I woke up to the soft music of the waves and the gentle breeze from the sea, I woke up to see the sky gradually transforming from pale blue to shades of orange, I woke up to the chirping of the birds, I woke up to feel the pretty morning in the stunning vistas. I was in Vizag, one of the cleanest and beautiful cities of India. Here comes the second part of the Visakhapatnam post that I had promised of in my previous.
I assume my readers have already read my previous post (if not read it now before you get into this post.) I was well awake before the sun could change the colour of the sky. From the first day of my stay in the hotel, I was interested in watching the sunrise every morning. Even with the same sun in the same backdrop, it looked different every day and I watched in wonder the natural lights changing the mood of the sea.
A small Durga Devi temple nearby was strategically placed to heighten the beauty of the landscape. There were two idols of the Goddesses within the temple, so was it outside the temple with the lady model on two billboards advertising some jewellery store. The billboards were definitely an eyesore to the otherwise perfect setup. A kilometre of the walk takes me to a small hill that vertically goes down to the sea offering a stunning view of the curvy shoreline and the hills.
This place is quite a hub during the evening for the locals. Food trucks to food van gather here to meet the snacky needs of the locals who meet here to enjoy the evening after the working day gets over. One such late afternoon I joined the locals to watch the sea and have some snacks. You hardly find any tourist here, so my fellow visitors were a little surprised by my presence. I enjoyed the attention and kept myself engaged in capturing the scene and the act that was going on down on the beach.
Three youths were busy in something, I watched them for a long time. After some discussion, they probably followed a crab with the mobile camera at its eye level. One slipped into its hole then they followed the other and thus killed some time. When the sunlight was fading out they were looking for something from among the objects that were carried onto the shore by the waves. They picked up pole-like stuff, a broken cane chair and some other debris to be used as props for a mobile photo shoot by the sea.
It was so interesting to watch that creativity of these fellows who beautifully turned these wastes to props for their photo shoot. Their presence of mind and the creative ideas inspired me and I was happy clicking them from the top of the hill till the sun went down. As I walked back to our so-called home I captured other moments of darkness and lights from the vehicles and the lamp posts.
Given the opportunity to stay here and do nothing I could easily fall into the trap and laze out walking up and down the paved road by the sea every morning and evening and watch the moods of the sea and the waves. Well, I had a fixed time for my stay and also had to see many unseen. Again travelling towards the south through the same road and then some different path we reached the Yarada beach.
The Yarada beach is a comparatively less-visited beach in Vizag, it is close to the Gangavaram beach, which is the southernmost territory of Vizag. A park is situated near the Yarada beach area for recreational purpose and a motive to attract more tourist to this place. The place is yet to be developed to be in parity with the other places of Vizag. This place is off the city limits and is difficult to get any ride back to the city so it is better to have vehicle arranged to return. Yarada Beach provides some exotic and amazing views of the seascape.
The Dolphin’s Nose cliff is situated very close to the Yarada beach. Dolphin’s Nose is a small hill jutting into the sea with a shape resembling the nose of a Dolphin and thus the name. It has a lighthouse on the top overlooking the Vizag city, thus making it an immensely popular tourist destination. Like any other lighthouses in India, it is opened for the public in the late afternoon with an extra hour keeping the huge gathering in mind. It opens from 3 pm to 5 pm every day with some variations during holidays.
My regular readers are well aware of my inclination towards lighthouses. Where ever I sniff any lighthouse I follow the trail to reach there and I did the same here. Now, this was a preplanned one as I knew about this place so it was certainly on my list, though my experience was not so enjoyable. When I reached there I found herds of tourist gathered all around the gate and also in front of the lighthouse. It was a long queue just like that in front of some renowned temple.
Unwillingly I joined but with my dismay, I did not have enough time and the light was fading yet my position in the queue was far enough to make it to the entry point by 5 pm. I do not like crowded places and waiting in a line was even more painful under such conditions so I decided to leave. I took a walk around the lighthouse just like a devotee circumambulating a temple or deity 🙂 and went back from the much known Dolphin’s Nose hill.
