Gandikota-The Grand Canyon Of India
A wise man once said that travel isn’t just about going from point A to point B. It’s about experiencing the culture, the vibes which a place has to offer, the stories people share with you during the journey. These experiences teach you so many things that indirectly let you lead a fulfilling life back in the city. So, if you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway with amazing views of the grand canyon of India, secluded waterfalls, a rich history, and culture, all packed in one place, then you should definitely book tickets to Gandikota.
Gandikota is a small hamlet in the Kadapa district of the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is about 15 KMs from Jammalamadugu and is home to the historic Gandikota Fort. The gorge here resembles that of the Great Grand Canyon in the state of Arizona in the United States.
Gandikota village is situated on the banks of Pennar river and has a history dating all the way to the 12th Century. It is home to the famous Gandikota fort situated atop the Gorge. The gorge is formed by the Pennar river cutting through the Erramala Hills and is sure to leave you in awe.
Activities and Places to Explore around Gandikota
The bright orange boulders topped with lush greenery while the sparkling white water calmly flows through the gorge is bound to bind you to its beauty. Below are things you can add to the list of must-visit places during your trip to Gandikota.
Gandikota Canyon Sunrise & Sunset
No travel story ever ends without the amazing views of orange color spilling itself all over the sky. Sunrise and sunset are some of the top things you should look out for during your trip to Gandikota.
The boulders bouncing the orange color off them while the sun sets over the horizon and the Pennar river slowly rolling down the gorge is a spectacular view to cherish for a lifetime. The grandeur of the Grand Canyon Of India is truly witnessed during the golden hours.
Gandikota Falls exploration
This should definitely top the list of mysterious things hidden in Gandikota. Amidst the rocks and drylands of the Gandikota village, lies a beautiful waterfall. The turquoise blue cold water of the fall is so relaxing for the body in the hot and dry weather of Gandikota. Gandikota waterfalls is a must
Gandikota Fort exploration
Situated atop the Grand Canyon of India, is the majestic Gandikota Fort. The fort was a center of power for rulers of various dynasties like Chalukyas, Nayakas & the Golconda Sultanate. The unique thing about the fort is the architecture inside. The fort has 2 Hindu Temples, A Jail, A masjid, and a mosque and to top it all, there’s a village inside the massive fort. The beauty of the fort can’t be explained in words and is a must-visit during your trip to Gandikota.
Camping in the Grand Canyon Of India
One of the most sought after adventure activities in Gandikota is Camping. Camping at the top of the gorge which overlooks the Pennarr river flowing into the gorge with the moon’s reflection in the backwaters of the Mylavaram Dam under a starlit sky is as magical night can get. You can ask the hotels in the Gandikota village to arrange the camp and dinner for you.
What’s so interesting in a dam, you may ask. But situated at just 10 KMs from Gandikota is a beautiful Mylavaram reservoir. You can witness the locals fishing in the downstream of the water, even buy the fish if you may want to. The dam also boasts about Kayaking and boating facilities. Kayaking or boating in the backdrop of beautiful erramala hills is surely a picture worth taking.
Belum Caves Exploration
Next up on the list of the must-see places near Gandikota, is Belum Caves. Belum Caves is the largest and the longest cave system open to the public in the Indian subcontinent. The unique rock formations in the caves called the speleothems are a mesmerizing sight. The caves were formed because of the underground water flow. One can see the after-effects on the rocks inside the caves. While at Belum caves, the unlimited meals served outside on the main road outside the caves is a must-try. They serve delicious Rayalaseema cuisine.
Situated at a distance of 45 Kms from Belum Caves, Yaganti S
ri Umamaheshwara temple is a temple full of stories and myths. One of the most popular myths is that the Nandi in front of the temple keeps growing in size. The myth became a reality when researchers found that the rock used to carve the Nandi has the nature of expanding. The second one is the absence of crows around the temple. Legend has it that when sage Agastya was performing his penance, crows disturbed him and he cursed that the crows can’t enter the temple. Because crow is also the vahana of Lord Shani, it is believed that Lord Shani can’t enter this place.
