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Old 1st March 2020, 10:56   #1
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Default Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta

Narsimha, the 4th Avatar of Vishnu and the most powerful of all his Avatars, termed as the Death of Death as he protects you by shielding from all the dangers of life.

Ever since we had visited the Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha temple on the Simhachalam hill during our last trip to Vizag (Vishakhapatnam) way back in 2011 it was written on stone that a return is inevitable.

After our last trip to Puri _ (Long weekend trip to Puri Beach in an Innova Crysta) we decided that Vizag would be the next worthy trip to make up for our desire to visit Narsimha and Vizag again.

Moreover the best things we liked about Vizag is the blend of terrains like hills and sea beaches on one hand getting blended with the modern amenities that a modern city can offer added to the sparkling cleanliness and the ever helpful people of Andhra.

Also this time around my in-laws also decided to join us as they have never before been to Vizag.

Eventually we picked up the 23 - 26 January long weekend for our trip since 23rd Jan is holiday in Bengal on account of birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Of course a round trip to Vizag from Kolkata would need more than just a long weekend considering its 1742 KM distance to and fro. Each side the distance being more than 500 KMs which is what I consider an approximate unit for a day's road travel, it means we would have to split the onward and return drives both into two day drives for each occasion, more so with elders on board. Somehow Bhubaneshwar almost fits the mid point in the route to Vizag from Kolkata so we also decided to visit Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneshwar on our way the day we camp there.

Here is how we planned the day-wise itinerary and for reference linked to respective post in the thread.

Day 1 / 23rd Jan - Kolkata to Bhubaneshwar (Onward Journey)
Day 2 / 24th Jan - Bhubaneshwar to Vizag (Onward Journey)
Day 3 / 25th Jan - Visit to Simhachalam (The Day of Purpose)
Day 4 / 26th Jan - Visit to Kailashgiri (The Day of Rejoice)
Day 5 / 27th Jan - Vizag to Bhubaneshwar (Return Journey)
Day 6 / 28th Jan - Bhubaneshwar to Kolkata (Return Journey)

Some closing thoughts are posted here


A few more considerations, regarding the hotel stays, we did book a hotel in Bhubaneshwar only for the onward journey but skipped booking for the return in order to keep things flexible. Also last time on 2011 we stayed at APTDC at Rushikonda beach but considering its far from the heart of the city we wanted to stay in a location of the likes of R.K Beach considering preference of elderly.

Here are some spoiler shots from the trip in advance

In front of the Varaha Lakshmi Narsimha temple on top of Simhachalam hill at Vizag
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5872.jpg

A siloed boat floating on Chilka Lake, Odisha
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5687.jpg

Rambha Jetty overlooking Chilka Lake, Odisha
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5693.jpg

Ghat Roads
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-dsc04166.jpg

More Ghat Roads
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5756.jpg

Rushikonda beach at Vizag
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5777.jpg

Powered Paraglider at Rushikonda beach of Vizag
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5778.jpg

View from the Toy Train Ride on top of Kailashgiri hill at Vizag
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5959.jpg

In front of the INS Kursura Submarine Museum at Vizag
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5966.jpg

A peek at the Chilka Lake between the hills from the Highway, Chilka Lake View Point, Odisha
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_6005.jpg

Last edited by haisaikat : 18th March 2020 at 09:01.
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Old 1st March 2020, 11:02   #2
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Default Day 1 / 23rd Jan - Kolkata to Bhubaneshwar (Onward Journey)

Day 1 - Kolkata to Bhubaneshwar

We started around 5-45 am in the morning with a target of reaching Bhubaneshwar by the evening to camp for the day. This year, the winter has been prolonged as compared to the last couple of years so end of January was considerably chilling in Kolkata. Wrapped in light woolens we boarded our Innova Crysta with one among all more excited than the others, the Innova Crysta's 300 litres boot did accommodate all of our luggage without needing to fold down the last row seats, with the advantage of not having a parcel tray at the top.

