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Grand Canyon Of India Camping

Updated: Oct 12, 2022




Offbeat Travellers / Road Trippers / Bikers


When I first heard that there is a mini grand canyon in India, I could not believe it. I wanted to explore. When I travelled for the first time, I was amazed at the landscape and the beauty. Then, I travelled many times as I curated some trips. I am going to share consolidated experience in this blog for the benefit of Travellers.


Planning:


When you plan, you plan for a minimum of 1 night and 2 days. If you are from Chennai or Bengaluru or Hyderabad or any place within 400 KM from Gandikota, you can do a weekend trip. 


High-level plan: You can plan for Gandikota – Belum or Belum – Gandikota depending upon your place of starting the travel (Chennai / Bengaluru / Hyderabad) or time of starting. 


In this blog, I will be covering our experience of travelling from Chennai. 


Mode of travel: You can travel by Road / Train / Bus to Gandikota: 

  1. If you are travelling by Train, you can get down at Muddanur Railway Station. From there, you can easily get an auto to reach Gandikota.

  2. If you are travelling by Bus, you can get down to Jammalamadugu town and take an auto to Gandikota. Right now, Jammalamadu Pennar River Bridge is under construction. Please check and go. You have to take Prodattur - Muddanur - Gandiota route.

  3. If you want to hire a bike, you can get it from Proddatur, 50 KM from Gandikota. (M D M Auto Consultancy. They charge Rs.500 per bike per day.

Where will you stay in Gandikota?


Best stay is Gorge Facing Camping as it is gorge and reservoir facing. Refer to Swiss Tents and Regular tents pages for details and booking.





Another stay is APTDC's Haritha.

Haritha Hotel provides 3 dormitory rooms (each having 8 beds) and villa type houses. You can book online.


Haritha Gandikota

Haritha Gandikota


Travel start:

I prefer Road trips, specifically, Chennai – Tiruttani – Renigunta – Kadapa – Mydukur – Jammalamadugu – Gandikota route as it is shorter compared to the Nellore route. One can also take Chennai – Tada – Kalahasti – Renigunta route. The Renigunta to Kadapa route has some speed breakers but can be managed. 


You can leave early in the morning from Chennai. You can start as early as 4 or 5 AM. You can have Breakfast at Hotel Saravana or Hotel Kasi near Tiruttani or Hotel in Renigunta. After Renigunta, you will find only some Dhabas till Kadapa. A Dhaba near Koduru gives hot tea which is still in my memory for a long time. 


Just before Vontimitta, there is a Harita Restaurant (managed by Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation). We stopped there to use the restroom. Best place for a decent restroom to have coffee/tea. By the way, Vontimitta is a beautiful temple with intricately carved sculptures.


Vontimitta

Vontimitta


We filled our fuel in a Petrol Bunk at Kadapa. It was touching as the Petrol Bunk is managed by inmates of Kadapa Central Jail. There is a small cafeteria, again managed by inmates. We had some tea and started again. 


After reaching the 4-way junction, generally one gets confused. Use Map help. Left will take you inside Kadapa town and straight will take you through a state road. I always recommend the right 4-way toll road. You can travel comfortably and reach Mydukur quickly. At the Mydukur, you need to take left to go on the Proddatur by-pass to reach Jammalamadugu. 


The road is good. You will find traffic less. After crossing river Pennar at Jammalamadugu hill road starts. It’s not a high altitude hill. It’s just 300 meters. But it’s enjoyable. At some point, you will see the curved road ahead. It will look great. 


Stay – It’s better to book the stay ahead of the trip to choose a better place according to your need and travel. Once you reach Gandikota, you can check in to the stay place. 


After checking in, we normally take a Fort Walk. Let’s talk about Gandikota Fort. The name comprises two Telugu Words, Gandi a gorge and Kota a fort. The famous fort Gandikota acquired its name obviously due to the gorge, formed between the Erramalai range of hills, and the river Pennar that flows its foot, situated amidst beautiful landscape and wild forests. A local ruler Kakaraja, a subordinate of a Western Chalukya king of Kalyana, founded Gandikota in 1the 2nd Century. There are interesting stories behind this beautiful and vast fort. Register by whatsapping to +917550042234 to join KeyTerns group trips to hear stories.



Fort Entrance

Fort Entrance


When you go for the Fort walk, you will first be amazed by the long and big fort wall. The design of the fort, the door, and its lock are all worth noticing. One can climb on top of the fort wall to get a view of the surroundings. Thereafter, one can see ‘Charminar’. Though it is called ‘Char’ ‘Minar’ because of 4 seminars, it’s a Pigeon tower which is generally there in Mughal forts. Pigeon tower is photographic, especially with pigeons flying out.


Pigeon Tower

Pigeon Tower


After seeing Pigeon Tower, one can see Jail. One needs to be careful in going inside Jail as it is not maintained well. It smells because of Bats. However, the photo is good if you stand at the end of a big open space facing the outside field.


