Visakhapatnam (also known locally as Vizag) is the largest city in Andhra Pradesh. It is primarily an industrial city, but also attracts tourists due to its unspoiled sandy beaches, well built and maintained parks, Buddhist Remnant sites and nearby scenic areas, such as the Araku Valley. The city has a population of about 2,035,299.
Vizag is sometimes referred to as the "The Goa of the East". Just like its west coast counterpart, it has beautiful virgin beaches, laterite hillocks, smooth roads and stunning landscape. Health-tourism is a fast developing industry. Visakhapatnam is variously referred to as Jewel on the Coramandel Coast, Steel city, and the City of Destiny.
The local language is Telugu. There is considerable concentration of Marwaris, Oriya, Bengalis, Punjabis, Tamil and Malayalees. In addition, there is a large population of migrant workers from other parts of India who have been drawn to the area by the abundance of work at locally based companies, such as Vizag Steel Plant and Hindustan Shipyard.
Vizag is connected by air to Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Tirupati, Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore through its customs airport, an airport with restricted access, by major mainline airlines like Air India and Jet Airways and some low-cost carriers like SpiceJet and IndiGo. Singapore Airlines' subsidiary Silkair has recently launched operations to the city becoming the first non-Indian airline to operate at the city. AirAsia and Malindo Air from Malaysia operate scheduled flights from Kuala Lumpur.
Visakhapatnam is on Kolkata-Chennai main line and is connected to several cities of the country by rail. This being a major station and a terminal, all trains including super fast expresses stop at the station. Visakhapatnam station comes under the East Coast Railways zone and is one of the principal Divisional Headquarters (under the British name Waltair). It has 8 serving platforms, the first in East Coast railways to have this many, and all of them can accommodate trains with up to 28 coaches.
You may want to verify the timings with Indian Railways, since they change from time to time. Train berths can be reserved online. However, this being a major destination, availability of seats is at times difficult even with a one month's advance planning.
From Hyderabad The average distance between the two cities is about 700 km. However different trains take different routes, and hence have different journey times.
- Godavari Express (train number 12728/12727) departs daily from Hyderabad Deccan Station at 05:15PM and from Secunderabad at 05:45PM, arrives the following morning in Visakhapatnam at 05:50AM. The train departing from Visakhapatnam starts at 05:25PM and reaches its destination the next day morning at 06:15AM. Godavari express is known to operate on-time and is the most preferred train between the two cities.
- Visakha Express (train number 17015/17016) connects Bhubaneshwar, the capital of the state of Odissa, to Hyderabad's Secunderabad Junction. The train departs daily from Secunderabad Station at 05:00PM, arriving the following morning at Visakhapatnam at 7:15AM. This train runs via Nadikude, Guntur, Vijayawada and Bhimavaram Town. It passes on to Vizianagaram, Srikakulam and to Bhubaneshwar. On the return the train leaves Bhubaneshwar at 08:35AM and reaches the city in the evening at 04:10PM. The train is however infamous for its delays and is less preferred.
- Falaknuma express (train number 12703/12704) connects Kolkata's Howrah Junction to Hyderabad's Secunderabad Junction. The train departs from Secunderabad at 04:00PM, arriving the following early morning in Visakhapatnam at 03:30AM. This train on return leaves Howrah at 07:25AM and reaches that night at 09:10PM. It runs faster than most other trains and is the fastest, non-special train. The train is taken by office-goers as it arrives early at Visakhapatnam plying from the nearby towns.
- East Coast Express (train number 18645/18646) connects Kolkata's Howrah Junction to Hyderabad's Secunderabad Junction. This train leaves Hyderaabad at 10:00AM and is scheduled to arrive at Visakhapatnam at 23:35PM that night. On the reverse the train leaves Howrah at 11:45AM and reaches the next day early morning 04:15AM.
- Janmabhoomi Express (train number 12806/12805) is a day time seater train that connects the city to Hyderabad's Secunderabad Junction. The train's rakes are composed of ordinary chair cars and air conditioned chair cars. There are no sleeper berths on this train. It leaves Secunderabad in the morning at 07:10AM and is scheduled to reach Visakhapatnam by that day evening 07:40PM. The train leaves Visakhapatnam at 06:15AM in the morning and reaches its destination that day evening at 06:35PM.
