Hiking is one of the best ways to experience nature up close, keeping the fitness aspect intact. You can imbibe it in your lifestyle and pursue it in any part of the world, however India has some amazing hiking trails not just for the passionate ones but for beginners too. Andhra Pradesh is one such place where you can explore the ‘hiking’ side of you and soak yourself amid the lush greens and tranquil blues. By Moyena Parikh
Andhra Pradesh is known for ecotourism and adventurous activities such as surfing, swimming, trekking, hiking and so on. It is also blessed with breathtaking views of the Eastern ghats, rivers, caves, rich flora and fauna along with popular pilgrimage destinations such as Ahobilam. Not to forget, spellbinding valleys, sloping hill ranges with dense covers and historical caves, that enhance the aesthetic beauty of the state.
The state is indeed a must visit for your next vacation or weekend getaway if you are looking for a refreshing change. Here are some of the finest hiking trails that are sure to invigorate your mind, body and soul.
A look at some of best hiking trails in Andhra Pradesh
Surrounded by the lush greenery of Nallamala forest, Ahobilam is situated in the Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh. If you are looking for a hiking adventure with a hint of spirituality and history, then you must definitely hike to this place.
Also known as Nava Narasimha Kshetra or the abode of Lord Narasimha, it is one of the famous pilgrimage destinations in South India. According to Hindu traditions, the holy site has nine temples that were initially built during the reign of the Chalukya dynasty in the eight century. However, some structures were constructed by the Vijayanagara kings in the 15th century.
The hike starts from the Ahobilam hill in Hyderabad and covers a distance of seven kilometres. En route, you can see breathtaking views of the Eastern ghats along with sparkling waterfalls and historic caves. It leads to the nine temples: Jwala Narasimha, Ahobila Narasimha, Malola Narasimha, Kroda Narasimha, Kaaranja Narasimha, Bhargava Narasimha, Yogananda Narasimha, Chatravata Narasimha and Pavana Narasimha.
While you can reach some of these temples easily, others have to be reached by hikes through the lush forest and uneven paths ideally meant for seasoned trekkers. But it can be done in a day as well.
This adventure has been given a moderate to difficult rating, but that entirely depends on the ability of the trekker. The best time to visit Ahobilam is from August to February as the humidity is bearable.
Situated at 1,266 metres above sea level, this hill station in Andhra Pradesh is best enjoyed for its pleasant weather and some exciting activities that you can indulge in with your loved ones.
While covering the hill station won’t take more than 15 minutes, it is frequently visited by nature and wildlife lovers. There is no specific hiking experience here, as most of the area is made of APTDC’S Haritha Hill Resort but if you enjoy watching sunrise and sunset, then the trails leading to the ViewPoint are a must to enjoy the breathtaking beauty.
Horsley Hills welcomes anyone, including children, to enjoy activities such as zorbing, rock climbing and camping. It also houses many gardens along the sloping hill and zoos sheltering many exotic birds and animals, making it a complete experience. You can also visit nearby places such as the SV museum, Govindaraja Swamy temple and the natural arch, Silathoranam.
Winter season (December to February) is the best time to make the most of this wonderful experience, including the short hike.
Looking for a weekend getaway that is close to nature? Head to Tyda, a tribal settlement that is situated between Visakhapatnam and Araku valley. It provides you with picturesque views of the Eastern ghats, along with an array of nature-friendly activities such as trekking, hiking and bird watching that can help you forget the stress of the daily grind.
The village is situated at an altitude of 463 metres above sea level and offers two fascinating hiking trails. The first one is a 40 minute climb, early in the morning, that takes you from the jungle camp into the mountains. The hike concludes at a rocky structure from where you can watch the soft clouds cover the Eastern ghats, while the early morning rays sieving through the mountains is a sight to behold.
If you are looking for a difficult and exhaustive hike, then you must hike to the glorious Kataki waterfalls, near Tyda. A 12 kilometre trail to the waterfalls starts right from the main road of the village. But since the route is rocky and filled with thick outgrowth, it is advisable to let a Gadaba tribal guide you along. Along the way, you may get drenched because of the water gushing down from the rocks. So, do carry an extra pair of clothes, which you can change into once you are back from the long walk.
The Kataki waterfalls can also be reached by a four kilometre route that starts from Borra Caves but only if you have a jeep or SUV as the road is rocky and is unfit for walking.
Nearby areas to explore include the Ananthagiri hills and Coffee Museum if you are a coffee lover and the Tribal museum to learn more about the tribes residing in Tyda. The ideal time to visit and to get most of the eco-tourism is during the winter months of November through February.
