Flashback-Araku valley

via Daily Prompt: Casual

As we traveled by the train from Vishakapatnam to Araku,our excitement knew no bounds.

araku
source:wikipedia

The long train weaved in and out of the many tunnels along the route and we screamed for fun whenever we passed through the pitch dark tunnels.

Araku valley was considered to be an offbeat place in those days and not many people used to visit it.  So there weren’t many options  available when it came to accommodations. During a time when home-stays were not heard off ,a kind acquaintance of ours invited us to stay with them for the entire duration of the trip.

We rented bicycles and rode around the valley exploring the nearby villages. The valley was covered in mist and small stalls serving hot tea and snacks opened up early in the morning.  Most of the day was spent leisurely strolling around, playing with the fluffiest most chubby puppies we had set our young eyes on or cycling casually  in the valley. We were lucky enough to witness the celebrations of the tribal people who lived there performing their famous dhimsa dance; they  also sprinkled water that was presumably mixed with plant dyes as we passed by and asked for coins in exchange.

dhimsa
Dhimsa dance. source: wikipedia

There is a special museum showcasing the lifestyle of the tribes that live there, their artwork, cooking utensils, their head-gear etc.  The museum is spread over two levels and is quite unique as it has been constructed with mud and clay.

Our host had children who were our age which worked out great for us since we had playmates throughout our stay at Araku. The next day our host took us as well as our playmates to chaparai waterfalls,  it wasn’t exactly a waterfall in context of height;  it was more of a stream cascading over smooth rocks. We were lucky to be the only ones there and we spent the entire day frolicking in the water and had a small picnic on the banks of the river.

I hear its overcrowded these days and could use some cleaning up, thanks to all the litter left behind on the banks by inconsiderate tourists.

Araku valley is perfect for just relaxing and enjoying the simple things in life. Located just 115 km away from Vishakhapatnam, it can be reached by bus,  train and the newly introduced vistadome coaches which are glass roof coaches that provide a panoramic view while traveling to Araku.

araku 1
source: wikipedia

Borra caves are also a must see while visiting either Araku or Vizag as they’re one of the largest cave systems in India.Home to irregularly shaped stalactites and stalagmites it was discovered in 1807 by William King. The caves are open from 10 am -5 pm with lunch break from 1pm -2pm.

 

Araku valley is definitely one of my favorite places that i have been to as a child and i am curious to see how it has changed as time has passed; Has it been exploited by the uncountable hotels and resorts that seem to be springing up like mushrooms or have they managed to preserve the integrity of this place that was once only frequented by the zany traveler, who visited and quietly went by without disturbing the balance of this place.

Why i chose to travel

​”Why do you travel so much ?”    My colleague asked incredulously as i signed yet another leave application and hurried to human resources.

Huh!? I had never really thought about it.
It felt natural to me to be traveling to a new place or to visit my folks whenever I  had enough vacation time.
So i was caught off guard when she posed me that question.
I looked around and realized that travelling was not the obvious choice for most others at my workplace or anywhere else.
I remembered my childhood when my parents would walk in and announce that we would be leaving for Goa, Delhi or Badrinath ,yet again during our vacations . We would try and reason with them that we would rather stay back  with grandma and play with our friends. ( friends and cousins were the only thing that mattered to us when we were 10).
“Sorry guys the tickets are already booked, come and pack your bags”,my mom would reply cheerily.
Ultimately my sister and I would end up having the best time ever during those biannual trips to different places around the country. They were enriching and we learnt a great deal about our history and culture when we traveled,than through our text books.We also ended up seeing the happier,relaxed and younger versions of our parents during those trips.

Fast forward to today and I feel a familiar thrill when I sit with K and coordinate our leaves, book hotel rooms, pore over train timetables and pack for the upcoming trip.
Its so thrilling to be traveling,never really sure of what is coming up next, to never be rushed to meet deadlines,  to try new food, to spend the entire day soaking up the culture of the place and the people, to listen to their tales and ambitions,to be able to stand still and look at the rising sun from amidst dew kissed fields, to spend an entire day just bathing in the waterfalls, to spend an entire night gazing at the stars, to spend the day discovering a new place, to lounge around your tent doodling and drinking hot tea,to be able to saunter through a new town; the kind of freedom travelling offers  to one’s spirit is second to none.IMG_2607

Travelling subtly takes you out of your comfort zone,prior to travelling so much ,i was a shy person not really the most adventurous,but being in a new place surprisingly made me feel and act more brave i tried out a lot of adventure sports i normally would have steered clear of.  IMG_3599

Travelling made me a more relaxed ,easy going person. It made me realize that the stuff we usually fret and worry about isn’t all that important.I found out much to my surprise that it is OK if things don’t go exactly as per my plan,in fact sometimes the unplanned stuff is way more fun and memorable.

As  Miriam Beard once said“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”