Visakhapatnam is a delightfully clean city on the northern coast of Andhra Pradesh and wears its moniker ‘Jewel of the East Coast’ with great pride.
As my car whizzes past the rather broad roads of Visakhapatnam, I am a little confused. Well, there is so much street art on the walls flanking either side of the road that I am unsure where to look and what to admire. And this becomes the perfect precursor to explore the many sights and sounds of this shore town. Rajesh Gopalakrishnan, General Manager, Novotel Visakhapatnam Varun Beach & Varun Beach Bheemili Resort Managed by Accor says, “Vizag is known as the Goa of the East and it’s uniquely positioned between the southern and eastern source markets like Bengaluru and Kolkata. Many tourists visit the city here for the pristine clean beaches and lovely sights. The market currently is a decent mix of both business and leisure travellers, however it could do much better if the air connectivity could be improved with more direct connections to more cities like Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar and even Bagdogra. The frequency of flights to Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune should also increase to add more potential to the hotel.”
With a coats line that stretches over miles, I start my exploration at the Ramkrishna Beach a favourite with the early morning walkers and joggers. This long beach on the coast of Bay of Bengal is often referred to as a twin beach with the Lawson’s Bay Beach. The sunsets here are specifically noteworthy so you can time your visit to enjoy the same. Also pay a visit to the Rushikonda Beach roughly 20 km away from the city that is quieter and smaller. The soft sands of this beach and its location makes for an ideal way to start your day and the spectacular sunrise is a must see. Incidentally Visakhapatnam is well known for hills that surround its beaches and the Dolphin’s Nose This is a large natural rock formation that resembles a dolphin’s nose and juts into the sea. A lighthouse is located here and this also happens to be a vantage point with a splendid view of the sea. This is where you will see a temple, mosque and church and this was an 18th century British army base camp. The Yarada beach is quite close from here so make the time for it as well. Since the beaches with rip currents are dangerous, the tourism department has mooted plans and will soon be announcing a program for people to brace against this. The Visakhapatnam Port is the only port in Andhra Pradesh and a visit to the fishing harbor here makes for an interesting experience. The cacophony of sights, sounds and smell here may seem like an assault on your senses initially but walk further in and you will get used to them. This is where you will see brisk business between the fisher folk and vendors. Dried fish is a big draw too and the people are quite friendly and will happily pose for images.
Kaushik Mukherji, Lead Consultant, Andhra Pradesh Tourism is naturally gung ho about Visakhapatnam. “After Tirupati, Visakhapatnam is the best bet we have to attract travellers; therefore, we are always looking at ways to improve our local product. Being a beach and hill city, we are about to begin India’s longest beachfront promenade design, a mammoth work over 30 kilometres from RK Beach to all the way down to Bhimli. We will soon have an academy to learn and earn a professional certificate in watersports and aero sports coming up not very far from the city. Also Lambasinghi, our zero degree hill station is getting ready with a series of brand new accommodation launching in the next few months,” says Mukherji.
Sights & Sounds
When in Visakhapatnam, a visit to Kailasagiri, a hilltop park with a bird’s eye view of the scenic East Coast and city of Visakhapatnam can be accessed by road as well as ropeway trolleys. This place is huge and you can see a large statue of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, a small toy train for children, a gigantic floral clock and more. There are some cafes here as well that serve small bites. Incidentally there are only three submarine museums in the world, two in the US and one in Visakhapatnam. The first museum of this kind in South Asia, INS Kurusura Submarine was decommissioned after 31 years of service in the Indian Navy. The Submarine museum is housed within the submarine and is a Navy War Memorial too. Walking inside the submarine gives you a sneak peek into the lives of the people who used it. Located on the opposite side of the road is the TU 142 Aircraft Museum. Decommissioned after 29 years of service, this naval aircraft is part of a museum complex, has a TU flight simulator, an audio-visual room and a souvenir shop. The Vishaka Museum has some ancient artefacts, naval and wartime displays. You can also explore a serene fishing village on Bheemili beach easily accessible by road from Vizag. The drive from the city is picturesque with the road winding along the sea. “The Bheemili resort provides a luxurious stay and experience making it an ideal vacation destination. Moreover, guests can also visit the Dutch cemetery and the Dutch police station to soak-in the city’s rich heritage. Travellers can plan for a quick trek to the local village temple is located on a nearby hilltop. There is a local fish market where one can buy some fresh catch of the day and listen to the tales of fishermen,” says Gopalakrishnan.
Located about 90 km away from the city are the Borra Caves that date back to over 150 million years old. These ancient karstic limestone caves are believed to be one of the largest in the country and are located at a height of 1400m above sea level. The caves are lit in bright coloured lights and are best explored with the help of a guide who will indicate the important stalagmite and stalactite formations. Our guide did point out several formations including dinosaur, elephant’s foot and even God’s and Goddesses. In fact there is a temple with a naturally formed Shiva Linga that is a big source of attraction inside. Outside the caves you will spot River Gosthani flowing amidst the natural hillocks which makes for a picturesque sight. Certainly with myriad sights, Visakhapatnam is a city that is waiting to be discovered.
This story first appeared in the Sep 2018 issue of Spice Route – the inflight magazine of Spicejet here: