Imagine if the journey was just as mesmerising as the final destination. A valley hiding rolling green and gold fields, flooded rice terraces right out of postcards, picturesque hills guarding aromatic coffee plantations, captivating tribal dances, limestone caves, surreal waterfalls and a WiFi village. So how do you find this valley that Andhra Pradesh has been gleefully hiding from the rest of us? Hop aboard the Vizag to Araku train.
Vizag to Araku Train
Some two years ago I learned about Paul Theroux and his love for terrestrial travel and train journeys. His travels have been immortalized in books such as The Great Railway Bazaar, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and The Old Patagonian Express. For the intrepid traveller, the Vizag to Araku train is a stuff of dreams. The train passes through some rarely seen belts of the Eastern Ghats with hills clad in green, serene waterfalls, tribal villages with thatched roof houses, and smiling kids waving at you. The train goes over numerous bridges built over 100-feet deep gorges and 50+ tunnels.
Two trains ply this route. The early morning Vizag to Araku train leaves Vizag at 6.50am and the late night one leaves at 10.15pm. The journey to Araku Valley takes somewhere between three to four hours. Take the morning one to enjoy the vistas, and remember to sit on the right side. You can book the Vizag to Araku Valley train here or you can buy a general class ticket at the Vizag station. General class is usually overloaded with people so it is only for the lionhearts. The train is quite early in the morning which is why I recommend you stay in the rooms at the Vizag station. The budget-friendly AC and Non-AC rooms are neat and clean with attached bathrooms. You can either book a private room or get a bed in a shared room. Both are well-maintained. The rooms can be booked at the station itself.
If you plan to visit Borra Caves then it is best to get off at Borra Guhalu (BHGU) train station. You can visit Borra Caves as well as Katiki Waterfalls from the station. There are frequent private and shared taxis from Borra Caves to Araku. Borra Guhalu to Araku part of the Vizag to Araku train isn’t too scenic so don’t worry about missing out.