Mahanandi is one of the Nava Nandis. Though it is around 85 Kms from Belum Caves, the temple is one of the important pilgrimage sites for Hindus. An annual festival is held during February and March to celebrate Maha Shiva Ratri. The temple is famous for the freshwater pools. The unique thing about this water is the constant flow irrespective of the change of seasons. The source of water is below the Shiva Linga as legends say. Another unique thing is that the devotees can actually touch the Linga, unlike other Hindu temples where the deity is kept far away inside. Another amazing thing about Mahanandi is home to the world’s biggest Nandi statue. Isn’t that a cool thing to check out? You can visit this temple if on your way back to Hyderabad.
According to the Indian epic, Ramayana, Lepakshi is the place where Lord Rama asked the wounded Jatayu to get up. There’s a theme park built called the Jatayu theme park at the place where Jatayu was estimated to have fallen. Lepakshi is an important archaeological site as well. Lekapshi is located at around 120 KMs so you can cover this on the way back to Bangalore (If you’re traveling from Bangalore).
Oravakallu Rock garden
About 90KMs from Belum Caves on the Nandyal-Kurnool highway is a natural rock formation site. The sunrise and sunset are something that is not to be missed if you’re at this place. This place resembles the Gandikota in terms of rock formations. It is recommended to visit this on your way back to Hyderabad.
Travel Tips for visiting Gandikota
We know all those excitingly beautiful places excite you. But, before you pack your bags for your journey to the Grand Canyon of India, here are few tips to make this trip to Gandikota a memorable one. Gandikota has dry weather throughout the year and temperatures can vary a lot from day time to night time. Hence one should be prepared for the hot and dry weather in the afternoon and the cold and windy weather of the night.
Tip 1: Carrying enough water & Sunscreen:
The trail to the Gandikota falls from the village is very much out in the open. And considering the time of your trek, you should carry enough water as there are no water sources on the trail. It is also recommended to apply sunscreen in order to avoid sunburns. You will be walking slippery pebbles, so it is recommended to wear shoes with a good grip.
Tip 2: Clothing needs
It is recommended to wear lighter colored clothes during the day time while you’re exploring the Gandikota falls & the Gandikota fort. A windcheater or a sweater is a must for the night of camping. Since the camping site is on the edge of the canyon, the wind is usually heavy and cold. So, dress up accordingly, unless you want to take the next working day off owing to cold 😛
Tip 3: Packed food if needed
The food scene in Gandikota isn’t as good as most tourist sites. So, if you can, you should take packed food. Else, you can make do with the veg thali available in the hotels in the village. However, if you’re camping in Gandikota via a local person, then they will arrange veg or non-vegetarian food for the night. That’s one of the delicious I’ve ever had.
Tip 4: Pointers on the best time to visit
Though Gandikota remains open throughout the year, the best time to visit is during the months of September to February. The summer months are especially to be avoided as the weather is hot and humid with temperatures going all the way to 45 degrees Celsius.
Where to stay in Gandikota
There are majorly two options to stay in Gandikota.
- APTDC Complex: APTDC runs a lot of resorts all over Andhra Pradesh and one such resort is in the Gandikota village near the Gandikota Fort. It roughly costs about INR 1500 per person with different pricing for weekends. If you’re looking for clean rooms and good food options, this is the place to stay.
- Camping on the Gorge: The best experience in Gandikota is the camping on the Gorge. The shimmering moonlight and its reflection in the Mylavaram Dam backwaters is a beautiful sight to behold. So, it is highly recommended to contact the locals for arranging your camping tents and food. The camping experience would cost around INR 1500 for a 2/3 sharing tent.
Start your journey today!
- Plan the Unplanned is a trekking and backpacking travel company based out of Bangalore. We organize trekking trips to the Western Ghats and Himalayas. We believe everyone should be closer to nature and experience life. The experiences turn into a snowball and change lives altogether.
- The trip to Gandikota & Belum caves organized by Plan The Unplanned costs about INR 4200.
