Visakhapatnam has always had a special place in my heart. During childhood, I have spent most of my summer vacations at Visakhapatnam with my relatives. We used to roam around Jagadamba center, drink grape juice, visit the holy places of simhachalam temple, Sri Kanaka Maha Lakshmi Temple, take trips to Kailasagiri Park and get ourselves drenched at RK beach.

In the below blog, I will highlight the family tour, we under took in Dec’16 to visit Greater Vizag covering Araku Valley and Srikakulam; with extending the tour to cover Annanvaram and Bhadrachalam. Our high level Plan for the trip was –

  • Day 1 & 2: Explore Greater Visakhapatnam by visiting Simhachalam Temple, RK Beach, Rishikonda Beach and Srikakulum. 
  • Day 3 & 4: Explore Araku valley covering Chaparai waterfalls, Tribal Museum, Padamapuram Gardens, Anathgiri Falls, Borra Caves and Katika waterfalls. And, night stay at Annavaram.
  • Day 5: Explore Annavaram and proceed to Rajahmundry to visit Ghats and see Godavari Arthi.
  • Day 6: Ferry Ride to Bhadrachalam via Papikondalu with night stay at Bhadrachalam.
  • Day 7: Explore Bhadrachalam and Parnasala. And, depart to Hyderabad.

Day 1: Arrival & visit to Simhachalam temple

After getting down from ‘Visakhapatnam - Secunderabad Garib Rath Express’ at early morning 8AM, we headed towards our pre-booked accommodation at ‘Vaibhav Inn’, which is located at Daba Garden.  My parents had already checked-in to the hotel. After a healthy extended greetings and refreshments, we proceeded towards RTC complex to board the bus to Simhachalam temple. Simhachalam is a famous shrine of Lord Vishnu’s ‘Varaha Narsimha Avatar’. It is located at around 20kms from Visakhapatnam railway station and APSRTC operates frequent buses from RTC complex. The bus directly takes the devotees to hill top, but, interested associates can use the step route also.

As per puranas, the temple is constructed at a place, where Lord Vishnu saved bhakta Prahlada from falling into the sea. And, as per prayer of Prahlada, Lord Vishnu took Varahanarasimha form (Varaha Avatar - Boar incarvnation to free the world from Hiranyaksha and Narasimha Avatar to free the world from Hiranyakasipu) at the place.It is believed that, Prahalada was the 1st person to construct the temple at this place.

We reached the temple at around 2PM. Since, it was afternoon closing time; we halted at the park opposite to the temple (Temple doors are closed in afternoon till 3PM). Since, the crowd was less; we took free Darshan (the temple also offers quick passes for Rs. 20 and Rs. 100). The pillared temple speaks volumes about the architecture, esp. in the inner most compound, where the pillars are beautifully carved (Outside the inner temple, we have ‘kappa stambham’ or 'Tribute Pillar' which is considered to have the power to cure diseases and grant children). Inside the temple, the priests offer special puja seva (archana) for Rs. 100 per person, where one can get a closer look of the presiding deity. The idol is covered in sandal wood paste (takes the form of Linga) throughout the year, except on third day of Vaisakha month (AkshayaTritiya day) when his nijaswarupa is revealed. This day is celebrated as ‘Chandana yatra' or 'Chandanotsavam' festival. The temple compound has a stone car with stone wheels and stone horses. There is also a natyamandapam on the north side, where the god's marriage is performed. 

We took the return bus to Visakhapatnam and reached at around 6PM. We headed to our hotel to refresh. Post which, we roamed around ‘Jagadama Center’, had our dinner at Nellore Mess and called it a day.

Day 2: Visit to Srikakulam & RK Beach Trip

On the 2nd day, we decided to visit Srikakulam, which is located at around 120 Kms from Visakhapatnam. APSRTC operates frequent buses to Srikakulam, which takes around 2-3hours time to reach Srikakulam. After our breakfast, we took 9 AM bus and reached Srikakulam at around 12 Noon. Upon reaching Srikakulam, we hired an Auto to visit Arsavalli (Sun Temple) and Srikurmam temple (located around 25kms from Srikakulam). They auto trip took us around 3 hours of time. Srikumam temple is eloquently designed in Kalinga Architectural style and is a good view. 

For our return journey, we boarded 3PM bus and reached Visakhapatnam at around 6PM. After evening snacks, we headed to visit Kailasagiri Park (near RK Beach). We took rope way to reach Kailasagiri. The rope way offers a great ride, as one can see the large coast line and city. At the top, we have huge idol of Lord Shiva and Parvati Devi. One gets an awesome view of the city from this place. At the top, we have a toy train ride and plenty of eateries.

After returning from Kailasagiri, we had our dinner snacks and called it a day.

