Trekking In Araku
Located at an altitude of 4,590 feet, Araku Valley, also known as the Ooty of A.P., is a three-hour drive from Vizag.
Spread over 36 square kilometres, Araku is also home to numerous tribal communities. “Some of them still hunt and live the way their ancestors did,” says Kaushik Mukherji, advisor to A.P. Tourism. The valley, I conclude, truly is an anthropologist’s dream come true.
Araku Valley is flanked by Galikonda, Raktakonda, Chitamogondi and other exotic-sounding mountains. I am told that the best way to travel to Araku from Vizag is by train; the route is considered to be one of the most picturesque rail journeys in India, with the train chugging through 46 tunnels, bridges, and deep valleys. However, a four-wheel drive into the valley, which is what I opted for since the rail tracks were under maintenance, can be equally exhilarating—and hair-raising. The journey is dotted with spots for impromptu picnics, viewing decks and food stalls. Araku is famous for its coffee, spices and smoky bamboo chicken—a dish where chicken chunks marinated with coriander and spices are stuffed into bamboo stems, covered with sal leaves, and cooked on hot coals for 30 minutes with no oil or water.