Travel through Araku Valley and Borra Caves in Andhra Pradesh

We travel to the unknown tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh after cuddling for a couple of days in Vizag. Vizag is famous for its beautiful shores of the Bay of Bengal. The only place worthy of note in this area is Araku Valley, a small hill-station between green hills. Here Indian tourists come to relax from the torrential and chaotic cities around.

India is an extraordinary country that has a lot to offer to those who want to discover its secrets. In almost every state there are wonders and mysteries. But do not expect to find these things in the lonely planet guide or on the most popular blogs.

You need to look for information in obscure sites, forums, and blogs that are often beyond the Page 10 of Google. Ask for information about the venues, and above all leave the usual backpacker trails.

In my recent trips, I have seen that the old history of India is too touristy. The reality is that very few are willing to leave the beaten track and visit the unknown. The prize for those few is the chance to discover uncontaminated areas. You can come face to face with ancient cultures and mysterious tribal groups.

The tribal territories of central India are between Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh. They have been on my list of places to visit for many years, but for some reason or the other, it has always got postponed. Anyway, as usual, I decided to go and check in person and start my exploration without prejudices.

The train trip is amazing and is one of the tourist attractions in the area. The slow Kirandul passenger train left the coast. After a short stretch of plain, it climbs to the Eastern Ghats. It follows an arduous path excavated in the rocks and crosses dozens of galleries. The scenery is spectacular. We find lots of kids on the outskirts of the Borra caves. It is the main motif that attracts tourists from here. At every tunnel, the kids would shout, sneak and beat their feet on the ground.

In the last stroke, we find many tribal avalanches. We find women carrying big barbells of large wicker baskets on the head. There they have various things to sell in weekly markets. The landscape in this latter part is bucolic, although the harvest has been a couple of weeks ago.

There are few people working in the fields. The predominant colors are yellow, red and green. For a moment I have the impression of being in Africa. The villages are very beautiful, with mud houses and roofs of stone slabs.

At Araku we settle in a classic hotel opposite the station. The next morning two guys take us to see the center. The air is cooler and the sky is cloudy for the first time!

Soon I discover that the real village, where there are hotels and shops is Araku Valley.

It is about 2 miles away. There is an efficient public Tuc-Tuc service. It is a very small village that is in the heart of the valley of the same name.

With two boys who act as our guide, we enter the chaos that reigns through the stalls of fruits and vegetables. Here the tribes of the neighboring villages come to buy things on the market or to socialize. Men seem more or less all the same. Women, depending on the group, wear different ornaments, tattoos. They have a distinctive way of knitting the saree. It is not a real saree, which is usually very long, but often a simple bigger towel.

We find women selling fish, household products. Finally, we move to the place where people sell the goats and other cattle! For some years now it has become an area frequented by tourists. We then continue to other villages. I felt like living a week in one of these villages where peace and serenity reigned. I wanted to dance to the beats of tribal music!

The next morning before plugging off to Hyderabad we visited the Borra Caves. These are deep caves that are on the way back. Illuminated by colored disco dance style lights of the 80s, the caves were full of bats. Kids screamed in the caves.

Although we had not yet reached the end of this trip, I was lucky to see things that normal tourists would not see. We met people, who told us magical and supernatural stories. Here I saw the most beautiful eyes and expressive as ever. And deep down I would continue this experience!

We proceed to Thorrur. In the evening the women make an endless little show of dances and songs to welcome us.
Next day we visit a small tribal museum. It was quite interesting and useful to have an idea of how these people live. I find out that from the next day a 5 day tribal festival with markets and folk performances will begin. I cannot ask for anything better. It was a great opportunity to get to know this fascinating culture.

The festival was more interesting than expected. There were local artisan workshops and folklore groups from other regions as well. After the long inauguration, the dances began. The first group was one of the local tribals who performed the Dhimsa. The women dancers hugged each other as the men played strange traditional instruments. It was a very fascinating and unique experience.
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