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200123_052317.jpg

The city was still asleep as we went past the A.J.C Flyover and eventually cleared the city bounds of Vidyasagar Setu over the Ganges in no time.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5541.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5544.jpg

There was irritating fog in the Kona Expressay and we met a huge traffic at Dhulagori toll plaza with trucks all around and it delayed us by more than 30 mins. It was not due to the Fastag but rather the slow moving queue of the trucks going inside the Logistics Hub just next to the Dhulagori Toll Plaza and ending up choking the movement of the vehicle through the Toll Plaza.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5548.jpg

The foggy roads continued even after the Dhulagori toll plaza
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5557.jpg

Around 7-20 am we made an hour long breakfast halt at the Express Food Plaza of Kolaghat
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5554.jpg

Somewhere around Bara Matkatpur, we halted for showing a tractor in action to our little one and continued through the scenic Kharagpur - Balasore expressway
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5563.jpg

A little before 11 am we entered Odisha via the Lakshmannath Toll Plaza and eventually around 2 pm we halted at a roadside Dhaba in Panikolli, Odisha for lunch
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200123_145011.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5571.jpg

It was one hell of a delicious lunch platter that was highly unexpected going by the initial looks of the Dhaba but left us astonished all the way and they gave excellent attention to us.

We resumed our journey around 2-45 pm and entered Bhubaneshwar around 4-30 pm enroot to our pre-booked hotel for the night.

Around 5 pm we checked into Hotel Sambit Royale at Ashok Vihar in Bhubaneshwar after traversing heavy city traffic on an otherwise busy and working Friday in Odisha.

After settling down at the hotel there was only one more purpose left for the day and that is to visit the Lingaraj Temple which is why we had booked a hotel inside the city and closer to the temple. So got our desire fulfilled and the Puja was completed, we took Uber Auto which allowed us a to breathe in the vibe of the city first hand. My in-laws decided to stay back at the hotel.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200123_190431.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200123_190530.jpg

In front of Lingaraj Temple
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200123_191928.jpg

At around 8-45 pm we returned back to the hotel through Uber auto only, completed lunch with the limited menu served by the hotel and crashed for the night. The car parking was on the open street with of course two hotel employed guards 24x7, moreover from our room we could directly see the car parked on the street.

Here is a timeline view of the day's journey
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-23-jan-timeline.jpg

Last edited by haisaikat : 18th March 2020 at 19:42.
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Old 1st March 2020, 12:01   #3
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Default Day 2 / 24th Jan - Bhubaneshwar to Vizag (Onward Journey)

Day 2 - Bhubaneshwar to Rambha to Vizag (432 KM / 11:06 hrs)
We checked out of our hotel at Bhubaneshwar and started early around 7 am and after a refuel halt made a short tea break on a roadside shop though very few shops were open at such early hours.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5587.jpg

We resumed thereafter towards our next stop Rambha Jetty, the city roads were devoid of the evening like traffic and so in no time we were out of the city boundaries.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5589.jpg

Rambha is on the same route as Vizag except for a small detour of few KMs which hardly takes 15-20 mins on each leg. The road is satisfactory to good if not excellent and was mostly empty stretches at this hour with glimpses of numerous small hills on either side, the usual characteristics of the Ghat Roads.

At around 8-46 am we reached the beautiful Chilka Lake view point on NH-16 where we halted for some time and once again resumed towards Rambha Jetty. We faced only here a comparatively steeper but short climb through hilly roads.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5622.jpg

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Eventually at around 9-15 am we reached Rambha Jetty, there is a detour from the highway which google guided us effectively and once inside Rambha the roads are a bit less wider in few stretches and somewhat crowded hence require driving carefully and slowly.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5662.jpg

The road leads to a parking lot like place where the car needs to be parked and then one needs to walk towards the beautifully paved path of the jetty overlooking the Chilka Lake.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5675.jpg

With various birds resting on the swamps it was a very beautiful view
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200124_092538.jpg

The Panthaniwas (Odisha Tourism Development Corporation) was just behind the jetty with a gate directly opening to the Jetty. Since none of the boats were plying on the lake we inquired locally and came to understand that the booking of the boat rides happen from inside the Panthaniwas, but considering our target to reach vizag we decided to skip the boat rides this time.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5677.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5687.jpg

At the Jetty view point
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5693.jpg

Some hawkers were found selling toys on the Jetty, our little one almost jumped on to his bag.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200124_095929.jpg

