Geographical landscape - a beautiful combination of beaches & hills. talking about the sea first
- 5 or 6 beaches. the isolated & pristine Yarada beach, city Rama krishna beach, great for swimming - Rushikonda beach etc. All are very clean.
- the 30km long (approx.) Beach Road that goes from Ramkrishna beach to Bheemli beach is pure delight. Less traffic. Smooth road. Great views. Food stalls.
- The hills around the city, along with the sea, make the city one of the most picturesque I have ever seen.
- Kailasgiri, ride to Simhachalam & even Dolphin park (where there is nothing to do, except from great views of Yarada beach) are all beautiful.
- Do not miss Kailasgiri. It might sound like a children's park, but its not. Its huge. It has great views of the city. A lot of couples get really naughty here though. Disturbingly naughty.
In & around
- The ride to Simhachalam is great. The temple is old & beautiful. Its complex is huge.
- Araku valley is simply amazing. The ride, once the ghats start (after 50km or so) is beautiful. And the last 15km (from Anantagiri) are heavenly.
- Bamboo chicken, the local speciality of Araku is a must have.
- Borra caves - very big, very crowded on weekends. Not spectacular. But worth once a visit.
- Katiki watefall - 7 km of complete offroading for bikers. Private vehicles can't go. But the bumpy ride is worth it. Don't expect a huge falls, but taking shower under it will make you happy. I might leave Borra cave once, but I won't leave these falls whenever visiting to Araku.
Now, about the city
- Despite being 8th largest economy among the cities, Visakhapatnam is peaceful. People don't look in a hurry here. Even the educated ones.
- Great roads everywhere. Cleanliness of the city is taken very seriously.
- Lot of great eateries. No night life though.
- Most importantly, people are great (this is valid for whole of AP. we found people in Andhra the friendliest in South India).
Honestly, the first impressions were not great. But then, religion happened.
- It's not called the city of temples for no reason. In the old town, temples (most of them dating back to 7-8th century) are scattered everywhere.
- Most of the major temples are well maintained, with parks around them (like they do for UNESCO sites, even though none of these is a heritage site).
- This makes these temples & their parks the go-to place for the locals. But since there are so many of these temples, none of the complex can be termed as overcrowded. It is just the right amount of people gathering & having a good time.
- No entry fee.
- No restrictions on photography. I think this is the only place where you can go inside the gopuram and ask god to say cheese & no one will say anything. Applies on all temples except Lingaraj temple.
Do visit the Bindusagar road, near Lingaraj temple. That gully is religion & culture condensed into a small lane. There are 200 years old dharamsalas, widow homes, Lingaraj temple prasad being made by pundits in one the temple complex, pundits sitting by the Bindusagar doing small ceremonies for couples.
After visiting these places, I felt that the religious vibe in this city is as strong as that in Kashi or Haridwar. And uptil now, I was oblivious to it. Good that I decided to travel.