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Gandikota, the Grand Canyon of India, one-day road trip

Gandikota, the Grand Canyon of India, one-day road trip

Gandikota Pennar river 3
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Gandikota Pennar river 1
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Gandikota Pennar river 1

Famously known as Grand Canyon of India”

Gandikota, situated in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh is one of a kind. It has become a popular weekend getaway from Bengaluru.

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As usual, our group came together on Friday night for dinner and one guy threw an idea of a weekend drive. Everyone was game for it!. So, the plan was to cover the so-called Desi Grand Canyon and Belum caves in one day. We decided to fire up our Ford Figo for this one.
The Figo owner, our driver for the day, had to pick each one of us from our home in and around Vijayanagar at 4 am. He picked all of us while we were still half-asleep and zipped through the empty roads of Bengaluru. We aimed to cover Gandikota and Belum caves and return by 10 pm.

The GPS showed 320kms clocking 6hrs. We took the Bengaluru – Hyderabad highway, NH44. The roads were good and Figo was flying. After a few hours of driving, we stopped at a highway restaurant for breakfast. The roads get a little narrow and bumpy once you take a deviation from the highway. Even in heavy music, I could hear my friend crying every time his Figo got a scratch on its chassis.

We reached Gandikota village at 10 am. You can drive through the Gandikota fort. We found an ill-maintained temple and a mosque in the fort. We parked our car and walked for half a kilometer climbing the boulders. The moment we walked closer to the canyon all of us were stunned for a moment watching the gorgeous river Pennar flowing through the gorge. And now comes out the cameras, mobiles, tripods and what not. The photo session went on for 30 mins and the next 30 mins were for admiring the beautiful view.

The Andhra heat waves started pulling us back to the car. After spending an hour in Gandikota our next stop was Belum caves. It is the second-longest cave, 3229m,  in India known for its unique stalactite and stalagmite formations. It is situated in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. You need to keep your GPS On to reach the caves.

It is almost 2 hours’ drive from Gandikota to Belum caves. In the parking area, there is a refreshment shop to keep our rats silent. We ate some snacks and took the tickets at the counter entered the caves. Inside the caves, it was so hot and humid that the guys had to take off the Tees. The caves are lit up and huge pipes pumping in the air from above. It is a beautiful place to visit, but little suffocating. Preferably do not take your kids below 10 years. There is a small waterfall, Patalganaga, to add to the beauty. Took 2 hours to complete the stretch and exit.

Finally, out of the caves, all of us realized just how hungry we were. We went back to the refreshment shop and had some snacks and headed towards Bengaluru. On the highway, we stopped at the first dhaba and hogged.

We reached home at 9 pm and by 10 pm, our trip photos and memories were uploaded in all possible social media sites to share the unforgettable and mesmerizing places we visited that day.

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Below is some important info for you to glance through

~ Location ~

  • Gandikota: Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. 300+ km from Bengaluru and 350+ km from Hyderabad
  • Belum caves: Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. 320+ km from Bengaluru and Hyderabad

~ Places nearby ~

  • Lepakshi: famous for Veerabhadra Temple and a nice place for photoshoots
  • Puttaparthi: Sathya Sai Baba ashram

~ Accommodation ~

AP Tourism resort near the Gandikota fort. Ensure to book it well in advance. Only a few good lodges in Kadapa

~ Cost ~

  • Gandikota: free entry. Kayaking is the main attraction here. But we couldn’t do it due to less flow in the river. They charge Rs 250-300 per person for 30 mins
  • Belum caves: Rs 60 for Indians and Rs 300 for Foreign nationals (Timings: 10 AM to 5 PM)

~ Food ~

Better to have your food and pack some in dhabas on the highway as there are no good hotels near Gandikota or Belum caves. You can enjoy the spicy Andhra food and don’t forget to try Karam dosa.

~ Best time to visit ~

Monsoon is the best time to visit as you can beat the heat and spend more time. And the flow in the Pennar river will be more adding to the excellent view of gorges.

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