- Garibrath Express (train number 12740/12739) connects the city to Hyderabad's Secunderabad Junction. Up to 2012, this was the fastest train between the two cities. Garibrath, in Hindi, means a 'chariot for the poor'. The train stops at a very few stations. The train is fully air conditioned. However, blankets/bed sheets/pillows are not included in the fare and have to be bought separately after boarding the train. No food is made available in the train so the passengers have to carry some along. The train was originally launched under the Garibrath scheme to provide air conditioned trains for the poor. The train leaves Secunderabad at 08:15PM in the evening and reaches Visakhapatnam the next morning at 07:30AM.
- Duronto Express connects Visakhapatnam to Hyderabad's Secunderabad Junction in 9 hours and 30 minutes. 'Duronto' in Bengali, means quick. This is the only non-stop rail service between the two cities. It is equipped with fully air conditioned coaches. The train was launched recently and costs a little more than ordinary trains.
From New Delhi
- Link Express (train number 12861) connects the city with Hazrath Nizamuddin station of New Delhi. The daily train departs at 03:10PM and reaches the destination at 04:05AM on the third day. So if the train starts on a Sunday it will reach on Tuesday.
- Samatha Express
- Swarna Jayanthi Express
- Hirakud Express
- Konark Express
- Lokmanya Tilak - Visakhapatnam Exp.
- Pune - Bhubaneswar Exp.
- Ratnachal Express
- Simhadri Express
- Vijaywada-Visakhapatnam Passenger
- Other weekly trains are also available. Check Indian Railways for details.
- Coromandal Express (Reserved tickets to Vijayawada and Rajahmumdry are not issued from Chennai.)
- Madras-Howrah Mail
- Other weekly trains are available on some days of the week. Check the Indian Railways for details.
- Prasanthi express
- Yeshwantapur Howrah Express
- Other weekly trains are available on some days of the week. Check Indian Railways for details.
- Coromandal Express (This train is the fastest train passing through Andhra Pradesh at 140 km/h)
- Howrah-Madras Mail
- Falaknuma Express
- East Coast Express
- Gurudev Express
- Thiruchurapalli Express
- Yeshwantpur Express
- Other weekly trains are available on some days of the week. Check Indian Railways for details.
Note: Visakhapatnam has a satellitle train station called Duvvada
The Andhra Pradesh State Road Travel Corporation (APSRTC) runs buses from almost every city and town to Vizag, along with some private operators, who run buses from a few of the major cities. Please check with APSRTC for timings. There is also a new Garuda fleet of bus service (Volvo) to Vizag from Chennai, Bangalore, Vijayawada and Hyderabad which is very comfortable and happy going. This is the best way to do it if you want to travel by bus. APSRTC has several other bus services which have varied luxury levels and transit speeds. You might want to check the APSRTC at least 3 days in advance to be sure you have a reservation.
Visakhapatnam has no commuter rail service. However, the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) operates a large number of buses from 6 principal bus complexes in the city. They are:
- Visakha Steel City
Maddilapalem depot is the largest bus station and complex in the city.
The junction and Maddilapalem joins the Asilametta-Ramatalkies road to the National Highway 5. Buses from Madilapalem ply to the extreme ends of the city, including Gajuwaka and Thagarapuvalasa.
The bus fare to get to Madilapalem from the Railway station is only ₹6, which is about 11 United States Cents. Buses operate within a 5 minute frequency in routes with high demand. The minimum frequency in which buses operate is 40 minutes, i.e., every route is covered by an APSRTC bus once in every 40 minutes. The current list of destinations covered by the buses and their route numbers are available at Wikipedia.
Apart from buying tickets on the bus, you may also avail an RTC-Pass, which is a special type of pass that can be renewed once in every three months. With the pass, you can board any APSRTC bus and travel anywhere within the city limits. An ordinary RTC-Pass costs just ₹390 which is 7 dollars and 12 Cents in USD. The RTC complex is a suburb located to the southeast of Asilametta. RTC complex is generally referred to as complex and is connected to every other region in the city. Apart from the bus, taxi/autorikshaw can also be hired. The autorikshaw is a mini taxi which is much more cheaper, but less convenient.
