The Grand Canyon, I am writing about is not of America but it is in India. Yes, you heard it correctly. India also has it's canyon which can be easily visited by tourists. So, lets get started!
The Grand Canyon is in a small village of Gandikota situated on banks of river Penna in Kadapa district, a southern state of India, Andhra Pradesh. The Grand Canyon is visible from fort of Gandikota which was center of power for many dynasties, such as the Kalyani Chalukyas, Pemmasani Kamma Nayakas, and the Golconda Sultanate. Gandikota village was capital of Nayakas for more than 300 years and they built this huge fort with 101 towers replacing the previous sand fort built by Chalukyas. Mulslim rulers added Islamic architecture which increases the beauty of fort.
Main attractions at the fort includes House of the Drum (drums were used to alert the army in case of invasion), Charminar, Jail and Red Koneru (Also known as pond of Swords, The huge lake in front of the mosque, where the warriors used to dip their swords in this lake and the waters used to turn blood red after the war).
The fort of Gandikota acquired name due to the 'gorge', formed between the Gandikota hills and the river Pennar that flows at its foot.
How to Reach
Gandikota is located in the Kadapa district southern part of Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. This is place is well accessible by Trains and Buses. Airport is not available at this place. Best way to reach Gandikota is by train. Gandikota is on the Hyderabad - Tirupati route hence many it is easily accessible by trains.
By Train - The nearest railway station to Gandikota is Jammalamadugu but train frequency is very low. The other nearest station is Muddanur around 28 KM. From Muddanur, buses are available.
By Road - Direct buses to Gandikota are not available. You need to change multiple buses based on your source. If you are coming from any major city then this option is not suitable. You can come by personal vehicle, road condition is very good till Jammalamadugu. Roads in Gandikota are not that bad.
By Air - There are no major airports available near Gandikota. International airport is Hyderabad Airport (RGIA) which is around 400 KM. Domestic Airport is Tirupati airport or Hyderabad airport which is around 225 KM and 400 KM respectively.
There is no option of any transport facilities inside fort hence be ready to walk to explore the fort.
Food and Stay
Gandikota is a small village hence you will not find any fancy hotels and restaurants. The state run guest house is available near fort but do not expect much. Food options at the guest house are also very less. You will find better food and stay options in Jammalamadugu or Muddanur. If you are coming by train then you will find small restaurants outside station. You can have the meal and then start your journey towards Gandikota.
What to Expect?
Gandikota is small village hence do not keep much expectations about the facilities and services. Explore the fort, it's architecture, how different rules has added some beauty to the fort. Walk around the places, spend some time at Canyon and take good photographs.
As an IT professional, we get Saturday and Sunday off. It was around 5 PM, Me and my roommate was looking for some places to spend the weekend. At that time, I was in Hyderabad. My friend suggested that we should visit the Gandikota. By next moment, I said yeah, let's go! We started searching for mode of transport, we found the train which leaves at around 8 PM from Hyderabad and reaches Muddanur at around 4 AM. For return also, we searched for the train which leaves around 10 PM from Muddanur and reached Hyderabad at around 6 AM. Train timings were matching perfectly as we wanted. In 10 minutes, we were ready with the plan, backpack and some snacks to eat on the way. we called our 2 more friends and asked if they wants to join us they were also ready.
We started our journey towards railway station, on the way we had some snacks and took some parcel for dinner. As it was sudden plan, there were no reservations for any of us. We bought general class (seating) train ticket and were waiting for the train. You have to be very much lucky to get the seat in General class in India. Luckily, we got the seats for all of us and our journey started towards the Gandikota. We had dinner in the train and took small nap. Around 4.30 AM, we reached at Muddanur. There was no one at the railway station except the staff. We went outside to search for the bus but came to know that first bus is at 6 AM. We waited for the bus till that time we had our breakfast. Bus came and then we continued our journey towards Gandikota.
After about an hour, we reached to Gandikota. We got freshen up at the state run guest house and had some snacks. After the heavy breakfast, we started exploring the beauty of Grand Canyon of India. The fort is huge with mix of hindu and muslim architecture. The view of Canyon was breathtaking. It was a starting of the rainy season so not much water was available in the river. We spent around 2 hours exploring the canyon then took bath at the pond available in the fort.
After spending around 4-5 hours in Gandikota, we came back to Jammalamadugu. We had lunch there and started our journey to the mysterious destination that is Belum Caves. Belum Cave is one of the longest underground cave in India. It is located around 60 KM from Gandikota. From Jammalamadugu, private buses are available which will drop you outside of Belum caves and it will around one and half hour to reach there. Belum Caves are maintained by Archaeology Department of Indian government. You will have to pay entry charges to visit the Belum Caves. If you are in group then you can hire a guide as well who will give information about caves in details. There is no proper ventilation once you enter the caves hence try to wear light clothes, it will too hot inside caves. After visiting Belum caves for about 2 hours, we started journey back.
Krem Liat Prah is a longest underground cave in India located in the Meghalaya state.
We didn't wanted to go back Muddanur to catch the train as it will be around 90 KM from Belum Caves and we were not aware about the mode of transportation or bus timings. Instead, we tried searching for nearest railway station, we found that Tadipatri is the nearest railway station for us. We asked for way to reach the Tadipatri, they told us that we will get bus from outside. Instead of waiting for bus, we tried our luck in hitchhiking. Luckily, one truck stopped for us and he agreed to dropped us at Tadipatri. Around 5 PM, we reached at Tadipatri but the train was at around 11 PM. It was the same train which will come from Muddanur. We wanted to spend time somehow but no options available. After sometime, we decided to watch movie that too in local language. Three of us were aware of Telugu language except me. So, one person used to explain me what exactly is going on after each dialogue. The movie ended at around 8.30 PM, after than we had dinner and were waiting at train station of train. After some time, train came, we boarded the train and were heading back to home.
Best time to visit
There are no restrictions on visiting Gandikota but August to October are best months. I suggesting these two months because, after 2 months of rain (June and July), there will some water in the river and greenery in the surrounding. So, the views of Canyon will be great and your visit will be memorable.
Gandikota trip is one of my favourite and memorable trip. We spent just 10 minutes in planning this trip which rarely happens because you have to take care of all the things like transportation, food, stay. We visited this place in the month of June so there was not much water in the river. I will definitely visit this place again. I would definitely recommend this place to be on your list. Plan the tour in groups, so you won't get bored. Contact me, if you need any help in planning for the trips.
Do not litter, explore the wonders and enjoy!
*All the photographs are copyrighted to Towards The Other World.