I went for a solo trip to this little-known hill station lying on the southeastern coast of India. As I hadn’t heard much about this place before, I didn’t have much expectation. However, after the trip, I realised how underappreciated this place was.
It blew my mind how this scenic hill station hasn’t been covered or talked about much among the traveller community in India, even today. And hence, I would like to give you an introduction to Araku Valley, also known as the Ooty of Andhra Pradesh.
Famous for its international hot air balloon festival, world-famous Arabica coffee beans and the deepest caves in India, Araku Valley is a hill station in Andhra Pradesh that is criminally underrated in India. There’s so much more this place offers that’ll make you realize how you’ve never heard of this place before.
I travelled from Hyderabad to Araku Valley on my own. In this guide, I would like to tell you the 6 best places to visit in Araku Valley along with the 5 best places to visit in Vizag, if you plan to come for a 4-day trip. I have included Vizag as well as it is the starting point for Araku Valley.
- Where is Araku Valley (and Vizag)?
- 6 best places to visit in Araku Valley
- 5 best places to visit in Vizag
- How to reach Vizag and Araku Valley?
- Best places to stay in Vizag and Araku Valley
- Best time to visit Araku Valley (and Vizag)
- Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Araku Valley (and Vizag)?
Araku Valley is a hill station in the Eastern Ghats known for its tribal population, lush green forests and numerous waterfalls. Located in Andhra Pradesh and close to the border of Orissa, the nearest major city to Araku Valley is Vizag, lying 111 km away from it.
The best way to reach Araku Valley is to travel to Vizag before making way for Araku Valley. Hence, I recommend you explore Vizag as well before heading off to Araku Valley.
Vizag, also known as Visakhapatnam, is the largest city and the financial capital of Andhra Pradesh. It is a coastal town in Andhra Pradesh, primarily known for its beaches and museums. As such, it offers a different experience to Araku Valley making your trip more wholesome.
6 best places to visit in Araku Valley
I covered Vizag during my first two days before I went to Araku Valley. I have talked about the 5 best places to visit in Vizag in the next section.
For this section, I would like to tell you the 6 best places to visit in Araku Valley in chronological order as I drove from Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley.
1. Borra Caves
I started my drive from Vizag at around 10 am. The drive was smooth as the roads were well-maintained and you’ll be passing through several villages en route to Araku Valley.
As you go further towards Araku Valley, you’ll be driving through mountain ranges and encountering hairpin bends as cool air starts surrounding you in no time.
My first destination was Borra Caves, which is a slight diversion from the road to Araku Valley.
Known for being one of the largest and deepest caves in India, Borra Caves is one of the most unique places to visit in Araku Valley.
This 150-million-year-old cave is filled with intriguing stalactite and stalagmite formations of limestone deposits. The caves were created due to the flow of the Gosthani river (which flows nearby) over the limestone area.
The cave was so deep that I spend close to an hour exploring it. There will be several places inside the cave where you may need to bend, crouch or maintain your head due to the irregular formations.
The different lights that are installed inside the cave further add to the ambience and bring out the best of the unique formations.
The only drawback to visiting Borra Caves is that you may find a lot of people inside the cave as it is highly commercialised. However, it is still worth visiting considering the visual delight you get inside the caves.
2. Katiki Waterfalls
While coming back from Borra Caves, take a diversion to go to Katiki Waterfalls, which is only 7 km away. You can visit other waterfalls like Anantagiri and Chaparai in Araku Valley but they pale in comparison to Katiki Waterfalls.
Katiki Waterfalls derives its name from the Katiki village and originates from the Gosthani river. This 50-feet high waterfall flows through a lush green forest and the water is clear and white in hue.
Apart from the falls, you’ll also enjoy the adventurous hike and the scenic beauty surrounding you while hiking the hill. When you reach the falls, you can also take a dip there to re-energise yourself.
You can’t use your vehicle to reach the falls.
You need to hire a jeep to travel from the Katiki Falls ticket counter and it costs INR 1,500 for 8 members (rates may vary). The jeep covers 5 km of mountain roads till you reach a railway track near Tunnel #44. From here, you have to cross this track and trek 1.5 km further up the hill.
This trek takes half an hour through a forest and the path is narrow and slippery. You’ll find several food kiosks on the way that serve snacks and beverages especially Bamboo Chicken and fresh Coconut Water.
