As Gandikota is an ancient fort beside a gorge, it has been named so. If you are not sure, what are gorges – when water flows continuously on boulders, the rocks start eroding and form valleys, which are pathways for the water to flow. The valleys thus formed are called gorges. Here too, a canyon has been formed by the river that flows between the mountains. For hundreds of years, the Penna river has been flowing on the same path, creating the Gandikota Canyon. These mountains are made of Red Granite. The eighty feet tall mountains and the river flowing between them creates a magical site. Gandikota Is a great place for nature lovers. Usually most of the ancient forts that we see are in a dilapidated state, but it is still not so bad with the Gandikota Fort. The main structures are still worth exploring as they exist in good bits and pieces. It does give a good experience.
These caves are natural caves which are explored popularly now by tourists. The caves are known as Belum Caves. The land on top of these caves are cultivable. Below, the caves are huge and hollow! Lights and ventilation systems have been arranged inside the caves, so that visitors can comfortably explore the caves. A large statue of Gautam Buddha is in front, welcoming you to the caves. A spiral staircase has been built to help you go down the caves. For fully exploring the caves, anything less than an hour is not enough, especially if you are a history or nature lover. India’s Grand Canyon is as picturesque as the Grand Canyon of America.
What we plan to do:
We will of course visit the Gandikota Fort and Belum Caves. That’s our priority. But we will also do a short trek to reach the Gandikota Dam viewpoint. There is also a nice rock garden which we will visit. There is a river flowing under the viewpoint and we must hike to it. And what more, if we manage to have time and favourable weather conditions on our side, we will also be doing adventure activities like Kayaking! We will also try to visit the sunrise and sunset from beautiful locales.
Now that you are aware of the basics, you might be curious to know more about these places. So, read on:
India’s Grand Canyon!
The diversity of our country is unparalleled – whether it is about our culture, history and style. There are many architectural brilliance that had been built many many years back and they still amaze us. Gandikota is one such asset of the past which is in South India and has been drawing tourists from across the country. This village is at a distance of 1.5 hours away from the Belum caves. Gandikota is lovingly also called the Arizona of India or India’s Great Canyon. If you are wondering why, it is because of the Pennar river flowing through deep valleys and huge granite boulders, forming an eye-ball grabbing gorge. If you have been attracted by pictures of the canyon of Arizona’s Colorado river, the steep canyons of Gandikota, the narrow valleys and the streams flowing through them, rocky walls will almost make you believe that you are already there with its grandeur. Seeing the Pennar river, you might find it unbelievable that it has created such a deep trench. But the flow of water over the years eventually has exposed the multiple layers of rocks.
Gandikota is a village which is located on the banks of the Pennar river. The name ‘Gandikota’ comes from two different Telugu words – ‘Gandi’ which means forge, and ‘Kota’ which means fort. This small village which is situated on the Pennar river’s right-side bank falls under Andhra Pradesh’s Kadapa district. It is still an offbeat tourist destination and is located between the hills of Eramalla. The natural resources and the scenery, the landscapes here are so dramatic that you are going to be quite surprised that such a place remains not-so-popular as of yet. The Gandikota Grand Canyon exploration will not need more than a day and thus is ideal for a quick and short trip. From the main entrance, you will have to take a one kilometer walk to arrive at the boulder where there is an amazing viewpoint close to the fort, from where you can enjoy the view. Tip for you: The terrain is a difficult one, so you must not forget to wear a pair of comfortable shoes! After to climb till the viewpoint, the gorgeous view will definitely make you awestruck.
Gandikota has seen the rule of various empires. Before being ruled by the British, it had been under the rule of the Chalukya, Viyanagara, Nayaka, Mughal and Quli Qutub. Because of the reigns of so many different rulers, you will find their shadow on the area too. Out of all the kingdoms, the Nayaka dynasty had ruled here for the longest. After conquering the fort, they had ruled from here for almost 300 years.
