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Andhra Pradesh points of interest

Discussion in 'Andhra Pradesh' started by Arijeet, Apr 28, 2017.

  1. Arijeet

    Arijeet New Member

    I am going to be in Andhra Pradesh and, to be honest to the best of my knowledge I don't know of any places of interest there.

    So basically during my 14 days stay there I would like to know the Andhra Pradesh points of interest. I like traveling so I am willing to go to the different parts of Andhra Pradesh.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, @Arijeet, welcome to the forum!

    Andhra Pradesh points of interest.jpg
    (Images from Akanksha, Aditya, Jayadeep, IM and Sabyk)

    Andhra Pradesh is a coastal state on the southeastern side of India. Initially, Andhra Pradesh was one continuous state with Telangana but after the famed fasting protest of Potti Sreeramulu, an event which lead to his death, the latter was separated from the state. This state has the second longest coastline in India after Gujarat. Once the home of the Maurya, Reddy, Vijayanagara and more dynasties, Andhra Pradesh boasts of thousands of years old history that make it an important destination for the history buffs. Aside from all these aspects, the state boasts of many natural and wildlife areas that would truly render any nature lover speechless. Was it mentioned that the state is also home to the second richest temple, not just in India, but also in the world? In this guide, some of the best points of interest in the state would be highlighted.

    Andhra Pradesh - Points of Interest

    A glimpse of the state's rich past...

    1. Anantapur - Anantapur is considered as the largest district of Andhra Pradesh. Historically, Anantapur was the home of the Hande dynasty and was conquered by several mighty empires such as the Mughals and Qutub Shahis. Perhaps the most popular attraction of the district is the Lepakshi Temple, which is located at its district capital. This temple is also known as the Veerabhadra Temple and was built during the 16th century by Virupanna and Viranna, both were officials from the Vijayanagara dynasty. The first structure that you'd encounter here is the huge Nandi statue carved out of a monolithic rock. Interestingly, the temple has around 70 pillars, which in themselves are very ornate and carved with images of deities and animals. One pillar stands out here, named as the Hanging Pillar, since it doesn't have any supports on its lower part, which means you can easily pass through thin objects such as a scarf or newspaper under it. The temple also stands unfinished as according to local legends, the then Vijayanagara ruler accused Virupanna, one of the builders of the temple, of using public funds for the temple and so the latter punished himself by pulling his two eyes out of the sockets. You can spot the blood stains from his eyes in the inner enclosure of the temple premises. Next we have Gooty Fort, which is around an hour away from the city centre. Now this fort is the hidden gem of Anantapur, little known to tourists and standing in a dilapidated but glorious state. It is not known exactly who built the fortification but scholars point to the 7th century as the most likely time it was built due to the Kannada and Sanskrit inscriptions that were found here. The fort is devoid of any marvellous palace or halls but it did served its purpose for many years, you can still find traces of the past in the form of wells, staircases, walls and a few temples. Finally, about two hours away from the city centre is the Penukonda Fort, a fortification from the Vijayanagara dynasty. While most of the fort is already in ruins, you can enjoy strolling amidst the story-laden paths and rocks. Remnants here include the gateway, a small pond and of a temple.

    • Must Visit Attractions - Lepakshi Temple, Gooty Fort and Penukonda Fort
    Lepakshi Temple in Anantapur.jpg
    Lepakshi Temple in Anantapur (Image from Senthil)

    2. Kadapa - Kadapa is yet another history buff's must visit destination in Andhra Pradesh. With its history being traced back to the Mesolithic era, then to the Maurya dynasty, to the Vijayanagara dynasty and many more, the city has lots of heritage sites to be proud of. First is the Chintakunta Caves, located about an hour away from the city centre. This is the largest prehistoric rock carvings in South India and is comparable to the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters of Madhya Pradesh. The carvings range from animals, to humans with bow and arrows and even geometric shapes. Altogether, there are over 200 rock carvings here believed to be thousands of years old already. Moving on with the precolonial attractions of the city, we have the Gandikota Fort, built around the 12th century by Kapa Raja. However, the present structure and its strength can mostly be attributed to the Pemmasani dynasty who ruled over the fort for over a hundred years. Actually, Gandikota Fort is redundant, because Gandikota, when translated, means Gorge Fort. In itself, the fort is magnificent and boasts of a few structures such as temples and mosques. But the best feature of the fort is its gorgeous view of the Penna River as it passes through a valley, hence the name Gorge Fort. As such, Gandikota is also known as the Grand Canyon of India and gives one a stunning glimpse of the river, the valley and the rocky outcrops. Last is the Sidhout Fort, a 14th century fortification, believed to be a mud fort as early as the 10th century, which was enhanced by the Matli dynasty. Because of the recent renovations, the fortification wears a brand new look, a bit more polished yet still having the air of grandeur. You can find carvings of Gajalakshmi here, which is one of the manifestations of Goddess Lakshmi.

