Spending a weekend in Vishakapatnam (Vizag), Andhra Pradesh, India

When we had an opportunity to visit Vishakapatnam (aka Vizag) for two days, we jumped at it.  We had been thinking about visiting the city for many years but, it just did not happen.  Then, we were given an opportunity to attend a family wedding… so we decided to make a holiday out of it!

We traveled to Vishakapatnam via overnight train from Hyderabad.  I mention this because we traveled on the “Garib Rath” train and that was quite an experience.  Since we had booked well in advance, we were able to get proper seats and not the side-middle seat (if you are familiar with Indian trains).  So, if you plan well in advance, this train is not a bad option after all.

In the two days we spent in Vishakapatnam, this is what we were able to accomplish:

Day 0

Took the night train to Vishakapatnam from Hyderabad.  There are also many flights to the city.

Day 1

We reached Vizag around 8 am.  The train ride was surprisingly comfortable, so we slept well.  We first headed to the guest house to freshen up and have our breakfast.  After breakfast, we headed out to begin our sightseeing. 

Our first stop was Thotlakonda.  This is a very cool Buddhist site that showcases Buddhist influence in the area many years ago.  The views of the Bay of Bengal are spectacular from this location.  In fact, a little ahead of the Thotlakonda site, they have created a view point from which you can enjoy views of the bay.  There is a guide available at Thotlakonda who will go over the history of the site.  You can easily spend 1 1/2 to 2 hours here if you have the time to spare.

Next we headed to the Simhachalam Temple.  Once we reached there we learnt that the temple was closed and would not open till later in the day.  After spending some time exploring the temple premises we headed to our next destination.

Along the way to our next stop we passed by Kailasagiri and the zoo.  We were also able to see the many famous educational institutions that pepper the city.

We decided to stop for a late lunch at the Novotel in Vizag.  It was really a nice break… the restaurant faces the sea and it was incredible to spend time watching the world go by at RK Beach.    The hotel does not have direct access to the beach – you have to cross the street.  However, you get good views of Dolphin’s nose and rest of beach area from the hotel.  After chilling for about 2 1/2 hours we headed to our next sightseeing spots – Visakha Aircraft Museum and INS Kursura Submarine Museum.

Both the Visakha Aircraft Museum and INS Kursura are very well laid out tourist attractions and definitely a must see, especially if you have children.  You have an opportunity to walk inside the aircraft at the aircraft museum and the submarine at the submarine museum.  We did not know we could purchase a special ticket to be able to photograph the inside of the submarine… enquire ahead if you are interested.

After we finished our exploring of these two museums (spent about 2 hours in total), we called it a night.

Day 2

After breakfast we first headed to the Simhachalam temple eager not to miss visiting the temple.  When we reached there, the queues were relatively light, so we decided to go in the free darshan queue.  Only drawback – it took us about 1 1/2 hours to complete our visit. 

Next we headed to Rushikonda beach.  We chose this particular beach to hang out as we had heard it was much calmer than some of the other beaches in Vizag.  Turned out to be true.  The kids had a blast enjoying the pleasant waters…. No swimming, just wave jumping.  We spent about 2 1/2 hours just chilling.  Luckily the weather was perfect – not too hot or humid.

Afterwards we headed back to the guest house to clean up, have lunch and pack up.  There was one more place on our sightseeing list – the Dolphin Nose Lighthouse.  This particular lighthouse is open to the public only between 3pm and 4:30pm so we had to plan accordingly.  The traffic to the lighthouse area was heavier than we expected but we reached there around 4pm.  After waiting for our turn for about 45 minutes (only 60 people are allowed to go up at any given time due to space constraints), we were finally able to go inside and up the lighthouse to check out the spectacular views.  Important note:  They may close the line by 4:30pm.  So, if you are serious about visiting this place, make sure you arrive by 4pm.

We felt great that we were able to see so many special sights in Vishakapatnam in a such a short time (along with attending a spectacular wedding).  We spent the rest of the evening with dear friends before boarding our overnight train back to Hyderabad.

Reflections

Speaking to friends, apparently we were very lucky weather wise.  It was simply perfect… not too hot, not too cold… which made sightseeing very enjoyable.

We hired a taxi to take us around.  Even though it was expensive, having a car at our disposal was a blessing.  We were able to visit all the sightseeing places on our list.

Simhachalam Temple – Be aware of the timings.  Call the temple ahead of time and plan your visit accordingly.  Daily opening and closing times can vary depending on the day (special pujas, etc.).  Do not depend on the information provided by your taxi driver.

Dolphin’s Nose Lighthouse – A really nice place to visit.  But, once again, it has very specific opening and closing times, so please plan accordingly.  You will encounter a lot of traffic along the way so give yourself some cushion.

Rushikonda beach – Spectacular!  As long as you don’t venture too far into the waters, a really cool place for the kids and adults alike to enjoy wave jumping activities.

Bottomline: Vishakapatnam is a beautiful city and definitely worth visiting!  Wouldn’t mind going back and chilling out there some time if given an opportunity.

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