When hubby planned a trip to visit Vizag, the timing was a surprise.The pujo holidays had to be skipped because of exorbitant airfare during the 5 days of Durga pujo.
Surprisingly during Diwali, the prices were reasonable and we were able to get a great rate.There are Indigo direct flights from Kolkata to Vizag.
Direct flights are our favorites because we travel with a child and stopovers or flight changes with a child is never fun.
We booked our flight in July and our hotel directly online at the same time.We did look at a few other properties But I wanted to experience the much acclaimed Taj hospitality.
At the very beginning, I must say the online booking was simple.This was the email address I had, and my contact person was Dinesh Boora Reservation officer. The first point of contact with a hospitality service helps me feel confident and relaxed about the potential for further interaction
Since we were traveling with a senior citizen and baby a lot of planning needed to be done.We booked two executive sea view rooms.We also pre-booked airport pick up and drop.Mr. Dinesh arranged our booking including pick up and drop off and sent me the bill.
The wonder of wonders they wanted no advance booking amount.This was a pleasant surprise.Even the Don Sylvia at Goa had a 10% advance payment rule.This instantly made me feel trusted like a valued guest.
We were set and looking forward to the trip away from the hustle and bustle.
The Flight from Kolkata to Vizag
The morning Indigo flight was around ten in the morning and we reached about 12 noon.We were greeted by a pleasantly smiling chauffer waiting for us.
We had a comfortable ride to the gorgeous Taj right at the Ram Krishna beach.The place is picture perfect, the sea choppy and beautiful and the roads clean.
Vizag is beautiful.I had heard about the gorgeous Araku valley, what I was not ready was for the unhurried pace of the city.The clean wide well maintained roads and the total lack of chaos.
At the Taj Gateway Vizag
The flower rangoli greeting us at the reception lobby .the lobby decor reflects understated elegance ,with double height ceiling and a sparkly chandelier.The gorgeous vertical garden feature at the entryway stole our heart.
The best part is the soul pleasing sea view, day or night from the large windows in the executive sea View room.We booked two rooms 517 and 514.The 514 had the better view though.
The lunch that day was at GAD.That’s Gateway All Day their all-day dining with a wide variety of cuisine.
More about that in part 2 of the post.
About the Ramakrishna beach
It was pleasant just roaming the beachfront lazily.The first evening was the Diwali evening and we didn’t venture anywhere except the beach front.It was just a crossing away and had a children’s park which my daughter enjoyed.
The beautiful beach made us wonder how the sea could be such different colors in different parts of India.
The sea at Mandarmoni is a baby, when you compare it to the beach at Vizag.
Day one of Vizag trip
If we wanted to cover the popular and must visit parts of Vizag for our short trip we needed a smart plan.We hired a car through the hotel.The next day my hubby chalked out a plan for us.
- Indira Gandhi Zoo
- Simhchalam(Lord’s siesta at 2 pm)
- Lighthouse at Dolphins (shuts down at 5 pm)
- Submarine museum
First Kailashgiri and the iconic Kailashgiri express train rip all around this superb green vision of Vizag.The AC coach was Rs 100 per ticket and the regular coach costs around Rs 30.
The Kailshgiri has a Shiv Parvati temple, beautiful walks, children’s park, snack shacks, tourist keepsakes and an interesting way to go all around the Kailashgiri hilltop.This circular Kailashgiri Express rail. l is the best way to get a view of the sea and the green hills at the same time.
Kailashgiri means the residence of Lord Shiva.It is a park created by the Vishakapatnam urban development authority having gorgeous overflowing flora and tree covered hilltops.It is at a height of 360 feet with panoramic views of the city of Vizag.You can see the sea and sky meeting and hugging each other from the Kailashgiri viewpoints.That’s Vizag’s USP .you get the gorgeous green hills and the beautiful sea.
Our guide and chauffeur for the day was a polite young man who guided us with tips and stories about each of the spots.He next took us to the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park.This can be toured both in your own car or foot.We saw the exotic white tigers, rhinoceros, exotic birds, alligators, lions, Royal Bengal tigers and bear ,ostrich, emu, giraffes, and deer.
Nothing was out of place at the zoological park.It was one of the most natural landscaped zoos I have seen.The best part, cars were allowed inside at a flat rate of Rs 200.That made zoo hopping easier .Kids and even adults will have a hard time covering the sprawling zoo on foot.
We also like the public ladies rooms available.Services were basic but clean and well-maintained.For women traveling with small kids this is always a blessing.I salute the zoo staff and the people who visit for together doing an amazing job at maintaining the beauty of this place.
The Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Simhachalam temple
It is the temple of Narasimha an avatar of Lord Vishnu.Lord Vishnu is one of the Three trinity Gods of the Hindus.It is one of the richest temples in India.Not at the same level as Tirupati but rich nonetheless.
We had a problem here.Our guide thought post lunch it opens at 2 pm.But at a checkpoint on the way we got to know it was open until 2 pm and then a one and a half hour wait.The agitating part,it’s a roundabout way to the temple.You buy a ticket, keep your shoes in a nice clean shoe shelter for a minimum charge, buy the offerings for the deity and then pray.
We had 3 challenges.
- We had exactly 10 minutes in hand before the doors to the temple shut for the Lord’s siesta.
- There were about 40 or so steps to actually reach the deity.
- My mom is a senior citizen and my daughter is 5.
So the sprint would involve me with the offerings hubby with the 5-year-old(no confusion about this) and my mommy as fast as she could.
- The good news first.We bought the special darshan ticket only Rs 100 and cuts short waiting time.
- Luckily there were no pending queues otherwise we wouldn’t have made it
Now praying hard, I started sprinting, thanking the Lords for my walking schedule which kept me agile and I was not huffing and puffing.The first problem I faced, I forgot to take the ticket from my husband.On the way, I told three kind gatekeepers, that my hubby was coming with the baby and he had the tickets.They could have stopped me, they didn’t.They could have admonished me.They didn’t.
Did I reach the temple on time?
Luckily we did, in the nick of time and we all had a few seconds of praying before we were ushered out.A nice Prasada from the Lords luncheon and we were off to visit the Dolphins nose.
At the Dolphins nose
I remembered the Famous Five mystery of Lighthouse when I visited this tourist spot.
This viewpoint had a Lighthouse as a tourist attraction.My mom couldn’t make it to the top but she enjoyed the view of the sea from the base of the lighthouse.It has a place for keeping your shoes and for you to rest before climb up the stairs to the top.The lighthouse light is a top attraction and the view defies description.We fancied we saw the disappearing nose of a submarine.
Next stop was a visit to the aquarium with an interesting selection of fishes.The submarine museum close to our hotel was our last stop for the day.It is, in fact, an old submarine bought by the Government of India from Russian Government.The trip inside is interesting if you like to know cool stuff(which we do) but my mom skipped.It can make the elderly and those afraid of closed spaces uncomfortable.A little walking, waiting and stairs involved.I enjoyed it and almost felt like I was on an adventure.
We retired to the hotel for the day and was greeted by a sumptuous seafood festival at the GAD for dinner!
The heavy breakfast in the morning was a brunch and we took no lunch breaks in between.The dinner was a delicious affair, but we needed a post-dinner walk after it.
In part 2 of my post the Araku valley trip, mystery of the bamboo chicken and the Borra caves will be revealed.