    • Must Visit Attractions - Chintakunta Caves, Gandikota Fort and Sidhout Fort
    Where spirituality dominates...

    3. Tirupati - Do you remember the mention above about the second richest temple in the world being located in Andhra Pradesh? Well, specifically, that temple is located in Tirupati and is known as the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. It was built in the 8th century by King Thondaiman, as scholars have pointed out. But it is during the rule of the various dynasties such as the Cholas, Pallavas and Vijayanagaras that the temple gained prominence and also increased its wealth due to the donations of the rulers of these dynasties. Over 70,000 devotees visit the temple on a daily basis which only showcases its popularity. The pure white gopuram of the temple contrasts with the main temple which is gilded with pure gold. Here, Lord Vishnu is worshipped as Lord Venkateswara or Lord Balaji, meaning the Lord of the Venkata Hill. You also can't miss visiting the Padmavathi Ammavari Temple, dedicated to the consort of Lord Venkateswara, Goddess Padmavathi. Just like the former temple, this one has a pure white gopuram with intricate carvings that contrast with the bright yellow and peach entrance. The sanctum is very simple but serene, housing an idol of the beautiful Goddess Padmavathi. Close to the Tirupati Railway Station is the Sri Govindarajaswamy Temple, dedicated Lord Govindaraja, an incarnation of Vishnu, also known as the brother of Lord Venkateswara. Here, the deity is positioned in a reclining way, as it is believed that Lord Govindaraja counts the massive amount of wealth donated to Lord Venkateswara and of course, he'd get tired so he reclines for resting. For some, a visit to the city won't be complete without paying their respects to Lord Varahaswami in the Sri Varahaswami Temple. There temple is located next to the Pushkarini River and stands adjacent to the famed temple of Tirupati. Lord Varahaswami is believed to be the original owner of the Tirumala Hill, where the famed temple is located and Lord Venkateswara obtained permission from him prior to making Tirumala his home, hence it is important to pay your respects to the deity to complete your visit of Tirupati.

    • Must Visit Attractions - Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, Padmavathi Ammavari Temple, Sri Govindarajaswamy Temple and Sri Varahaswami Temple
    Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati.jpg
    Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati (Image from Adisesh)

    4. Vijayawada - Home to Asia's biggest mango market, the Nunna Mango Market, is the city of Vijayawada. This city is also one of the most developed cities in the state but still managed to preserve much of its religious sites. On the banks of the Krishna River is the city's most important religious attraction, the Kanaka Durga Temple. It stands upon a hillock, given one a prolific view of the entire city and the river. The main temple itself is around eight storeys high and is gilded with gold on the exteriors. On the main sanctum is the Goddess Durga, depicted with eight arms, each having a weapon and piercing the demon, Mahishashura, with her trident. The Undavalli Caves Temple is also worth visiting, though a bit further from the city centre. This is a rock-cut temple of four storeys high which scholars believed to have been carved in the 6th or 7th century. However, a few scholars point out that the caves must have been originally built in the 4th or 5th century as a Buddhist temple, during the rule of the Vishnukundina dynasty in the region. This is evident in the ground floor of the cave where there are compartments similar to the viharas of Buddhist rock-cut caves. On the first floor are some statues of Hindu deities but relatively remains unfinished. The second floor is where the reclining image of Vishnu, known as Sri Anantha Padmanabha, can be found. The last floor offers a view of the surrounding village and the river. If you still have the time, you can also visit the Paritala Anjaneya Swami Temple, which houses the largest statue of Hanuman in the state.

    • Must Visit Attractions - Kanaka Durga Temple, Undavalli Caves Temple and Paritala Anjaneya Swami Temple
    Of beaches and natural beauties...