On our return from the Rambha Jetty we halted at a local snacks shop in the town for some variety chops of different vegetables and resumed at around 10-40 am on our way to Vizag along the ghat roads.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-dsc04172.jpg

We crossed the Andra border checkpost at around 12 pm and observed the house designs change with ample Shiv-Parvati-Hanuman-Varaha statues erected on house roofs and hill tops.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5976.jpg

The road became even better after we entered in Andhra
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5755.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-dsc04166.jpg

Around 1-30 pm we halted at a roadside dhaba at Savarapeta (Jagabandhu Tasty Dhaba). The Dhaba had a private room for families and we were welcomed inside. There was ample attention provided to us and food was really good even though we ordered Chinese on a deserted place on the highway.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200124_134510.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5738.jpg

Outside the dhaba
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5749.jpg

Apparently NHAI patrol cars in Andra seems to be using modded version of the Isuzu DMAX pickups.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200124_143159.jpg

Around 2-30 pm we resumed once again towards Vizag
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5756.jpg

A little after 5pm we finally entered vizag
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5761.jpg

There was congestion on the roads may be due to the weekend rush
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5763.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5764.jpg

Eventually around 6 pm we checked into our pre-booked Rio Beach Hotel in front of the R.K Beach. They had a very small basement parking and eventually managed to steer the Innova in the free slot.

We were very relieved to have finally been able to complete the entire route without any hurdle. After settling down at the hotel we went out for a stroll on the beautiful beach roads in front of the hotel
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200124_204833.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200124_205004.jpg

The hotel offered a rooftop terrace, the limited seat restaurant is here although they serve only buffet breakfast for now.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200125_195827.jpg

Note that the hotel is yet to fully start their restaurant service so they allowed Swiggy or ordering food through their staff from some of the predefined nearby restaurants. But if you do order food from outside they provide all the bowls, plates and cutlery to you as complimentary. Moreover we carried rice and small Amul butter mini packs along with us and they even helped us make steamed rice through their limited kitchen facility for our kid.

We signed off for the day post dinner, here is the timeline for the day
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-24-jan-timeline.jpg

Last edited by haisaikat : 19th March 2020 at 03:45.
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Old 1st March 2020, 12:07   #4
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Default Day 3 / 25th Jan - Visit to Simhachalam (The Day of Purpose)

Day 3 - The day of purpose (Simhachalam)
While the previous 2 days of the trip were somewhat oriented towards the mission of reaching Vizag, now that we have reached, things slowed down or I would say became aligned to vacation mood.

So after a late rise with late breakfast at the hotel rooftop restaurant, we set out from the hotel around 12-30 pm headed for Rushikonda beach. The road along the R.K Beach is absolutely well maintained and decorated with frequent Oasis like seating podiums shaded by trees which looked amazing and traffic was so well controlled
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5773.jpg

I literally fell in love with the curves, I mean the smooth roads of Vizag with sea at one side and hills on the other.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-dsc04188.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-dsc04195.jpg

We arrived at around 1 pm to the Rushikonda beach and for Rs 20 there is full day parking possible in designated parking areas on the beach, very good co-operation received once again from the parking managers on the beach.

We spent some good time at the beach for the next 1 hour
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5777.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5779.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-dsc04205.jpg

We found a Powered Paraglider hovering for some time, a popular sport on this beach it seemed, did not ask the rates though.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5778.jpg

At around 2 pm we headed for the nearby Vihar Restaurant just next to the beach entrance, of course you would need to come back to the main road. There is a small hill climb you need to make to reach the restaurant which is at a elevation overlooking the beach.

A view of the Rushikonda beach from elevated view point just in front of the restaurant entrance
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5822.jpg

The restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor dining. While outdoors if you dine you directly get a panoramic view of the beach from where you are seated, even indoors on the ground floor the tables are next to the transparent full glass beach facing walls offering an excellent sea beach view. The blue tinge added to the ambiance. We loved the Indian starters and main course here and even tried their Biriyani.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5826.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-dsc04224.jpg

Around 3-30 pm we finished lunch and headed for Simhachalam which is around 24 Kms from the Rushikonda beach. Made a small halt at a view point beside the road overlooking the beach.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-dsc04247.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-dsc04256.jpg

Found this Maruti 800 based mobile food outlet there.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-dsc04249.jpg

