Tuesday, October 03, 2017

QUIT 2017 - Day 5

Today morning we had a rocky start. Just as we were ready to leave, son said he had an upset stomach. Then found the car being washed when we were ready to start. I had asked the hotel security to clean the car early, but he had started cleaning just as we were settling the bill. So started half an hour later than planned. There was a frosty silence in the car.

But all that vanished once we started climbing the hills. Today's plan was to go from Vizag to Araku valley after a detour to Borra caves. The drive to Borra caves was slightly tricky with hairpin bends and Z curves. The mountain views were just fabulous.
Misty mountains

There was continuous traffic of cars, buses and vans going to Borra caves. So we expected some crowd at the caves. We reached the caves at 10.00 AM and were greeted by a queue of atleast 30 families waiting to get tickets to enter the caves. Took us half an hour to just get the tickets and enter the cave. I was wondering whether it was worth it.

It really is. Irregular shaped stalactites and stalagmites provide an eerie experience , exaggerated by psychedelic lighting by the tourist department. The caves are one of the largest in India. There is continuous water dripping inside the cave and you have to be careful with your footsteps.

We came out of the caves after an hour. The parking lot was a mess, like a tetris of cars. Getting out of the parking lot was the scariest part of today's drive. If you are planning to visit the caves, plan to be there by 10.00 AM when they open. Crowd just keeps piling on and on as the day goes by.
Bamboo chicken is part of the Araku valley experience. Chicken and spices are packed in bamboo tubes and cooked slowly. We had placed an order for bamboo chicken before entering the cave. We were given a token by the vendor so that chicken was ready when we came out of the caves. She said it was really really good. Bamboo chicken is available all over the place in Araku valley.

Araku Valley's famous Bamboo Chicken being cooked

Cooked chicken taken out from Bamboo tubes

There was a slight drizzle and the weather turned amazing. Misty mountain views, valley with various shades of green, decent road snaking around the hills - today's drive was the best so far in this trip. This was the first mountain drive for my son, and he enjoyed it a lot. After a short stop at the Galikonda viewpoint, reached Araku by 1.30 PM.
Road to Araku Valley

Had lunch at Andhra Pradesh tourism hotel Harita. There are two Harita hotels at Araku. The Haritha Mayuri resort has an amazing view of the hills. Unfortunately both the resorts were full. So we had to settle for one of the private hotels along the Jeypore road.

Clouds hanging over hills in Araku valley
After checking in, visited the Coffee museum and Tribal museum in Araku valley. Coffee museum has a short display of the history of coffee. More importantly, it sells Araku valley coffee, assorted coffee chocolates and brownies. The coffee was highly recommended by friends. I had a double espresso and can confirm that it is really good.

Double espresso shots
Tribal museum has life size displays of various tribal customs and habits. For some one from South Tamil Nadu, seeing திருகை, உலக்கை, மரப்பாச்சி பொம்மை et al displayed as Tribal utensils was amusing. We have seen these in use a couple of decades ago. As wife  said, " They might even declare us as tribals"
Dinner was at one of those nondescript multi cuisine restaurants that are the bane of Indian towns. Indian Chinese Tandoori Meals types.
All in all a refreshing day of travel. Another early start tomorrow.

Total distance travelled so far: 1355 km

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