The land of the golden beaches was just over half a century ago a small fishing village. One would be amazed at the manner in which this port city with a natural harbor developed into one of the fastest growing cities in Asia. Vast stretches of beaches right next to the city on one side and undulating green hills on the other have made Vizag, as it is endearingly called, a tourist heaven. An ideal destination, it caters to the religious minded, the Buddhist pilgrim, the fun-lovers and adventure-seekers. A number of beaches and a long stretch of road along the seashore up to Bheemunipatnam town, the second oldest municipality in the country, are a pleasure to experience. No trip to Vizag is complete without a sojourn at Araku, 110 km away; a lovely valley nestled amidst the high Eastern Ghats, Simhachalam temple, Rishikonda beach, and the Dolphin’s Nose hillock projecting into the sea enchantment unlimited – that is Vishakhapatnam.
Air: Vishakhapatnam is connected by Air from Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
Rail: Vishakhapatnam is well connected with all-important cities of India by rail.
Road: Vishakhapatnam is situated on the Chennai-Kolkata National Highway.
Vuda Park: With a Musical Fountain, Boating facility and Skating Rink, the VUDA (Vishakhapatnam Urban Development Authority) Park has facilities like pleasure rides on horses and camels and a well-quipped gymnasium.
Ramkrishna Mission Beach: A place for leisure and relaxation, Ramakrishna Mission Beach. The aquarium here is an added attraction. Plans are on to upgrade this into an Oceanarium. Giving historic insights of the past is the Visakha Museum.
Lawnson’s Bay: Vishakhapatnam City boasts of several beaches and Lawson’s Bay is an ideal spot or swimming and surfing. The shallow waters of the Bay are crystal clear and prove to be the safest areas to bathe.
Dolphin’s Nose: A conspicuous landmark in Vizag, Dolphin’s Nose is a huge rocky headland 174 metres high and 358 meter above sea level, jutting out into the sea, resembling the shape of dolphin. The powerful beacon of the lighthouse set on a rock at sea directs ships 65 km away.
Indira Gandhi Zoological park: This is the second Zoo park in the state after Hyderabad, This Zoo is the largest in terms of area with an encompassing 450 acres full of exotic species of animals and birds amidst rolling landscapes of natural habitat. Half of this has been allotted for a deer park. The other 300 types of specimens are allowed to move freely in a natural environment and a huge enclosure called the Crocodile Park.
Rushikonda: If one can attach the term “Virgin” to beaches, Rushikonda could well earn it, for the beaches “unspoilt”. 8 km to the north of Vishakhapatnam on Vizag-Bhimli Road, it is ideal for swimmers, wind and water surfers. AP Tourism has set up cottages near the beach and runs a bar and restaurant.
Mudasarlova: A valley framed by hills, Mudasarlova is situated 10 km from the city. It has a lake that supplies drinking water to the city and also makes a good picnic spot.
Ramathirtham: The small village some 13 km from the district headquarters town of Vizianagaram in north coastal Andhra is little known. But even in that region of the State, there exists a Jain shrine, one of the very few in the State. The Bodikonda Hill near the village has several Jain sculptures and the ruins of a shrine.The village is 13 km from Vizianagaram railway station. The district headquarters town of Vizianagaram is 60 km from the major city of Vishakhapatnam, which is well connected by air and rail.
Simhachalam: One of the “richest” deities in those parts is the Varaha Lakshminarasimha Swamy standing atop the verdant Simhachalam Hill, just 16 km off Vishakhapatnam. The deity portraying “Ugra Narasimha’ is constantly covered with sandalwood paste, giving it the appearance of a Shiva Linga.
Thotlakonda: In the same district of Vishakhapatnam, 16 km along the picturesque Vizag-Bhimili road lays Thotlakonda, where a number of stupas, viharas and chaityas belonging to the Hinayana school were found. A unique discovery providing evidence of maritime trade during that period was Satavahana coins bearing on the obverse a ship with two masts anchored to the shore. The site can be approached via the road running along the coastline between Vishakhapatnam city and Bheemunipatnam (Bhimili), the second oldest municipality in the country.
Appikonda: 18 km from Vishakhapatnam, Appikonda is also known as Kapilakonda. It has a Siva temple with a life size bull carved out of black stone. The temple contains inscriptions of the 12th Century AD, with a mention that this village was granted by a commander-in-chief of the Cholas for the maintenance of worship in the temple.
Etikoppaka: Situated on the left bank of river Varaha 20 km to the south of Yellamanchili, Etikoppaka is famous for the toys made with the light Ankudu wood.
Bavikonda: Situated 20 km from Vishakhapatnam city, Bavikonda is a site found a decade back on a hill. Religious structures, stupas, chaityagrihas, the congregation hall, platforms, viharas and kitchen-cum-store complexes are found here, the entire complex comprises 26 structures belonging to three phases. The artifacts recovered here include Roman coins and Satavahana coins apart from pottery dating back to 3rd century to 2nd century AD.
