Trekking used to be passion for me when I was in Bangalore. It also helped that Bangalore has so many scenic spots within 100 KM. Comparatively Hyderabad has fewer options, which are no less beautiful.
Let me start with the trekking options closer to the city..
This forest is about 30 KM from Balanagar junction on Nizamabad/Bodhan highway. This is a very small forest, stretching for 4-5 KM on the highway. But is has everything, well almost, a mini-ghat section, thick forest, a hill some 4 KM inside the forest, a large lake, a good number of birds, and a lot of monkeys. This makes an ideal spot for trekking for 4-5 hours on a Saturday or Sunday.
Located 75 KM from Hyderabad, just after Vikarabad, this mini hill range shrouded by thick woods is another trekking spot that can be motored down to at 100-120 KM speed. The road via chevella upto Vikarabad is flanked by beautiful grasslands and sunflower farms. Apart from “Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple” there is not much to Ananthagiri other than trekking down the hills. APTDC is planning to build a resort here very soon.
Moving our attention to the other places in Andhra Pradesh, I feel we have quite a good number of quality trekking spots.
Srisailam is known more for its Mallikharjuna Swamy temple, one of the 12 jyothirlingas in India. But, Srisailam is also a beautiful place with thick forests, a large dam-cum- hydel power project on Krishna river and a good number of waterfalls. Closer to the temple, you can visit the 512 meter-long Srisailam Dam on the River Krishna, that offers magnificent views of the ghats, cliffs and forests. You can also take a brief but exciting trip on River Krishna in an inflatable rubber “dinghy”.
Trekking lovers have 2 options –
1. A visit to the Nagarjunsagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve that is spread over 356,000 hectares, and is the largest tiger reserve in India. A little over 6 sq km in area, the Rollapadu grasslands near Srisailam are dotted with dry, thorny bushes and is home of about a hundred blackbucks. From a distance, one can observe families of blackbucks out on their breakfast trail, a couple of bustards gazing at the horizon while taking a tentative foot forward. At present, day visits to Rollapadu Sanctuary is permitted.
Picture courtesy: www.flickr.com/photos/me_haridas/2265597847/
2. Mallela Theertham –This waterfall is in the middle of dense forest. 40 KM before Srisailam, we need to take a diversion from Srisailam-Hyderabad highway and travel for 8 KM on a bumpy muddy road which is unmotorable during the rainy season. One has to walk down 350 steps to the stunning waterfalls amidst dense jungle. The water comes from a small rivulet and via this place it flows through the dense jungle and then meeting the Krishna River upstream.
Talakona forest & waterfalls
Talakona is located in the picturesque Nagari valley, 45 kms away from Tirupati amidst verdant hills of Nallamalai range. The 60 meter perennial waterfalls is said to contain minerals that have curative properties. Talakona literally means head hill in Telugu (tala – head and kona – hill). However, Thalakona allegorically means “the head of the Seshachalam hills” as these mountains are believed to be the starting point of the Tirumala mountain ranges.
Picture courtesy: www.chennaitrekkers.org/2008/07/talakona-june-21-22-2008_10.html
Talakona can be reached from Tirupathi, 76 KM away, or from Madanapalle (50 KM away) or Bakarapeta (nearest town, 20 KM away) by APSRTC bus or private transport. APTDC operates a guest house in Talakona that has 12 non A/C rooms, and a very functional restaurant. APTDC also had plans for a tree-top restaurant and Machaan cottages. The Talakona waterfalls are about 45 minutes walk from the guest house. It would be great fun to trek up the hill in search of the origin of the water steam. The views from up the hill too would be breathtaking. There are a number of trek routes available in the forest, but it is advisable to take the help of trained guides who are picked up from local forest protection communities maintained by the forest department.
Picture courtesy: http://csuvarna.sulekha.com/blog/post/2008/03/talakona-seat-of-sages.htm
Mamandur, located 20 km from Tirupati, is another trekking option available in the vicinity. There is a guesthouse here with two suites, one dormitory with 10 beds, 4 tent houses and two jungle resort double bed suites. Local Community based Eco-tourism project members are running a canteen for catering to the tourists. The spot is picturesque with panoramic view of the jungle spread over miles and miles. visitors stay here and trek downwards to reach a stream.. The tourist attractions near by include; Brahmadevunigundam waterfall, Kaliviletikona, Golladevuni gundam and Tumburu teertham, all situated in beautiful locales in Seshachalam hill ranges. Wildlife available includes spotted deers, sambar, panther, sloth bear and jungle fowls.
It’s a good idea to club the Talakona trek with a visit to Horsely Hills which is 20 KM from Madanpalle in Chittoor district. Picture courtesy: smrti.net/archives/105
Picture Courtesy: picasaweb.google.com/…/MmtBhZNEd0JWfKRXWdj9Ig
Horsely Hills has a variety of options for accommodation, incl. the forest bungalow, the P W D inspection bungalow and APTDC’s Punnami hotel. The narrow road to Horsely Hills from Madanapalle is very scenic. It is surrounded throughout its entire length with dense growths of eucalyptus, jacaranda, allamanda, and gulmohar trees. The major tourist places around Horsely hills are Lake Gangotri, Highview seeing place, Gaalibanda, Environmental park and Horsley hills Museum. This may sound a lot, but the fact is that Horsely Hills is a small, sleepy hill station where you can relax for a couple of days for dozing off in an armchair, or by taking short walks around the place, or shedding some calries in the swimming pool in the hotel.
Ananthagiri Hills, near Vizag
Ananthagiri is a breathtakingly beautiful resort sheltered in the lush undulating ranges of the Eastern Ghats. Driving through picturesque coffee plantations the road to Ananthagiri with its ups and downs on the Ghat route is literally enveloped with mango groves, waterfalls that gush and flow into the ravines. The Eastern Ghats rail route on this stretch is one of the highest broad gauge tracks in the world.
The journey from Visakhapatnam to Anantagiri offers unforgettable vistas ranging from thick forests to scintillating sunrise and sunset. The entire Anantagiri Hills has a lot of vintage viewpoints that offer enthralling views. Amongst the variety of flora in the forests of Anantagiri are many medicinal plants and herbs. Several swift streams flow through Anantagiri though it is the river Musi or Muchkunda that originates from Anantagiri. The Bhavanasi Lake Anantagiri is referred to as the Badrinath of the South.
Anantagiri is located of the top of the Elysian Tirumala Hills approximately 17 km from Araku valley, which is 112 kms from Visakhapatnam. Anantagiri is the located among the ranges of the Eastern Ghats at a distance of 40 km from Visakhapatnam.
Kondaveedu Fort is about 25 km from Guntur. It was built during the rule of the Reddy kings. Located on a hilltop, this historical fort offers around 21 structures to be seen. There are also many temples, residential structures, pillared halls and the entrance gate ways worth seeing here. The panoramic view from the summit is awe inspiring and is ideal for trekking. The Gopinatha Temple and Kathulabave at the foothill are other major attractions of Kondaveedu.
(You will find the above photos and an excellent travelogue at kunal.wordpress.com/category/travelogue/kondaveedu)
The road route from Hyderabad is via Narketpally-Miryalaguda-Piduguralla-Narsaraopeta-phirangipuram
While you are there, you may also want to visit Guttikonda bilam. 38 km from Narasaraopet town, Guthikonda caves are located amidst dense forest. The environment here is serene and legend has it that many Rishis meditated here for centuries. The place is also popularly known as Dakshina Kasi.