Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India
It was in the month of December when I first told my brother about Gandikota. Though he stays very near to this place, he doesn't even know that such a place exists. Truly this is one of the least known and explored places in India. I traveled to Proddutur on a weekend before Christmas. I searched about the place over the internet and asked my brother to find more about it. Finally, the plan was set. My brother and I started on a Saturday morning on his bike from Proddatur. The route which we had to take was Proddatur-Jammalamadugu-Gandikota. Though we were not confident about the route and all, we started off.
The roads are very good in condition till Jammalamadugu. Gandikota is about 10 km from here (one can find signboards of Gandikota everywhere) and it was too sunny and the condition of this road was not that good. We were quite excited as well as desperate as we were not able to see anything as a canyon as far as our eyesight goes. Finally, we arrived at a small village and the first thing that welcomes us into this is the resort run by Andhra Pradesh Tourism. Gandikota is situated on the river Pennar, in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh and derives its name from two Telugu words, “Gandi” meaning gorge and “Kota” meaning fort. But, why this name? Coz, the river Penna forms a Gorge in this tiny village and there is a fort just on the riverside, which is believed to have been built during the later half of the 13th century.
A# Gandikota (Gorge Fort): Parking our bike onto a side, we started walking to find the gorge and we found the Gandikota (Gorge Fort), a stone fort built upon a hill. Guarded by a huge entrance gate that is some 20 feet high and 101 bastions each over 40 feet high, it still remains a very imposing structure and the Mukhadwara (entrance) of this fort welcomes us to enter the Gandikota village. We came across a Juma Masjid, which is quite big and surprised to find a "Charminar" here:). There is a granary just beside this mosque which has a vaulted roof and we can see how the kings used to store their food treasures!
Ranganatha Swamy temple which is not in a good condition, but the art on the temple walls seem to lose their sheen can also be seen while walking towards the Pennar Gorge. Few steps further from this temple, there lies thousands of rocks and boulders - small and big. Trust me, there won’t be a trace of what you are searching for. One has to take the pain of climbing up and down those rocks carefully, keeping a watch on the surroundings and every footstep while hunting for the treasure. After a few minutes, one will find the hidden treasure of nature’s beauty - the stunning Pennar Gorge. Stacks of rocks arranged in a perfect manner as if it was a bookshelf, a mighty gorge and the river Pennar flowing through it, the beauty of the Gorge is beyond description. It just needs to be felt by one’s own heart and soul.
We visited the Madhavaraya temple too before winding up our trip to this beautiful place. Gandikota is a must visit place for the travel souls who likes long drives and simple treks and hikes. For trek lovers, this place is worth trying as one can trek down the rocks from the fort hill to the pennar river flowing down. Don’t miss the sunrise, a sunset is equally good too:). I would like to mention here that if one plans to visit Gandikota, do visit it in the month of December as the drive route from Proddatur to Gandikota via Jammalamadugu will be like below.
Kadapa is well connected with Bangalore, Hyderabad and Vijayawada by roads. Gandikota can be reached either in a cab or an auto-rickshaw. But prefer a bike if you want to get the real feel of this place. Hundreds of acres of land filled with these beautiful sunflowers, smooth roads, hot and spicy Rayalaseema food on the roadside stalls are worth experiencing :)