Inside Jail

Inside Jail


Inside the Jail complex, one can find Spherical Stone (called Ilavatta Kal in Thamizh). After Jail, one can visit Madhava Perumal Temple. While approaching, you will realize that it is similar to any Vijayanagara Architecture if you have been to temples like Hampi and Tadipatri. You are right. It was built by the Vijayanagara kingdom. There are interesting stories around it. This temple is photographic. 


Madhava Perumal Temple

Madhava Perumal Temple


After Madhava Perumal temple, generally, we break for lunch. A simple south Indian meal is available at Hotel Haritha. After lunch, you can relax for some time and start walking inside the fort. The next interesting place is Masjid or Mosque, which is beautiful. There is a fountain in front of the inner structure. Interestingly, water comes from the terrace of the side structure. There is a manual mechanism. 

Masjid

Masjid


After the Mosque, one can see the Granary where grains used to be stored. If you get a chance, it’s worth seeing inside. If not, one can take the steps on the side of Granary and see through the window. Using that vent, they used to drop grains inside. 

Granary Inside

Granary Inside


After Granary, there comes the grand canyon view. Slowly, climb up. At every stage, stay for a while, admire the beauty of the Canyon or Gorge view. It’s amazing. We have done Sunrise, Sunset and Full moon views. Stunning really. If you can climb up to the top, you can see the backside fort wall running on the side of River Pennar. You can see the Mylavaram Reservoir at the end of River Pennar. 


Gandikota Gorge

Gandikota Gorge


Those who are interested in Adventure can do Rappelling. Rappelling is a means of using a rope to descend in a controlled manner.  

Rappelling

Rappelling


After the Sunset view of Gorge, relax at the stay place. If you are staying in camp, you will enjoy the gorge view.

Campfire

Campfire


If you are staying in camp, you need not go anywhere to see Sunrise. It will be an awesome experience as you will be seeing Gorge from the campsite. After seeing the sunrise, we trekked down the hill to the river Pennar. Walking through the boulders and along the gorge was a stunning experience. We enjoyed walking down by following the moderator. They have also painted the route. That was easier to follow. We went in November. As there was enough water, at a place, water was overflowing like a check dam giving a waterfalls experience. We jumped into the pond with life jackets and played in the water for an hour with a fresh stream of water. That was refreshing and is in fine memories still. 


Waterfalls dip

Waterfalls dip


We came back, got freshened up and had our breakfast in Haritha Hotel. Post that, we checked out and started travelling to Belum Caves.


If you have time, you can visit Mylavaram Reservoir where you can see the Museum and the Reservoir view. The museum is where all the idols and artefacts of the Gandikota fort are kept. 


One can also go to the other side of Gandikota gorge (Agastheeswarar Kona), View will be amazing and different. One has to travel 20+ KM around the Mylavaram reservoir to go to the other side of Gorge. You will enjoy the drive around the Mylavaram reservoir if you can do that.


Agasthyeswara Kona

Agasthyeswara Kona


Belum

It takes around 1.5 hours to reach Belum caves from Gandikota. We reached Belum Caves around lunchtime. There is a decent Cafeteria inside Belum Caves complex. It serves good meals and food like Fried rice. We were hungry. So, we first had our lunch. Then, we took photographs in front of the huge Buddha statue. After that, we went inside Belum Caves. WE also took a guide who explained well in English. Belum caves are open between 10 AM and 5 PM. The guide may charge around Rs.200 / Rs.300 per group. Belum Cave’s experience was fantastic. It’s a 3.5 KM underground limestone cavern (that’s the technical word though we call it caves), out of which 1.5 KM is accessible. AP Tourism has done a great job of creating a way, ramp, air stations and adequate lights to make the experience great. Cave was formed by a river flowing over a million years. After the cave walk, you will salute nature for its wonderfully carved cave and the designs inside.  

Belum Caves

Belum Caves – PC: Mahesh


Interestingly, at the cafeteria, we asked for Ice Cream in cups. They said they are asked not to keep any plastic cups or spoons. So, what they have are cone (biscuit) icecreams. Amazed to see how a small place is ensuring plastic-free. 


Belum Buddha

Belum Buddha

After Belum Caves, we travelled directly to Chennai after dinner at a Restaurant in Renigunta.


If you have time, you can also explore Erra Karam Dosa (Popular Rayalaseema dosa) at Proddatur or some sweets at a 100 years old sweet stall or a popular Biryani at Chennur Biriyani (Shivaram Dum Biryani, Kadapa to Kurnool Highway Road, Chennur, Andhra Pradesh 516162, 093466 33359, https://maps.app.goo.gl/1grCBMWjB1oveESY6)


We reached Chennai a little late in the night. But it was worth it and the most memorable trip. 


Maniratnam’s Chekka Sivantha Vaanam tamil movie climax was taken in Gandikota.


– Blog by TravelTerner

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