Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Day 6 - Vishakhapatnam

Vishakhapatnam (for those who don't know) is a major port. It is also known as Vizag and Waltair(not popular - only seen in some hotels, etc).

My first tourist destination is the Simhachalam temple, a famous temple dedicated to lord SLV (Shree Lakshmi Venkateshwara). I want to start just before daylight for two reasons:
  1. It is on top of a hill, and I anticipate the view to be good from the top of the hill
  2. Who wants to climb a hill when the sun is burning ?
Still, I've gotten up at a leisurely 5:50 AM (sun rises at around 6), today is a rest day, afterall!

By 6:45 I am off to see the Simachalam in my "tourist dress". After I reach the foothill, it is about 5 kms of laborious climb. I manage to reach the hill-top by 7:45. The climb has taken 35 minutes. I'd rate the effort about 30% of that required to climb Nandi Hills (near Bangalore).

Near the temple, my first priority is pet puja. The darshan queue is long and there are many types of darshan - free, Rs 10, Rs 30 and Rs 100. I have neither the patience nor the devotion to wait, so I am content to enjoy the scenary. I also take a stroll around the small bazaar stocking the normal puja items. After this is an excellent downhill ride (I've done the hard work before!).

At the end of the slope, there is a toll booth and a curve after that, I bend my cycle a bit too much (showing off?). My left pedal touches the road and the cycle shifts a feet of two laterally - not a bad stunt...

Back at the lodge, I spend my time washing clothes and resting. I've got a TV for 50 bucks, but there is hardly anything interesting. After this, I decide to update my blogs. The internet center is close by. The PC in the browsing center has WinXP (good for my digicam), but the dial-up connection becomes a major bottleneck. The result - I am able to upload only 20 photos and post a single blog message in a little over 2 hours! It is already 2:00 PM, time for lunch. Bhojanam at Hotel Annapoorna (only so-so). Time to attack Kailasagiri, a sea-side hill cum tourist park. I had imagined that it is close to the lodge, but I am told that it is around 20 kms away. I must have started earlier! My worry is that I might not be able to see all the places that I had planned originally.

The ride to Kailasgiri begins at 2:55 PM and I reach the foothill by 4:00. The guard at the entry gate initially denies me permission, saying cycles are not allowed. I tell him about my trip without result. Just as I dismount to park my cycle he says OK! The climb to reach the top is tough - more than 2 kms and very steep. The breathtaking view of the sea, with a seaside road, is a bit of a compensation. R K Beach is visible from here! I am wet with sweat by the time I am up!

Kailashgiri is a nice picnic spot. It has a nicely maintained garden (covering the hill), a cable-car, a temple. And of course the surrounding view. The ride in the cable ride is not all that exciting. A shiva-parvati idol with water flowing down the steps is a must see. Here I meet students of Institute of Technical Education and Research, an engineering college at Bhubaneshwar. They are all IT students and I have a jolly good time with them, cracking jokes, etc. And they are also amazed, which is along expected lines. Before I move on, it is time for a few snaps and collecting e-mail addresses. They also "exhibit" me to their lecturers and other classmates. They also advise me against riding after sunset in Orissa - saying that animals roam around. Human animals or wild animals, I am left wondering... I bid them all goodbye and zip off on my bike - it is a down, afterall!

Light is fast fading - going to R K Beach is no longer possible. Nobody around seems to know where Dolphin's nose is - so I settle for VUDA Park (VUDA stands for Vizag Urban Development Authority). VUDA Park is a regular amusement park. Good for a typical family; it has lots of lawns, amusements, a skating ring, boating, water-stuff, etc. But all this just bores me! Time to go back to the lodge!

The way back is 14 kms long. I stop at a SIFY cyber-cafe, but the operator does not allow my digital camera. I am out in a jiffy!

A short snack and I am back in NH5, riding towards NAD junction. I actually overshoot NAD junction by 2 kms (courtesy misinformation from a lorry driver). A refreshing glass of orange juice is good enough. I enter a nearby browsing center. Win98 again ! His software is also out of date, so a bad browsing experience. I update my blogs for days 4 and 5, chat on yahoo and before I know it, I've already spent 2 hours!

It is 10:20 PM already - I hurry back towards the lodge. I am running out of cash and the picture of Orissa that has been painted for me is so bleak that the last thing I want is being empty handed in Orissa! I withdraw some cash at an Andhra Bank ATM, have food and am back at the lodge. Sleep at 11:45 - very late!

Today at a glance:

Time Odometer Place/Purpose
6:45 AM 10362.8 Lodge
7:10 10366.1 foot of hill @ simhachalam
7:45-8:50 10370.0 At Hill top/Temple
9:15 10377.1 Back at Lodge
2:55 10391.9 Start off to Kailashgiri
4:00 10391.1 Foot of Kailashgiri
4:20-5:30 10393.3 Kailashgiri Top
5:35 10395.5 At foot of hill again!
[ after this I didn't note down anything :( ]

All in all, a fun day - in particular the uphill climbs were exciting, so was the view from Kailashgiri, and the chat with the students! I do miss seeing Dolphin's nose (the unknown seems better always, don't you think?).

My idea for tomorrow is to cross over into Orissa - atleast 200 kms away...


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