Don’t carry much luggage as the path is steep and uneven. Depending on your pace, it can take up to 2-3 hours for the entire experience.
P.S. I couldn’t visit this amazing destination as I was short on time. But I assure you it will be one of your favourite places to visit in Araku Valley.
3. Araku Coffee Plantations/Galikonda View Point
As I continued my drive towards Araku Valley, I kept ascending the mountains. After driving for 45 minutes, you’ll be greeted by the Araku Valley coffee plantations.
It starts on a stretch of road where you can stop your vehicle by the side and go for a short trek through the coffee plantations. There are also roadside stalls set up by locals where you can have coffee, and buy coffee powder and pepper.
As I’ve seen coffee plantations before, I decided to continue my journey and stopped my vehicle at Galikonda View Point, only 1.5 km ahead.
Galikonda is the second-highest mountain in the Eastern Ghats and the highest in Andhra Pradesh. From Galikonda View Point, you can get a panoramic view of the mountain ranges and green valleys covered in clouds.
Here too, you can find roadside stalls from where you can get coffee, sweet corn and bamboo chicken.
If you’re a non-vegetarian, I highly recommend you try the bamboo chicken which is a local delicacy that is made by cooking chicken pieces inside a bamboo stem with spices.
Like Borra Caves, you’ll find many people who stop at Galikonda View Point for a break so be prepared for the crowd.
4. Araku Tribal Museum
From Galikonda View Point, Araku Valley is only half an hour. The ride to Araku Valley from here is a pleasant one.
You’ll be driving through a plateau with a wide expanse of land and mountains in the distant background. You’ll also find many resorts and camping tents on either side of the road.
The first stop I made at Araku Valley was the Araku Tribal Museum.
It was another highlight of the trip.
The Araku Tribal Museum gives you a peek inside the lives of the 19 tribes that live in Araku Valley. The purpose of the museum is to create awareness about the tribal lifestyle and culture in Araku Valley.
You’ll find galleries depicting photos of tribal weddings, artefacts used by the tribals and the figurines of tribals interacting with each other in their day-to-day lives, among many things.
Overall, the museum is well-maintained and everything has been sculpted and preserved beautifully. Hence, I suggest you spend at least an hour here to get a good understanding of tribal life.
The tribal dance called Dhimsa is performed at 5 pm inside the premises.
There are some shops as well from where you can buy chocolates, coffee and other local produce and other shops where you can get local handicrafts and ornaments.
There are additional activities inside the museum like rope cycling, boating, ziplining, etc., if you’re interested.
5. Araku Coffee Museum
If you’re a coffee-lover, you must visit the Araku Coffee Museum which is right next to the Araku Tribal Museum.
This small museum describes the origin and history of coffee from Ethiopia to Europe and India via Chikmagalur, Nilgiri and Araku Valley. All of this information is depicted via photos, figurines and sculptures much like the Tribal Museum.
You can also taste and buy different types of Araku Valley coffee products like coffee beans, coffee powder and chocolates.
You’ll need a maximum of half an hour here to cover everything here.
6. Padmapuram Botanical Garden
Padmapuram Botanical Garden is the next stop in Araku Valley, 2 km from the Araku Tribal Museum.
Built in 1942 during World War 2, it was initially developed to supply fruits and vegetables to the soldiers. Today, it is a fully developed garden, host to a wide variety of trees, plants and flowers including a rose garden.
Hence, it is a great place to walk around and relax especially after your long journey from Vizag.
You can also take the toy train inside the garden that gives you a tour of the botanical garden.
5 best places to visit in Vizag
Excluding Araku Valley, you’ll need two days to cover Vizag. In this section, let me take you through the 5 best places to visit in Vizag:
1. Rushikonda Beach
Rushikonda Beach is the most prominent beach in Vizag.
Located 30 km north of Vizag, Rushikonda Beach surrounds itself with hills and curves along the coastline of Vizag. It is a white sand beach with clean waters that has got international recognition for maintaining cleanliness standards.
If you’re into water sports, you can find plenty of activities here like a speed boat, jet skiing, surfing, scuba diving and paragliding.
There are plenty of food stalls as well near the beach.
2. Kailasagiri Park
If you want to get a panoramic view of Vizag from a height and spend some time in nature, the Kailasagiri Park is your best bet.
Spread across 100 acres on a hilltop, the Kailasagiri Park has a huge garden full of different kinds of trees and plants, a toy train that takes you around the park and a food court as well.