Places to visit
More than anything else, Vizag is known for its beaches. It boasts a number of beaches that are both scenic and uncrowded. A few virgin beaches span along the eastern side of the city and stretch for miles. Do not go swimming. A spectacular beach only the locals are aware of is called the "Yarada" beach. Unfortunately, except for the occasional RTC bus, there is no public transport available. Still, the adventurous mind finds it rewarding if they can make an effort to get there. It's a private beach coming under Agrigold plantations therefor you need to pay a fee of ₹30/- to get onto the beach, but it's worth it.
- 1 Bhimili (Bheemili Beach). About 25 km from the city and is what used to be a small village also called Bheemunipatnam. Apart from the beach, the village has the remains of a Portuguese church, Dutch cemeteries and a Buddhist Monastery (Pavurallakonda).
- 2 Gangavaram (Gangavaram Beach). 10 to 12 km away from city, this is most beautiful beach, the most interesting thing is we can see rock like structure in between see like a small island which attracts lot of people.
- 3 Ramakrishna Beach. R.K.Beach is the most popular beach in the sense that, you can find the locals hanging out during the hot summers, and relatively less hot winters. On weekends and holidays, one can see that the entire beach comes alive, but not in a western sense where people take a plunge in the water, or surf. You can see people dressed in their best clothes, just sitting on the benches, or walking along. CAUTION!!! A lot of people have died while swimming.
- 4 Rishikonda. 11 km away from the city, this has become a popular tourist spot that even the locals frequent. A lot safer to wade into than the R.K. Beach, cradled among hills, this used to be an excellent beach away from the madding crowds. AP Tourism Development Corporation is having its Beach Resort (Punnami) on the hillside overlooking the beach. CAUTION!!! A lot of people have died while swimming at this beautiful beach.
- 5 Yarada Beach. It is perceived as a private beach but actually it is not. Tourists can visit the beach directly or through the Yarada village. Agrigold collects a fee of ₹30 to enter their property and access the Shops and a Restaurant. If you could bring your own food/refreshments, you could visit the beach without entering the Agrigold Property. Yarada is the village behind the dolphin nose. To go to this beach, bus facility is available. Also you can hire a cab to go there. The view of the beach and Vizag city from the top of the dolphin nose is memorable. Also the Gangavaram Beach is nearer from Yarada Beach. The drive from Scindia to the top of dolphin nose, dolphin nose to Yarada and from there to Gangavaram is really enjoyable.
The beaches are lovely, but, there are no activities like water sports, or beach cafes/restaurants/huts like you have in Goa. Recently a water sports centre was started in Rushikonda. There are very few beach resorts. Vizagites are traditionally quite conservative and though the beaches and the hills are beautiful, there is much here to interest the average tourist. There has been some change in the recent times with the influx of employees of HSBC, HPCL, etc., and Naval Officers, who are interested in going out with their families and enjoying the golden sand and pollution free waters of Vizag's beaches.
- 6 Araku Valley. A little further away from the city (6 hrs by train/public bus), but worth visiting for the scenic valley. A slow, passenger train leaves the Vizag station early in the morning (at 6:50AM), and the train ride is actually very enjoyable. Make sure to reach at least an hour before its departure to get a seat. The runs through lot of small mountains and tunnels. Araku valley is definitely not a day trip, but the recently constructed APTDC facilities can serve as a decent over night stay.Make sure to book your APTDC rooms early. Padmavathi botanical gardens is worth taking a look at. November to February are the best months to visit this place and making an early reservation in the lodges is advisable as Araku Valley has very limited number of lodges and hotels. Travel in and Araku valley is limited by limited public bus service. At APTDC lodge, cabs can be hired for a day trip thru the valley to Bora caves and the ride is amazing.
- 7 Borra Caves. Reputedly fantastic caverns that had their native charm earlier, these caves have been modernized recently by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC). There is an entry fee of ₹30. Separate charges are there to enter with still or video camera. It is a must visit place for all tourists visiting Vizag. Don't forget a big bottle of drinking water.
- Jagadamba Center (Jagadamba Junction). Can be considered as Downtown and is a must visit for all shopaholics. Most of the famous shopping centers and malls can be found here. Named after the Jagadamba movie theatre, one of the best movie auditoriums of the country when it was constructed and even today.
