Hyderabad, a city now declared as a joint capital for both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh has found many takers for it cuisine, its famed museum which houses the ambitious collections of the Prime minister of the Nizam –Salar Jung III , its zoo, and the world famous Charminar. To add colour to your stay here is the hilariously creative slang which can have one in splits if one was to take a walk about of the city with a guide that speaks Hyderabadi.
There is however another side to this state or rather two states which is now calling upon travelers to come experience its wilderness beyond the beaten track. Beginning in Hyderabad and ending on the northern Tip of Andhra Pradesh this is a circuit you want to do by road or train between November and March. We take you from the City of Hyderabad to the untapped forests of the eastern ghats, a river cruise along the Godavari, A night in rustic Bamboo huts, local delicacy like the bamboo chicken, trek to 5000 feet , camp out on a virgin beach and a day at a coffee plantation.
A short drive away from the noise of Hyderabad and one is on an expressway which runs towards Vijaywada along the national highway and into a country side that is covered with Palm groves, coconut trees and cute little hillocks. With an average speed of a 90kmph this journey cuts down travel time which then means arriving at each destination happens quite comfortably.
So here is an itinerary for someone looking to do more than just Hyderabad and explore the unexplored of this vast and varied geographical landscape.
Arrive at the Rajiv Gandhi International airport/ Secunderabad Railway station.
If you are looking for a cheap option to put up, you can enroll on the youth hostel of India website and find yourself a room in the Youth hostel of Hyderabad priced at between INR 100-300, this place is centrally located and what’s more? It lies on the banks of the picturesque Husain Sagar Lake.
Next morning leave the hostel by cab, ideally a group of 5-6 people would allow you to share the costs of travel.
Papikondalu Boat cruise and Kolluru Bamboo huts.
The highway is dotted with various eateries serving multiple variants of Andhra Cuisine; Dont miss the Nata Kodi biryani, a delicious Biryani made with Jungle chicken aka Nata kodi . For those of you who treasure your Vegetarian Palette the cuisine here offers a variety of dishes that do more than offer variants of Paneer. The lentils, the Sabzi’s and the Pachidi’s (chutney) come across as a cocktail platter where one is spoilt for choice.
Rajmundhry lies on the banks of the River Godavari , Patiseema 50 km away is our first halt from the town. The two day river cruise cum bamboo hut stay begins from here and In the course of the upstream journey the boat is expected to pass through the dense vegetation of the Eastern Ghats offering rare sighs of Birds and Wild life.
Boat cruise is reasonably priced and offers you Lunch and snacks. By evening the boat reaches Kolluru- the Bamboo hut camp site where one can retire to the cute cottages until dinner is served by a the camp fire.
The following morning you set out on a brief jungle trail assisted by a local guide, the walk takes you through the forest ending at a water fall. The organisers in the meanwhile prepare a lip smacking non-veg meal at the camp site from where the boat heads back to Patiseema.
Located about 80km from Rajhmundry, Maredumills had been hidden away until the government decided to turn it into an eco tourism destination. The forests here are enveloped with a thin mist that hangs in the air. The silence is interrupted by the sound of the many streams that pass through this area before merging into the Godavari.
credits: mytravel tales
The cuisine offers a local delicacy known as Bamboo chicken. Bamboo associated with culinary culture in the north east is used here as a pot to cook using local spices. This tribal dish will accompany you as you continue to your next destination in the Eastern Ghats.
The forest administration here runs its cottages known as the Vanavihara eco guest huouse.
A short walk away from the guest house one sees the coffee plantations maintained by the Andhra Pradesh Forest Development corporation found amidst wild banana orchards, ferns and Mango groves.
A night and two days is what does justice to this Jungle retreat and from Maredumelli we head back on to the national highway and head upwards towards Vizag along the National High way 5
You reach Vizag some time in the night and transfer to a hotel since travelling all the way up to Araku would be putting too much stress on the journey. Its already been a hectic 3 days so far.
Next morning you leave the coastal city of Vizag and head towards Araku. Those doing the eastern Ghat circuit by train can expect a visual delight while travelling from Vizag to Araku. The train leaves at 6:50 am and passes through as many as 58 tunnels while making its upward climb towards the summit at around 1000feet above sea level. It takes an hour to leave the plains behind and then what follows is a change in climate and a change in surroundings.
Araku is growing into a popular hill station and though the place does not have the quaint cafes of Manali it certainly offers a delight in terms of the sights on offer and things to do. It is home to coffee plantations that are managed and grown by local tribes, supported by the Nandi foundation the coffee grown here is acclaimed as having got the International organic and fair trade certification.
The Bora caves are an ancient rock formation with deep stalagmites and stalactites. One may also indulge in short treks around the place and try out some of the bamboo chicken in this part of the Ghats.
The place is dotted with several guest houses. The most sought after being the Jungle Bells guest house.
A two night stay in Araku and we are back on the road heading towards Mandasa.
This little known place lies just off the border with Orissa and has a host of activities on offer. From water falls, Lakes, Virgin Beaches and A trek that goes up to 5000 feet the place is truly a camping get away.
Mandasa is located on a three hour drive along the National highway 5. The place is bounded by the eastern Ghats on one side and the coast on the other. The main attraction here is the sun rise, which can be viewed over the bay of Bengal from the highest point Mahendragiri at 5000 feet. The beach with its virgin setiing offers complete solitude where the sound of the surfs is a constant companion during your stay.The food here is a mix of Oriya and Andhra cuisine with Cashew being a frequent accompaniment in all dishes.
The Royal Manjusha Beach Resort manages the camping along the beach as well as the trek to the hills.
- On the beach is provided in Jungle Safari tents equipped with attached baths and furnished bedrooms. Though, for the more rugged travelers, basic tents and outdoor toilets can be provided.
Credit Srinibas padhy
Trek to 5000 feet
The trek to Mahendragiri, passes through tropical vegetation covered with Bamboo and Sal trees. Located 34km’s away from the beach the trek moves through Tribal hamlets and numerous stream. At Mahendragiri one bears witness to the Panch Pandava temples built by the ancient rulers of Mandasa a thousand years ago. The night on the summit is spent in camping tents until next morning when the rising sun over the Bay of Bengal gives the viewer a sight to take home for posterity.
Sunrise over the Bay
Gandahati Water fall
One may opt for a camp by the waterfall or a lake or head back to the beach for the last day of the Eastern Ghat Circuit
The trip ends in Hyderabad after a drive back from Mandasa.
Travel time to Hyderabad is approximately 13 hours by car
Things to remember-
- Mosquito Repellent
- Sports shoes
- try re-cycling clothes and travel light
- Always keep feet dry
- ORS sachets
- Anti-inflammatory pills
- Hand sanitizer