My Travel Resolution.
discover hidden myths, taste diverse food and sleep below a sky full of shooting stars and galaxies every night
We were looking for a bit of tranquility and nature, so we set off from Visakhapatnam to the Araku Valley on a beautiful train trip. It is a non-tourist area, but of incredible beauty, important for coffee plantations, pepper or for being a filming place for Tollywood movies (movies on telegu, the language of the region).

Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh is not so popular as a tourist site, but definitely worth to see. In the region there are some wild tribes living in the mountains (you can see them in the city sometimes). The place is a famous Tollywood movie shooting location, with quite a few waterfalls and the impressive Borra cave. It is also known for the coffee plantations and the views are just so beautiful!

The train ride to Vishakapatnam along the Araku Valley was promising because it takes place in wild landscapes and impressive peaks but because of the world on the train I did not manage to find place of the side advises by the guidebook. So I did not see much of this valley that made me dream on the map.

After the non-linear journey to Araku and having found a guesthouse shaped like a hut to make it look tribal, which is bogus because the Adivasis live in rectangular houses, I looked for adivasis and their local instruments. I bought small flutes and a bat-stick, as well as some memories.

places to visit in araku valley

Day 2

I went to the Tribal Museum in Araku. It is very well presented, although a little dusty, but there is very little explanation written and none on the music part, and no one in the museum was able to inform me a minimum on something.

I tried to get info on the Adivasis and their music in different organizations such as the tourist office, but they did not have much to tell me, except that I could through a agency spend an exotic tour in a village. I had already gone the day before the only cybercafe in the area and I was told that the internet does not work at all in fact.

In the late afternoon it was dark, it was too late for a nature walk around, so I went a little round in this area, not knowing what to do. I tried to find Telugu or Adivasi music CDs from this region, but none of the shops had that. I still took a few CDs (usually MP3s). I was besotted with a seller who was really not friendly. He took for all my irritation in this village (and my fatigue too).

I went back to my guesthouse and I still appreciate the relative comfort. I even watch TV! There are plenty of channels, usually movies or songs. In these TV channels as in many countries, we find more the worst than the best of the Indian spirit. Appearance is important, in the pub for example. There is also the humor that characterizes many films.

And in the songs, when there is not too much Western influence sometimes with simplistic and heavy rhythms as only the West knew how to do, they make a really interesting East-West fusion, with grooving rhythms. In the evening I met a group of doctors, pharmacists friends on vacation. As everywhere in India (where I went) the contact was simple and easy.

They ask many questions, often relevant, but do not always listen to the answers, because they already think about the next question. In short, with this group of doctors we talked a little and then went out in the streets of Araku Valley. An old woman was following her singing-dancing to half. She seemed a little crazy, unless she was a little shaman?

There is a weird atmosphere in the deserted streets of the night and the doctors were somewhat blunt. We joined another group of engineering students around a camp fire. It was the occasion of some hindi songs, with also other vacationers who joined us. And after I improvise a few songs to the voice, a singing workshop has begun.

I have noticed that while people are often spontaneous and sing songs easily, they are at least as shy to leave the improvised voice without words. It was a nice moment.

Day 3

The next morning I went for a walk in the surrounding hills. Through the fields of crops, then to the approach of the hills in the woods, I met an Adivasi. We sketch an exchange, signs and looks punctuated by words misunderstood by the other. He was very nice, and he beckoned me (what I understood on the moment) that he was going up the hill and taking a walk down the other hill.

With his ax he seemed to be looking for trees to cut. So I followed him. He showed me traces, made by others who were busy cutting branches or plants and then I started to have the feeling that it was not just a bit of a path together. He did not worry about trees to cut, and insisted that I take photos. He wanted to be the guide and be paid.

I could have easily followed the same path all alone, and the pleasure of a simple meeting has disappeared. With even a little money he gave me a look as if he was well paid. I had the bonus of going to his village. I mime playing instruments as they played a dholak and a kildi! They liked my way to hit, because I know a little basic adivasis rhythms, and they laugh that I play like that. Then I went back to Araku.

We toured the valley aboard the rickshaw, which on a tour of more than five hours took us to visit the botanical garden of Araku, the coffee and pepper plantations, the highest viewpoints of the Valley about 900 meters, some waterfalls and the wonderful Borra caves through a real day of nature, tranquility and beauty.

Our friend took us to waterfalls. Since we are in summer, there was not much water. He explained that in the rainy season: the monsoon in July and August, there is a lot of water. The falls are outside Araku, and we went with his car. It was difficult to take beautiful pictures because it rolled a little fast.

We also stopped in coffee and pepper plantations. Before, I did not know that children could drink coffee, but if, then I tasted and it's not so bad (with milk and sugar), it's very good. On the road, he took us to Borra caves that are about 1,000,000 years old. The caves were too interesting as they were illuminated by floodlights of all colors.

Inside, there are also two small temples. It smelled of Bats! Besides, we saw them hanging on top of the cave. After that, we went back to the city.

I was told that there was a programmed adivasi dance. When I arrived it was late. After a long queue regimented by a policeman to get the ticket, and an hour late, I left this place quite disappointed.
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