- 8 Kailasagiri. A local favourite, a short ride on to this hill gives you a spectacular view of the sea, RK.Beach and Rushikonda Beach on right and left hand side. There is a huge sculpture of Shiva and Parvathi. With a children's play area, a people-mover akin to a ski lift called a ropeway. Beautiful scenic view can be obtained from the ropeway, specially in the evening, when the city comes alive with all the lights. The up and down fare for the ropeway is ₹44. (As of Dec.2006). An under construction doll museum and a couple of eating areas, this hilltop gives a nice birds eye view of the city also. Has several "viewpoints" affording wonderful views of the city on one side and winding beaches adjoining green hills on the other side. Visitors often fall in love with the "beach" city especially after visiting Kailasagiri.
Based on this beautiful and rare combination of hill and beach. Tenneti park is a spectacular Eco marvel at the foot of the Rope way.
- 9 Kambalakonda. A gorgeous nature preserve that many people in Vizag itself seem to be unaware of. The solitude and the peace that one can experience at Kambalakonda located within 20-25 minutes drive from the city center is priceless. A nominal entrance fee of ₹10 is charged per adult. The greenery, the hiking trail and the fantastic view of the ocean from the rather flimsy viewing tower give a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
- Matsyadarshini Aquarium. This aquarium is situated on the left side of Kali temple of R.K. Beach. It has a good collection of marine as well as freshwater fishes. Entry fee is ₹20 per person. (As of Dec. 2006). The exit gate of the aquarium resembles the open mouth of a huge white tipped shark. 'Kala Shrusti' a handicrafts sales shop is on the top of the aquarium.
- Ross Hill. A unique site to see is the area around Ross hill which has three hills dedicated to three different faiths in proximity to the port. Ross Hill, named after a certain Monsieur Ross who built a house on it in 1864, it has now been converted into a chapel Mother Mary's Church. The pathway to the shrine strewn with Catholic icon. Darga Pahad has the tomb of the Muslim saint, Sayed Ali Medina alias Ishak Medina, visited by Hindu and Muslim devotees alike. Attached to this is a mosque. Sri Venkateswara Konda, the third hillock, has a temple dedicated to the Lord. It is believed to have been built by an Englishman, Captain Blackmoor, in the 19th century. From this hillock you can see the port channel, which was the entrance of the inner harbor for ships and liners.
- 10 Simhachalam. A must see on a trip to Visakhapatnam, for its architectural splendour although some of the sculptures were defaced during the Islamic invasions. The temple inscriptions date the earliest donors to the 10-11th centuries. The exact date of construction is unknown. It is located 15 km from the city and is dedicated to the half man half lion avatar of Lord Vishnu. The temple bears reference to the Chola and Chalukya styles of architecture. The environment in the temple is very different and very pleasant. It also has a local railway station.
- War Memorial. There is a war memorial in remembrance of the Victory at Sea on 1971 Indo Pak war. It is situated on the Beach Road, just opposite to the Submarine Museum. There is a fighter plane, a tank and few replicas of missiles kept as exhibits. There is no entry fee and can be viewed from the road.
- 11 Bojjana Konda. It is near Sankaram village in the hamlet of Anakapalli, 40 km from Visakhapatnam, is one such place, where one can find architectural remnants of the Buddhist period, one of the earliest of its class in South India. It constitutes one of the most remarkable groups of Buddhist monuments dated from 200 BC to 700 AD, found during excavations in 1906. On the eastern hill, there are a series of rock-cut caves, numerous groups of monolithic dagobas, standing on rock platform in tiers above each other and, crowning all, a rock-cut stupa with extensive structural remains. On the western side of the eastern hill is a stairway, partly rock-cut and partly structural, which leads up to a large double-storied cave. The cave is entered by a doorway and is flanked on each side by huge dwarapalas. The cave chamber is rectangular in shape and is divided into 20 compartments by four cross rocks of 16 massive pillars. In the centre is the rock-cut stupa standing on a square platform.