Near the fishing harbour and the port, on the top of the Ross is the beautiful Church which offers some outstanding view of the Port, city and the sea. The initial building of the Church was erected in the year 1867 and it went through many renovation and addition to transform to what it is now. Not being a popular tourist place it brings a peaceful respite from the chaos of the crowd. Locally popular as the Mary Matha temple this place is mostly visited for religious purpose with a few exceptions of other visitors like us.
Travelling to the northern outskirts of the city we reached the most famous Rushikonda beach. Who does not knows of Rushikonda beach? It is like a landmark for Vizag and the most popular destination here. The much famed Rushikonda beach like a tourist magnet attracts thousands of tourists daily making it the busiest of all the other places of interest in Vizag. After all my enthralling experience in the city, I had little fear left for the crowd but the scenario was different here. The very first sight was flocks of tourists crowding a small part of the beach engaged in all sorts of amusing beach activities.
The sea cannot be more beautiful and colourful but the vivacious tourists and the activities surrounding them was initially repulsive – some were seen in funky poses to capture some selfies, some seen in the ludicrous act of riding a dolphin prop to get their pictures with the backdrop of the sea, some busy in munching whatever was available on the beach sold by the moving vendors, within this humdrum and chaotic scene the shrill call of the coconut women ‘dab khabi? Jal khabi?’ (Want to drink some green coconut? Some water?) was resonating in the air. With the huge number of tourists from Bengal on a regular basis, these vendors have picked up a few Bengali words and they use it in their own funny way to attract customers.
The differently shaded blue and beautiful water and the pretty turns of the shoreline urged me to explore the beach beyond the crowds and in quest of some solitude, I travelled to farthest end away from this maddening crowd. On venturing away from here I not only found some peace but could also explore the deserted yet beautiful park-like area made the tourism department. There were a few fishermen boats anchored on the sand and the men busy in drying and repairing their nets. I was in awe of the beauty and kept watching the huge waves crashing the shore.
Although the saline air contributed to the stickiness of the exposed skin and the camera lens, I did not mind sitting there for a long time watching the blue silently. Who can say that once you cross the tourist-filled area, such surprising tranquillity welcomes you with open arms? Suddenly a tiny spot appeared at a distance and gradually it came closer and my lens helped me to spot it as a boat with a bright sail. As it came closer I presumed it to be the coast guard boat on duty. There was no evidence or any hint for my presumption but just a blind guess to make my own stories. I like to give my imagination a free flight during such moments of oneness.
Travelling northward through the beautiful roads with the sea playing a peek-a-boo game we reached another amazing destination with historical as well as religious significance. Thotlakona is an ancient Buddhist Complex on a small hill near Bheemunipatnam providing a panoramic view of the picturesque shoreline. The site was discovered in recent past in the year 1988-1993 and excavated to establish its links to the Hinayana school of Buddhism. The site was in its peak of activity during the 2nd century BCE and it saw a gradual decline with the rise of Hindu influence.
The ruins of the site today shows the Viharas which could have accommodated more than 100 monks in its hay days. The complex had various compartments or chambers for storage of food, clothing and medicine. It also served as the place for meditation and propagation of religion and scholastic. The very sight of the area resembles a tabletop mountain with the spherical stupas and the ruins of the viharas scattered around. With considerable less tourist visiting the place it is a pleasant destination sit back and read about the history of the complex.
Further north to the northernmost part of the Visakhapatnam shoreline lies the Bheemili beach. The beach is located at the mouth of the Gosthani river which originates near the Araku Valley (Read my previous post on Araku Valley and Borra Caves). The Thotlakonda and the Bheemili beach both lies in the Bheemunipatnam under the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation. This area is marked with Buddhist, Hindu, Dutch and British influence. The extended beach with blackish-sand has a rustic feel which differs from the other polished beaches that attract more tourists. It has a small non-operational (as I presume) lighthouse on the beach and a large sculpture of Buddha’s head.
These unorganised yet pretty little things to decorate the beach have added to the simple charm of the place. On the other side of the town on a small hillock is the Narasimha temple with a large sculpture of the Lord sitting on the top. The tiny fishing villages and the long stretches of coconut grove set the mood of a beach location. From the organised and polished tourist areas to the plain rural setup, I was in admiration of every bit of Vizag. A city, a district that can be termed beautiful, peaceful, graceful and divine.