P.S. At RK beach other notable places are submarine museum, park, Aquarium.  Other Popular beaches in Vizag are Rishikonda beach, 

Day 3, 4: Araku Trip

We spend our day 3rd and 4th at Araku. We checked out our hotel room at early morning to catch the 6AM Kirandaul express from Vishakaptnam railway station. We carried our breakfast to eat along the journey. The train passes through the hilly terrain, bridges and Tunnels (there are a total of 52 tunnels till Araku), making it a mesmerising journey. The train reached at around 12 Noon at Araku (People interested in visiting only the star attractions at Aarku i.e. Borra Caves and Katika waterfalls can get down at Borra Guhalu station and hire local Jeep / Auto services). After reaching Araku, we checked into our accommodation at Padamapuram Garden. After our lunch at the hotel, we hired a local Auto (for Rs. 400) to visit Chaparai waterfalls, Tribal Museum, coffee museum and Padamapuram Gardens. On our return, we brought Araku’s famous Bamboo chicken. We brought Bamboo Chicken for our night course.

On Day 4, post breakfast, we checked out of our hotel room and rented a cab (for Rs. 2000) to visit GaliKonda View Point, Coffee Plantation, Anathgiri Falls, Borra Caves and Katika waterfalls. GaliKonda View Point is the highest point in Visakhapatnam district and it offers a spectacular view of the valley.

Borra Caves, the star attraction of Araku (the other being Katika falls), is spread across an area of 2 square KM and is open till 5PM; with an entry fee of Rs. 40 per person with additional Rs. 25 for camera phones. The limestone caves are beautifully illuminated with colourful lights by AP tourism.

After visiting the caves, we had south Indian lunch at restaurant operating near caves. Post lunch, we headed towards ‘Katika waterfalls’. We rented local Jeep drivers for Rs. 200 per person (sharing basis) to visit the Katika waterfall trips (One can also book the entire Jeep for Rs.1600). The roads leading to the falls are full of gravels and mud holes, and only jeeps can navigate through these terrain. The jeep took us till the railway track, from where we trekked to reach the falls (Trek level is between low-medium). From the base, we get a good view of the waterfall and the nearby surrounding.

By the time, we reached back to borra Junction from the waterfalls, it was around 7PM. We rented a cab (Rs 30 per person) to reach the Bus Stop. And, from there, we boarded the bus to Vishakhapatnam via Srungavarapukota or SKota. We reached vishakaptnam railway station it was around 10: 30PM. And, after light dinner, we started for our next destination, Annavaram via train.

P.S. If one has time constraints, one can skip Araku. And, just cover Borra Caves, Katika Waterfalls and Galikonda View point, which can be covered in a day.

Day 5: Annavaram & Rajahmundry Trip

We reached Annavaram at early hours, i.e. around 2AM. From the railway station, we boarded the bus operated by Annavaram temple trust (24 hrs bus facility) to reach Annavaram Hill top. Like in Tirupati, the road routes to go uphill and to come downhill are different, with the downhill road offers view of the Pampa Sarovar. On reaching the Hill top, we rented a room (opposite to the temple), offered by Annavaram temple trust to take rest and get ready for the morning darshan.

In morning, after freshen up; we proceeded to the temple for Satyanarayana Swamy darshan. The temple is constructed in the Dravidian architecture style. The main temple is multi-tiered (two storey), on the top floor we have the presiding deity Lord Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana with his consort Sri Anantalaxmi Satyavathi on left Side and Lord Siva on the right side. And, on the ground floor, we can view the feet of the deity. We took special darshan ticket of 100Rs per person, which allowed us to have a closer look of the preceding deities.

Annavaram temple trust also offers various packages to perform the Satyanarayana Swamy Katha in temple premises ranging from 300Rs (Katha performed on the outer Sanctum) to 1200Rs (inside temple courtyard). Post Vratham the devotees are offered the famous Annavaram Prasad, made from wheat rava / daliya and jiggery. The Prasad is also available at counters located in temple as well as at bus stop (downhill). 

As we exit from the main temple, we have the Pooja tree where devotees light oil lamps. On the left side (from exit), we have the cow shed, Sun dial, Kalyan seva mandapam and Veda Pathshala. And, on the right side, we have the prasadam counter and Lord Sri Rama temple. From right side, we get a good glimpse of the temple. As we move towards the front of the temple from right side, we have the Free Annadanam seva offered by the temple trust. The place is hygienically maintained and the offered food is pretty good. We had our lunch at the Annadanam seva and proceeded to our satrav to checkout and proceed to Rajahmundry via bus.

We reached Rajahmundry at around 2PM via direct bus travelling from Vishakaptnam to Vijayawada. On arrival, we proceeded to our pre-booked accommodation at Hotel River bay, located at Saraswati Ghat (near Iskon temple). The hotel offers good view of river Godavari and the famous ‘Godavari Bridge’ (or Kovvur–Rajahmundry Bridge). It also has a water park which is complementary for guests. 

