I happened to visit Vizag for the first time last weekend. I was there to attend a friend’s wedding on Sunday night. Arrived at 6AM on Saturday morning at the Vizag railway station after an overnight train journey (Godavari Express). The journey wasn’t too pleasant, thanks to the scrimpy side-upper berth (I got that even though I reserved tickets a month ago!) and to a bunch of noisy NCC kids who occupied most of the compartment.
My friend Sundar (who’s wedding I was to attend, is a native there) picked me up and we drove to the hotel.
It was a very pleasant morning and something assured me that I’m going to like my stay in the city.
To brief a little about the city: Vizag is a coastal city facing the Bay of Bengal. Called “The Jewel of the East Coast”, Vizag is the second biggest city in Andhra Pradesh, India. Its home to the Eastern naval Command and has the only natural harbor on the eastern coast of India. Vizag also houses many heavy industries along with the Vizag Steel Plant, one of the most advanced steel plants in the world.
Well, coming back to me… we arrived at this Hotel Supreme.Whats special about the hotel is that it faces the Ramakrishna Beach. As providence would give me, my room had this mind blowing view of the beach from the big window.
The beach was so inviting that I could not resist rushing downstairs and taking a walk. Sundar reminded that I should rest and I’d quite some time to see around the city. So I went back and freshened up. Food and hospitality were fairly good at the hotel. But the water in the bathroom seemed freshly pumped straight from the Bay of Bengal. I mean it when I say, it tasted like lime soda!
Sundar had invited quite a few of his colleagues and friends from Chennai. They were not going to come any sooner than 12noon. I was to wait for them at the hotel and waiting was never so good. I had a whole big sea to stare at, right from the window of my hotel room. And added to that was my new camera, I would shoot pictures to my heart’s content through the trip.
Many friends were expected but just three arrived! Heck with these IT guys and their IT jobs. When they signed up, less did they know that they were going to miss visiting Vizag! haha. I was lucky to have secured myself three days off. Well, Sundar sent a car that was to drive us to his home where lunch was arranged. We were to eat and go around the city.
I had dreamt of going to the Araku Valley, some 120Km away (imagine traveling up and down 1500 feet, through around 25 tunnels and staying at an altitude of 600 To 900mt, that’s Araku for you!). But I was soon told that we’d need one complete day at least and we did not have that time! huh! I hugged myself and said, its okay buddy, better luck next time.
Sundar played a good host by arranging for a nice car to travel around. We set out to visit three places – Victory At Sea, Rishikonda beach and Kailasagiri.
Traveling in Vizag city was interesting, thanks to the hilly terrain all over the place. One had to go up and down a hill to go anywhere to somewhere. I thought a bike would be rather better than a car to drive around in this city. Roads seemed dark and neat. Here we were at ‘Victory At Sea’ on RK beach (RK-RamaKrishna). It was the famous Submarine Museum that we were visiting. This was the first time I saw a submarine and I was aghast at the view at this mighty chunk of steel, wondering how was it possible to for this thing to be submerged and come afloat.
The photo collage, clockwise: Front view (notice the 550Kg anchor there?), The analog radio, The lead battery cell, The computer, Me near the rear propellers and the rudder, Torpedo, Provisions room.
The submarine (INS Kursura) was made in 1969 and was decommissioned in 2001. It was very thoughtful of the Indian navy and GVMC (Greater Vizg Municipal Corp.) to have converted it into a museum. Here are some facts that would be of interest:
The submarine can run its engines only when it can stay afloat. And when it has to dive under water, its 500 lead acid batteries (each weighs around 600kg) power it.
It can carry around 22 electrically propelled, sonar guided torpedoes.
The devise you see on the top right corner looks like a cupboard with too many holes, but in fact, it is a computer. It calculates the future position of a target enemy submarine, using speed (estimated from the sonar) and course of a target (estimated from some gyro compass). This data is fed to a torpedo ready to be fired.
Now isn’t that amazing technology for a submarine made in the 60’s?
We got into the car and headed north of the town towards Rishi Konda beach. A bike ride along the beach road would be THE THING to do on a Saturday evening. Lucky Vizag-ites. After about a 15 minute of drive we reached the most picturesque beach, I had ever seen.
What make Vizag’s beaches more beautiful are the hills and mountains that are so near to the shore. Not many places would be such. Had I seen Gitam University while in my +2, I would not have gone to college anywhere else but Gitam. Studies aside, this college faces the blue waters right on Rishi Konda beach and is surrounded by huge green mountains.
Then we were headed towards the town to go to KailasaGiri. My first thoughts of this place, from its name, were that this would be another of those hills that had a famous temple. I personally never enjoyed visiting temples, they are usually crowded places. But my exacting myth was soon to be disproved. One could go up the hill either by road or there was a more interesting alternative, the rope way.
Obviously, we chose the rope way up and down. The hill is famous as a tourist attraction. One can get a superb view of the Vizag city and the beach right by its side. The view becomes more interesting as the sun sets and the electric bulbs take over the task of lighting the town. The hill offered quite a few good looking views of the town beneath. Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi seem to be enjoying the cool breeze atop the moon lit hill. That also justified the name – KailasaGiri.
Apart from all that, there was one more interesting scene. It was this statue on one of the pathways such that we could walk under it. But there was a problem, there seemed to be ‘enlightenment’ emanating from just where it shouldn’t be. For those of you who couldn’t catch the point, see the light arranged right in between the statue’s legs. 🙂
My Saturday in Vizag ended with a buffet dinner at the Green-park hotel and me retiring to my hotel room by the Rama Krishna beach.
Sunday morning was meant to make us all lazy. I got up at around 8 and looked out of the window. Wow, sun shining bright on the blue waters was inviting. So I rushed through some freshening and breakfast and set out on a walk into the City.
The place where I stayed seemed to be a medical care hub of the city. There were so many hospitals and diagnostic centers surrounding the famous king George hospital. Roads were kept clean in most parts of the city (at least far better than those in Hyderabad), thanks again to GVMC. I walked through and did not realize I reached the Jagadamba center (quite talked of as a business and shopping place) until I saw the Jagadamba theater. Right across was the biggest of the City’s malls, the CMR mall. One thing I do not quite approve of is the fact that there are not many shopping ares in the city. For a tier-2 city and given that there were a lot of industries and riches all around, retail businesses should have caught on already.
As I walked past the Saint Anthony’s church I could hear the Sunday-morning-prayers loud and clear, and of-course in the typical Tenglish accent. I was back to my hotel after an hours walk. I was already thinking of possibilities of my relocating to that place.
In the evening, I used my photography skills to their full potential clicking away photos at the wedding.This was one of the most interesting weddings I attended in the recent times. Check out the album if you please.
It was around 4 AM when we returned to the hotel and fell asleep.
Got up early in the morning at around 1130 and found myself alone in the hotel. So I relaxed and rested watching TV, for I couldn’t do much else, alone. I thought Monday mornings are perhaps always like that, whether at office or on a holiday.
The train was at 1700 hours so I checked out at 1600 thinking I would need some time to buy sweets (my roomi back in Hyderabad had warned me that I couldn’t come without them). So I bought an assortment of Halwa at the famous Shivarama Sweets and boarded the train.
It was in deed a trip I would remember for a long time to come. Vizag is a beautiful place.
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