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ClamorWorld Exclusive: A Short Weekend at Vizag- The Jewel of the East Coast

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Barely an hour’s flight from the city of Hyderabad, lies the “Jewel of the East Coast of India”, Vishakhapatnam; also known fondly as Vizag.  This port city lies in the state of Andhra Pradesh, and has the advantage of a great landscape: hills on one side, forest on the other, and the great Bayof Bengal on the other. No doubt, this is one city that shouldn’t be missed by tourists. 

 The first hotel we checked into was “The Park”, conveniently situated on the sea front.( We had to change three hotels over our three day stay period due to the seasonal tourist rush. All three hotels gave great service.) The hotel boasts a large and verdant estate. After a touch of humidity it was welcoming to enter into the air conditioned confines of the the hotel. A lovely lunch session awaited us at the dining area, which overlooked the private beach. The restaurant had an all-glass facade, that brought “the outdoors, indoors”. Not wanting to waste a single moment of our short stay here, we quickly refreshed, and ventured out to see the fabled Submarine Museum.
The “Submarine Museum”, we discovered, is an out-of-commission war submarine, which was active in the 1971 war. The huge iron amphibian structure now lies like a whale awash on the shore of the beautiful, Ramakrishna Beach. The actual name of the submarine is “Kursura”. There is a small kiosk outside, which sells tickets. As is with most tourist destinations nowadays, extra charges (a mere Rs.50) are applied for your camera. We entered the submarine by climbing on an iron staircase. After that, our once-in-a-lifetime-experience of being in a submarine started. Limited guests are accepted inside, due to the cramped space. The best part was, they had kept the whole submarine air conditioned, ruling out any feeling of suffocation. 
                                                        
Each section of the giant war submarine was a guided tour for us. The tour guides are well informed individuals who sit in a fixed space through the three sections of the ship. It was indeed an eye opener to see the insides of this craft. How much sacrifice is involved by our Defence Forces to guide our nation on land, water, and air, is driven home. The interiors of the submarine are cramped, and filled with machinery. To the layman like me, it all appeared to be a maze out of a mechanical and civil engineering manual. Iron pipes ran here and there; some pipes ran straight, some overhead, and some as twisted as the human intestine. Various meters and clocks to measure air and water pressure were placed strategically.
The beds and other work areas of the navy staff were well lit and had dummies to demonstrate the life inside a submarine. In short, the life is full of hardship, pressure, strain, and all in all,  is a challenging environment. We were told 25 bunk beds are accommodated into a small space, but to make space for tourists, these had been partially removed. Our amazement with the submarine left us dissatisfied with one round, so we bought another set of tickets and did the whole round once again! 
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After enjoying the evening at the beach, we sat at a coffee shop to meet up with some friends who had recently moved to Vishakhapatnam. Our chat carried on for over an hour, and then it was time to say goodbye. Having woken up early in the morning for our journey, we decided to retire to our hotel. The hotel by night was completely different from what we had seen of it in the day time. The lights and music coming from the lawns had turned it into a happening night spot. As tempting as it seemed, I opted to postpone my visit outside, although the rest of the family members were much more adventurous and energetic, and never leave a stone un-turned when it comes to exploring new places.The next morning, before the sun was really high in the sky, we reached the Ramakrishna Beach, which is the jewel in the crown on this port city. The clouds and sun were playing hide and seek, and the weather was so perfect, that it seemed straight out of a dream. The waves were at their playful best, and we enjoyed them splashing all around us. When we had had our fill,(not really, but time constraints forced us to return), we had to perfunctorily return to our hotel to have a bath and wash off all the sand. After a leisurely buffet breakfast,we again set off, determined to see another attraction of Vishakhapatnam: The Kailash Giri Hills.

 

The best part about Vizag is the heady combination of the beach life, which makes you dreamy and lethargic, and the fresh air, which makes you wanting more! So, a short car ride, and we were at Kailash Giri. No laziness after this point! You need to climb 80 steps to get to the rope-way which takes you up the hill. Our determination saw to it that we were seated inside a cable car, very efficiently, and were soon zooming upward, and getting a royal view of the city, and the majestic spread of the ocean. Indeed, it is an unforgettable sight. The cable car will drop you off at the top, and there are plenty of surprises here in store too. Beautifully maintained parks, temple, a giant statue of Shiva and Parvati, a beautiful viewing gallery which has a nice seating area, and also, battery operated cars to take you around.

The ride was nice, as it omitted further leg work, and we got to glimpse into an interesting museum, titled, “Telugu Museum”. The Telugu Museum appears to be a very large mansion, with a friendly guard at the door. Once inside, the museum discloses beautiful displays, particular to the state of Andhra Pradesh. Specifically, historical characters who are the pride of the the state and India have been honoured. There  is a state of the art movie hall, which has documentary shows playing for a specified number of audience. Entry charges are free. 

 

 The other attraction here is the Toy Train, which takes one around the Hill area. The “station” has been designed very carefully, and the compartment we chose was air conditioned. The toy train took us slowly around the route we had mostly seen anyway, but seeing it from a train was a novelty. Thoroughly satiated with our trip, we returned to savour coffee and samosa at a five star hotel: Novotel. (The luxurious interiors of the hotel is what we really had stepped in to see).After coffee, we visited the famous Kali Temple, just in time for the evening “arati”. Returned to our hotel there after, and had a nice dinner ( the sea breeze has a way of accelerating your gastric juices) at the hotel restaurant. 

                                 
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                                                                                                                              In Pic: Kailash Giri

Every hotel in Vishakhapatnam has something to offer to the traveller. One will never be disappointed, and the night only adds to the allure of the place. The Ramakrishna Beach front is the area one can compare with the Marine Drive of Mumbai. However, it is much more orderly. There are a number of other beaches around the city. We visited the Rushikonda Beach on the third day of our stay there. The beach is beautiful but still needs development. The roads however are very good and smooth, and to big city dwellers like us, came as a huge relief to drive on pot-hole and traffic-free roads.

There are dozens of places more to visit while in Vishakhapatnam. With only two and a half days at our disposal, this is all we managed. Hopefully, there will be a next time. See you soon, Vizag!

 

An Article by Ruma Sen

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