    5. Visakhapatnam - A small but progressive city boasting of natural attractions and beaches, that is Visakhapatnam. According to the 2017 Swachh Survekshan, Visakhapatnam is also the third cleanest city of India. The crowded Rama Krishna Beach is perhaps the most popular coastal attraction here. It is similar to the other city beaches of India minus the pollution. A number of restaurants and hotels are located close to the shore so you can spend a few nights here if you want to enjoy its commercial appeal. Due to the rocky nature of the shores, swimming isn't really recommended and there are also no facilities for water sports here. About an hour away from the city centre is the more serene Rishikonda Beach. The grainy sand coupled with the shallow sea water is perfect for lounging around. Additionally, water sports such as jet skiing and speed boating can be enjoyed here. Yarada Beach is 30 minutes to the south of the city centre. It is more remote and less visited because approach to it is via a hill, meaning you need to climb up and then down to reach it. Surrounded by hills and lush greenery, this is your best solace away from the city centre. Make sure you bring your own snacks and beverages as tourist facilities are not as developed here. Next is the Bheemili Beach, about 45 kilometres to the north of Visakhapatnam. This virgin beach of black sands and turquoise waters would be enjoyed by the serenity seekers. You can even reach an island off the shore which provides for a stunning view of the confluence of the Bay of Bengal with the Gosthani River. Other beaches worth exploring in Visakhapatnam are Kondakarla Ava Beach and Gangavaram Beach. Don't forget to visit the Borra Caves, about 90 kilometres to the north of the city centre. This millions of years old cave has the origin of the Gosthani River inside it, which has helped form the stalagmites and stalactites too. Inside, only your imagination is needed to decipher the various forms of the limestone formations of Hindu deities, animals and even humans.

    • Must Visit Attractions - Rama Krishna Beach, Rishikonda Beach, Bheemili Beach, Kondakarla Ava Beach, Gangavaram Beach and Borra Caves
    Rishikonda Beach in Visakhapatnam.jpg
    Rishikonda Beach in Visakhapatnam (Image from Aditya)

    6. Chirala - Another beach destination in the state is Chirala, located at the northeastern side of Andhra Pradesh. The Ramapuram Beach is the town's most popular beach yet still a far cry from the maddening crowds of other beach destinations. It has golden sands and clear blue water that gradually slopes so it's perfect for swimming. There are a few guest houses and resorts close to the beach so you can spend your few nights here. Or you can also opt to make it a day trip and just bring your own picnic blanket. About 15 minutes of driving from the city centre is the Vodarevu Beach, a stretch of golden sand, coconut laden beach that would surely be adored by the beach bums. This beach is largely undeveloped so facilities for tourists are very limited. There are a few guest houses and resorts but their quality of services and facilities isn't assured. But if you want to be lost in the laps of the waves, then this beach would suit you well. These are the only two beaches of Chirala, there are a few more outside the city, like the Surya Lanka Beach, but generally, they're more crowded and not as maintained.

    • Must Visit Attractions - Ramapuram Beach and Vodarevu Beach
    Where wildlife is abundant...

    7. Pulicat Lake Wildlife Sanctuary & Nelapattu Wildlife Sanctuary - For the wildlife lovers, Andhra Pradesh won't disappoint as well. We have the Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary, which is spread over the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh and Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu. Pulicat Lake is one of the largest brackish water lagoons in the country and is home to a wide variety of avifauna. During migratory season, the number of birds here increases as species from other countries temporarily migrate here. On the Andhra Pradesh side, the Pulicat Lake Wildlife Sanctuary is almost merged with the Nelapattu Wildlife Sanctuary. Both sanctuaries provide for opportunities for bird watching while boating. You can start with the Nelapattu Wildlife Sanctuary since resident birds here are more plenty. Entry fee is very minimal and you can opt to just watch the birds from the side or if you want, then hire a boat for a more immersive experience. Commonly spotted birds here are spot-billed pelicans, egrets, ducks and cormorants. On the Pulicat Lake Wildlife Sanctuary side, you would need to pay an additional entry fee but it's best to visit this lake during migratory season, from September to March. During that time, you can easily spot greater flamingos, bar-headed geese, Eurasian spoonbills, black-headed gulls and more. The two are merely 30 minutes away from one another so a day trip would suffice.

