The nearest beach to Hyderabad is probably Suryalanka beach. This beach is near Guntur and Vijaywada and a good drive away from Hyderabad. It is like one of those road trips that you think you would go on, but postpone it as the destination is not enticing enough.
So when the one of our colleagues (who was moving to US) invited us to his hometown Guntur, we readily agreed. As added bonus another friend offered his XUV as a ride. And so 6 of us were on our way to Guntur via Vijaywada.
The drive to (and from) Vijaywada was fun. It is a 4 lane expressway with very smooth drive. We cruised at over 100 km, listened to music and played games. Vijaywada to Guntur is a short ride on state highways and so are the excursions to Suryalanka and Amaravati.
However, for us nature lovers, more exciting part was driving through country side finding our way to reach Undavalli caves from Amravati. Google maps was no help on the village roads. Narrow roads forced us to go meandering through many villages and we had to find alternative to the navigation routes. But the beautiful countryside and views of the mountains around, made it worth our time. (But given that Amaravati is going to be the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, many of the fields would be undertaken for construction of the city)
On the way to Vijaywada, we had breakfast at the ‘Seven food court’ couple of hours from Hyderabad. The dishes were freshly prepared and tasty.
We were hosted at the friend’s house for the night and we had the pleasure of traditional Andhra lunch and breakfast of dosa. The lunch comprised of Puliyara (tamarind rice), sambhar, rasam, chutney, pickle and steam rice. All items were homemade and were absolutely delicious.
We also had the Guntur special “Masala”. It is a tasty street food prepared by mixing chopped eggs (or potato or chili bhajji) as base and many other ingredients. We did find a stall open at night and got a taste of all the varieties he had. Definitely worth a try when you are in the area.
The Suryalanka beach
We reached the Suryalanka beach in the evening and were shocked to see how dirty it was. Plastic cups, bags etc. were strewn across the length of the beach. We couldn’t find any stretch which was clean. Probably if we had gone to less public area, we would have found cleaner beach.
The water however, was clean and cool which felt good after heat of the day. We bought a flying disc and played in the water till it got dark. But then another problem awaited us.
There wasn’t a single public changing room with decent facility on the beach. Even the AP tourism Haritha resort didn’t have any common bathroom. After searching the area thoroughly, we found a public bathroom with no electricity and a tank as provision for water.
Our take: You may avoid the beach or go more prepared before twilight time.
We visited the Amareswaram Shiva temple at Amaravati and Kanaka Durga temple at Vijayawada. These are among the most famous pilgrimage in the region. Both are beautiful ancient temples on the banks of the Krishna River. Devotees pay homage to these temples whenever in the area.
We also visited the Dhyan Buddha statue at Amaravati. One of the tallest Buddha statue was built recently, but the work on the complex is still in progress. It is in a peaceful area secluded from the noise of the city.
The Undavalli caves
The best part of the trip was the visit to Undavalli caves. The caves were rock-cut structures carved out of a hill. But the highlight was the amazing view of the countryside from top of the caves.
The approach to the caves is little tricky but once there, do go on second level of the caves to absorb the natural beauty spread till the horizon. After several shots of the lush green fields, trees and the caves, we sat down to just let the feel sink in. At that moment we couldn’t imagine if countryside could be better than that.
- Hyderabad to Vijaywada is around 320 km of 4-lane highway in great condition (as of 2015).
- Vijaywada to Guntur 40 km of National Highway with 2/4-lanes.
- Guntur to Suryalanka 60 km of 2-lane State Highway with few not so good stretches.
- Amaravati forms sort of triangle with Guntur and Vijayawada with distance of 30 km to either place. Roads are narrow but in good condition.
- Undavalli is 10-15 km from Vijayawada on narrow roads and cannot always rely on Google maps in the area.
Do you have a story to tell about your Tam Coc – Hoa Lu experience? Drop in a comment or send us a mail. We will definitely reply. All the interesting tales will be published in a special feature.