A Train Journey to Araku Valley in Monsoon

Kirandaul passenger trainSit back and delight yourself to a train journey to Araku Valley, meandering through the thick jungles of Anantagiri Mountains, spanning 84 bridges and 58 tunnels.

I got up early and boarded Vishakhapatnam – Kirandaul passenger train, leaving Vizag station at 6:50am. Sitting at the window seat, I was enjoying my journey on the East Coast Railway line, savoring a picturesque and breathtaking view of the nature. As my train approached the Shivalingapuram station, after almost 2 hours, I was mesmerized with the blue mountain in the distant and the valley below with its greenery.

Eastern GhatsAn hour further into the journey, the train entered into Borra Guhalu station(Borra means Hole in Oriya, Guhalu means cave ). Get down here to be transported to millions of years back in the time. Or you may also plan for a road trip to Borra Caves once you are in Araku Valley. Borra Caves is one of its kind caves in India with fascinating stalactites and stalagmites. These are naturally formed and believed to be 150 million years old.

Borra CavesFounded in 1807 by the British geologist William King, the main entrance of the caves is at an altitude of 705 meters mean sea level and the inside of the caves goes down to the 625 meters mean sea level. At the entrance of the caves, you would observe that there is a train track laid above the caves. Gosthani river, flowing below the mountains in the valley, originates somewhere near this area. These caves have a trek distance of 350 meters once you are inside. One of the main attractions of the caves is the brain-shaped formation. There are several such interesting formations. Another attraction is a natural Shiva Linga (Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction), which can be reached by a small man-made bridge inside the caves. These caves are thronged by thousands of tourists throughout the year.

Stalactites and stalagmites IMG_0594After a 3 hour 50 minute journey, covering a distance of 129 km and halting at 13 stations, my train chugs into Araku station. It is one of the famous hill stations of Andhra Pradesh (AP), India. Known for its pristine mountains, stunning waterfalls and coffee plantations and its aroma, it attracts visitors from all over the world. The scenic beauty of Araku Valley has often been set as the background in several Telugu movies. Perched at an elevation of 925m Coffee Plantationsabove sea level, valley is rich in its flora and fauna. During rainfall, the numerous waterfalls come alive with tourists. Farmers dot its green paddy fields then. Children enjoy the game of football, flanked by mountain ranges of Eastern Ghats.

IMG_0452

A Tribal Woman

A Tribal Woman

Do visit the tribal museum here to know more about the locals. Take a walk along the Padmapuram botanical garden. Valley has many beautiful perennial streams gushing through the natural rocks and the sylvan surroundings of the valley. Here one may hear the whispering serenade of nature and the rustling of leaves on the green expanse. At one such spot, one may spend many hours, sitting and appreciating the beauty of nature in Araku. There is one such serene stream near Chaaparai stream, 15 km from Araku, which you must not miss. Katiki and Thatiguda are other spectacular waterfalls, worth a visit. There are several trekking trails, taking you past forests and waterfalls, to the summit. You would cross by Sangda waterfall on one such adventurous trail.

IMG_0567Araku in MonsoonWhen in Araku, you cannot simply miss tasting the local delicacy of Araku, known as the Bamboo Chicken or Bongulo Chicken in local language. It is a traditional tribal cuisine of Araku Valley. Chopped chicken pieces mixed with spices are stuffed inside the bamboo trunk and the open end of trunk is closed with big leaves. It is cooked on the flame till the bamboo turns black and the aroma intoxicates you.

Bamboo Chicken

Preparation for Bamboo Chicken

If train journeys are your love, do make it to this trip. Araku Valley has something for everyone. And for a traveler like me, this journey was etched in my memory forever, and canvassed in my heart as an yearning for more.

IMG_0667Araku Valley***

When to Go: Best time is after rainfall, between the months of October and March when nature is in its full bloom. However in monsoon, valley presents another adventure.

