This is not my first visit to Gandikota. But the beauty of the Gandikota fort and view of the gorge was amazing that I wanted to make another trip. The very first time I visited, it looked like a complete offbeat destination and very few people knew about it back then. But now a lot of things have changed. The road to Gandikota is new, a lot of camping sites have come up in the surroundings and looks like even the Government has started a campaign to promote tourism here. And the crowd too was a considerable number. Why wouldn't be, when it is known as the "Grand Canyon of India".
This article is a guest post contribution by Sugan G. Let's read about his travel experience to Gandikota fort.
Gandikota is a little village in the right bank of river Penna situated in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. The village is named after the fort built by the Raja Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Naidu. Gandikota (Gandi + Kota) means the fort by the gorge in Telugu. The village is contained within the walls of the fort. Like most of the villages in India, Gandikota looked rustic and rural too. Houses are built with stones arranged one above the other in a primitive way. There are very few cemented houses. Some of the houses use the fort's walls or remainings as a support and is built around it which makes it look more like a makeshift arrangement.
History of Gandikota Fort
Records of Gandikota are found in inscriptions all around Kadappa district. It also has a mention in the travel diaries of French jeweler and traveler Jean-Baptiste Tavernier who visited Gandikota just a couple of days after Mir Jumla of Golconda won the fort. Mir Jumla was fond of diamonds and the two exchanged sacks of it is what history says. Jean's writings and some paintings of the fort by British officers available online gives you a picture of the fort back in time. Recently Mr.Pemmasani Prabhakar Naidu, a descendent of the Gandikota rulers, presented a stone weighing 3 kg from the Gandikota fort to be used in the construction of the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh "Amaravati". This gesture was in tune with the Gandikota rulers’ tradition of presenting ‘Raja Silas’ from the fort whenever a new city was constructed. Raja Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Naidu was the first king of the Pemmasani family who took the reigns of power from the Mikkilineni dynasty, the original rulers of Gandikota village. The Pemmasani clan ruled Gandikota for nearly 282 years.
Walking through Gandikota Fort
When you enter the walls of the Gandikota fort, the first structure you will notice is the Charminar and the next is the jail. The Charminar is a small brick and mortar multi-storeyed structure. Whereas the jail is a massive stone and mortar structure probably added much later to the fort. The place was full of bats and gives a slightly elevated view of the fort.
The fort has two temples too, Madhavaraya Swamy temple and the Ranganatha Swamy temple. Both the temples follow the typical Dravidian architecture and both the temple complex has a Garbhagriha and a Mugha Mantapa. I liked the Madhavaraya temple more as it has a temple tower and has more artworks than the Ranganatha Swamy temple. Other monuments inside the Gandikota fort include the Mir Jumla Masjid, the granary, and Rayala Cheruvu a man-made pond. The Charminar and Mir Jumla Masjid are later additions to the fort after the fort was annexed to the rulers of Golconda. One can also notice a small replica of the mosque next to it.
Gandikota Penna River View
The geography of the surrounding area looks like a huge lego made with stones. The river cuts the surface deep before blocked by Tatireddy Narasimha Reddy dam. The Gandikota gorge view is beautiful and it sure does resembles the Grand canyon. Hence the name Grand Canyon of India. You would have seen many pics of people standing on this viewpoint and clicking selfies. The government has also set up a water sports complex including rappelling, kayaking, speed boat ride in the downstream dam a few kilometers from Gandikota. There is also an annual Gandikota heritage festival called Gandikota Utsavalu. The Government is also trying to get UNESCO’s heritage site status. This place is also known for its movie shootings. I could recognize scenes shot here in Samy2, Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, Spyder and Aravaan. There is also a 1969 movie titled Gandikota Rahasyam played by NTR and Jayalalitha.
Also read - Grand Canyon of Khajuraho - Raneh Falls
If you are a camping enthusiast you have a couple of options to camp at Gandikota. You can stay in an AC tent in the camping ground on the edge of the gorge. You can also bring your tent and camp within the private camping grounds for a nominal fee. They provide you with restrooms, dinner and a few other options. If you want to get wild, you can find a perfect spot for yourself and camp your tent. We camped in a rock flat surface near the Ranganathaswamy temple. We choose the spot because the surface was flat and had easy access to a public toilet a few hundred meters away and was also about 100 meters away from the gorge viewpoint.
Another good thing about camping here is that there is almost no light pollution and so the night sky is clear and magical. It is an absolute delight if you have an interest in astronomy or just a night sky photography enthusiast. I will go back to Gandikota again, to witness the night sky and sleep in a tent probably near the Penna river or within the ruins of a Vijayanagar period temple. If you are not a fan of camping, APTDC runs a small hotel by name Haritha Resort pretty close to the Gandikota fort. You can book your stay there.
Sunset at Gandikota
Other than the monuments and the gorge view, the sunset and sunrise here are spectacular. Given the temperature here rises to 45 degrees during summer days, it's better to visit here during sunrise or sunset. I personally liked the sunset here rather than the sunrise.
How To Reach Gandikota
Gandikota is around 300 kilometers from Bangalore, 350 kilometers from Chennai and 380 kilometers from Hyderabad. On any weekend one would see people from all these metros visiting Gandikota. To reach Gandikota from Bangalore one has to take the Hyderabad highway to Anantapur and take the route towards Kadappa. The route is dotted with cement factories and Kadappa stone factories.
Combine Gandikota with Tadipatri, Lepakshi and Belum caves for a weekend road trip and you will never forget the experience for a lifetime. The first time I visited Gandikota, we were sent off with a thunderstorm. After the sunset, we started moving out of Gandikota and were caught by surprise by a huge thunderstorm. It was an amazing experience too. There was no single spark of light to be seen anywhere around us except our car and the heavy downpour outside the car. We stopped on the road and switched off the lights and engine to witness the rain and the once in a while lighting which lights the horizon for you. It was a trip I will cherish forever.
About the Author: Am Sugan G and you can find me across social media as The Buffalo Rider. I love road trips. The favorite tour so far has been the 4500 km road trip from Bangalore to Kumbh Mela in Prayagaraj and back through Varanasi and Konark. I dream about Overlanding across the world and next in the pipeline is to plan a trip from Bangalore to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
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