Araku Valley is a famous hill station and a Mandal in Visakhapatnam district in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India.It has got an amazing nature with thick forests surrounded all over.Araku is popular for its world famous coffee plantations.For every traveller it gives a wonderful and a unique experience.
Araku is located at 18°20′00″N 82°52′00″E / 18.3333°N 82.8667°E / 18.3333; 82.8667. It has an average elevation of 911 meters (2992 feet).
It is located 115 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 km², 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. Traveling on train gives you a memorable experience. A total of fifty-seven tunnels, as counted by Mrs. Sushmita Sen, and numerous 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 full of stalactites and stalagmites.
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 on the Kothavalasa-Kirandul railway line of Visakhapatnam division of the East Coast Railway, on the Indian Railways network.
Araku Valley women perform a tribal dance form, Dhimsa
There is a Museum of tribal handicrafts and lifestyle, a Yatri Nivas and a Government Guest House, for accommodation; it's situated near the city of Visakhapatnam. One can relax while looking at the beautiful scenery and the lovely bonfires in the cottages.
|Seen from Train at Araku Valley|
|Small Village in Araku Valley|
|Morning Snow in Araku Valley|
|Clean Water in a Small River at Araku|
BORRA CAVES (BORRA GUHALU)
The Borra Caves, also called Borra Guhalu in Telugu language (‘Borra’ means something that has bored into the ground and ‘guhalu’ means caves; Borra also means brain), are located on the East Coast of India, in the Ananthagiri hills of the Araku valley (with hill ranges elevation varying from 800 m (2,624.7 ft) to 1,300 m (4,265.1 ft)) of the Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh. The Caves, one of the largest in the country, at an elevation of about 705 m (2,313.0 ft), distinctly exhibit a variety of impressive speleothems(pictured) ranging from very small to big and irregularly shaped, stalactites and stalagmites... The Caves are basically Karstic limestone structures extending to a depth of 80 m (262.5 ft) (considered the deepest cave in India).
|Entrance of Borra Caves|
|Borra Caves Inner|
|Borra Caves Inner Photos|
Dimsa Dance of Araku Valley
The Araku valley is the most charming hilly region in Visakhapatnam district. Valmiki, Bagata, Khond and Rotia tribes inhabit this valley and other areas of this district. The favourite dance of these tribes is Dimsa which is performed by old and young men and women, during the month of chaitra i.e. in March/April, during weddings and other festivals. During festivals people go from one village to another to participate in the dance and are honoured with community feasts. People of different villages enjoy such festivities and dances called 'Sankidi Kelbar'. Dimsa Dance not only provides amusement to the dancers and spectators but also develops friendship and fraternity between people of different villages. The instruments accompanying Dimsa are mori Kiridi, tudumu, duppu and jodukommulu. There are eight varieties of the Dimsa Dance.
i) Boda Dimsa- It is a worship dance in honour of the village goddess. Men on the right side and women on the left side form two rows and hold one another firmly with their hands over their backs. The first man in the right row, with a bunch of peacock feathers in his hands in rhythmical steps takes the lead as a hero and the last person in the left row joins him. Then all the dancers, once again to the sounds of the anklets move zigzag as in a serpent dance in a circle, crying Hari and Hui. In mirth they go round and come back in to the rows.
ii) Gunderi Dimsa or 'Usku Dimsa'- A male member of the dancing troupe sings out an invitation to the females to dance with him. The males and females with firm steps moving forward and backwards, stride in a circle. This is a vigorous and exciting dance.
iii) Goddi Beta Dimsa - Bowing down and lifting up their heads, the tribal troupes dance as if they are picking up stones. Bending forward and rising up with a swing, they go forward twenty-five steps and come back in the same manner. This is repeated four to five times.
iv) Potar - Tola Dimsa - This dance symbolises picking up leaves. Half of the dancers stand side by side in a row. The rest stand behind the first row in the same manner and keep their hands on the shoulders of the people standing before them. Turning their heads to the right and left, the two rows march forward and backward.
v) Bhag Dimsa- This dance is meant as an instruction on how to escape from a tiger's attack. Half of the troupe form a circle hand in hand. They stand on their toes, bowing and raising their heads. Moving round swiftly, the rest enter the circle and form a 'serpent coil'. This is repeated several times.
vi) Natikari Dimsa- This is a solo dance performed by valmikis on Deepavali in particular and other tribals during other festivals in general.
vii) Kunda Dimsa- In this the dancers push each other with their shoulders while singing rhythmically.
viii) Baya Dimsa. This is a dance of the tribal magician (gamachari) when he is possessed by the village goddess. All the villagers surround the magician with their heads bowed and imitate him. This continues till the magician returns to normalcy from his trance.
The united community view point is the essential feature of these tribal dances. Without any discrimination of caste and creed, age and sex, the whole community participate in these dances. The community development programmes have affected their way of life and the dance forms, which essentially belongs to their cultural heritage. All the dances conform to the rhythm of either Aditala or Rupakatala.
|Araku Tribal Dimsa Dance|
Major Tourist Attractions
Araku Tribal Museum :- The Tribal Museum in Araku Valley explores the tribal culture of Eastern Ghats. The Tribal Museum exhibits rich tribal tradition and several artifacts. One can see the tools used by the tribes and avail information about the social and cultural aspects of the tribal people. There is a stall in the museum where handicrafts items of the tribes are sold.
|Traibal Museum at Araku|
Anantagiri Hills :- Anantagiri is a breathtakingly beautiful resort sheltered in the lush undulating ranges of the Eastern Ghats. It is considered to be a perfect head off to get away from the blistering summer months. Ananthagiri is perched at an altitude where the panoramic vista unfolds stunning viewpoints.
Driving through picturesque coffee plantations the road to Anantagiri with its ups and downs on the Ghat route is literally enveloped with mango groves, waterfalls that gush and flow into the ravines. The Eastern Ghats rail route on this stretch is one of the highest broad gauge tracks in the world.
Bheemunipatnam Beach :- Bheemunipatnam Beach is about 25-km from Vishakhapatnam and prime attraction of Araku Valley. The most important aspect of interest at the place is the beach, which is perhaps matchless for its beauty all along the east coast.
Deep in the caves there is a “Shivalingam” over which there is an idol of a cow “Kamdhenu” and the river Gosthani takes its origin from the udder of this cow. The mercury and halogen lamps lit inside make the interior of the caves colourful and spectacular.
Tyda Park :- It is located 75 kms. from Visakhapatnam on the Araku road, Tyda is being developed with camping facilities at Jungle Bells to provide an enchanting experience in the wilderness to tourists. A home for a variety of wild mammals and avitauna, Tyda is ideal for viewing wild life and bird watching. Other attractions are rock climbing, trekking and targetting with bow and arrows.
Dhimsa Dance :- The natural beauty of this valley comes alive with its rich landscape. The Dhimsa dance an age-old folk dance of the aborigines is still performed here in Araku Valley during 'Itika Pongal' - the famous hunting festival in April.
HOW TO REACH
By Air :- The nearest airport is Vishakhapatnam at a distance of 112-km.
By Train :- Araku Station (136 km from Viskhapatnam).
By Road :- One can drive up from Viskhapatnam or take any of the buses plying here. (117 km from Viskhapatnam).
WHEN TO GO
Best time to travel Araku Valley is October To February.