A view of the gorge at Gandikota.
When we happened to read about Gandikota situated in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, being referred to as the Grand Canyon Of India, we got curious and could not contain our excitement to visit this place.
The Grand Canyon in the US is one of the most astounding geographical features of the world, which we happened to visit some years ago. So my wife and I decided to make a trip to Gandikota and also cover few other popular places nearby.
Gandikota is at a distance of about 270 km from Bengaluru and within 15 km from a place called Jammalamadugu. The normal route is NH 44 via Anantapur.
Our destination was the Gandikota Fort situated on the ridge of a gorge between Erramama Hills. The fort is supposed to have been built by a subordinate of the Chalukya king in the 13th century and later ruled by the powerful Pennasani Nayaks.
From within the fort area, one could reach the gorge edge to have a view of the Pennar river flowing below.
As we reached the Gandikota village and kept navigating through a narrow passage, the fort came into view suddenly and we drove along the narrow passage within those magnificent fort walls. Once inside, we realised it was a massive area with several monuments located far and wide within the fort. It was noon and we could see the huge rocky ridges along the river running deep below.
The fort houses a mosque, the Jamia Masjid, and two ancient temples namely the Madavaraya and the Ranganatha Temple. All these places of worship are in ruins and not functional anymore. Some call this place the second Hampi. There are beautiful sculptures depicting 'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharata' in the Madvaraya Temples. Besides this, there is a huge granary built in those ancient times.
For a place like Gandikota, one needs to carry one's own lunch. The fort itself is an ideal picnic spot.
However, the best part of the trip for a visitor is the Pennar river winding its way deep down the gorge with the tall ridges on both sides making a striking similar note to the Grand Canyon. The scene is amazing.
One needs to climb over the ridges and move closer to the edge to get a full-length view of the gorge which could be a little tricky but manageable. But for a slightly more adventurous traveller, there waits an amazing view of the gorge. There are people who find their own paths to descend to the riverbed 300 feet below. It will be a good trip if you can stay at Gandikota, do the trekking down to the river early in the morning. The sunset and the sunrise are a delight to watch either from the edge of the canyon or from the Ranganatha Temple which is at an elevated level. For a traveller from Bengaluru or Hyderabad, the best place to halt is either Anantapur or Tadipatri, since there are also other interesting places to cover like the Tadipatri Temples, Gooty Fort, Belum Caves etc.
A trip to Gandikota is an amazing experience which can be done within a day.