After some rest, we started our visit to the Ghats starting from Gowthami Ghat (Kalki temple, Dattatreya temple and Iskon Temple), followed by Saraswati ghat (Ayyappa swamy temple and Goddess Saraswati temple) and PV Narsimha rao Park. The parks at the Ghats offers a good view of the famous ‘Godavari Bridge’ (3rd longest road-cum-rail bridge crossing a water body Asia). At night, the bridge is illuminated with colourful lights, which is pretty scenic.

Our last Ghat was the famous Pushkar Ghat, were the famous ‘Godavari Arthi’ is performed at around 7PM daily. The Harathi site is located between the ‘old Havelock Bridge’ and ‘New Arch Bridge’. Seven priests perform the Arthi, which comprises of around 12 different types of Arthi, and on the loud speaker the importance of each Harathi is described for the devotees. The Arthi takes around 30 minutes to complete.

Post Arthi, we visited Iskon temple situated at Gowthami Ghat. And, then we headed to our hotel for supper and rest.

Note: The other famous Ghats at Rajahmundry is ‘Koti Lingala Revu ghat’, which was believed to have Millions of Shiva Lingas during ancient times.

Day 6, 7: Papikondalu & Bhadrachalam Trip

On day 6, we did early check-out from the hotel and boarded the cab booked by our travel agent at 7AM to start our journey to Bhadrachalam via Papikondalu. For our ferry journey, we booked Punnami Tourism (other notable ferry operator is Maruthi Tourism). On the journey, we collected our travel tickets from the travel operator office and started our initial ride via Tata Magic to the ‘Pattiseema revu/ Purushothapatnam revu’. The road journey took around 1 Hr 30 mins. At Pattiseema revu, we boarded the boat named ‘Godavari’ for our boat ferry ride. Breakfast and veg lunch were served on the boat and are part of the deal (Rs 900 per person). Along the boat journey, we first crossed Pollavaram Dam site, ‘Gandi Pochamma Temple’ and reached Papikondalu at around 2PM. The Papikondalu point comprises of three hills (Kondalu) creating an impression of a wall blocking River Godavari. The river flows along the hill region offering a splendid view. The lunch was served on the boat at papikondalu. At the boat, the crew conducts events, primarily dancing events for the travellers to enjoy the ride.

Next we crossed Kolluru Tribal Village, which is the halting place for travellers who have opted for night stay at Papikondalu. Our next stop was Perantapalli Tribal Village, here we visited lord shiva linga in form of ‘Swayambu Lingakara Sri Veereswa Swamy’ temple. From Perantapalli, we took another boat to reach Pochavaram village. We reached Pochavaram village at around 5PM. The tour operator has arranged Tata Magic for our road journey to Bhadhrachalam. We reached Bhadrachalam at around 7PM. And, took accommodation at ‘Padmashali Hotel’ situated near temple. We took quick bath and headed to visit Bhadrachalam temple (the temple closing time is 9.00pm). Since, it was evening time; it took us less than 30minutes to complete the Darshan. The main idols here are of Lord Rama in sitting position, with Goddess Sita sitting on his lap and, Lord Lakshmana standing in upright position next to Lord Rama. On the right side of the Main Gopuram, we have Silver replica of the deities. On the west side of main temple, we have idol of Bhakta Ramadas, who constructed the temple. Behind the main temple, we have the rock, which have the imprints of Lord Rama. After visiting the temple, we headed back to ‘Padmashali Satrav’ for dinner and rest.

We started our day 7 with a visit to River Goadavari and then to the main temple. After completing our Darshan, we had our breakfast near the temple. Post which, we hired an auto to visit Parnasala, which is located at around 30 kms from Bhadrachalam on the road heading to C.G. It is believed that, Sri Rama with his consort Sita and brother Lakshmana spent few of their 14 years of exile at Parnasala. On the way, we visited ‘Seethammavari Naracheralu’ also called as ‘Radhagutta’. It is believed that, Godess Sita took bath here. On the colourful rocks, we can see the foot imprints of Lord Rama & Sita, her saree, Sri Rama’s waist band etc. At Parnashala, we have Lord Rama temple near to river Godavari. In the temple premises, we also have a shiva temple and huts with replicas of Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. It is believed that, Ravana abducted Sita from this place.

After visiting Parnashala, we headed back to Bhadrachalam. On the way back, we visited ‘Jatayu Mantapamu’ shrine located at yatapaka. It is believed that one of Jatayu’s wing fell here (the other wing fell in papikondalu). 

We reached bhadrachalam at around 2PM and after lunch, we rested for a while. In the evening, we visited ‘Dhyana Mandir’, which is at a height and offers good view of the place esp. the temple area. After our dinner, we headed towards Kothgudem to catch our night train to Hyderabad.

For a detailed Blog on Rajahmundry, Papikondalu & Bhadrachalam Trips visit the URL:

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Hari K