So, what are you waiting for? Pick up your keys, start the engine and rev up the throttle. The road is wide open for you to explore this hidden gem that is the Grand Canyon of India, Gandikota.
If you’re not into riding or driving, hop on to one of our trips, check out the link here.
Gandikota where to stay?
Within the limited options, you can choose to camp at the gorge viewpoint. The hotels in the village can help you set up camp and provide food as well at a nominal price. Alternatively, you can book the Haritha resort by APTDC.
How to reach Gandikota from Bangalore?
Reaching Gandikota maybe tricky by bus. One can find buses to Kadapa from almost all major cities. One can reach either reach Proddatur or Jammalamadugu from Kadapa. From there can you catch an auto or a cab to drive to Gandikota.
Bengaluru International Airport at Bangalore is the nearest well-connected airport to Gandikota. One can take a flight to Bangalore and can cover the rest of the distance to Gandikota by bus or private cab which is 345 km (6 hours) away.
The railway stations near Gandikota are at Jammalamadugu (18 km away), Kadapa (77 km away), and Tadipatri(85 km).
The most preferred option to reach Gandikota is by road. The highways are well maintained from the major cities so, it isn’t a tiring drive. The time may range from 6-9 hours depending on where you’re coming from. Also, Gandikota is well connected to the major towns and cities by road.
What to do in Gandikota?
- Gandikota Fort
- Gorge Viewpoint
- Gandikota Waterfalls
- Sunrise & Sunset from the Gandikota Gorge viewpoint.
- Gandikota Camping
- Gandikota Kayaking
- Mylavaram Reservoir
- Belum Caves
How to reach Gandikota from Hyderabad?
Gandikota is about 389 KMs south of Hyderabad. You need to take Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway and take a diversion towards Nandyala at Kurnool. Take the diversion towards Jammalamadugu from Nandyala and Gandikota is only 15.6 KMs from Jammalamadugu.
How far are Belum caves from Gandikota?
Belum Caves is the largest and the longest cave system open to the public in the Indian subcontinent. The unique rock formations in the caves called the speleothems are a mesmerizing sight. Belum caves are located at a distance of 62 KMs from Gandikota.
Nearby attractions in Gandikota
- Mylavaram Reservoir
- Owk Reservoir
- Belum Caves
- Yaganti Temple
- Mylavaram tribal Museum
Gandikota best time to visit:
Owing to the rocky terrain, hot and humid weather, the best time to visit the Grand Canyon of India is during the months of September to February. Summers are really hot and humid with temperatures reaching up to 45 degrees Celcius.
History of Gandikota:
The Gandikota village was first identified by Kaka Raja, a subordinate of Ahavamalla Someswara I, a Chalukya ruler. After the Chalukyas, Kakatiyas ruled this area for the next 60 years. Gandikota was later under the rule of the Tughluq dynasty and was under their rule for the next 40 Years. Pemmasani Nayakas ruled Gandikota as their capital for the next 300 years before
Gandikota to Bangalore distance:
Reaching Gandikota from Bangalore is a matter of 6 hours of drive. Take the Bangalore Hyderabad highway until Chilamathur. At Chilamathur take a diversion towards Gorantla. Drive towards Kadiri from Gorantla. After crossing Kadiri, take the road towards Pulivendula and continue driving Muddanur & Jammalamadugu. Gandikota is only 15 KMs away from Jammalamadugu.
Gandikota to Hyderabad Distance:
The Grand Canyon of India, Gandikota is located at a distance of 389 KMs from Hyderabad. One can take the Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway. After two diversions each at Kurnool & Nandyala, you will be on your way to Jammalamadugu from where Gandikota is only 15 KMs away.
Gandikota to Chennai distance:
The journey to Gandikota from Chennai is a 343 KM beautiful drive through quaint villages of Andhra Pradesh on the state highway.
Other PTU Gandikota Blogs:
Here’s a cool video by YouTuber Andre Peter showing you a glimpse of the Gandikota experience.
If you’ve been already drooling over it and can’t hold on to the excitement of exploring Gandikota – then why don’t you join us for our next trip? We’ll be happy to have you onboard and we can travel to Gandikota, together!