SCENIC DRIVESBack To Previous Page
VIZAG TO ARAKU VALLEY ROAD & RAIL JOURNEY
SCENIC DRIVE TO ARAKU VALLEY (ROAD TRIP & RAIL TRIP):
LIFE TIME SWEET MEMORIES GUARANTEED
It's time to pack your bags and head to the Araku Valley. After a spell of rains, the valley is a verdant green. There's a chill in the air and on misty mornings the fields can be seen slowly creeping into a yellow blanket.
Araku Valley is a hill station in Andhra Pradesh, located about 120 km from Visakhapatnam. From August or rather after the monsoon is when the tourist season begins. The best time however is between November and February although by December/January the temperature often drops to four degrees.
Since the days of the Raj, the lush green landscape and the salubrious climate of Araku Valley have been a major draw. Nestled in the Eastern Ghats, the valley has numerous cascading waterfalls and gushing streams. And as one drives through the winding ghat roads, the mild aroma of coffee from the numerous plantations sprinkled across the valley, greets the visitors.
The journey to Araku valley is most enjoyable when you travel by both rail and road, according to the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department. from Visakhapatnam. While the road, covered by thick jungle on both sides, snakes through the Anantagiri range, the rail takes you through 58 tunnels and over 84 bridges. The engineering marvel of the Kottavalasa-Kirandul line on the Waltair Division of the East Coast Railway will leave you awestruck. On the way to Araku is Shimliguda, a station perched at 997 m above sea level, which was the first highest broad-gauge railway station in the country till the construction of Qazigund in Jammu and Kashmir. While cabs are aplenty, there is only one train that leaves Visakhapatnam early in the morning and returns late at night.
With gushing rivulets, surging waterfalls, plantations and swathes of green fields sprinkled with small villages, Araku Valley is balm for the soul.
LISTED ONE OF THE 5 MOST PICTURESQUE TRAIN JOURNEYS IN INDIA
Riding the depths of Eastern Ghats, this route offers some of the most unforgettable views of the lush Eastern Ghats. Meandering through the thick foliage, the train passes by the towering cliffs and picturesque waterfalls. The journey is so beautiful that it can cure the most troubled minds with a sense of serenity.
The Waltair Division of East Coast Railway (ECoR) is said to be contemplating running special trains to Araku to meet the unprecedented rush of tourists during the season.
“We are actively considering running of special trains to Araku during the weekends to meet the winter rush. We had asked for another train to Araku at the IRTTC meeting. We are also working on increasing the length of platforms at stations on the way to Araku,” Divisional Railway Manager told.
Araku, which has earned the epithet: ‘Ooty of Andhra Pradesh’, draws a large number of tourists from different States of India, particularly from West Bengal, during the ‘puja’ season every year.
Children shout in glee as darkness envelopes the coaches in broad daylight as the train passes through the series of long tunnels. There is hardly any space to sit or even stand for passengers in the general coaches during the tourist season (between October and January).
They sit on the upper berths and come down every now and then to peep through the windows to enjoy the sight of lush green valleys and entrances to the tunnels.
The ‘Araku passenger’ (Visakhapatnam-Kirandul Passenger) witnesses huge wait lists during the Dasara festival year after year. The wait list in the sleeper class starts in October and peaks during the Dasara festival.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TRAIN ROUTE AND BORRA CAVES COMING TO LIME-LIGHT:
The 450 km-long K-K (Kothavalasa-Kirandul) line was constructed between 1960 and 1968 with Japanese financial aid mainly for transportation of iron ore from the Bailadila mines to the Visakhapatnam Port for export to Japan.
During the construction, one day the Survey and Construction (S&C) team of the Dandakaranya Balangir Kiriburu (DBK) Railway had by chance stumbled upon the Borra caves which later led to Borra Caves becoming a major tourist attraction over the last four decades.
Though the caves, believed to be 150 million years old, were discovered by the British geologist William King in 1887, it was only after the construction of the DBK railway line, which then had its headquarters at Visakhapatnam, and the Borra railway station, that they gained immense popularity.
A retired Chief Engineer in the Railways Sri J.Rajulu Reddy, who was associated with the survey, construction and maintenance of the K-K Line for a decade, recalls “One day when we were engaged in the work between Tyda and Chimidapalli, there was a heavy downpour and we were worried as there seemed to be no end in sight to the rain. Some local tribals told us: “Don’t worry sir, there is a ‘raathi godugu’ (stone umbrella) under which you can take shelter”
“Although we did not believe them, we followed them and within a short time, they led us to a place full of bushes. They cleared the bushes and we found an opening leading to a cave like structure underground. Fresh water and fruits, available in the cave, came to our rescue as we had to wait for a few hours to escape the downpour.”
“The tribals used to say that the caves led to the Bhadrachalam temple. They, however, cautioned against venturing too deep into the darkness as there were serpents, birds and wild animals,” Mr Reddy recalls.
“It struck me that the caves could draw tourists. Later, I reported the matter to the then Collector of Visakahaptnam. On seeing the caves, he exclaimed, “This is amazing,” and envisioned the caves could become a major tourist attraction.
PENDING PROPOSAL OF RAILWAYS:
In order to make the journey more enjoyable and to attract more number of tourists to the Araku Valley, the Railways have proposed for equipping the Visakhapatnam - Kirandul passenger train with VISTADOME coaches. These specially designed transparent acrylic coaches enables passengers to see all dimensions of nature from the comfort of their seats.
TRAIN JOURNEY DETAILS:
Train Name: Visakhapatnam Kirandul Passenger; Train No.58501.
Departure from Vizag at 07:05 AM; Arrival at Arakku: 11:05 AM.
Distance from Vizag to Araku: 131 km. Journey time: 04:00 Hrs.
Available Class: First Class (Fare Appx.Rs.310/-; Sleeper (Fare Apprx.Rs.100/-); 2nd Class General (Fare Apprx.Rs.45/-)
Stations on the way to Arakku: Simhachalam (8 km; 07.25am), Kothavalasa (27 km; 07.47am), Srungavarapukota (53 km; 08.23am), Tyada (79 km; 09.15am), Borra Guhalu (99 km; 10.03am), Shimiliguda (120 km; 10.44am). (Distance in brackets represents Distance from Vizag and Time indicates Train Arrival Time).