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Araku - The Hidden Valley

Araku Valley is a famous hill station and a Mandal in Visakhapatnam district in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. Araku is located at 18.3333° N 82.8667° E. It has an average elevation of 911 meters (2992 feet). It is located 112 km from Vishakhapatnam, close to the Orissa state border. This place lures people with pleasant weather, hills and valleys. The natural beauty of this valley comes alive with its rich landscape. The area of the valley is roughly 36 kilometers, and the altitude is between 600 and 900 meters above sea level. The journey to this place on the Ghat road with thick forests on either side is in itself interesting and pleasant. One can have a wonderful trekking trip. Forty-eight tunnels and bridges will greet you on the way. 

The Ananthagiri hills on the way to Araku Valley are famous for coffee plantations. The Borra caves, located 29 km from Araku Valley, are a nearby tourist attraction. Kirandool Express takes you past a series of small stations in its four-hour journey before finally snaking its way through 48 big and small tunnels, each dimly lit. Of these, the 36th tunnel measures 1.2 km and is believed to be the longest. While the tunnels work their magic on you with a dramatic interplay of dark shadows looming on both sides of the train and accentuated by the presence of sodium lamps in the tunnels, outside Nature is pristine in its beauty.

Shimiliguda, the convergence point of three neighbouring states – Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Chhatisgarh.  Shimiliguda is the highest point in Asia on the broad gauge line at 996.2 metres above sea level. The gentle moountainscape smells the cool mountain air and see their tops tinged with pink here, cream there and lilac in the far corner.

Before we get there, we take in the thick vegetation of mango groves and waterfalls all along the way. Ambling around here can be exhilarating and is highly recommended. At long last, we reach Araku, a quiet hill station situated at a height of 927 metres above sea level. With an area of just 36 sq km, one would think that Araku is small. However, this figure belies anyone exploring such beautiful country as it unfolds more and more of its picturesque self. 

Located on the Eastern Ghats of India, the valley is inhabited by tribal people. One of the other attractions of this valley is a tribal museum. The valley is connected through both rail and road to the city of Vishakapatnam. There are two railway stations at Araku and Araku Valley in the Kothavalasa-Kirandul railway line in Visakhapatnam division of East Coast Railway, Indian Railways.

Araku Valley women perform a tribal dance form, Dhimsa. There is a museum of tribal Handicrafts and lifestyle, a Yatri Nivas, a government guest house, for accommodation; it's near the city of Visakhapatnam. One can relax while looking at the beautiful scenery and the lovely bonfires in the cottages. Araku is one of the most important tourist destination in Andhra Pradesh. A pleasant hill station famous for its scenic gardens with lush green nature, valleys, waterfalls and streams.

The place is over 3200ft. high with a bracing climate. The Botanical Garden at Padmapuram, Government Silk Farm with Mulberry gardens is the live examples to know the socio-economic conditions of the area.  Tribal Museum is a biggest attraction of the Araku. Chaaparai, a picturesque place about 15 km from Araku is another picnic spot in this region.

One must experience the climatic conditions and the natural beauty of this Valley. The natural beauty of this valley comes alive with the aboriginal tribes who dwell here and who have to this day kept their tradition and culture alive. About 19 tribes inhabit this area. The Dhimsa dance, an age-old folk dance normally performed during ‘Itikala Pongal’ is now offered in tourist’s packages everyday.

Hawa Pahaad is at a height of 1400 metres above sea level, the highest point of Araku Valley. Legend has it that this site was a battlefield years and years ago when the Maharajas of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh fought to retain it. Finally, it went to the latter state. By now, the shutterbugs among us go crazy with the picturesque settings – lilac mountains, a hazy mist in the distance and slate blue mountains all around us. It’s a perfect backdrop for the many honeymooners. In the atmosphere, you can notice a slight nip in the air, but it is both pleasant and invigorating.