Gandikota, a small village in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, known as the Grand Canyon of India! There stands a spectacular gorge, formed by river Pennar that cuts through the Erramala hills. Surrounded by a deep valley and impassable hills and with massive boulders of red granite and the river Pennar that flows about 300 ft.below on the west and northern sides, its location affords strong natural defense to the occupants of the Fort. Forget the itinerary and just go talk to locals to get details about the not-so-well-known destinations in the vicinity. Most guide books just suggest popular destinations and ignore the offbeat ones.
The notable and on the books places you can visit and do in Gandikota are:
1. Wander about the ruins of the Gandikota Fort :
The fort, made in red sandstone,comprises of gorgeous palaces with intricate carvings, perennial springs and a 5 mile perimeter wall guarding the fort. The surroundings are still thickly vegetated and natural habitat to a wide array of wildlife as well as rich in natural resources.
A walk inside the Gandikota fort still reveals the extent of grandeur and architectural marvel that this era was subject to at its peak. Remnants of the ruins of the once glorious military outpost can still be witness of the planned and organized segregation of the interior area into several distinct operational areas. A trip to Gandikota is absolutely worth it if you wish to indulge in Gandikota fort’s history narrating the tale of an entirely different civilization that existed centuries ago!
2. Wallow in breath-taking views of the gorge and the Pennar River :
Formed between the Erramala range of hills, also known as Gandikota hills and the river Pennar that. It is difficult to imagine that the Pennar River in Gandikota could carve such a huge gorge but the continuous flow of its water eventually cut a deep trench through the landscape, exposing many layers of rock and creating the spectacular site we see today. Just like the Grand Canyon in Arizona, this massive gorge is a stunning assemblage of rocks, cut and layered in the most peculiar way as if they were arranged by hand!Climbing up those treacherous rocks can be a task in itself, but the amazing views you’ll get once you’re up there, is totally worth it.
3. Get lost in the massive and nature’s architectural marvel of Belum caves :
Belum Caves is the second largest cave system in the Indian subcontinent. The Intricate formations created by nature add immensely to the allure of the Belum caves. The rock formations at Belum caves are proof that wonderful things can appear when water meets limestone. One of the most interesting features here is the Saptasvarala Guha (the chamber of seven notes) where the stalactite formations produce musical sounds when struck with a wooden stick or knuckles.
Deep inside the dark and mysterious Belum caves is a perennial underground stream that forms a natural waterfall at the lowest point in the caves (150 feet below ground level). Called Patalganga, this mysterious stream appears at one point, flowing over slippery rocks, before disappearing into the depths of the earth.
Some really unique Buddhist and Jain relics have been found at the Belum caves. The serene 40-foot Buddha statue built here by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) is a beautiful symbol of the role of the monks in the history of these caves. The black limestone caves of Belum have a maze of sixteen cavernous paths and a pit cave entrance that makes this hidden gem accessible to adventure seekers.
4. Watch the sun going down from banks Rayalacheruvu Lake :
Adjacent to Gandikota fort, lies a magnificent lake that is believed to have been established by Emperor Sri Krishnadevaraya using water from the Pennar River. One can sit on the bank of the lake on their trip to Gandikota and admire the canvas of nature before him- calm and clear water in front, layers and layers of the tranquil Erramala hills in the backdrop, pretty hues painted in the sky, and many native and migratory birds peeping out of the thickets every now and then. Be it for a few moments of solitude or adventure, you can opt from an array of water crafts at the facility, including the basic canoe and kayak.
5. Find tranquility at the architecturally rich and serene aura of the Temples and Mosque :
You will find remnants of two spectacular temples near the village, the Madhavaraya temple and Raghunathaswamy temple. The Raghunathaswamy temple, made of red granite, is a complex system of pillars,hallways, and corridors with an air of mystery about them, since the temple has not a single idol of Gods and Goddesses. The Madhavaraya temple on the other hand, is a fascinating play of architecture with many sculptures of Hindu Gods and everyday rituals of common people carved on the pillars and walls of the temple.
From the top of the entrance of the Jamia Masjid of the Gandikota fort, one can spot the Gopuram of the Madhavaraya temple located close by. Visitors of the masjid are first greeted by a grand multi-arched entrance, and then the main prayer hall where thousands once converged in heartfelt prayers.
Both stand beside each other in utter peace and harmony.
Gandikota has everything for everyone, even for the adventure hungry. As it is slowly stepping out and coming under the tourism spotlight, various travel ventures are starting to take hold in the village. One can get down to the gorge and engage in a number of adventure activities like rock climbing,kayaking, rappelling, and trekking on their trip to Gandikota.
This place can certainly make “The Grand Canyon” in Arizona green-eyed over its supercalifragilisticexpialidocious views and mountain ranges!