Going with the wind

, Inbound

The Vizag Yachting Festival is a great time to visit this laidback town on the pristine east coast

It is truly a wonder that Visakhapatnam, or Vizag as it is fondly called by its residents, is not more popular on the tourist circuit. A beautiful seaside town on the eastern coast of India, Vizag has a gorgeous natural setting – with its shore lined with the mountains, it is unlike any other part of the country. The Eastern Ghats meet the Bay of Bengal in Andhra’s second largest city, making for unique vistas all through the coastline.

What can be better than a chance to explore this coastline and its unique scenery from the luxury of your private yacht? A new festival is letting you do just that. The first Vizag Yachting Festival, which took place at the Vizag port, held last year, brought the unique landscape of Vizag into focus. The headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command, Vizag’s port is a strategically crucial base and has always been of high significance to the country, but this festival was the first time it took on an importance for the leisure traveller. Used to the naval fleet – ships, submarines and the works – and the disciplined routine of the defence services, last year (the festival was held from March 29 to April 1) the Vizag port suddenly found itself in the middle of activity of a very different kind. Not many people would have imagined that one day the Vizag port will be a leisure destination with luxury yachting on offer. And yet that’s exactly what you can do there next month.

The next edition of Vizag Yachting Festival, slated for March 1-3, promises to be another whale of a time. Cruise along the east coast on a 12-14 capacity yacht, a chilled drink in hand, the sun in your eyes and the wind in your hair, enjoying the ghats-meet-ocean natural beauty of Vizag from a vantage point. The festival is a cheerful time in the otherwise sleepy city, when the entire town descends on the port to take part in the merriment. Over three days, there are musical concerts, food, drink, watersports, acrobatics, boat races, contests, and of course, a whole lot of yachting.

In fact, Vizag Yachting Festival is an effort to introduce yachting as a leisure activity for the first time in the country. During the festival, each day sees a different sail-out, the yacht’s itinerary exploring local Vizag attractions such as Rushikonda Beach, Ramakrishna Beach, and Thotlakonda, the popular Buddhist site. Not many people realise that Vizag was once part of the Kalinga region and the heavy influence of Buddhism can still be seen here at various sites, such as the Bojjanakonda hill, located 1.5 hours from town, where you can see rock carvings and murals of the Buddha.

But you needn’t go anywhere during the festival – the port is a buzzing hub that will keep you busy. The whole place is filled with activity during the three days of the festival. From morning to night you are on the water and then there are fun activities to enjoy off the water as well. Last year, original indie bands such as Parikrama and Indian Ocean got everyone to the dance floor and flyboarder Simone Careddu gave an outstanding flyboarding performance that had everyone enthralled. Fuelled up by water-jets, he flew high up in the air above the water and danced to techno songs and thunderous claps and cheers from the crowds.

The sail-outs themselves last the whole day, and you can watch the sun set over the Eastern Ghats right from your yacht, a memorable moment that will stay with you a lifetime. Apart from yachting, you should make time to see INS Kursura, perhaps the most famous landmark of the city, India’s only submarine museum and the first one of its kind in Asia, stationed on the Ramakrishna Beach. The 20-kms Beach Road is an ocean-lined route across the city that makes for a beautiful drive and you can stop at various beaches along the way, including the Ramakrishna Beach, just five minutes before the port. The beach itself is very popular with locals and you can spend a few idyllic hours with a picnic… perhaps watching the yachts sail by!

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