Make the most of the monsoon by walking through the rain-soaked valley, fortified by bamboo chicken
Waking up in misty valleys and lush green fields can be a soul cleansing experience. In the Araku Valley, the hill station 120 kilometers from Visakhapatnam, the monsoon takes on alluring shapes. We explore Araku in the rain, to find its most memorable experiences for your next getaway.
Drive to Busky
Dotted with lush green fields, ancient trees, and rolling landscapes with staged crops, Busky is a perfect spot for a poster few travelers know about.
The 30-minute drive to the tribal village is alluring – the loose monsoon land, a small stream of water coming out of the hills on one side, and glimpses of village life on the other. The solitude of the Eastern Ghats makes it one of the most peaceful experiences in the valley. Bringing a picnic basket with a water bottle can be a good idea as there are no places to eat here. For landscape photography, Busky is a great location.
About 30 kilometers from Araku, the village is at an altitude from which one has a bird’s eye view of agricultural fields and ranges of hills covered in mist. Busky is dotted with agricultural fields where mainly rice, sweet potato, ragi (red millet) and legumes are grown without any chemical fertilizers, pesticides or tractors. The tribes here defend traditional organic farming, plowing the fields, making the most of perennial hill streams and rain irrigation. From mid-June, plowing and sowing activities transform the tribal belt into a hive of activity. In small groups, people embark on large-scale farming at a perfect pace, making it a great spectacle for travelers and locals alike.
Shop at the weekly shandy
Nature’s palette is not always the hues of greens. The Araku coolers emphasize the essence of tribal culture in this region, which has been largely untouched by urban influences. Dressed in traditional clothing in bright shades of saris, adorning nose pins and multiple ear piercings, tribal women from the hilly areas of Araku and Paderu travel for miles to reach the variegated each week (Friday and Sunday), where they sell their freshly grown produce. organic products from early morning until noon.
There are two weekly coolers in Anantagiri mandal, including Damuku and Kasimpeta and another in Sunkaramettah, a few kilometers from Araku. The Araku cooler, considered the largest weekly market in Andhra Pradesh, is frequented by nearly 20,000 tribals, some of whom come from the nearby towns of Nandapur, Chatua and Padua. Coolers are known to be organically grown vegetables.
Bamboo Chicken Sample
While the high hills of the Eastern Ghats that roll along densely forested valleys provide an inviting view to Araku, the heady aroma of bamboo chicken is another draw. Lined with towering silver oaks, coffee plantations and pepper lianas, the winding roads leading to the valley are occupied by stalls of local villagers making and selling this delicacy. The popularity has grown so much that bongulo chicken or bamboo chicken has become synonymous with Araku. Cooked inside a piece of green bamboo stalk without oil, Araku bamboo chicken makes a healthy and delicious dish. The smoke from the burnt bamboo gives it a unique flavor. Locals say the marinade, with locally made garam masala, red pepper powder, and garlic and ginger paste, is key to bringing out the flavors.
The origin of the dish dates back to Maredumilli, a tribal belt in the district of East Godavari. Thanks to the popularity of the dish, many came out of their tribal villages for the first time to prepare it and sell it to tourists.
Trek in solitude
Monsoons can magically transform even the most mundane places into a mystical world. The meadows, hills and fields of Araku are perfect for monsoon treks and exploring lesser-known trails. Madugula and Panderu are some of the popular hiking routes here. Some Visakhapatnam-based startups take tourists on guided hikes with the help of tribal belt residents.
The Chittamgondi Grasslands in the Araku Valley is a nine-kilometer hike that winds through densely green trails and offers views of the vast green meadows at an elevation of 4,500 feet. As you walk along the trail, learn about native flora and fauna such as the fruit and vegetable plantations on the rolling slopes of the locals, who are more than willing to offer their help. A little further from here is a canopy of green precipices of the Sivalingapuram – Borra Caves – Katiki Waterfalls hiking route. The road is dotted with photogenic ravines and serpentine streams.