- Buddhist excavations. Bojjana Konda, Thotla Konda, Bhavi Konda and Salihundam around Visakhapatnam were centres of Buddhism during the second century A.D. Several Buddhist monuments such as stupas and chaityas were erected at these places. It is said that some of the corporal relics of the Buddha were preserved at these places. Hence all these places became sacred places.
- . This is another museum about maritime history of India. Again its a lovely museum displaying pictures, models and content of Indian maritime history.
- Submarine Museum. One of its kind museum created in a real (now decommissioned) submarine of Indian Navy.This is the first of its kind in eastern Asia. This submarine is one of the earliest submarine procured from Russia. One gets to interesting facts of working in the submarine. The museum is manned by retired naval people. Entry fee for the museum is ₹.25 for the adults and there is a fee to take any camera or video camera inside. INS_Kursura_(S20) 25.
Take an evening stroll at RK Beach, it shall be a thrilling experience, it offers good pedestrian tracks, beautiful parks, museums, beaches and some wonderful open air restaurants.
Must want is the sunrise or a moonrise on a full moon day at Tennati Park(near foot of Rope way) on the Vizag-Bhimili Beach Road it's truly a feast to the nature lovers. The sea looks orange in colour and is a wonderful sight.
A must visit is Kailasagiri 6 km away from the city centre. There is a park on the hill top, from here one can see a beautiful view of the city, the sea and Eastern Ghats merging into the sea. One can take a ropeway directly facing sea and city. On the hill top there is a beautiful toy train that give a glimpse of the beauty of nature that one can think of. There are several view points that give a pleasant look of the nature. This place unlike other hill stations is not yet commercial. One can have a very leisure time without being disturbed by tourist guides. Once you come down from Kailashgiri one should visit Tenneti Beach Park. Its picture perfect scenic beauty along with luxuriant carpet grass intertwined with concrete pathways makes it the most revered place for romantic couples. There are several points from which the beautiful rocky beach down beneath can be seen. This is one of the world class spectacular views on to watch the Sun rise and sun set. Many movies were shot here. Its view points are so positioned that gives a view of the pristine waters. Hillocks in the park which is about 50 ft in elevation that gives a beautiful view of the sea, beach road and the beach park. The ambiance at this Tenneti Beach park is simply mind blowing. Also, if you have a couple of days in your pocket, don't miss the train journey from Visakhapatnam to Araku which is the most enjoyable train route in the state. There is only one train to Araku from Vizag which starts at 6:50AM at Vizag railway station. That is a 4 hour journey in the eastern ghats which covers many tunnels and valleys on the way. Don't forget to remember take a snap at "Shimiliguda" railway station in the route, which is the highest railway station in India on broad gauge track.
Vizag is a city that is advancing fast, and with these new advancements, the local people of the city are smoothly adapting to the changes.
Vizag offers a reasonably large selection of stores selling clothing, jewellery, books, etc.
There are several locations from which clothing can be purchased. However they tend to be concentrated in few locations. One such is Jagadamba Centre. Few of the many clothing stores are:
- Chandana Brothers
- Bommana Brothers
- Kankatala silk palace
Similar to clothing stores, there are several shops from where jewellery can be purchased. The centres are distributed, but the prominent ones are between RTC Complex and Railway station, Jagadamba Centre and near old Town Kotharoad. Some of the prominent stores are:
- Vaibhav Jewellers
- Mahaveer Jewellers
- Tanishq Jewellers
- Khazana Jewellers
While definitely not considered a shopper's paradise, Vizag offers some unique handicrafts and can be located by the Andhra Pradesh State owned handicraft store, Lepakshi which is located at Jagadamba center. It has an impressive collection of sandalwood sculptures, stone art etc.
The stretch of road called Dabagardens has many bookstores. Police Barracks has numerous small stores that buy and sell second-hand books, including technical textbooks.
- Jyoti Book Depot
Vizag has seen an explosion of shopping malls over the past few years and now can boast of many such centres.
- Shoppers stop
- Big Bazaar
- CMR Shopping Mall
- M & M Mall
- Varun Inox
- CMR Central, Maddilapalem. You can find Subway, KFC, and Pizza Hut here. Also a lot of shopping is possible, if you have money here, at Reliance Trends and Reliance Digital. Also one could see a movie if one has time at INOX.
