directions – mostly young boys on cycles – who were only too happy to practice their English when someone in a car stopped to speak to them – and they spoke it reasonably well too. We were told by everyone that we had to keep going till we reached a town called Sabbavaram and we stopped at every village to enquire if it was Sabbavaram.

A couple of wrong turns, looking desperately for non existent signboards to check the name of the village (it was well past 10, all the houses dark and only the dogs were awake). We even took a dirt track off the road because we saw a man in the distance in a small bulb-lit building, only to find that the building was a small temple and the “man” was a life size statute of Hanuman ji!

We finally reached Sabbavaram which was a fair sized town and not a village. After that it was plain sailing – Sabbavaram to Pendurthi to SKota and then finally Tyda which we reached after midnight. We then got to bed after waking the night-watchman and the administrator, who seemed in a good mood in spite of having to interrupt his sleep to check us in.

The next day, we left for Araku after breakfast. Bustling town in a valley, with a fair amount of holiday crowd. We checked into the APTDC resort where we had bookings and checked out the town. Quiet day.

The next day, the third, we went to Borra Caves, about an hour’s drive away. It was the weekend and the place was packed.

The caves were great to see but better visited on a weekday if possible, when the crowd is likely to be less. The limestone structures were quite a spectacle.

One stalagmite that’s supposed to look like a “Shiv Ling” has been covered in flowers and stuff, with a priest sitting near it and accepting donations. Unfortunately with all the coverings and decorations, you can’t see the structure that is supposed to be the attraction there. That’s something we couldn’t understand. If someone wants to see a shivling he will go to a Shiva temple - why interfere with a natural structure?

There was a reasonably well-behaved crowd when we reached there. I remember seeing a large group of schoolboys who must have been brought there on a school trip, who were walking about in an orderly way. Then, two couples, well dressed, who looked like they had come from a large city, climbed the barricades to get up on some rocks, for a photo session. All signs asking the public to stick to designated areas, ignored. They got some local guy to climb up also with them to photograph them on top of the rocks. Result: Chaos, because about a hundred others, including the schoolboys decided to climb the barricades and wander around too.

We then went to Katki Falls in a hired jeep – there is a dirt track leading to the falls that is better handled by jeeps or SUVs. That was a disappointment. The falls and the surrounding hills were ok to look at. But the area around was like a garbage dump in a town. It has obviously not been looked after by any authority. Add to that a bunch of drunk guys who were pissing into the base of the falls and you can imagine why it was a disappointment. Anyway those jokers pushed off soon after that and then we had about half an hour by ourselves at the falls – much better.

The next couple of days passed by quickly. We stayed at both Araku and Tyda, made short trips to S’Kota and Vizag where we spent some time at RK Beach. Vizag seemed to have smoother-flowing traffic than Hyderabad but that’s just an impression - hard to judge really in a few hours.

Tyda is a great resort. Calls itself a “jungle” resort, plenty of greenery, set on a hillside and with individual cottages. On the last day there we were taken on an early morning trek one day that was good. We met some very friendly tribals who gave the kid of another guest at the resort a water mug that they had carved out of a single coconut shell. Great piece of work – would have liked to have bought one myself but they seemed to have only one left.

The drive back was through Vijayawada. We left at 6.30 in the morning, hit Anakapalle in about two hours, had breakfast and then a glorious drive on the GQ on NH 5 to Vijayawada. We reached Vijayawada a little after 2 pm and had a leisurely lunch. Tried not to let it be spoilt by the memory of a body we saw just outside the restaurant – a biker who had cut across in front of an Innova without looking just before we got there.

Left again at 3 pm and at about 4.30 got stuck in a raasta roko for about two hours. Large bunch of farmers who were protesting against pesticides that killed the crops along with the pests. Did stopping a hundred vehicles bring their crops back to life? Don’t know.

Uneventful drive thereafter, if you don’t count the tension that is always caused by night driving on an Indian single-lane highway. The roads to Suryapet were fairly good though so it was just the high beams we had to contend with. We reached Hyderabad at about 11, went through an extra-frustrating traffic jam at Mozzamjahi market that the city had put on to welcome us back home and then home after midnight.

Highlights: The SH from Khammam to Kovvur, the GQ stretches (Rajahmundry – Anakapalle and Anakapalle – Vijayawada), Tyda resort. (Pics will follow if I can overcome some technical problems.)

Disappointments: Katki Falls, the food at the resorts at both Araku and Tyda.

Distances – Hyderabad to Tyda via Khammam – approx. 670 km
Tyda to Hyderabad via Vijayawada – approx. 725 km

Will I do it again? Yes but off-season.
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Old 18th March 2009, 16:35   #2
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Nice travelogue. But, you took 16+ hours to cover 670 kms? Which car were you driving? Seem like you have taken a lot of breaks in between.