Gandikota Fort – You must have realised by now that the Gandikota Fort is the most important attraction of the whole trip. The fort was built on top of the gorge in the 13th century and is a testimony of the changing times. From the fort, tourists can get a good view of the valleys and hills below. It was built using red sandstone and in the interior of the fort, you will be amazed to find intricate carvings. A huge gate which is twenty feet high guards the fort and forms the entrance to the fort. There are 101 bastions and each of them are more than forty feet tall. This is one of the greatest forts that one can find in the southern parts of the country. There were palaces in the fort which looked elegant because of the exquisite carvings. You will not doubt this fact once you visit this fort surrounded by the gorge and trails of the hills. The fort is still sturdy and has the pennar gorges on each side. The gorge was its natural line of defence on both the northern and western sides. Back in the days, the people who stayed on the fort had the fort serving as their first line of defense. You will be able to see monolithic boulders made of red granite even now, when you visit the fort. A majestic wall which is almost five mile long, guards the fort. There are quite a few structures inside the fort worth visiting, like the granary, temple ruins and a jail.
If you are a history buff, you should seriously consider booking a trip to Gandikota fort for yourself as it will let you have a glimpse of the historical times. Even the walls of the fort will tell you stories about the different civilizations that had existed and ruled it hundreds and hundreds of years ago!
Gandikota waterfalls – After you finish exploring the fort, you can follow the trail that will take you to a waterfall. The view around the area is beautAfter hiking or trekking, you can take a dip in the water and refresh yourself before you move on to the next tourist spot.
Viewing the sunset and sunrise at the canyon – Somehow, viewing the sunset and sunrise from spectacular viewpoints are something that interests travellers all around the world. The canyon at Gandikota doesn’t lack in this attraction too as the Pennar river flowing through the gorge at the canyon forms an unforgettable viewpoint, especially for sunset. You will be able to click some jealousy-inducing holiday pics as the rays of the sun bathes the whole area with the orangish tint and the beautiful sky with its myriad hues too adds to the whole scenery. Thus, viewing the sunset is a must when you are in Gandikota.
Gandikota Camping – If you are an adventurous person, you are probably always looking for a place which offers trekking and camping opportunities. You will be happy to know that camping at Gandikota is something that you can and should do. Camping at Gandikota will add on to the Gandikota trek and make it a trip just as you like. Gandikota trekking is popular too because of the opportunity to explore so many things. You can find a safe spot and put up your tent. If you camp here at night, the starry skies, the murmur of the soft winds and the different sounds of nature will fill up your mind with serenity. Camping under the stars will make your night truly memorable. You must absolutely miss putting up your tent on the hill surface for a night and you should also enjoy a bonfire with your fellow travellers.
Belum Caves – The largest caves of India are Meghalaya’s Krem Liat Prah caves. The second largest caves of the country are in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district. It is also the longest cave which the general people can enter in India. As it is very near to Gandikota, a visit to Gandikota and Belum Caves go hand in hand. People also call it the Gandikota caves and these caves were discovered in the year of 1983. The Belum caves have a depth of 46 meters! The point where the caves end is called Pataalaganga. At this ending point, you will find an underground stream. This stream flows throughout the year, sometimes gliding over the rocks and then again going under the surface. The statue of Lord Buddha which is forty feet tall is one of the primary attractions of these caves. It has been installed right outside the caves as a mark of tribute to the monks for their roles in the caves. Both Buddhist and Jain monks were inhabitants of these caves at some time during the past. Belum caves are located in a small village having the same name.From Kurnool, one can reach the caves by hiring a cab or by taking a bus.
Adventure activities – Slowly but steadily, tourism at Gandikota is picking up momentum. The hidden gem is coming to light and is attracting more and more travellers each year. Recreational activities and adventure sports have been introduced in the village. Tourists have the option of doing a number of activities in Gandikota like rappelling, rock climbing, trekking, paragliding and kayaking. Kayaking as an adventure sport has become famous in India too. Various companies have set up here who are trying to establish and make a name by providing adventure sports facilities and help.
