Andhra Pradesh & Telangana
Andhra Pradesh borders India’s south-eastern coast. The north-western portion of the state was bifurcated to form a new state of Telangana. A major cultural landmark includes Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, an ornate hilltop shrine to Hindu’s Vishnu, in the southern part of the state. It’s visited by tens of millions of pilgrims annually. Hyderabad, the fascinating capital is reason enough on its own to visit this region. Its old quarter of colorful markets, teahouses, biryani restaurants, and narrow lanes is studded with the monuments and palaces of bygone dynasties. The major northern port of Visakhapatnam has popular beaches like Ramakrishna and Rishikonda lining the Bay of Bengal, offering spots for swimming and surfing, with the wonderful medieval temple sculptures of Palampet, the beauty of ancient Buddhist sites such as Sankaram and Guntupalli hidden in deep countryside, and Belum Caves, the longest caves in Indian subcontinent spread in other parts of the city.
The Old City of Hyderabad is everything you might dream an Indian old city to be like – narrow lanes thronged with markets, chai shops, wandering animals, auto rickshaws, a whirl of noise, colors, languages, and religions dotted with stately old architecture in varying states of repair. Two unbelievably wealthy Muslim royal houses, the Qutb Shahs and the Asaf Jahs, came and went from this city of pearls and diamonds, leaving a legacy of magnificent palaces, mosques, and tombs. Its historic sites include Golconda Fort, a former diamond-trading center that was once the Qutb Shahi dynastic capital. The Charminar, a 16th-century mosque whose four arches support towering minarets, is an old city landmark near the long-standing Laad Bazaar.
Visakhapatnam, commonly known as Vizag, is a port city on the south-east coast of Bay of Bengal. It is often referred to as “The Jewel of the East Coast” and the “City of Destiny.” While this city is known for its seaport, natural harbor, and shipyard, it has quite a few sandy beaches, each of which is absolutely breathtaking. Ramakrishna Beach, Yarada Beach, and Bheemunipatnam are few of the popular ones. Nearby are the elaborate Kali Temple and the Visakha Museum, an old Dutch bungalow housing local maritime and historical exhibits.
Vijayawada, on the northern bank of Krishna River, is to be Andhra’s new capital. Vijayawada is a good base for visiting some fascinating old Buddhist sites in the lush and green surrounding area. The city is considered by many to be the heart of Andhra culture and language, and its 12th-century Kanaka Durga Temple draws many pilgrims. The 1.3-km–long Prakasam Barrage across the Krishna here feeds three irrigation canals that run through the city.
Belum Caves are the second largest caves and the longest caves in plains of the Indian subcontinent, known for their stalactite and stalagmite formations. Belum Caves have long passages, spacious chambers, fresh water galleries, and siphons. The caves reach their deepest point (120 feet from entrance level) at the point known as Pataalaganga. Belum Caves derives their name from “Bilum,” a Sanskrit word for caves.