Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In the port town of Vizag for a soiree of the sun-and-sand kind…

IIPM Mumbai Campus

Port of pleasure

Name a beach in India. Go on, admit it: some Goan beaches would have been on the top-of-the-mind even though you may not have named it. And those of you, who considered consulting Google for an answer, welcome to the club. The quest for a healthy dose of pure unadulterated sunshine and the desire to witness some sand-sea bonhomie led me to the east coast of our country. I was headed for Vizag.

Visakhapatnam or Vizag was one of the first places along the coast where the French and later the British set up shops, as this region was known for its natural port. The sea is unnaturally deep out here as the continental shelf (Google tells me) suddenly falls, allowing heavy vessels and ships to come really close to the port.

Today, Visakhapatnam is a moderately crowded place and as I winded through the streets I traced the footsteps of many a tourist who had walked these pathways before me. The rental car meant to take me around had not yet arrived at the hotel, so I thought of checking out one of the testimonials of local creativity: sandalwood sculptures. Exceptionally beautiful, these handicraft sculptures had a kind of finesse which… My phone rang and it was the receptionist from the hotel lobby telling me that my car had arrived. I was soon taken to the Ramakrishna Beach, one of the most popular beaches in the city. Just in time for that magical-every-time moment of the setting sun, there was quite a crowd on the beach – some seated, some sauntering. The sun hanging low on the horizon and the silhouettes of the strollers made the scene surreal.

The next day, Borra Caves was first on the itinerary. Deep in the heart of the earth – the deepest in India – are these breathtaking natural formations lit up in many colours by artificial lights, giving the place an extra-terrestrial feel. After the cavernous affair, I emerged fully exhausted but overwhelmed by the natural heritage of this land. Recently modernised by the Tourist Dept. of Andhra Pradesh, the caves also house a temple for Lord Shiva after a structure resembling the Lingam, or the phallic symbol of the deity.

On the Vizag-Bhimli Beach Road is the Tenneti Park, and that, arguably – however, much I know I’m not exaggerating – is the most beautiful place in all of Vizag. At sunrise, the air is filled with a mystical mist and the ocean turns orange. It’s a true spectacle of nature and is one of the sharpest memories I have of Vizag.

Other locations that must not be missed when you are in the port town of Visakhapatnam are Araku Valley, Kailasagiri and Simhachalam. Be it trekking through caves or sitting and watching the sun set over the horizon, the ‘Goa of the East Coast’ as Vizag is also known, will not disappoint.

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