Panchadharala: Situated at a distance of 24 km from Anakapalli, Panchadharala derived its name from the five jets of water coming out of five fountains from a natural perennial spring. There is a Lingam on which are carved other lingams in 12 rows of 85 each and thus also known as the ‘Kotilingam’ (Crore Lingams). There are several inscriptions found on the pillars of the mandapam in the temple.
Pavuralakonda: ‘The hill of the pigeons’ as the name suggests is known locally as Narasimhaswamy Konda and lies very close to the coastal town of Bheemunipatnam 25 km from Vishakhapatnam. The inscriptions indicate a Mauryan age. A copper pot believed to have been consecrated in the stiupa was also found along with some Satavahana and Roman silver coins.
Bheemunipatnam Beach: Known as Bhimli for short, Bheemunipatnam, the second oldest municipality in the country, lies at the mouth of the Gosthani River. The town is just 25 km north of Vishakhapatnam and one of the roads between the two places runs all along the shoreline, providing breathtaking views at many spots. Bhimli beach is considered one of the safest for swimmers and surfers, as the water is shallow. Bheemunipatnam was once a Dutch settlement but little remains today to stand testimony to it.
Sankaram: Caves cut into rock surfaces on hill slopes that could have been inhabited during the first century have been discovered at Sankaram, 40 km to the south of Vishakhapatnam, near Anakapalle town. At a place called Bojjakonda numerous images of Buddha have been carved on the rocky walls of caves. A number of stupas carved out of rock giving the initial appearance of Shivalingas were found on a hillock called Lingalametta (mound of the Lingas). Buses ply regularly between Vishakhapatnam and Anakapalle and local transport too is available.
Kondakarala: Situated in Achyutapuram mandal, 48 km from Vishakhapatnam, Kondakarala is famous for its natural lake attracting migratory birds in summer.
Tyda: Located 75 km from Vishakhapatnam on the Araku road, Tyda is being developed with camping facilities at Jungle Bells to provide an enchanting experience in the wilderness to the tourists. Home to a variety of wild mammals and avifauna. Tyda is ideal for viewing wildlife and bird watching.
Anantagiri Hills: On the Eastern Ghats that form the natural boundary between Andhra Pradesh and Orissa in the east lays Anantagiri. Thickly wooded slopes with acres of coffee plantations greet visitors who travel up the ghat road. Along the way are perennial cascades of cool water and at some places so thick is the foliage that it shields the area completely from the sun. Anantagiri is about 80 km from Vishakhapatnam on the road, to Araku Valley. Though the destination would be Araku, a stopover at Anantagiri for a few houses becomes inevitable, given the beauty of the surroundings.
Balighattam: 3 km from Narsipatnam, on the banks of river Varahanandi is Balighattam. Brahmalingeswara temple, said to have been built by Lord Brahma, at the foot of a small hill on the western bank is famous. It is believed that Lord Vishnu created the river during his incarnation as boar (Varaha). The deposits of white clay in the riverbed are supposed to be the ashes of a sacrifice performed here by Bali. Thus came the name Balighattam. The river flows from north to south for a short distance.
Salihundam: Most of the Buddhist sites excavated reveal that many of the settlements; were on the banks of rivers and streams. Salihundam on the bank of the River Vamsadhara in the northernmost coastal Andhra District of Srikakulam has a Mahastupa, platforms and Viharas providing evidence of the presence of the Vajranya cult. From here, Buddhism is said to have spread to Sumatra and far eastern countries. Srikakulam is about 90 km from Vishakhapatnam and regular bus services are available.
Borra Caves: On the road to Araku Valley, located about 90 km from Vishakhapatnam, Borra Caves house million-year-old stalactite and stalagmite formations, presenting a breathtaking display of naturally sculpted splendour. People throng these caves to make offerings to Lord Shiva seen in the form of natural stone lingas. The crystal white calcium stones are also seen in various forms like a hooded serpent, different human shapes. Narada with his Tambura, Lord Brahma, Radha Krishna and a Nandi. AP Tourism illuminates Tahe caves.
Araku Valley: 112 km from Vishakhapatnam, Araku Valley is green and pleasant. The journey to the valley either through the ghat road or by train passing through several tunnels is a pleasure; AP Tourism conducts a Rail-cum-Road package tour to Araku from Vishakhapatnam. The major attractions in Araku are a tribal habitat museum, a tribal village and traditional folk dances including the famous tribal dance called “Dhimsa”.
Annavaram: Annavaram in East Godavari is at a distance of 124 km from Vishakhapatnam and is a sacred pilgrim centre n a hilltop known as Ratnagiri. The presiding deity of Annavaram is Veera Venkata Satyanaray Swamy. It is believed that when a ‘Vartha’ is performed in the name of deity, the wishes of the devotees come true. It is estimated that an average of about one lakh ‘Vrathas’ are performed here every year, largely by couples. It is situated on the banks of the river Pampa.
Map Of Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh :