Often called the Ooty of Andhra Pradesh, Araku Valley—stretching at a height of 1,000 m above the sea level in the Eastern Ghats—is not for the usual, faint-hearted tourists. Cool in summer and gorgeous in monsoon, the valley turns into a hub for adventurous explorers between August and November every year.

A train service runs twice a day to Araku from Visakhapatnam. The route, an engineering wonder, passes through 58 tunnels and over 84 bridges. The trains have executive coaches and glass covered ceilings for better views. In monsoon, the roadway is more enchanting.

The three-hour journey passes through luscious, deep dark forests, Prussian blue mountain ranges on both sides, and heavy dark clouds showering moody bursts. The road takes you through drifting aromas of black pepper, cinnamon, coffee plantations and pungent unknown ones, the smoky flavour of bamboo chicken on the way up, through gushing nameless streams overflowing the roads, cascading into seasonal waterfalls.

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The invisible population of Araku consists of nomad tribes that live in small clusters—a maximum of 150 people in a random one, nested amidst rugged terrains.

Araku is also about ethnic art, and solo trekking. Once done with the tribal museum, coffee museum, shopping at the handicrafts store and the routine dhemsa dance performance at the guest house, walk out of the comfort zone. The Araku centre is a tiny area that can be covered in a couple of hours. Get past. Get into the fields, through the crops raising their heads gleefully, and you will be surprised at how miraculously the foreground changes.

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Roads around Araku are motorable up to four km radius. Then, there’s only walking that takes you to places. The snaking paths that go up and down are inaccessible by outsiders but these are the ones you take to experience a new, dreamy world of simplicity.

Go for a solo trek only if you want to get lost or have no hurry to return at a stipulated time. Obviously guides are not available here and GPS doesn’t work. The paths would be tricky, but the journey would remain a pretty memory for a lifetime. #KhabarLive


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