Don’t even go there. I mean, in your mind; don’t think Suryalanka is anywhere close to Sri Lanka or has any connection to it.
With a driving distance of about 400 km from Hyderabad, Suryalanka Beach in Guntur in Andhra Pradesh is definitely worth a visit for a weekend with friends or family.
And who knows you come back as a writer or a painter or a believer in the power of nature for the beauty of the place will, undoubtedly, work its magic on your soul.
Ask any Dilliwala about his choice of a holiday and I am more than sure that it would be a beach holiday. Though I don’t consider myself to be a Dilliwala (don’t you know I recently moved to Hyderabad) but beach holiday was nevertheless a good idea in this heat (even Hyderabad has high temperatures like Delhi but the heat here is bearable). With the vacations on and the holiday mood finally settling in we decided to go on a family holiday to the nearest beach to Hyderabad; only condition that we wanted it to be a road trip.
After much research, we zeroed in on Suryalanka Beach in Bapatla in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. Located at a distance of about 400 km from Hyderabad the name too sounded exciting. Friends had already told us about the wonderful roads and after driving thousands of kilometers in the north frankly, we did not worry much about the driving part. Hence, began our journey at about 3:30 in the morning. It is our tried and tested method to beat the city traffic, however, Delhi is the place where you need to stick to it religiously; here in Hyderabad if you are on the exit route via ORR you are sorted.
As we started my daughters said, “Mamma, we can hear the insects snoring.” That was a good omen, for we were going to be close to nature and to be one with ourselves as well. Shifting and settling in a new place does have its side effects.
With some idea of the roads and direction, Google Maps came to our rescue and we were all set for the long ride with the latest music, some sandwiches and lots of chips and juices for the road. About 5:45 we reached 7 (what am I saying?) well 7 is the food joint on the highway to Suryalanka beach. 7 opens at 6 so we had to wait for a few minutes before we could freshen up for the latter part of the road trip so we waited and in the meanwhile clicked many pictures of the sunrise which was clearly visible as there were no high rises. We were already soaking in the fresh air and green views sans the mad life of the city. That’s close to nirvana.
We didn’t stop here for a long time as we wanted to catch up with the time and reach Haritha Beach Resort in Suryalanka as soon as possible because you get the sea facing cottages only when you reach there, even if you have done your bookings in advance. Funny, isn’t it? That’s what we thought. Maybe Andhra Pradesh Tourism has an answer to this.
After driving for about 6 odd hours with a 15-minute break we reached Suryalanka Beach resort and got one of the beach facing cottages. Call it our luck our God’s mercy on us; the two days that we stayed there the weather was cool and cloudy.
We reached the resort at about 10:45 am and wanting to eat something before hitting the beach we reached for the restaurant with the breakfast time just getting over. But to our shock, we were told there is nothing available until 1 pm and nothing really meant anything. So you have been warned. There is no room service and nothing to eat between the meal timings.
Thank God that we were carrying some munchies with us, we ate that and thanked our stars. As soon as the clock struck 1 we ordered our first meal here and although the menu is not vast, you do have a decent choice for a two day stay like some Chinese, South Indian and some north Indian food. Food is reasonably priced and the taste is above average, also there being nothing at all in the vicinity this is the best choice you have.
After lunch, we hit the beach with all enthusiasm and happy tummies. The resort has a gate which opens directly on the beach so all you have to do is just wear your flip flops and walk to the beach.
Now, we have been to Goa five times already in our marriage of 12 years, both with kids and without so you can understand our love for beaches. But this beach was special for us as this was our first meeting with the Bay of Bengal. As a student, I remember marking the Bay of Bengal first in my map test. And today I was actually touching it. Life is a full circle, isn’t it? And God does give us moments to complete our lives; only we have to look more closely.
The beach may not be on the tourist map really, but there were a lot of people on the weekend which proved otherwise. By the looks of it, it seemed that because the weather was good and it being a weekend a lot of people from nearby areas had booked themselves at the resort and then there was a huge crowd from the nearby village too.
The beach itself is quite clean with powdery sand which is firm under your feet which in turn makes a beach stroll so much fun and easy actually.
My kids and husband love water more than I do (confession time) so they did all the diving into the waves, making sand castles, swimming in the sea, I was happy with just watching the waves as they reached for me and walking on the beach, feeling the sweet caress of sea breeze on my face.
Let me tell you that watching and listening to the sea, from the waves splashing onto your feet to the horizon where the difference between the sea and the sky fades, especially if it’s a cloudy day, is indeed therapeutic.
I soaked and enjoyed the spirit of the sea; clicking and talking in between.
The day just passed in a haze which felt like a dream.
With another day at the beach to us, we slept peacefully in our cottage which beautifully stood on stilts, although we could hear the waves still in a mood to play as they were calling out for us.
Just because the sky was overcast, I missed watching the sunset over the sea but then there are some things better left for the next trip too.
Next morning as I withdrew the curtains I saw a beautiful scene which was like a painting on the canvas which only an artist like nature can imagine. Beautifully lined coconut trees and the sea spread ahead like a carpet which is alive and ready to come under your feet to take on a ride high up in the sky, I could not resist the urge to be in the sea myself today. So without wasting any time, Mi Familia was on the beach with all of us walking towards the waves and then jumping as they came near us. It was a lot of fun and we did this for hours together. Remember the last time you jumped with joy?
Suryalanka beach has a life of its own, with a lot of locals thronging the beach there were some ice cream vans, some mango carts and one cart that was selling some vada/pakora kind of a thing with chutney and curry powder.
You can come to Suryalanka only for the beach and nothing else or you will be disappointed.
Tips for travelers:
- Carry a lot of snacks like chips and biscuits for there are no orders taken at the restaurant in between meals.
- Language is a bit of a problem as most of the people speak only Telugu but is manageable.
- Rely on Google maps even if you feel the road doesn’t look like it’s going to the beach.
- Book Haritha Beach Resort – the only place to stay near the beach, in advance
- The rooms are quite clean and tidy with decent housekeeping services but don’t expect much.
- There is a bar in the resort.
- I also saw a gym at the resort but it didn’t look functional. (Of course, as if you go to the beach to work out!)
- 7 is the only decent stop on the entire stretch from Hyderabad to Suryalanka Beach.
How we traveled:
We drove down from Hyderabad to Bapatla via Vijaywada. The roads are good and it is a pleasure to drive. We were mostly on NH 65 from here and you can rely on Google Maps to take you to Suryalanka beach.
There is a tremendous potential in the Indian travel scene and I hope and wish that the relevant authorities understand and take required actions to improve the overall experience for a traveler.
I don’t expect every beach in India to be Goa but then there is so much to achieve and improve for wanting a traveler to become a repeat traveler.