How about posting some pictures of this trip?
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Old 18th March 2009, 16:55   #3
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Thanks. We lost some time between Anakapalle and Sabbavaram when we lost our way on the village roads and yes, we did take a couple of long breaks. But that was ok. We enjoyed the drive as much as the places themselves, so weren't in any hurry. Car was a UVa.
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Old 19th March 2009, 11:00   #4
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StraightDrive, good travelogue. Should have timed your to and fro journey better. It is always better to start early if you are going on such a long drive, also you should have avoided VJA-HYD route (its a nightmare any time of the day, round the year) unless you wanted to try VJA cuisine

Cna you elaborate on the activities and sight seeing options in Tyda and Araku. Looking forward to the pictures also.
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Old 19th March 2009, 12:25   #5
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Hope the photos will come soon..
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Old 19th March 2009, 12:41   #6
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Originally Posted by nagvasireddy View Post
...........Cna you elaborate on the activities and sight seeing options in Tyda and Araku. Looking forward to the pictures also.
Nagvasireddy, on sightseeing options, I mentioned Borra and Katki Falls. The caves are a pretty good spectacle - am sure your son will have a good time there. I would advise visiting these places on weekdays if possible.

From Vizag, you will first come to a place called Ananthagiri, then Tyda and then Araku. For Borra Caves and Katki, there is a diversion before you reach Araku.

There are a few waterfalls/streams/temples in the area which we didn't visit. We saw a list of about seven or eight such places at Tyda resort with distances to each. Most of these places seem to be further beyond Araku - on the road to Orissa. But as we didn't go there, can't comment on whether they are worth visiting or not.

At Araku itself, the only sightseeing option, apart from just exploring the town, is a tribal museum. Tyda is also a place where people mostly go to just enjoy the surroundings - cottages set in thick vegetation, lots of places to just wander round in. These places aren't as commercialised as the better known hill stations/valley resorts. If you are looking at places where you can just sit and relax and walk around, these are fine. Would definitely recommend Tyda over Araku to stay in.

The Vijayawada-Hyd route was not great, yes, but we had already done the Khammam route and wanted to see Vijayawada as well. And the drive from Anakapalle to Vijayawada on the GQ was fantastic.

Didn't get the joke on Vijayawada cuisine - is it known for good food? The place we went to for lunch was about to shut for the afternoon as we reached after 2 pm, so didn't get much variety.
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Old 19th March 2009, 13:23   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by straightdrive View Post
From Vizag, you will first come to a place called Ananthagiri, then Tyda and then Araku. For Borra Caves and Katki, there is a diversion before you reach Araku.
You are slightly mistaken---The first place is S'kota, then Tyda, then the Y junction where you turn right for Borra caves or left for Araku, then Ananthagiri, and finally Araku.
I've driven to Araku several times, and found Tyda to be a better place for staying. The cottages at Anantagiri are next best. Araku is a dead place--you'll get bored in half a day.
Let me know if you need more info reg Vizag and surrounding places---after all I've lived there for 2 decades and visited every nook and corner on my M800 and WagonR.
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Old 19th March 2009, 13:45   #8
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@Straightdrive, Vnabhi is an expert in that part of the country.

So be very careful with your next installment of your travelogue
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Old 19th March 2009, 13:50   #9
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@straightdrive - Thanks for the info. I too heard that Tyda is better than Araku. And, I heard a lot of good things about Anantagiri Hills. Am surprised that you did not visit Anantagiri. About VJA cuisine, I meant to say that one should avoid VJA-HYD route unless they have some work in VJA. Even in that case going to HYD via Guntur-Miryalaguda would be a better option.
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Old 19th March 2009, 14:00   #10
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Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
You are slightly mistaken---The first place is S'kota, then Tyda, then the Y junction where you turn right for Borra caves or left for Araku, then Ananthagiri, and finally Araku......
Vnabhi, yes, that's the correct order.

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.....@Straightdrive, Vnabhi is an expert in that part of the country......So be very careful with your next installment ....
Mobike, I knew that already - he gave me info on the route in reply to my questions before the trip. Next instalment will only be a couple of pics if I can manage to upload them - not sure what the problem is but will try again.

Just noticed - that's my 50! Has taken some time.

Last edited by straightdrive : 19th March 2009 at 14:17. Reason: Addition
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Old 19th March 2009, 14:23   #11
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@Straightdrive, Vnabhi is an expert in that part of the country.

So be very careful with your next installment of your travelogue
Har har, that is a good one, mobike!
By the way, I could not help noticing your new avatar, which talks about noticing the small notice!!!
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Old 19th March 2009, 14:40   #12
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Nice travelogue straightdrive. Waiting for the pics.
I have always wanted to visit araku valley but haven't got a chance yet. Check out the FAQs on how to upload pictures.
Try resizing the pics also.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/announ...-team-bhp.html (Uploading photographs directly to Team-BHP)
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Old 19th March 2009, 16:47   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by straightdrive View Post
Just noticed - that's my 50! Has taken some time.
Congrats your the 2nd Hyd guy to become a bhpian today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
Har har, that is a good one, mobike!
By the way, I could not help noticing your new avatar, which talks about noticing the small notice!!!
Thanks. Yes, i got fed of the old one. And, thought of using this signpost since nobody was noticing me these days
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Old 19th March 2009, 17:10   #14
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good one striagtdrive. you should have a also covered vizag. why was it missed.....
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Old 20th March 2009, 09:35   #15
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Congrats your the 2nd Hyd guy to become a bhpian today.....
Thanks. I noticed I was neck to neck with Nagvasireddy in the 40s when I read a thread of his, and then he got ahead.

Quote:
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good one striagtdrive. you should have a also covered vizag. why was it missed.....
Vito_Parry, I did go to Vizag but that was just one evening. Had some excellent mutton biryani at a place called Tycoons not very far from RK Beach.
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