The major attraction of Kailasagiri is the 40 feet tall statues of Shiva and Parvathi.
You can easily spend an hour here walking around the park and observing different viewpoints of the city and sea.
There are two ways to reach Kailasagiri Park. Either you can take your vehicle and ascend through the hairpin bends to reach the top.
Or you can take the cable car via ropeway that covers 700 metres in 5 minutes. You get a bird’s eye view of the city in the cable car. The only drawback is that you may need to wait in a queue, especially during the weekends.
You can board this cable car from the Ropeway Base Station at the bottom of the Kailasagiri Park.
3. Ramakrishna Beach
Ramakrishna Beach, also known as RK Beach, is the most prominent beach in Vizag after Rushikonda Beach. Located along the coastline of Vizag, this beach attracts a lot of crowds.
The beach is huge as it stretches across 3.7 km along a curve much like Marine Drive in Mumbai. But unlike the former, this beach is well-maintained with white sand and crystal clear waters.
There are lots of eateries and restaurants nearby where you’ll get plenty of street food. While you’re here, don’t forget to try the muri mixture which is a staple snack here.
4. INS Kurusura Submarine Museum/TU 142 Aircraft Museum
When you’re at Ramakrishna Beach, don’t forget to visit the INS Kurusura Submarine Museum and the TU 142 Aircraft Museum, which are near the beach.
The INS Kurusura Submarine Museum is the only Submarine Museum in Asia. INS Kurusura Submarine served the Indian Navy for over 30 years before being decommissioned on 27th February 2001.
This museum has artefacts, pictures and life-sized figurines that explain the workings of the submarine and how the officers inside the submarines lived their daily lives. Everything is explained in great detail and well-maintained, hence you’ll learn something new from touring the museum.
Similarly, you have the TU 142 Aircraft Museum right next to the INS Kurusura Submarine Museum. The TU 142 aircraft had a history of flying the Indian Navy for over 30,000 hours before it was decommissioned in 2017.
This aircraft showcases an array of aeronautical equipment like a survival kit, engine, data recorder, propeller, anti-submarine missiles and sonobuoys.
Overall, you’ll need at least an hour in total for both the museums and by the end of it, you’d have learnt a great deal about the life of an Indian Navy officer and both the machines. As such, don’t miss this experience when you’re in Vizag!
5. Yarada Beach and Dolphin Nose
Yarada Beach is one of the lesser-known beaches located at a distance of 15 km south of Vizag. It surrounds itself with the sea on one side and hills on the other side which gives it a different feel compared to the Ramakrishna Beach.
Being at a remote village, you’ll find lesser crowds here as compared to Ramakrishna Beach. The drive to Yarada Beach is another highlight as you’ll be passing through a hill and some villages to get here.
Located 5 km from Yarada Beach is the Dolphin’s Nose which is a hill that represents the shape of a dolphin’s nose. Make sure you visit this hill as well as it gives you a panoramic view of the sea and the Vizag shipyard.
Visit the Dolphin’s Nose Lighthouse (at the hill) for the best view from the top. The timings are from 9 am-11 am and 3 pm-5 pm.
You can visit Yarada Beach and Dolphin’s Nose in the evening to watch the spectacular sunset.
How to reach Vizag and Araku Valley?
1. How to reach Vizag?
The Vizag airport is well-connected to major cities of India like New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Hence, you can easily book a flight to Vizag if you’re coming from a far-off place.
Much like Vizag airport, the Vizag railway station is also well-connected to major cities of India and has frequent trains plying from New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata, among others.
If you’re coming from within Andhra Pradesh or Telangana, you can get plenty of private and government buses to Vizag. However, if you’re coming from outside Andhra Pradesh or Telangana, it is preferable to take a flight or a train because the journey by bus will be a tiring one.
2. How to reach Araku Valley?
Araku Valley doesn’t have an airport. The nearest airport to Araku Valley is the Vizag airport, at a distance of 115 km. From the airport, you can easily hire a cab for Araku Valley.
One of the best ways things to do in Araku Valley is to take the Vistadome train (Train No. 18551) from Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley.
The Vistadome train is a special type of train with a glass ceiling, expansive windows and modern facilities. Hence, you get an immersive experience while travelling through the hills and valleys of the Eastern Ghats.
