Araku Valley is a comparatively unexplored hill station mostly visited by locals as a weekend getaway and is situated some 120 kilometres away from Vishakhapatnam. Blessed with terrific natural beauty, this destination is a serene respite from the hustle bustle of city life. If you're a tourist looking for exclusivity and tranquillity, a train leaves Vishakhapatnam early in the morning, making way through 58 tunnels and passing over 84 bridges making way through the breathtaking landscape to reach Araku in approximately in 5 hours, go, catch that!
Located in the gentle hills of Eastern Ghats, Araku Valley is also home to a number of tribes as well. This valley is also home to a few tribal caves and the Museum of Tribal Arts, which are an experience in their own right. This destination is quite famous for its exquisite coffee, whose subtle aroma will have you craving for a cuppa. Kartiki waterfall is also located within the bounds of the valley and makes up for a picturesque encounter. In addition to being a beautiful vista point, you can also try your hand at a number of adventure sports here, which include trekking and swimming as well. If a holiday to the hills is your call but you think you've seen it all, maybe you should to wait till you visit this one.
The best suggested time for visiting Araku valley is between November to February. It gets quiet cold here after December and the temperature often goes as down as 4 degree Celsius. That said, many tourists prefer visiting Araku after August, mostly just after the monsoons. There is a charm about driving through its lush green fields, with the familiar smell of wet soil and the a yellow surface layer of the washed harvest till horizon.
The only train to Araku is from Vishakhapatnam which connects it to the other major cities. The journey takes nearly five hours. Apart from buses run by the state government, there are also many cabs available connecting the Araku Valley to Vishakhapatnam. Private buses from Mumbai, Bengaluru, Vijayawada, Hyderabad and Chennai also run at regular intervals.
There are resorts of all kinds and budgets, also the APTDC has two resorts in the location. Depending on the duration and time of your journey, it is always suggested to make advance accommodation arrangements. If you land up in Araku without prior reservations, you will still have plenty of small inns and budget hotels to choose from, these hotels come with all basic facilities, are neatly done while the staff is tourist friendly. A few of these include Haritha Valley Resort, Tribal Cottage, Ushodaya Resorts, Dhimsa Resorts and SRK Resort.
While here, one must visit the tribal museums and the million years old Borra caves. The text, pictures, symbols carved on the wall of the caves, their million year existence is bound to fascinate people interested in archaeology and history. Those who value art and culture will also love the aura while the peace lovers will appreciate the atmosphere of the place. Chaprai and Anantgiri fall must also be visited, which are located nearby. In addition to the Museum of Tribal Arts and Kartiki waterfall is also located in the valley. A coffee museum is also located nearby, which is a look into Araku's coffee culture. You can also enjoy a hot cup of coffee here, and assorted coffee based chocolates are the perfect gift to take back home.
The adrenaline junkie in you will surely love to explore the terrains of this valley as you trek and hike through the mountains. In addition to trekking, you can also try your hands at swimming. Sightseeing, photography, visit to fields, interactions with locals, and getting to know the tribal culture are great activities to make the most of your trip to Araku.
While there are a few good eating places in Araku working as multi cuisine restaurants, there mostly are locals dhabas serving Chinese, Odiya, South Indian platters to the travellers. While the food can be rated decent, don't keep high expectations for a classy ambience. For non-vegetarians, try the bamboo chicken that is served by a small vendor at the premises of the tribal museum. This can easily be the food highlight of your trip to Araku Valley. A few of the food outlets include Vasundhara Restaurant, Chandrammas Spicy Restaurant, Hills View and Sri Annapurna Tiffin Center.
Catch the morning train to Araku or take the road, both means of commutation have their own positives and negatives. When going to Araku do cover Shimliguda, Tyda, Borra caves, Galikondalu viewpoint and tribal museums. You can come back by the night train. You can, however, plan a weekend trip too and stay overnight.
1. If you're planning to go to Araku valley, make sure that you confirm your ticket in advance. Despite the innumerable cabs available for the valley, only one train runs from Vishakhapatnam to Araku, which leaves Vishakhapatnam early in the morning and comes back late in the night. This journey, needless to say, is a delight.
2. It is advised that you carry a couple of woollens, an umbrella and a pair of comfortable shoes, the weather keeps changing in the valley.
3. This place has hotels of all kinds for travellers, however, it could be a journey to knowing a new culture for you as the locals are mostly tribal.