Araku Valley is a famous hill station that lies in the Vishakhapatnam district in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The town is situated amidst beautiful locales of Eastern Ghats and has a rich cultural as well as traditional past. The place is perhaps the most beautiful hill station in the south because it still remains unspoiled by commercialism of tourism. The beauty of the valley has been showcased in the Tollywood films as well. Movies like Happy Days, Darling and Katha have been partly shot at the place.
Araku Valley is at a distance of about 114 km from the city of Vizag and lies very close to the border of Orissa. The valley boasts of the Ananthagiri and Sunkarimetta Reserved Forests which are known for their rich biodiversity. The valley lies surrounded by the mountains of Raktakonda, Chitamogondi, Galikonda and Sunkarimetta. The Galikonda hill has the distinction of being the tallest hill in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Apart from being a beautiful hill station, Araku Valley is also famous for its rich coffee plantations. The aroma of fresh coffee beans is in the air of Araku throughout. The coffee plantations have been responsible to a large extent for the rehabilitation of the many tribes that stay in and around Araku Valley. It was in 2007 that the first organic coffee brand by tribal growers was launched in India. This organic brand was named ‘Araku Emerald’ and it enjoys domestic as well as international popularity. Now there are thousands of tribal people who work as farms hands and helpers in these plantations.
Araku Valley has some real interesting places to visit including the Tribal Museum, Tyda, Borra caves, Sangda Falls and Padmapuram Botanical Gardens. Besides, these the coffee plantations are a must visit for those who want to indulge themselves in the flavors of nature. Some people prefer enjoying and taking in the scenic beauty of the place rather than go sightseeing. However, none of the attractions in Araku Valley should be given a miss because they help visitors understand the history and culture of the place better.
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The hill station is connected to the rest of the country via good roads and a good railway network. There are two railway stations; one in Araku and another in Araku Valley. Both the railway stations are connected to the railway station at Vizag. The railway stations fall on the Kothavalasa-Kirandul railway line that is part of the Vishakhapatnam division on the East Cost railway. Shimiliguda railway station has the highest broad gauge line in the whole country. The railway station is at a height of 996 meters above sea level. The station has no airport though the roads leading to the hills station are in a good condition. Travelers can take a private taxi from any of the towns and cities in Andhra Pradesh to reach Araku Valley. There are many bus operators who run regular bus services to Araku and back. Deluxe and Volvo buses from Hyderabad and Vizag are also available for Araku Valley. Buses cost less than private cabs but deluxe buses and Volvos charge higher than the normal bus fare.
Araku Valley enjoys a moderate climate all through the year. The summers are not hot unlike those of the plains, and the winters are nice and cold without the temperature falling below freezing point. People from towns and cities around the valley prefer to visit the place during summers when it gets too hot in the plains. However, the best time to enjoy the beauty of the valley is during the winter season. During the months of winter, one can enjoy sports like hiking, rappelling and trekking.