The train starts at 6:45 am from Vizag and reach Araku Valley by 10:55 am. There is also a stop at Borra Caves (before Araku Valley) which is at 9:40 am.
Similarly, you can also book your return train (Train No. 18552) from Araku Valley to Vizag. You can book these trains from the IRCTC website.
You can find frequent buses from Vizag to Araku Valley. However, it is always preferable to book a cab from Vizag because the journey from Vizag to Araku Valley should not be missed at any cost. You can book a cab provided by your hotel or book a self-driving car from Zoomcar in Vizag.
Best places to stay in Vizag and Araku Valley
1. Where to stay in Vizag?
Being a major city, you can find different kinds of stay options at Vizag. I stayed at a small hotel along the streets of Vizag but if you want the best experience, I recommend you stay at one of the hotels near the beaches.
For example, you can find plenty of sea-facing hotels and resorts suiting different budgets along Ramakrishna Beach.
2. Where to stay in Araku Valley?
If you’re an adventurous soul, you can stay at one of the many campsites that you’ll come across in Araku Valley. You can find these campsites while you enter Araku Valley. Camp Fever is one such campsite that has good ratings and reviews.
If you’re looking for resorts and hotels in Araku Valley, you can stay at Haritha Jungle Bells Resort. It is an eco-resort inside a jungle managed by Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) and lies in Tyda, 40 km before Araku Valley.
The good thing about its location is that Borra Caves, Katiki Waterfalls and Araku Coffee Plantations/Galikonda View Point are all nearby, which are all important places to visit in Araku Valley. You can cover these places together and on the next day, you can drive to Araku Valley, cover the remaining places and come back to Vizag.
You can find plenty of such resorts in Araku Valley.
Best time to visit Araku Valley (and Vizag)
September to March is the best time to visit Araku Valley and Vizag.
The months of September and October are ideal if you want to experience greenery in Araku Valley.
If you want to experience the winter season, November to early March is perfect.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should visitors do in Araku Valley?
Visitors should spend two days in total covering all the places in Araku Valley. The following are the places to visit in Araku Valley:
1. Borra Caves
2. Katiki Waterfalls
3. Araku Coffee Plantations/Galikonda View Point
4. Araku Tribal Museum
5. Araku Coffee Museum
6. Padmapuram Botanical Garden
What is special in Araku?
Known as the Ooty of Andhra Pradesh, Araku Valley is an unexplored hill station known for its rich coffee plantations, numerous waterfalls and green valleys.
It is also known for its tribal population, local delicacies like bamboo chicken and its international hot air balloon festival.
Borra Caves is the main attraction of Araku Valley.
The road trip to Araku Valley from Vizag is another highlight of travelling there.
How many days are enough for Araku Valley?
If you’re planning to visit Araku Valley, you’ll most likely be travelling to Vizag first before travelling to Araku Valley.
For Vizag, you’ll be needing at least two days to cover all the destinations.
You’ll then be travelling to Araku Valley from Vizag which will take at least three hours. On the way, you can cover Borra Caves, Katiki Waterfalls and Araku Coffee Plantations/Galikonda View Point.
You can cover all these places provided you start your journey from Vizag in the morning. Once you reach Araku Valley, which will most likely be in the evening, you can relax for the night.
The next day, you can cover the remaining places within Araku Valley like the Araku Tribal Museum, Araku Coffee Museum and Padmapuram Botanical Garden before returning to Vizag the same day.
So in total, keep aside four days to visit Araku Valley along with Vizag so that you have a relaxed trip.
Which is the best month to visit Araku?
It completely depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to experience Araku Valley at its greenest, September and October are the best months to visit.
Similarly, December and January are the best months to visit to experience the winter season at Araku Valley. January can be a better month as compared to December as you’ll face lesser crowds.
If you’re someone who likes covering offbeat destinations in India, Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh is one place that should be on the top of your list.
Lush green valleys, coffee plantations, majestic waterfalls, deep caves and local tribes make Araku Valley a unique hill station along the east coast of India. Although it is known as the Ooty of Andhra, I rate it higher than Ooty as it is much less commercialised than the former.
I recommend you take at least four days to cover all the places in Araku Valley along with Vizag. By the end of it, you’ll realise how underrated this destination is.
I hope this guide on the ’11 best places to visit Araku Valley (+Vizag)’ will be able to help you plan your trip to Araku Valley. Let me know if you have any doubts in the comment section!