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Visakhapatnam, India---Tourist Attractions
Vizag, City of Many Attractions
The coastal town of Visakhapatnam (nicknamed Vizag) in India generally does not figure in the itinerary of the average tourist, and is known mainly for its naval establishments and shipbuilding yard. But this appears to be the result of lack of awareness and inadequate publicity rather than any lack of natural beauty or places of tourist interest. For this is one of the few modern cities in India where the sea, virgin and clear, can be seen along vast stretches of land. It is also one of the few modern cities where ranges of undulating hills flank roads and housing complexes, where thick groves of trees and bushes exist side by side with huge industries, and where birds still sing. It is also a city of temples, museums, parks, beaches and supermarkets. What more does the tourist need?
This is one of the few natural harbors in the world. Ships of varying sizes and types anchored or sailing here afford a fascinating sight. The ships may be Naval or commercial, or may have come for repairs at the shipyard. On hills overlooking the harbor are a temple, mosque and church, which appear to be adjacent to one another when seen from a boat in the harbor, although each is located on a different hill. The church (dedicated to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart), and the mosque, are snow-white, while the temple, dedicated to Lord Venkateshswamy, is in the Orissa style of architecture. The edifices, even when seen from a distance, appear majestic.
Close to the harbor is the fishing harbor where a large number of boats used for fishing can be seen. In the open space alongside the harbor, fisherwomen gather small dried fish into baskets.
Kailashgiri is one of the favorite haunts for visitors to Visakhapatnam. The way to Kailashgiri up a hilly incline is bordered by the curved outline of the sea and with picturesque hills and woods. Kailash Hills offer a panoramic view of Visakhapatnam, surrounded as they are by the sea on two sides, tall hills on one side and the city landscape on another. The air is cool and invigorating, and both Kailash Gir and the surrounding hills are covered with lush greenery. One of the attractions at Kailashgiri is the Floral Watch—a huge watch-like shape covered with grass. The massive statues of Kailash (Shiva) and Parvati, adjacent to each other, made of marble-white stone, are of stunning beauty. They stand on a stone platform and from near the feet of Kailash flows a stream down a broad staircase, giving the appearance of an artificial waterfall.
The Submarine Museum
Located near the Ramakrishna Beach, this is one of the unique attractions of Vizag. It was the first submarine to be turned into a museum in the whole of Asia. INS Kasuria, as it was originally named, had been a Russian submarine built on December 18, 1969. It began its journey on February 20, 1970 via the Baltic Sea and reached Visakhapatnam on the 11th of May, 1970. After having served the Indian Navy for about 31 years, it was put on display for the public on 27th February, 2001. The submarine is divided into seven compartments housing different parts of the armaments, machinery and cabins. It can dive to a depth of 280 meters. The space inside seems to be cramped with all sorts of pipes, machinery and small cabins. Naval personnel guide you through the various compartments of the submarine.
Ramakrishna & Rishikonda Beaches
The Ramakrishna Beach is a favorite resort for tourists visiting Visakhapatnam. But the beach that stands out for sheer scenic beauty is the Rishikonda Beach, 8 km. from the city—a golden unspoiled beach where the clear green waters, gently rolling, with lovely frothy white waves playfully lashing against the curved coastline, keep one enchanted. The lofty dark green, forest clad ranges of the Eastern Ghats surround the sea on three sides, with the feet of the hills abutting into the sea at several places. To add to the beauty are the majestic coconut and other trees all along the coastline. The sheer vastness of the coastline and the expanse of water are fascinating to watch. The beaches of Kerala are famous for their grandeur but this one takes the cake. On the Rishikonda Beach (also known as Sundar Beach) is a celebrated temple with idols of several gods and goddesses.
The Indira Gandhi Zoological Park
This is located amid scenic surroundings, skirted as it is by hills on two sides. Spread over a vast area, the zoo affords near-natural habitat to the animals and birds, the area being covered with tall trees, grassy lawns and bushes. The enclosures are so large as to give the appearance of mini-forests. Each enclosure is suited to the requirements of the animal(s) occupying it; for example, sloth bears preferring rocky terrain as their home have been housed in that type of environment only. There is a toy train to take one around the zoo at specified hours. If walking long distances in a picturesque setting is what you like, this zoological garden is the place for you. However, in regard to the number and variety of animals, it is a bit disappointing, though some rare species, such as the white tiger, can be seen.
Opposite the zoo, alongside the road, one is greeted with a view of the sea that is unparalleled in beauty. The waters here are clear and serene, vast in expanse, with frothy white waves lashing the shores. The shores are lined with thick groves of trees, with undulating, forest-clad hills adorning the other side of the road.
On a diversion towards the left from the zoo, after traveling a few minutes by car, one reaches the Thotlakonda Buddhist complex. Thotlakonda came to light during an aerial survey by the Indian Navy, and excavations conducted during 1988-93 established the existence of a Hinayana Buddhist settlement that flourished two thousand years ago. It is estimated that the monastery accommodated more than a hundred Buddhist monks. The excavations revealed Satvahana lead and Roman silver coins, indicating foreign trade.
On this vast stretch of empty land can be seen:
i) a large stupa known as the ‘maha stupa', where part of the ashes of Buddha are supposed to have been kept.
ii) prayer or lecture halls of students;
iii) a 64-pillared congregational hall where monks used to gather for meditation and religious discourses;
iv) a kitchen complex consisting of four rectangular rooms used for cooking and storing food;
v) a tank which served as a water source for the inmates of the monastery;
vi) a number of rock-cut rectangular troughs used for storing water purified with herbs. In fact, the name Thotlakonda itself derives from the Telugu words thotla (meaning trough) and konda (meaning hill).
Steeped in antiquity, Thotlakonda, surrounded by the pristine waters of the sea and beautiful hilly ranges, is a place not to be missed.
Vizag is the largest city, in terms of both area and population, of the state of Andhra Pradesh. It "is nestled between the Eastern Ghats mountain range and the Bay of Bengal, and is often known as the Jewel of the East Coast". (Wikpedia, the free encyclopedia).
Temperatures here range between 32.60 C and 23.70 C. There are an average of 52 rainy days in an year, the average humidity being 71.8%.
How to Reach:
Visakhapatnam is linked by flights to Delhi, Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Mumbai, Raipur and Hyderabad. It is also connected by rail to all prominent cities of India.
Where to Stay:
There are hotels galore in Vizag, ranging from budget hotels to 3 and 5 star ones. Rates are economical as compared to those in metropolitan cities.
Restaurants are mushrooming in Visakhapatnam, and most of them serve wholesome South Indian food at reasonable rates. But North Indian and European cuisine are also easily available.
© 2015 Sunil Mathur