After a 5 minutes halt we resumed towards Simhachalam, and around 4-30 pm we came to the base of the Simhachalam hill and started the climb
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-dsc04263.jpg

We parked the car at the designated parking area at the hill top just near to the temple, a scenic parking lot I must admit
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5857.jpg

In preparation of a forthcoming festival there were some additional structures being brought to the temple
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200125_174246.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200125_174432.jpg

Post submitting our mobiles in the deposit counter, we proceeded towards the Darshan queues, they were priced differently. The mobile counter actually offered back the small cloth bags used to keep the phones, an excellent initiative to boost local small scale cottage industry. Every step we took it was sparkling clean and well maintained. Inside the temple there are numerous depictions of various events and manifestations of Narsimha. We completed the Darshan along with taking Prasadam by 5-30 pm and headed for the descent, note it was my in-laws' marriage anniversary day
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-decd5a79816c4ecfacbe121ddf65b8c7.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200125_165002.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5872.jpg

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Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5881.jpg

After 45 mins driving we arrived at the busy Jagdamba Junction area for shopping but unfortunately there was so much traffic and lack of parking at this place even the cinema halls / malls were having parking full that we decided to return to the hotel.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5887.jpg

By 7-15 pm we arrived back at our hotel and called it a day.

Last edited by haisaikat : 18th March 2020 at 20:58.
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Old 1st March 2020, 12:10   #5
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Default Day 4 / 26th Jan - Visit to Kailashgiri (The Day of Rejoice)

Day 4 - The Day of Rejoice
It was our last full day at Vizag, nevertheless we were still in vacation mode and last night's dinner had killed us in spices. So the mind and heart were all set for a Bengali cuisine food-venture. It was 1 pm when were downstairs at the hotel lobby and considering the parking space limitations in unknown places we decided to take an Auto-rickshaw and headed towards the renowned Bengali restaurant Nimantran in Daba Gardens, around 3 KM away. We had visited the same place back in our 2011 trip too. I have said this before and will say it again, there is a hell and heaven difference among roaming around a place in a AC glassed cars as against a free aired vehicle like an Autorickshaw, it makes you feel a local.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200126_131300.jpg

The Non-Veg Bengali Thali and Ala-Carte items were awesome and after a very long period got to use Banana leaves for food plates. We finished lunch by 2 pm and headed back to the hotel to get our car
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200126_133013.jpg

By 2-30 pm we arrived at hotel and started towards Kailashgiri in our Innova and with some traffic we arrived at the base of Kailashgiri by 3 pm. We ditched the base parking from where it climbs along the steep side of the hill in a cable car and decided to go through the hill road that leads to the top.

The entrance to the road leading to the top, has a ticket counter even for those who wants to walk up their way
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5918.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5922.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5919.jpg

After finding a suitable parking place for the car we headed towards the Toy Train which was not there last time in 2011. Our in-laws decided to give it a pass considering the walking required and instead stayed at the park near the Titanic View Point on top of the Kailashgiri.

We purchased tickets of the Non-Ac compartment of the Toy Train and waited patiently at the station.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200126_151515.jpg

Soon came the train and although there was a bit of a rush boarding it, eventually I found the seats are numbered and to be matched with the same on the ticket. They sell tickets on first come first serve basis but first ones to go are the ones at the rear and the last ones are the front ones, and being late we actually got front ones
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200126_152213.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5938.jpg

The ride was excellent to say the least as its moves steadily around the hill and gives all round view of the city and the beaches. Our little one enjoyed it a lot. Moreover this ride gives a complete 360 tour the Kailashgiri, of the numerous view points, parks and places all around it to hang on for a long time.

The ride was for around 20-30 minutes and at the end it was feeling like going for it again. But nevertheless we had to complete our packing considering we have to leave next day and hence concluded the visit of Kailashgiri, we did miss going to the Shiv Parvati and some tour of the park at Kailashgiri.

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-c68ecd921daf486e836140393091b2b7.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200126_160113.jpg

We returned to the hotel by 4-30 pm and stayed back for the rest of the evening packing up.