Religious attractions in the area:
Madhavaraya Temple – What will draw you attention here is the intricacy of the architecture. This temple has been dedicated to Mahavishnu. The outside of the temple might not look very impressive to you, but the interior is far from humble and looks very attractive. The walls of the temple and also the Gopuram have carvings of different sculptures and statues of various Hindu deities. Inside the Dwaram entrance, you will also be able to see tortoises and fishes, all carved very artistically. This temple houses several idols and is an architectural masterpiece. The presence of several sculptures makes it a popular sport for tourists, especially for the religious-minded. This temple is popular with the local residents too who come here to offer their prayers.
Ranganathaswamy Temple – This is an ancient temple which was probably built five hundred years ago. The unique temple is located on the premises of the Gandikota fort. This is another temple where the design and architecture is dexterous and stunning. Devotees get mesmerised by looking at the artistic and skilful work. Though it is less impressive than the Madhavaraya temple, it is still very attractive.There are two remarkable features of this temple – first, the corridors, which are airy and the second one might surprise you, unlike the Madhavaraya temple, there are no idols in this temple! This adds an element of mystery to even the walls of the temple. There are tall pillars throughout the temple, making the hallways look complex.
Jamia Masjid – Just beside the Ranga Natha Swamy temple, you will find Gandikota’s Jamia Masjid. The architecture of the mosque is quite simplistic but the typical Islamic architecture has a very elegant look here. The mosque is quite big and it bears a resemblance to Hyderabad’s Charminar. The entrance to this mosque has a grand structure with multiple arches. It will lead you to the main prayer hall. As mentioned, the mosque is very near to the Ranga Natha Swamy temple, and the Madhavaraya temple is also visible from the top of the entrance. There are many trees in this area and the vicinity also serves as a camping spot.
After you see the presence of temples and mosque in the same fort premise, you will appreciate the harmony and diversity that our country has, a lot more.
Other places around Gandikota worth visiting:
And if you are on a long trip and are looking for more ho;lidays spots near Gandikota, the top places are:
Hyderabad and other nearby major cities like Bangalore and Vijawada are well-connected to Kadapa by road. You can go till Jammalamadugu or Proddatur and from there get on an auto or a cab to reach Gandikota.
By Flight – The nearest airport which is well-connected to Gandikota is the Bengaluru or Kempegowda International Airport. You can fly down to Bangalore and then take a private taxi or bus to reach Gandikota, which will be a distance of 345 kms. It will take you around six hours to reach. The Tirupati airport located at Renigunta is also near.
By rail – Three nearest railway stations to Gandikota are Jammalamadugu station which is just 18 kms away, the Kadapa station which is 77 kms away and the Tadipatri/Tirupati station which is 85 kms away. From Bangalore, there are direct trains coming to Gandikota.
By car – If you live in Hyderabad, Bangalore or Vizag, consider yourself lucky, because major cities like these are well-connected with Gandikota through the Indian national highways, NH7. The state highways and many link roads are well-connected with the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is a good option if you have a road trip on your mind.
First, let us tell you when NOT to go. Avoid, avoid, avoid the summer season! The temperature here can get as high as 45 degree centigrade, no one can enjoy this sweltering hot weather. The weather remains pleasant between the months of August and January. The winter season is the ideal time for a visit to Gandikota. February remains cool too.
Meet at Madhapur Metro Station & leave Hyderabad at 3.30 am
Reach Gandikota. Explore the place and enjoy adventure activities.
See main tourist spots of Gandikota. Hiking to get a birds eye view of the village.
View sunset, have dinner (local cuisine) and end the day.
Wake up really really to view the sunrise.
Proceed towards Belum Caves after visiting remaining places.
Leave for Hyderabad after visiting the Rock Garden.