Visakhapatnam: There is no "off-season" for tourism in Visakhapatnam but visitors flocking to this picturesque port city, badly battered by cyclone 'Hudhud', will have to wait until the many delights of the heritage-rich destination are restored to its former glory.
Today, tourism infrastructure in Vizag city and other important tourist spots in the district lie shattered due to Hudhud?s deadly impact and it will take a few more months even for basic repairs.
While Andhra Pradesh as a whole attracts over 200 million tourists per annum, bulk of them visit Vizag.
Besides people from various parts of Andhra Pradesh, Vizag attracts visitors from West Bengal, Odisha and Chhattisgarh in large numbers.
"While Tirupati is the pilgrimage hub, Vizag is the tourist hub of Andhra Pradesh. It attracts lots of visitors every year," Special Chief Secretary (Tourism) Chandana Khan pointed out.
Kailasagiri, the hill that offers a bird?s-eye view of the Bay of Bengal and the 'steel city', is one of the prime tourist spots that bore the brunt of Hudhud?s devastating blow.
All greenery atop the picturesque hill has been wiped out and the ropeway from the foot to the top of the hill has been damaged. The ?joy train?, a major attraction on Kailasagiri, has also derailed.
"For a tourist, a visit to Vizag is incomplete without a trek to Kailasagiri. Hudhud has left it in shambles now," Lakshmikanth Raja, co-founder of Vizag Entrepreneurs, said.
The scenic beauty on the Vizag Beach Road, always teeming with tourists and locals, is now lost.
Statues and sculptures that adorn the road remain uprooted as Hudhud came with a ferocious wind speed of over 200 kmph. A replica of the Indian Air Force's plane close to the Ramakrishna Beach, crashed.
INS Kursura, the decommissioned Naval submarine that was converted into a museum and installed on the beach road, also got hit by Hudhud but the damage was said to be not extensive.
The VUDA Park, the Tenneti Park and other green spots on the coast, pleasant hideouts for tourists and locals alike, have lost their shape.
Dolphin?s Nose area, close to the Vizag Port, that offers a vantage view of the anchored ships also suffered damage.
Rishikonda beach resort of the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, a much sought-after place of stay for tourists, was battered by Hudhud.
Doors, windows and other physical infrastructure at the resort remains damaged.
?Hudhud has battered our infrastructure. Besides the Rishikonda beach resort, our other properties at Anantagiri and Tyda in Visakhapatnam district and Baruva beach resort in Srikakulam district have suffered damages,? Khan told PTI.
The Beach Corridor Project between Visakhapatnam and Bhimili, taken up at a cost of Rs 42 crore, was also hit by Hudhud, Khan said.
"Here the loss is around Rs 7-8 crore. We have to rebuild everything,? the Special Chief Secretary added.
Thotlakonda and Baavikonda, close to Vizag on the Beach Road leading to Bhimili, that houses the ruins of Buddhist era, now remain ruined, though partially.
"We have to repair and rebuild our infrastructure, particularly the resorts, to attract tourists again. It will take a few more months," Khan said.