Last edited by haisaikat : 19th March 2020 at 02:18.
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Old 1st March 2020, 12:15   #6
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Default Day 5 / 27th Jan - Vizag to Bhubaneshwar (Return Journey)

Day 5 - Vizag to Bhubaneshwar (Return Journey)
Everyone was upset that the departing day has come, my father-in-law after seeing the roads and order of stay in Vizag including some self strolls on foot at the surrounding area for purchasing medicines or other things exclaimed that this is "the place" he would have wanted to be either for his job at or at least retire so much Vizag has appealed to him. Thanks to the Andhra government and the local authorities for maintaining and building the city for what it stands today, even I shared similar opinion.

Post our breakfast at the hotel we set out for Bhubaneshwar around 9 am from our hotel and went past the Submarine museum through the beach road.

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5966.jpg

The road went along the sea side until Bheemli Beach before taking a bend towards the highway but we did not halt for the beach. However we did halt for the coconuts

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5968.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5971.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200127_103425.jpg

Another interesting observation made was that unlike some other states where tolls plazas are frequented by folks clapping and seeking money from cars, in Andhra everyone is offering something unique to sell, be it garlands, or cloth bags or peanuts or dried vegetable snacks or more things like that. Everyone has a mindset of earning their living. Also they seem to resort to the local cars mostly and never even once bothered outside cars like ours.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200127_100826.jpg

Thereafter apart from a few usual halts we made on our way the next stop was stop was for lunch while we passed through the scenic ghat roads with hills all around.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5979.jpg

Around 2 pm when we were in dire need of a place for the lunch considering the little one on board we observed that due to road repair work on NH-16 there was a diversion into Icchapuram near the Andra - Odisha border. Luckily at that hour we found a good place (Dhanraj Family Restaurant) where after some initial inquiry about kid friendly menu we decided to move into. Food was satisfactory if not greatest and by 3 pm we were done.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200127_141753.jpg

Thereafter we again resumed on our way towards Bhubaneshwar and soon came out of Icchapuram and merged with NH-16 with further ghat roads continuing.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_5985.jpg

At around 4 pm we came at the same Chilka Lake View Point and frankly the view from this side of NH-16 was so much better that we were compelled to halt to feel the breadth of the scene.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_6007.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_6018.jpg



After a short halt and some shutter clicks we resumed journey enroot
to Bhubaneshwar.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_6023.jpg

Around 6-30 pm we touched the outskirts of Bhubaneshwar and we had one more job which was to find the hotel for the night since we kept things flexible and did not book this in advance.

After some curious scanning on both sides of the road we parked in front of Sunrise Hotel right along NH-16 at the outskirts of Bhubaneshwar. The place was full of shops and malls around and looked to us to be the perfect place for the night. I inquired at the reception on availability and room was readily available and they had underground parking and restaurant too. What more can one ask for, so we checked in.

This hotel not only had a big basement parking with elevator going down till basement, but also good rooms and most important a great kitchen considering their top floor restaurant is also purposed for their banquet hall. Moreover the location advantage is great considering its a surrounded by shops and malls and very next to Udaygiri & Khandagiri and an hour away from Nandan Kanan. We had our dinner here and signed off for the day. Overall a great find and a recommended one.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200128_101032.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_6026.jpg

Here goes the travel timeline for the day
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-27th-jan-timeline.png

Last edited by haisaikat : 19th March 2020 at 02:12.
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Old 1st March 2020, 12:17   #7
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Default Day 6 / 28th Jan - Bhubaneshwar to Kolkata (Return Journey)

Day 6 / 28th Jan - Bhubaneshwar to Kolkata

Around 10-30 am we checked out of Sunrise Hotel at Bhubaneshwar after a gala breakfast served by them in the room and headed through the busy traffic of Tuesday.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_6027.jpg

Soon we went past the city limits and were cruising on the highway. This was otherwise an easy route but we met on this very day traffic jams due to accident on the highway and it killed a lot of our time.

Nevertheless between Balasore and Bhadrak we made a halt at a Dhaba for lunch which was just about okay and again resumed on the road.
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_6031.jpg

Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-img_20200127_205507.jpg

However near around evening we met very heavy traffic near Dhulagori Toll Plaza and it continued 1 KM before and after it and due to frequent breaking our kid vomitted several times, the last day wasn't that great for him. Amidst all of these there was one more hurdle left which was another traffic jam at Santragachi and eventually we took a detour from the Kona Expressway and entered the alternative route showed by Google Map through narrow roads of Howrah. Thankfully one thing really worked in our favour, the size of the Innova in a narrow street made the others steadily gave us way or made others pursue to do so in order for us to move ahead even though it seemed we were deadlocked. So after some dreaded railway level crossings and narrow uber crowded markets we made it back to Kona Expressway.

