Vishakapatnam: The City of Destiny
Vishakapatnam which is sometimes referred to as Vizag is a port city located in the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India and is the second largest in the state with a population of about 1.3 million. The port in this city was built by the British and the East India Company to export ivory, textiles, tobacco, and Muslin products. This port city has seen rapid development in the last decade and has much to offer in the form of religious places and other tourist attractions. A trip to southern India would be truly incomplete without a visit to this coastal paradise that has left many tourists mesmerized.
Vishakapatnam is situated on the east cost of India and is one of the busiest ports in the country and also has the oldest shipyard in India. The only natural harbor on the east cost of India is also situated here making it a strategic location for trade, defense establishments, and shipbuilding. However the presence of a naval base makes this inaccessible to tourists for security reasons unlike the bases in cities such as Mumbai and Kochi which are open for tourists. In spite of this, the city is one of the better tourist attractions along the eastern coast of India and has many interesting tourist spots scattered in and around it.
Places of interest:
This city has many tourist attractions including temples, hill stations, a submarine museum, a wildlife sanctuary, zoos, parks and beaches. Some of these places are located in the vicinity of the city itself and some are scattered within a radius of sixty miles from the city. Moreover this metropolis is also surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges, valleys and limestone caves which make it a must-see place for pilgrims and vacationers alike.
Simhachalam Temple: This one of the famous Hindu temples located in the city of Vishakapatnam and is dedicated to the incarnation (avatar) of lord Vishnu who took the form of a Narasimha or Man-Lion in order to slay the demon Hiranyakashyapu. This rakshasa (Demon) was blessed with eternal life and could not be killed by a man or an animal and could not die in the morning or at night due to the blessing bestowed upon him by Lord Bramha (the creator). To solve this problem, myth has it that Lord Vishnu took up the Avatar of a man-lion and killed the demon at dusk. Therefore the name Simhachalam where simha stands for lion and achalam stands for “that which is immovable” or a hill.
Borra Caves: These caves are located about fifty miles from the city and have magnificent stalagmites and stalactites, the beauty of which is accentuated because of the lighting provided by the tourism board of Andhra Pradesh. Even though there is nothing much to see here except for these cone shaped projections, the caves are believed to be a million years old and many people visit here to see nature sculpting the stalagmites and stalactites slowly over a period of thousands of years.
Araku Hills: Situated about sixty miles from the city are the Akaru hills and these are about 3000 feet from sea level. The journey to this place is unique especially by train since it passes through 42 tunnels before reaching the destination. There are numerous holiday resorts located here and many tourists from Vishakapattnam as well as foreign travelers throng this place in summer to get away from the heat and humidity which is ubiquitous in the southern coastal regions of India.
Kailasgiri Hills: Kailasgiri hills are a must-see location for religious tourists as well as nature lovers. This hill not only has the statues of lord Shiva and Parvati, but also has a beautiful park located on the hilltop. There are seven different points from which a person can admire the scenic beauty of the valley and the serene atmosphere. Another unique attraction except for the 40 feet statue of Lord Shiva is the floral clock which is one of the biggest in the country. The spotlessly clean and green surroundings also make this a favorite spot for film-makers and the ride on a small toy train is enjoyed equally by children as well as adults.
Dolphins Nose: This is a 175 meter outcrop that is similar in shape to a Dolphin’s nose and a person can get a breathtaking view of the city from this place. It also serves as a lighthouse for shippers and the light-beam can be seen as far as 40 miles.
Rushikonda Beach: This is one of the best beaches in Vizag and also provides opportunity for water sports such as surfing. The sandy shore of this beach attracts many tourists and locals who can enjoy swimming in these waters. Moreover, Andhra Pradesh tourism has built several cottages on this beach and overnight stays are possible for those who want to spend a couple of days enjoying the golden sands and the sea.
Ramakrishna Beach: This is also one of the famous beaches in Vizag and is thronged by locals as well as tourists. The beach has been developed into a tourist spot and has a submarine museum, the Ramakrishna Ashram, a Kali Temple, and various statues. There are numerous hotels located near the beach including The Taj and the Park hotel which makes this place easily accessible and convenient for tourists.
Vishakapatanam may not be the best tourist places in India but it definitely offers many attractions for the inquisitive traveler. Some of the other attractions in the city are the Ross Hill which has a temple, a church as well as a mosque and is an interesting place for pilgrims as well as sightseers. Another interesting place is Bheemunipatnam which has the oldest Dutch cemetery and remains of 17th century Dutch settlements. Moreover, the city is also a pilgrim site for Buddhists and a place called Thotlakonda which has mesmerizing ancient structures including tubs carved out of stone by Buddhist monks to store water. This city which has rapidly developed over the years provides an ambiance which is a potpourri of cultures, religions, and defense establishments making it one of the unique places in India.