    • Must Spot Animals - Spot-Billed Pelicans, Egrets, Ducks, Cormorants, Greater Flamingos, Bar-Headed Geese, Eurasian Spoonbills, Black-Headed Gulls and More
    Nelapattu Wildlife Sanctuary.jpg
    Nelapattu Wildlife Sanctuary (Image from Gnanaskandank)

    8. Nagarjuna Sagar Srisailam Wildlife Sanctuary - The largest tiger reserve of the country, the Nagarjuna Sagar Srisailam Wildlife Sanctuary, is spread over five districts of the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The reserve is so vast that it covers not just river, not just waterfalls, but also dams inside of it. The forests here are thick and dense of the mixed deciduous type with a variety of trees within it. For the history buffs, the wildlife sanctuary also houses several heritage sites of temples and forts that are worth exploring. Now, spotting tigers here can be tricky because for the most part, these are very elusive animals. Plus, the area covered by the reserve is huge, and with just over 60 tigers inside it, chances of spotting them become even more rare. You would be more able to spot other animals such as chitals, sambars, mouse deers, chinkaras, giant squirrels, langurs and bonnet macaques. You can bring your own vehicle for a safari or opt to hire a jeep from the entrance. Do enjoy the lush greenery and don't be too inclined on spotting the animals, because as is with other wildlife reserves, the less you expect, the more that you are satisfied.

    • Must Spot Animals - Royal Bengal Tigers, Chitals, Sambars, Mouse Deers, Chinkaras, Giant Squirrels, Langurs and Bonnet Macaques
    Offbeat is the way to go...

    9. Papikondalu - This place is certainly becoming popular day by day, Papikondalu, also known as the Papi Hills, is a scenic gorge view on the serene Godavari River. Reaching this heavenly piece of nature takes a bit of an effort. Your best option is to reach Rajahmundry, which is about three hours away from Vijayawada. You would need to reach Polavaram from Rajahmundry. From there, the boats reaching the Papikondalu can be found, on the banks of the river. However, make sure you book or reserve for your ticket in advance via the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department or any other licensed tour operator. Usually, the packages already include transfer from Rajahmundry to Polavaram but do inquire beforehand. From Polavaram, you'd be taken into a scenic boat ride, around five hours, to the Papikondalu. The boat ride also includes a visit to the island temple, Pattiseema Temple. Don't worry as the boat would bring you back to your starting point, which is Polavaram. Accommodations are available only in Rajahmundry and they are not as lavish, basically simple hotels or guest houses. But a boat ride amidst the Godavari River and the scenic Papikondalu would render one speechless. Not only will the natural beauty surprise you, but also the simplicity of the lives of the locals who live around the river banks, who do without electricity or even normal roads.

    • Must Visit Attractions - Godavari River Gorge View and Pattiseema Temple
    • Related Thread - n/a
    Gorge View in Papikondalu.jpg
    Gorge View in Papikondalu (Image from Srichakra)

    10. Lambasingi - Last on this list is the small hamlet of Lambasingi, located just around 100 kilometres away from Visakhapatnam. Also known as the Andhra Kashmir, Lambasingi is the coldest region in South India. Temperatures here can go as low as 5°C during winter. But it's also not impossible for temperatures here to drop below zero degrees and sometimes, even snowfall occurs in the region. It was in 2012 when the last recored snowfall occurred in the region. Even on other seasons of the year, the hill station experiences cooler climates and even misty mornings. Relatively unknown to many tourists, Lambasingi isn't much of a developed destination. For accommodation options, it's best to reach the nearest village, which is Narsipatnam, around 30 kilometres away. In Lambasingi itself, there's not much to do but relish in the endearing cold and also enjoy the lush greenery around. In some areas, you might be able to spot the coffee plantations tendered to by the local tribes. Or you can venture into the Kothapally Waterfalls, about 27 kilometres from the hill station. This is a small but picturesque waterfall set amidst the forests. You need to trek a bit to reach the waterfall so it's not recommended for the elderly or those with very young children. The Thajangi Reservoir is also just six kilometres away from the hill station. The dam forms a small lake where you can enjoy having a picnic in with your loved ones.

    • Must Visit Attractions - Kothapally Waterfalls and Thajangi Reservoir

    There you have it, a guide on some of the best destinations around Andhra Pradesh. This list includes some of the most popular destinations in the state. It also includes some of the lesser known destinations in the state that deserve the spotlight. The wonders of Andhra Pradesh never ceases to amaze the tourist, perhaps because they truly highlight the unique beauty of the state. Good luck and enjoy your trip to Andhra Pradesh!