Exactly 1,520 ft above sea level, Tyda – a small tribal settlement in the Eastern
Exactly 1,520 ft above sea level, Tyda – a small tribal settlement in the EasternGhats – shows the world that it is perfectly possible to conduct life without a telephone, a cellphone or a TV remote. Tyda’s beauty is heightened primarily because it remains impervious to the overtures of mobile phone companies. This little jungle camp has neither landline nor mobile connectivity.
The climb up the hills begins a little after Srungavarapukota. If you are taking the road, keep a towel handy. The bath-friendly waterfalls are sure to delay your arrival at your destination by a few hours.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
There are a lot of activities to fill your days in Tyda, especially for those looking for a break from city life. An early morning walk in the dew, a power trek across the ravines to reach the summit just in time for a glorious sunrise, watching birds go about their daily routine, rock-climbing, target shooting: take your pick from Tyda’s nature-friendly activities.
You can pick up good honey and local forest produce like soapnut, shikakai and amla, either at the tourism counters or from the tribals themselves. The weekly markets (held on Sunday and alternate days) are a good place to buy local herbs and spices.
There are plenty of activities here, for guests to indulge in, including bird-watching early morning, trekking, picnicking, photography and target shooting.
You can pick up basic bird-watching gear like binoculars, walking sticks and camera rolls from the camp office. For newbie bird-watchers, any colourful bird so charged up and chirpy in the morning is a pleasure to watch.
The 40-minute trek from the jungle camp is a random walk up, up and above into the mountains to end up at a rock where you can watch the cottony clouds cover the mountains as the early morning rays filter across the horizon.
The target shooting is a basic set-up of a bull’s eye on a cardboard perched on a tripod. The wooden bows and arrows are basic, but serve the purpose.
‘Katiki’, in Telugu, means difficult and sturdy. Diehard trekkers can trek for 12 km to the waterfalls, right from the main road if they want to. Even as you start trekking down the rocky terrain with dense outgrowth underneath, you are likely to be offered help from a Gadaba tribal to take you there person ally. It’s a good idea to go with them because they know the way and their company keeps you safe.
En route, a fast thread of water gushes forth from over a rock. Here’s your chance to wash off the sweat with cool waters that are travelling all the way from the nearby Gosthani river. Thanks to the hordes of visitors, there are strategic makeshift steps to perch on and reach the glorious water-fall. There are no separate bathing areas. Everybody walks underneath the waters to get drenched.
Katiki can also be reached by a 4-km ghat road that starts from Borra Caves. However, this road is motorable only by jeeps and SUVs because of the rocky surface. A jeep can be hired to Borra Caves and back.
TIP Visit Katiki well before sunset. The road is deserted and unsafe in the dark
The Ananthagiri coffee plantations, 12 km ahead of Tyda on the Araku Road, are a good stopover after the waterfall adventure. The local in charge will show you around the coffee plantation. You can buy a packet of freshly powered coffee or simply have a cup right there.
At 2,182 ft above sea level, 400 steps below the ground, and 2 km in length, this cave series is what the Patalaloka (underground world) must be like in the Chandamama stories. ‘Borra’ means hole in Oriya, and the caves were first discovered when a cow fell into the hole here and resurfaced in the water a little ahead.
It is sweaty and damp inside. Water drips from the most unexpected, hidden crevices. The first thing to look out for here is the large hole right above your head once you reach the flat ground in the cave. The hole has dense trees on its rim and it is flush with bright sunlight that gets mitigated with the leaves of the tree.
The limestone caves have been known to exist since Lord Rama’s time. However, it is Andhra Pradesh Tourism that installed sodium vapour lamps in 1992 and made it a tourist attraction. When water cuts across rock, the water gets trapped in the crevices and limestone deposits form. Some of these deposits form stalactites; some form stalagmites, which stick up from the cave floor.
Known as Kotilingalu, the cluster of shivalings is the star attraction. The water drips over the shivaling, drop after drop, just the way you see in any Shiva temple. Then you espy a rock formation that resembles Shiva with his consort Parvati and Sage Narada. It has taken over a million years for the rocks to take these shapes. That’s not all. There are rock and lime stone formations that conspire together rather mysteriously to form a Hanuman with folded hands, a tiger ready to pounce on its prey, a maize cob, etc. There are over 20 natural rock formations that look as though someone has chiselled them. But then, they are the work of nature.
Another unusual stream of water, which has a transparent yellow layer on it is apparently where Sita is believed to have taken a bath with turmeric. Incidentally, analyses of the water have shown that it has the same properties as that of turmeric dissolved in water. The journey into the caves demands that you be fit. Be warned that those with breathing problems may face discomfort
Entry ₹50 Timings 9.00am-6.00pm Camera ₹200
WHERE TO STAY AND EAT
Jungle Bells Nature Camp (Vizag Reservations Tel: 0891-2788820, Cell: 08985599377; Tariff: ₹1,200-2,000), the eco-tourism guesthouse and camp run by Andhra Pradesh Tourism, is the only accommodation available. The onsite restaurant serves a range of tandoori dishes.
You can opt for a cottage that looks like an igloo (made of wood and cane) or a log hut. All the reservations are done at the CROs at Hyderabad or Visakhapatnam (see The Information on p467). Book at least a month in advance if you are going there on a weekend. Most importantly, the check-out time is 10.00am, so check in during the morning to justify the tariff, as it includes breakfast.
The resort organises free trekking, birdwatching and the Dhimsa dance on weekends as well as on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On other days, however, you can hire a guide.
You can also stay at the Ananthagiri Hills Resort (Tel: 08936-231888, Cell: 07382982574; Tariff: ₹1,686-4,497) in Ananthagiri. The resort has rooms and cottages, some with air conditioning and is the perfect base to explore the area. There is a restaurant here as well.
When to go Any time of the year Location At 1,520 ft in the Eastern Ghats, 75 km from the district HQ at Visakhapatnam Air Nearest airport: Visakhapatnam Rail Nearest rail: Tyda