- Visakhapatnam Central (beside CP office). Most happening place is Visakhapatnam Central, where you ill get all branded apparels, fashion jewelleries, life style merchandise like watches, shades and color cosmetics. As the tag line of Central Shop, Eat and Celebrate suggests, you can really enjoy shopping here. On the other side, it is just another mall which you can find anywhere in metro cities. Very expensive too.
If spicy fare from Southern India appeals to your gastronomic senses, then Vizag has some excellent restaurants. Many of the eating joints meant or frequented by tourists are in the Siripuram area. A walk around there can give you access to a variety of cuisines.
- Blue Sea Fine Dining, Pakkis Complex, Opposite ICICI Bank Road, Dwarakanagar 2nd Lane, Dwaraka Nagar, ☎ .
- Daspalla Executive Court, ☎ , fax: .
- Eleven, 10-1-4 & 5, 4th floor, siripuram, Vishakapatnam -530003 (Infront of Ice Age), ☎ . 12:00Noon to 11PM. This is one of the best new restaurants opened for Fine Dining. Food is value for money and tasty. They probably serve the best food in Vizag. Cheap.
- Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) (Opp waltair club), ☎ . 11AM-11PM. The 'Flying Spaghetti Monster' a.k.a FSM is Vizag's first authentic Italian restaurant. Great place with amazing Italian fare. Be sure not to miss out the Chocolate bomb. Cheap.
- Horizon (live music during dinner) at Dolphin Hotel, +91 891 2567000.
- Hotel Daspalla, ☎ , fax: .
- Hotel Green Park, ☎ , fax: .
- Hotel Jabilly Beach inn, on R K Beach, ☎ . 12noon. All rooms face the sea, pure Bengali food is available. 650 to 1200.
- Subway - Subs & Salads in Siripuram's Dutt Island, +91 891 278491.
Some interesting bars in the city are in the Five Star hotels mentioned above and typically are expensive even by Western standards. The Park Hotel has a decent bar - try the Screwdriver. Daspalla has another bar and restaurant called Dimple that serves various drinks and can be noisy at times.
- Chrome, 10 Downing St. And D2 are new pubs that are located in Siripuram.
- Punnami, near Rishikonda has pub very close to the beach and serves alcohol.
- Senora, a beach resort located on the outskirts, also boasts of a dance floor.
- Vihar, Near Rishikonda, Opp. GITAM University (Need to travel 8 Km from the city). Best hangout place with friends, only concern is it was too far from the city. Even though, worth visiting "Offshores" at Vihar. There's an Awesome beach view from the middle of the hill.
Vizag has both high end hotels affordable lodges. The Daspalla, The Grand Central Hotel and Green Park are well-known.
- [dead link]99 Residency (Value for Money Hotel), # 10-50-39/2,Opp. Axis Bank, Ramnagar (Next to Waltair Club), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12 Noon, check-out: 12 Noon. starting from US$ 20 per night.
- Athidhi The Guest House, ☎ . ,
- 1 Beach View Guest House, RK Beach main road, besides Novotel Hotel (Varun Beach) (towards collecter office route from novotel), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. All rooms face the beach. Wi-Fi available.
- Dolphin, ☎ , fax: .
- Dwaraka Inn (At Dwaraka Nagar).
- Fortune Inn Sree Kanya, Dwaraknagar, Diamond Park (Sree Kanya Road), ☎ .
- The Grand Central Hotel (at Jagadamba Junction).
- Green Park, ☎ , fax: .
- Hotel Akshaya, Station Rd (Opp to D.R.M.Office.), ☎ . , , (mobile)
- [dead link]Hotel Athidiinn, D.No.9-1-47, New Resapuvanapalem, ☎ , , (mobile)fax: 0891-2727678, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 24 hrs. around US $20-30 per 24 hours.
- Hotel Daspalla. around US $50-70 per night.
- [dead link]Hotel Saraswathi Orchid, #30-15-193,Opp: Dolphin Hotel Garden Gate, Main Road, Dabagardens (Opp: Dolphin Hotel), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Hotel Supreme, At R.K.Beach.
- Hotel Talasila Continental, Station Road, Dondaparthi, ☎ .
- Meghalaya, ☎ , fax: .
- Royal Fort.