Eventually reached home a little after 9 pm thereby bringing a long trip to an end.

Here is the travel timeline for the last day
Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta-28th-jan-timeline.jpg

Last edited by haisaikat : 16th March 2020 at 00:44.
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Old 1st March 2020, 12:18   #8
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Default Looking back and Retrospection

Here are some closing thoughts and retrospection areas

Accomodation and Parking
  1. No matter which hotel you book in advance, if you are booking through online travel portals and not directly with the hotel make sure to call up the respective hotel and confirm the booking twice, once after making the booking and another just 1-2 days prior to travelling to ensure the booking is still in force. Our Bhubaneshwar hotel Sambit Royale which we had booked through Cleartrip, refused to honor the booking on arrival on grounds of end of ties with Cleartrip. So I had to reassure the hotel that I will pay them separately and had the check in completed for wife, kids and inlaws and then called up Cleartrip, told them the situation and that going to a different hotel is not possible, they reconfirmed with hotel keeping me on hold and initiated the refund swiftly. Thankfully the hotel at Vizag was a direct booking through their website.
  2. The Rio Beach Hotel which we booked at Vizag is at a very good and advantageous location being in front of the R.K Beach, easy transportation availability be it auto rickshaw or hired cabs as anyone desire, serviceable by Swiggy, ample restaurants and shops of all kinds including pharmacies and banking branches all around. Of course hotels on top of Rushikonda hill have better scenic view but R.K Beach is at a more prime location in terms of amenities.
  3. While booking a hotel during a road trip if you have elders who have difficulty in walking make sure the hotels you book has lift / elevators right from the ground floor unless you book rooms at the ground floor and ensure the hotel has minimal steps to climb from parking / guest drop off area to the rooms. The Bhubaneshwar hotel during onward journey had lift on paper but when we arrived (since our booking had the problem) they only had rooms in the Annexe building which did not have any lift and in-laws had to climb one floor through stairs. However Hotel Sunrise that we booked during the return at Bhubaneshwar had lift facility right from the basement parking and was most advantageous, so was Rio Beach Hotel at Vizag (from Ground Floor). So better call up the hotel in advance prior to making the booking and straighten these out.
  4. Inquire if a hotel has its own restaurant and if not whether they allow Swiggy service or has food outlets / restaurants nearby, look at google maps, will save you lot of inconvenience. Even more, hotels with banquet halls will have a far more capable restaurant with diverse menu owing to their exposure with hosting parties, our experience with the wonder discovery of Hotel Sunrise at Bhubaneshwar indicates this fact.

Food
  1. The food in Odisha is good enough as always and with reasonable amount of spices. But the same is Andhra especially what we encountered in Vizag unless given instruction in person while cooking is going to be spicy above average. While we managed it, but my in laws could not tolerate it, so had to resort to Chinese food most of the time. So it is better to find a place where you can instruct the chef in advance to ensure a pleasant enjoyable Indian cuisine especially for elders.
  2. While selecting a highway Dhaba for heavy meals like lunch / dinner ensure that they have proper quality and hygiene, AC ones are better than non-AC ones although some exceptions do exist. This impacts kids and can lead to indigestion and subsequent vomiting. Also before entering with family inside the Dhaba ensure they have a secluded area for families, with ladies and kids this may give you some privacy as compared to mass seating open areas.
  3. Prawns are found in abundance and cheap in both Odisha and Andhra, and of good quality too. So do not be surprised if even an ordinary Dhaba on the highway recommends you Prawn dishes. We lived the preparations in Odisha better to our taste.