How to Reach: By morning train from Vishakhapatnam (4 hours) or by road (3 hours). Another option is AP tourism package

Where to Stay: AP Tourism Accommodations

Tree Huts

Tree Huts & Cottages

1. Jungle Hills, Tyada – Alight at Tyada station after 2 hours of train journey from Vizag. At a small distance by road to a hillock, one will find Jungle Bells, resort of AP tourism. It has wooden cottages, igloo type cottages and Loghuts. These are mid-range accommodations, providing good stay, en route to Araku and Borra Caves.

2. Mayuri Resort, Araku – Run by AP tourism, it has high-range to mid-range rooms. They provide a comfortable stay in the valley. Rooms provide a captivating view of the valley.

3. Valley Resort, Araku – This property is also run by AP Tourism and is located in lush greenery all around. It has mid-range priced rooms.

4. Tree huts and hanging cottages in Padmapuram botanical garden – There are all together five rooms here and makes for an adventurous stay. I would recommend it only for backpackers and definitely, not for family with kids.

 What to See: Borra Caves, Waterfalls, Tribal Museum, Coffee plantations

What to Do: Trekking trails

What to Eat: Local produce, Coffee and definitely Bamboo Chicken

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Have you visited any such place in India or in any other country in train? Tell us about your one such monsoon trip. Share your experiences.

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Also Read: Travel in a Cruise to catch best glimpse of New York

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22 Responses to A Train Journey to Araku Valley in Monsoon

  1. Pingback: Trip To Araku Valley – A Beautiful Hill Station | Dream Vacations India

  2. Amazing photography..:) Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. thegreyeye says:

    wow, I must visit this one. I have been to the toy trains of Ooty and Darjeeling, but not this east coast train. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have been on Darjeeling train and it was amazing experience. This East Coast train is a regular train, and not the toy train, but the views are breathtaking when you journey in it to Araku Valley from Vizag. You must experience this as well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Moon says:

    Beautiful post! I have visited Vizag once and Araku trip was part of the tour. The train ride through the hills was the most memorable part of the trip for me. If you would like to take a look at my travel experiences http://footlooseforever.com/2010/03/06/a-short-trip-to-port-city-vizag/

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag in Yumthang Valley | SuyashChopra

  6. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Lovin’ Summer in the Madrid Park | SuyashChopra

  7. I have heard about this place before and even planned to visit a few years back, but didn’t happen.

    This beautiful travelogue with great images really tempts me to plan a trip soon to Arakku Valley 🙂

    Thanks a lot for sharing all these pretty useful info, Suyash.

    Have a very nice day ahead 🙂

    Like

    • suyashchopra says:

      Yes, you must visit this place. Its a very beautiful valley nestled among the mountains and as they say, the journey to the valley itself is so grandeur and breathtaking. And not to be missed the caves, the biggest such caves in India. Glad that you liked it and hope you will visit it soon n share your photo-experience with all of us 🙂

      Like

  8. Tvor says:

    Very beautiful photos. Really gives one a good feel for your journey!

    Like

  9. A lovely post. I am intrigued, of course, by the bamboo chicken. I’d love to know how they manage getting it out of the bamboo. Beautiful photographs!

    Like

    • suyashchopra says:

      Thanks a lot dear for your sweet comments. Even I had a similar question before I went there. Once the bamboo chicken was completely cooked, they removed it from fire and opened the one end of bamboo which they had plugged earlier. Using big sharp spoon-like structured thing, they pulled out the chicken from the hollow bamboo sticks. More of an ingenious method, i would say.

      Like

  10. First, I love the description. Words, how they beautifully depict; and photos, how they originally portray colors. Beautiful post:) Esp. the blue mountains, the road, and that cave!

    Like

    • suyashchopra says:

      Thanks Maria. Feels so good that you liked the photos and blog :). I clicked blue mountains from the train and later, when I saw that photo, I myself was amazed at the beauty of it. These are one of its stalactites and stalagmites caves in India.

      Like

  11. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Move | SuyashChopra

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