Araku Valley, in Andhra Pradesh, is a beautiful hill station situated in the midst of Eastern Ghats. Filled with coffee plantations, winding streams, scenic viewpoints and overcast with mist; Araku is indeed one of the most scenic locales of Andhra Pradesh. A drive to the valley in a comfortable outstation cab, from Hyderabad, is the best way to explore this mesmerizing hill station. Though the ride is about 9 hours long, but you would be constantly accompanied by the scenic treats of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh all along your road trip. Make your way through Hyderabad early in the morning (as the roads of Hyderabad and its vicinity get really crowded during the normal hours). Moving along at normal speeds, you would reach Vizag by noon. Most travelers decide to stopover for the night and take a trip through the places to visit in Vizag for remainder of the day.
A scenic drive to Araku Valley
Make an early start, the next day, and start your accent towards Araku Valley. Perched at a height of 1400 meters above sea level, you will find the breeze getting cooler and the environs getting greener as you travel towards the hill station. You would be zigzagging your way through the curves and bends of the valley. On your refreshment stop, along the route, do care to taste Bongu Chicken (a special recipe of the area). Your journey will take you past the amazing coffee plantations and tribal villages. Your trip stands a chance of being interrupted repeatedly by the scenic viewpoints, where you will have an inner urge to stopover and take some memorable snaps. However, the winding roads would finally lead you into the Araku Valley and from there on you would have the privilege of experiencing the unique culture and beauty of the place.
Places to visit in Araku Valley
Araku is a place to relax and recognize nature. There are a few Araku Valley sightseeing spots, which can be explored within a couple of hours. With some time in time in hand you can even visit Chaparai (15 KM away from Araku Valley). Here are some of the places to visit in Araku Valley during your road trip.
The caverns of Borra, which arrives 35 KM before Araku Valley, offers a ticket into the underworld! The cave complex spans to a depth of 80 m and is considered the “deepest cave in India”. Borra Caves are well known for irregular formations of stalactites and stalagmites. Some portions of the cave also exhibit varying sizes of speleothems. These mineral rich caves are considered to have been formed 50 million years ago! The caves are lit up with colorful lights which eradicate the scary factor associated with usual cave trips!
- Timings: 10 AM – 5 PM
- Entry fee: INR 25 (per person)
- Tip: Tourists need to descend down 300 stairs to reach the cave’s entry point. If you have someone with knee or joint problems, then you might want the person to stay back in the cab.
- Shopping: Shops close to the Borra Caves sell unique Bamboo mugs and cups. Do care to check them out.
If you want to just stop by and enjoy the beauty of Araku Valley then Galikondalu is the ideal site. You can get panoramic views of the valley, its greenery and its mist covered environs from this outward projecting viewpoint. The area is covered with tribal settlements and there is a small market at the neighborhood village of Sankarmatha. Many great tribal craft items are available at this market. Apart from that you can also experience Andhra Pradesh’s tribal way of life at the village.
- Tip: Sunrise and sunset views from the Galikondalu are mesmerizing.
Padmapuram Botanical Garden
There is a very interesting story behind the setting up of Padmapuram Botanical Garden. The British built this 26 acre spanning garden to supply vegetables and fruits to the British soldiers fighting in World War-II. After the war ended, the garden was converted into Horticultural Nursery where flowers and trees of rare species were grown. Even today the Padmapuram Botanical Garden consists of many rare species of flowers whose beauty is accentuated by the stone sculptures and manicured lawns. There are special tree houses built, ten feet above the ground, within this complex meant for overnight stay. These are also known as hanging cottages as they sway when there is a breeze blowing.
- Timings: 8 AM – 5 PM
- Entry fee: INR 60 (per person)
- Tip: There is a toy train built within the garden that gives you a trip of the entire premise. Children love this ride.
This is a beautiful water cascade situated in Araku Valley. The waterfalls are surrounded by thick forests and contains many huge rock formations. The path of the waterfall is blocked by the rock formations and as a result there are many natural water slides formed. These water slides bless the area with great natural beauty. Chaparai waterfalls is a popular picnic destination for the locals and many Telegu filmmakers have chosen these waterfalls as their shooting location.
Araku Tribal Museum
Your Araku Valley trip cannot be complete without a visit to this museum. There are more than 19 tribes residing in the neighboring areas and the museum offers an insight into their colorful outfits, culture and way of life. Araku Tribal Museum was established in 1996 by Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation with the intention of spreading awareness among the tourists about the tribal lifestyle of Eastern Ghats. Today, the museum is one of must visit places during an Araku Valley tour.
- Timings: 9 AM – 7 PM
- Entry fee: INR 10 for Adults, INR 5 for Children and INR 100 for foreign nationals.
- Shopping: The museum shop carries a rich collection of tribal artifacts. They would serve as good souvenirs of your Araku Valley tour.