Driving and Road
  1. The total distance driven was around 1770 KM and mileage was 12.4 KM/litre on the Innova Crysta and total toll pad was approximately Rs 1000 each way and total of Rs 2000, the tolls in Andhra were costlier but then again the roads were way better too.
  2. I found that if I engage the cruise control the mileage bumps up to 18 km/litre but the challenge on Indian highways is that vehicles do not maintain proper lane discipline making you break your set speed on CC every now and then, defeats the purpose. May be Adaptive Cruise Control is the answer.
  3. I made halts this time for power naps, 15 minute halts rejuvenates you for 3 hours at least provided you do not drive with sun glasses and let the solar glare keep your eyes active. Saves drinking carb energy drinks unnecessarily.
  4. This time I also re-fueled the tank almost every time we made a halt for loo breaks at Gas Stations, topped up the tank to full even if it was for 900-1000 rupees each time.
  5. As a transport, the Innova Crysta is such a fantastic cruiser that even after driving hundreds of miles at one stretch you do not feel fatigued and can take on more and more miles at ease as long as your co-passengers support you. No doubt the Crysta's comfort is unmatched.

Vizag and Bhubaneshwar
  1. If you plan a roadtrip to Vizag and also have planned Araku, do plan out a car drive to Deomali peak which is 4 hrs from Vizag and nearer from Araku. Its the second highest peak of Eatsern Ghat and motorable roads go till the top. I only found this older thread _ (Xylo at Deomali - Highest peak in Eastern Ghats) by a BHPian but no one in recent times have reported driving to the top. It would be a full day trip. I thought of going but was held back due to lack of time.
  2. Be careful in Lingaraj temple of Odisha about Priest's / Panda's persuading you of getting a Darshan and Puja done for 51 rupees, their main objective would be to get you to opt for the Puja package with Prasad lowest of which is upward of 500 rupees and they give you no bill / receipt, better go inside first and visit the temple office / counter and pay against valid bill.
  3. Inside the hotel at Vizag the network is quite poor for Vodafone, Jio rules. I got better internet connection with Vodafone either when I am out on the roads or when I am on the rooftop restaurant.
  4. If you have sensitive ear drums, the quick descent or ascent to any of the hills can cause some temporary boom in the ears. Happened to me, but goes away in minutes.

Finally a closing note to all fellow BHPians in this moment of self awareness and precaution, always keep your hands regularly sanitized before and after your drive and pass on to fellow passengers be it adults or children, keep one hand sanitizer all the time dedicated in your car. Stay safe and Live to Drive !!!
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Old 19th March 2020, 05:54   #9
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Default re: Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues Section. Thank you for sharing
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Old 19th March 2020, 21:28   #10
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Default re: Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta

Wonderfully illustrated travelogue. Thank you!

i think my wife and I really ought to make it to Vishakhapatnam one day.
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Old 19th March 2020, 22:48   #11
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Default re: Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta

Beautifully written log and sprinkled with lovely photographs. In fact it’s a great read coming as a fresh breath of air in this situation when there’s so much of negativity around. I must thank you for it on behalf of all readers.

And like we always say, travel more and write more... this time once things normalise. Take care!!

Regards,
Saket.
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Old 19th March 2020, 23:38   #12
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Default re: Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta

Nicely summed up travelogue of a place which I am very fond off. I always wonder why our cities can’t be like Vizag which is one of the most clean cities I have ever driven in India. Just remembered my drives back in the day to this wonderful city. I see that the road to Kailashagiri has a check/ticket gate now at the base, seems to be a new addition. Wonderful pictures, wishing you many more miles, regards.

P.S- Just a small request, there is a picture of your child sitting on the lap of her mother in the front seat, please make sure that the child is at the back while you drive because that’s one thing that should be best avoided.
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Old 20th March 2020, 11:20   #13
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Default Re: Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta

Well elaborated travelogue with good photographs. Vizag brings back fond memories. After Hudhud devastation in Oct 2014, Vizag sprung back to life neater, cleaner and more beautiful than ever.
Did you make it to the aircraft and submarine museums? Not mentioned. Since you stayed on the beach road, you would have noticed the "no traffic till 0700" rule on the Beach Road to permit traffic free walkway for the morning walkers and the cyclists.
I fully agree with your FIL that it is an excellent choice for a peaceful retired life.
How was the route updated with enroute halts? Using any app or is it manual?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
... ought to make it to Vishakhapatnam one day.
Chennai-Vizag is a nice day time drive sir. Did this in Dec17 starting from Tambaram at 0445hrs and reaching Vizag by 2030hrs. This was with a few refreshment halts and a nice lunch break at the Paradise Biryani outlet at Vijayawada for lunch!

