Thursday, September 25, 2008


16th September, 2008

Honestly, I have surprised myself by finally managing to stage a comeback to the world of blogging!!! Much as I have been full to the brim with snippets of my life that I would want to share, I somehow never find the time, energy and enthusiasm to write about them all! But today, I am determined…

Hmmm… where do I start? I think I will tackle my favorite first – travelling… I’ve been travelling quite a lot lately – most of them business related and some of them for the pure pleasure of it all – but I suppose it’s the latter category that I should share.

Well, I should start with the one I had last year. Last October, Mom and I visited
Vizag (aka “Vishakhapatnam / Vishakhapattanam” to many), one of the important port cities of Andhra Pradesh. One of the reasons why I found this city great is that it is a coastal city surrounded by the hills of the Eastern Ghat. You can actually see the hills merging into the sea here, and I loved that. Of course, I discovered other reasons to visit Vizag too, but more of that later.

Getting to Vizag is quite easy and comfortable. You can reach Vizag by road, rail or by air. It has its own airport, which is well connected to the major cities. By rail, Vizag lies on the Kolkata - Chennai main line and therefore almost all trains which go to Chennai from Kolkata pass through this city. Road transport also connects Vizag to the rest of the country as it lies on National Highway No. 5. However, we travelled by an
Air Deccan flight from Kolkata, considering the time constraints and comfort.

Enough about the logistics, now down to the more interesting details! We had a five day trip planned, including the days of the journey. Therefore, the schedule was quite a packed one, and I shall now proceed to give you a day-to-day account of the trip, so here goes!

Day One: Our flight took off a little later than 7am, and we reached our hotel in Vizag within 11am. That day, we just lounged around and arranged the trips for the next few days. We also discovered some yummy food joints near the hotel, and treated ourselves. Within the city, we were informed that there were quite a few spots worth visiting – the Ramakrishna (RK) and Rishikonda Beaches, the lighthouse at the Dolphin's Nose, the temples at Sivagiri & Kailasagiri, Matsyadarshini, Mudasarlova Water Park, Submarine Museum and the famous ropeway of Vizag.

(pic above: a view of the city of Vizag)

Day Two: We left our hotel at around 8am in the morning and actually visited all these places. Pleasantly enough, I bumped into a colleague of mine, Haimanti, at the first place we visited, i.e. RK Beach, as she was also visiting Vizag during those days, and I kept bumping into her at all the places that we visited that day!

The RK & Rishikonda Beaches were beautiful and serene. I especially liked Rishikonda Beach, where we had an amazing view of the Eastern Ghats sloping down into the Bay of Bengal, and the waves lapping the feet of the hills… We skipped the temples at Sivagiri & Kailasagiri, though we did visit the other places of interest in Kailasagiri, including the toy train and the ropeway. Riding the ropeway was good fun – we could see the beaches lining the city, the hills hovering above it and the city itself lying serenely in the midst of all of it. The boats, houses and the cars appeared tiny from up there, and the city looked stunning!

(pics above: The Ropeway in Motion & View of Vizag from the Ropeway)

Matsyadarshini & Mudasarlova Water Park also did not strike us as anything out of the ordinary. The lighthouse at the Dolphin’s Nose was intriguing, though sadly enough we couldn’t climb up to the top as it was a Sunday.

The icing on the cake for that day however was the
Submarine Museum. This is India’s (indeed, Asia’s) only museum that has been built in a real submarine. This submarine, INS Kursura, has had a long life of 31 years, and has served in the Indian Navy. After being decommissioned in 2001, INS Kursura has been turned into a museum on the RK Beach. It was truly wonderful to get into INS Kursura, and I felt the hair on the back of my neck prickle as I looked at the various parts of the submarine – the torpedoes, the cabins, the storage compartments, the periscope and the control panel for piloting the submarine!

(pic above: The Submarine Museum)

We came back from the city tour at around 7pm, exhausted but really exhilarated with the day!

Day 3: We took a car to visit the much talked about Araku Valley. En route, we visited the Simhachalam temple and the Borra Caves. These two are perhaps the most popular tourist spots in the state of Andhra Pradesh which fall en route Araku.

Simhachalam is a very old temple with exquisite stone carvings, situated on top of a hill. The stairs leading to the temple seemed to go on and on and on, but what awaited us at the end of the never ending steps did make the pain worth it!

The Borra Caves also intrigued us a lot. These caves, with their ancient stalactites and stalagmites, are said to be millions of years old… the caverns and the tunnels are truly scary, and the steps through these caves are really, really endless…

We finally reached Araku after 4pm, and we did have a wonderful time there too, among the blooms and the peaks… Araku Valley is truly one of the richest places I have seen in terms of natural beauty. There are dazzling wild flowers of all colours, blooming out of the hills, little streams making music against the backdrop of the rocks and waterfalls catching you unawares. There is also the sheer overwhelming power of our magnificent Mother Nature.

Araku is also populated with a lot of tribes, and we were lucky enough to catch a tribal dance session in the Tribal Museum there – it is called Dhimsu, and is a treat to watch!

(pic above: View of the Araku Valley)

We got back to our hotel really late in the night that day, and by the time we did, we were nearly falling off our feet! Fatigued, but thrilled, we somehow managed to call for dinner, and nearly fell asleep while eating!

Day 4: We utilized this day to visit the Submarine Museum again, and also visited the port. We however didn’t have enough time to visit the lighthouse at Dolphin’s Nose. We also did a little shopping, mainly for local souvenirs that we wanted to give away to friends and families, and a nice Hyderabadi pearl wristlet for myself.

Day 5: Our Air Deccan flight back home was to take off around 1pm, and after lounging around in the morning, and packing, we headed towards the airport. The Vizag airport is a quiet and small one, and soon we were boarding the flight and taking off and leaving the beautiful city of Vizag behind, carrying only memories of the trip back with us…

Coming Up Next: Our Trip to Geonkhali