Araku is a charming hill station located 112 km from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. Lush green landscapes, fresh and cool breezes, and chirping birds—these are just the first impressions of Araku Valley. This is also where many tribal communities reside, situated on the Eastern Ghats. It is also a popular vacation spot for locals from Visakhapatnam as well as tourists from around the country. With winding roads and green coffee plantations that decorate the hills, the ascent is a very peaceful one. The view looks like it’s been pulled out from the pages of a magazine.
How To Reach Araku Valley
You can reach Araku Valley by train or road. There are direct trains from Vizag to Aaraku but none from Hyderabad or Bangalore. You can travel from Hyderabad to Araku by boarding a train to Vizag and changing to another train or renting a car from there. The distance from Hyderabad to Araku is approximately 655.7 km. Similarly with Bangalore, you need to make a stop in Vizag. The distance from Bangalore to Araku is 1094.2 km. You can also take a flight from Hyderabad or Bangalore to Vizag. The best time to visit is winter, from December to February.
Best Time To Visit
Araku also has crowds visiting from September to May as the weather there is ideal for activities like trekking and hiking. The dense forest and the cool weather of Araku invite you to spend your weekend here.
Also read: 25 weekend road trips from Hyderabad
Best Places To Visit In Araku Valley
1. The Dark And Magnificent: Borra Caves
The longest and deepest cave system in India, the Borra Caves is a natural spectacle that’s unmissable. The caves are made of karstic limestone and have naturally formed stalagmites and stalactite sprawled across. These are lit up with colourful lights that make the view even more dramatic. These stalagmites and stalactites differ in size and shape, people have likened some of the shapes to resemble the forms of Shiva and Parvati, a brain, a monkey, a sage’s beard, a cow’s udder and more. Also called Borra Guhalu (caves), they are located in the Ananthagiri Mandal (a sub-district). The height of the caves ranges from 800 to 1,300 metres. The Borra Caves were believed to have been discovered by William King George, from the Geological Survey of India, in 1807.
There are legends attached to the caves too. The tribals around the caves believe that before George, it was a cowherd who discovered them while looking for his lost cow. Upon entering the caves, he saw his cow safe next to a shiva lingam (a natural rock formation likened to Shiva’s symbol). there. It led to the locals building a small temple outside.
There is also another legend connected to the river Gosthani, that is responsible for the formation of the stalagmites and stalactites. There is another structure shaped like a cow above the shiva lingam and the cow’s udder is believed to be the source of the river.
2. Stretch Your Legs In The Treehouses: Padmapuram Gardens
These botanical gardens have a historical background. During the Second World War, soldiers procured their vegetables from these gardens. The garden’s attractions are its hanging cottages. These treehouses have been built 10 feet above the ground, and you need to book them in advance. The gardens also have a horticultural nursery along with orchards and a fragrant rose garden. There is also a toy train service to view the gardens.
3. Get To Know The Community: Tribal Museum
The Tribal Museum in Araku displays tribal culture across Andhra Pradesh, and is located 200 metres from the Araku Valley Bus Station. The museum was built to spread awareness about tribes like the Kodhus, Bagata, Kotiya, Kondadora and others. The museum displays tribal artworks, jewellery, wedding photographs, the tools they use daily, and their utensils. You can also cycle around the museum or go boating in the pond that is near the museum. The Tribal Museum in Araku was built in 1996, and also displays the traditional dance forms of Dhimsa and Mayur.
4. Beautiful And Steady: Chaparai Waterfalls
The most famous waterfalls around Araku Valley are the Chaparai Waterfalls, also called the Dumbriguda Waterfalls. They are surrounded by forests and are situated 12 kilometres away from Araku. It is not typically a waterfall but a continuous flow of water over different formations of rocks. The Araku Valley waterfalls are so popular that there are lots of local vendors serving food and drinks, making it a great spot for a quick picnic.
5. Waterfalls Cascading From The Sky: Katiki Waterfalls
Katiki Waterfalls is another popular attraction, four kilometres from Borra Caves. Adventure enthusiasts will love this place, because reaching this Araku Valley waterfall is quite a trek. The waterfalls are more than 5 feet tall, and originate in the Gosthani river. The waterfalls are also famous for a special variety of chicken called Bongulo Chicken that’s available here. It’s cooked in a special manner, by stuffing the marinated chicken into a bamboo stalk and slowly roasting over coals.
Also read: 25 famous waterfalls you have to see
6. There Is Coffee In The Air: Coffee Museum
Araku Valley is famous for its coffee plantations as well. So much so, that it has its own museum—the Araku Valley Coffee House that displays the various stages of how coffee is made as well as about other coffee plantations in Araku Valley. The coffee plantations are the pride of the valley and are their own brand. The tribals are involved in the cultivation to create a brand called Araku Coffee. This brand works towards elevating the lives of the tribal population and was also awarded a gold medal for ‘best coffee pod’ in the Prix Epicures OR 2018 Award at Paris. Prix Epicures commemorates brands and professional communities in the gourmet sector and 2020 will mark its seventh edition. Araku coffee made its first appearance in France in 2017 when it opened a cafe and gradually gained popularity. It received international acclaim within a year of establishing it.
Also read: The 10 best coffee destinations in the world
A Destination To Relax
This serene and calm location is a must-visit for anyone who wants to unwind. The culture is very diverse in the area. Driving to the valley by road is preferred by most locals from Visakhapatnam, but we also recommend you try travelling to Araku by train from Vishakapatnam that shows off its beautiful sights of dense forests, river and streams, and expansive skies.