Last edited by bimal_67 : 20th March 2020 at 11:43.
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Old 20th March 2020, 13:58   #14
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Default Re: Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta

Wonderful travelogue. Brings back my memories from the city of destiny. If we are destined to stay at Vizag we will be there. However, I'm not destined. I had the opportunity to stay at Vizag for more than 6 years and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this beautiful city. Few nostalgic tears roll down when I read Simhachalam Temple, RK Beach, Kursura submarine museum, Jagadamba circle where I spent my weekends during those years of stay.
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Old 20th March 2020, 14:12   #15
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Default Re: Journey to Simhachalam & Visakhapatnam in an Innova Crysta

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
Wonderfully illustrated travelogue. Thank you!

i think my wife and I really ought to make it to Vishakhapatnam one day.
Many thanks for appreciating Nick sir, I recommend going in between December to January for the most pleasant weather and keep 4 - 5 days for a less hectic tour. I still miss you around on HFV though, your arguments used to be amazing. I hope you are still enjoying the HD800 and Carnatic shows.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
Beautifully written log and sprinkled with lovely photographs. In fact itís a great read coming as a fresh breath of air in this situation when thereís so much of negativity around. I must thank you for it on behalf of all readers.

And like we always say, travel more and write more... this time once things normalise. Take care!!
Thank you saket for the kind words. We have plans to make it to Darjeeling in early May, still taking stock of the situation but do not wish to cancel even if postpone a little, title may be under contemporary influence something like "Kolkata to Darjeeling with N95s" just kidding. But as you rightly said once this is over we should definitely make up for everything missed or delayed for this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ABHI_1512 View Post
Wonderful pictures, wishing you many more miles, regards.

P.S- Just a small request, there is a picture of your child sitting on the lap of her mother in the front seat, please make sure that the child is at the back while you drive because thatís one thing that should be best avoided.
Thanks for the wishes Abhi, or North East explorer should i say. The child sitting is temporary when we stopped for break. But travelling with kids and elders is a different experience and lot of learning, wish to put these thoughts in a separate thread soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bimal_67 View Post
Well elaborated travelogue with good photographs.

Did you make it to the aircraft and submarine museums?

Since you stayed on the beach road, you would have noticed the "no traffic till 0700" rule on the Beach Road to permit traffic free walkway for the morning walkers and the cyclists.

I fully agree with your FIL that it is an excellent choice for a peaceful retired life.

How was the route updated with enroute halts? Using any app or is it manual?
In our previous trip of 2011 we had covered all spots except the Studio including Araku. This time we did not have that elaborate plans, as I have said the Darshan at Simhachalam was the main purpose. Yet I did have plans to at least take the kid to Aircraft and Submarine museum but due to some circumstances could not make it happen. Our hotel had the perfect location though with all these places at a walking distance.

Having stayed last time in the secluded Rushikonda, after 7 years even that place is more crowded now, however staying at R.K Beach is an absolute stunner and what I really loved most. I probably missed the notice for 7 am but an absolute surprise was seeing the street lights being completely solar with the panels placed all around the 4 faces of the squarish poles on which the lights are hosted. Also streets have marked areas of parking 2-wheelers in place of the road dividers and there are no violaters, everyone including Auto Rickshaw drivers following rules diligently, this enforcement and understanding is missing elsewhere.

I realized that there are so many excellent AirBnBs offering very cost effective stays at Vizag, probably would be looking for next time we visit. Its like a relaxing less polluted sparkling clean vacation destination amidst the convenience of a metro city.

The route update is Google Timeline picture with manual updated overlayed on a powerpoint, not automated through any app.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KPR View Post
Wonderful travelogue. Brings back my memories from the city of destiny. If we are destined to stay at Vizag we will be there. However, I'm not destined. I had the opportunity to stay at Vizag for more than 6 years and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this beautiful city. Few nostalgic tears roll down when I read Simhachalam Temple, RK Beach, Kursura submarine museum, Jagadamba circle where I spent my weekends during those years of stay.
Thank You and Amen, I do wish the same. But probably too many industries and people might kill it is what I am afraid of.
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