Located in Chittoor, this waterfall cascading from a height of 82 metres is said to be the highest one in Andhra Pradesh. A part of Sri Venkateswara National Park, the state government has enhanced the area around it with forests to promote ecotourism.
Offering you an unparalleled forest adventure, the hike leading to Talakona waterfalls begins at the checkpoint behind the Siddeswara Swamy Temple, taking you to the pristine waterfalls through a two kilometre fascinating hiking experience.
It takes about 15 minutes to reach the waterfalls which diverge into two hiking trails. The upper route takes one through a rock covered with heavy misty clouds, while the lower route glides down through various streams along the rock. Either way, you will find yourself capturing pictures in awe. This trail suits anyone who loves hiking.
Nearby hiking spots include the Nelakonna waterfall which is almost 100 metres before the parking zone. As you take a right turn to head to this waterfall, you can see a dry, uneven river bed with sharp cliffs and lush greenery concealing the sun rays along the rocky path of the trail. Once you reach the Nelakonna waterfall, you can enjoy a swim and a complimentary fish spa treatment amid nature.
Further, this climb takes you to a popular tourist attraction, a 300-year-old woody creeper called ‘Gilla Theega’ which is five kilometres long with a girth of 2.6 metres. You can also taste its pulp which has a tamarind-like texture. However, this hike is meant for seasoned trekkers due to the rocky paths.
While the entire region around Talakona waterfalls has a pleasant climate throughout the year, the best season to explore this enchanting location is after the monsoons or right before the spring season.
Coined as the ‘Grand Canyon of India’ by hikers and trekkers, Gandikota fort is situated on the edge of a stunning gorge formed by the Erramala hills and the Pennar (Penneru) river in Andhra Pradesh. It is also gifted with breathtaking views of spellbinding valleys, thick forest and gradient hills.
While the gorge has been a place of power for several ancient dynasties, ever since Kapa, the king of the neighbouring village of Bommanapalli, built a fortress there in 1123. It is a popular tourist attraction that offers you an exhilarating hiking experience.
At an elevation of 324 metres, the hike begins from the gate of Gandikota fort. Once you have explored the fort, the trail continues to a mosque and then to the ruins of the Ranganayaka Swamy temple. The walk can further be extended to 18 kilometres to the Mylavaram dam.
It takes about half a day to explore India’s Grand Canyon, which can be done by novices and experienced trekkers. The best time to do this climb is between June and February as the weather is conducive for a wonderful and exhaustive hike.
Nearby places include one of the longest caves in India, Belum caves and the industrial town, Tadipatri, which has stunning Vijayanagara-era temples.
Known to be one of the most famous hill stations in Andhra Pradesh, the soothing and unique terrain of Araku is sure to amaze you. What’s more? The valley is filled with pine trees, green meadows and spellbinding views of the hills that too near Tyda.
Amid the Ananthagiri hills of the Eastern Ghats at 2,990 feet, Araku Valley is bestowed with exquisite biodiversity along with tea and coffee plantations. Thinking of sipping tea or coffee amid nature? You know where to head to.
The highest peak of the state, Jindhagada Peak, offers an excellent opportunity to hike through the coffee plantation estate. It is a 10 kilometre trail one way and is graded as moderate in difficulty level. But if you are fit and love adventures, you will love exploring this hiking trail all the more.
There are several waterfalls in the Araku valley but visiting Chaparai waterfalls, which is about five kilometres from it, is a breathtaking experience indeed. If you are looking for a fun activity-filled day with your loved ones amid lush forests, then you must visit the waterfalls.
Other attractions in the valley include Ananthagiri hills for lovely coffee plantations and waterfalls and Padmapuram Botanical Garden known for unique flowers and trees among others.
Make a trip to Akaru between November to February as the weather is ideal for the picturesque views of the valley that looks more beautiful in freezing temperatures. However, the balmy and pleasant season between September and May is also preferred for hiking and sightseeing in this paradise.
Erra Matti Dibbalu
If you love hiking and photography, then you must visit Erra Matti Dibbalu, a noted National Geo-heritage monument located at the outskirts of Visakhapatnam.
Also known as Red Sand Hills, this heritage site is known for its red coloured sand dunes that are as high as 12.19 metres. You may spot green trees occasionally as you walk through the unending maze of these dunes, making it a fascinating hiking experience.
If you wish to extend your short trip, you may also visit Rushikonda beach and Ramakrishna beach for a calm weekend getaway with your friends and family.
As an ecological site recognised by the government, this place can be visited by anyone who wishes to explore the unique red sand dunes.
The weather between October to March is windy and enjoyable and is considered to be the best time to visit the impressive Erra Matti Dibbalu.
(Hero and Featured Image Credit: Andhra Pradesh Tourism)