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Old 9th March 2015, 17:16   #31
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

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Thank you, mpksuhas for a good write up. It was very informative. Can you cross the gorge to reach the other side?
Thanks govigov.

No, it is not possible to cross the gorge. Though not visible easily, there was water which was looking atleast 1 or 2 meters deep during my visit.

I had read a blog in which the writer was mentioning about wading through mud once the river dries up in summer. However I don't think it is a safe idea, also to get down towards the bottom of gorge you have to walk through slope with loose stones.

If you want to cross over to other side I guess the best option would be to drive down to other side from Jammalmadagu.
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Old 22nd May 2015, 15:39   #32
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Smile Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

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Background


Gandikota -

A 12th century fort overlooking river Pennar. The gorge next to the fort is called grand canyon of India.

Belum caves -

Belum caves is the second longest cave in India, it is also the longest underground cave in India. It is said that monks used to mediate inside the caves earlier. APTDC in 2002 created walkways inside the cave and opened it for public as a tourist destination.
Thanks to your well written travelogue with great photos, these two places got into top of my list of places to visit. I took this trip in Feb. Amazing places, deserve to be better promoted by the tourism department. We started on a saturday morning from Bangalore at 9am and reached Haritha resort, Gandikota by 4.30 pm via Kadapa with 1.5 hrs break. Spent the evening there and next day morning we went to belum caves and returned to bangalore from there.

I took Hoskote-Madanapalle-Rayachotty-Kadapa-Muddanur-Gandikota. I wanted to have a good stopover place for lunch and decided to go via Kadapa. The road conditions were very good from Bangalore to Kadapa except for the Rayachotty town. At that time the bypass was not open, hopefully it is operational now. Kadapa-Muddanur road was good but patchy at many places.

I took the Belum-Tadipatri-Anantapur route for return. 4 lane conversion was going from Tadipatri to Anantapur and it resulted in too many diversions, lane switching, off roading. Not recommend till the road work is completed.

Had lunch at Hotel Naveed residency, Ananthapur. Good place for a break. It is just 2.5 kms from the NH 7, hence it is an option for the Hyd-Blr travelers also.
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Old 13th June 2015, 15:58   #33
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

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The issue with APTDC at Gandikota is that its reservation system is offline unlike many other APTDC hotels.
This appears to have changed recently.

I visited the APTDC website and Gandikota can be booked online.
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Old 23rd July 2015, 21:30   #34
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

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Background

Around two years back when searching for one day trip locations from Bangalore, came across a blog about Gandikota in AP. The blog went on to describe the place as Grand canyon of India, with inviting pictures. The blog described this as a 12th century fort overlooking a gorge.
Nice travelogue complimented by very good photos. Do you have any recent update on road conditions? Can I do this route (your onward journey ) in a ritz?
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Old 23rd July 2015, 21:52   #35
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

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Do you have any recent update on road conditions? Can I do this route (your onward journey ) in a ritz?
Thanks Ankan. I had read about this road conditions in another forum and seems the conditions remain same.

You can do this route in Ritz, when we traveled too there were patchy sections of road which required you to slow down. But nothing which required high ground clearance vehicles.

Your Zulu will do great.
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Old 2nd November 2015, 00:31   #36
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

Hi mpksuhas,
Just went through your post as I am planning to visit Belum caves and Gandikota this weekend. First of all, very well written . I have couple of things to ask you.

1) Is it possible to cover Belum caves + Gandikota in a day ? (I am planning to drive back to Bangalore on the same day)
2) How much time would it take to see Gandikota ?
3) By what time max, it is good to start from Gandikota in the evening ?
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Old 5th November 2015, 14:39   #37
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

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1) Is it possible to cover Belum caves + Gandikota in a day ? (I am planning to drive back to Bangalore on the same day)
2) How much time would it take to see Gandikota ?
3) By what time max, it is good to start from Gandikota in the evening ?
Sorry, just saw the post. Hope it is not late for you.

1> It is possible. I had earlier planned the same way, however since it was just me and my wife traveling and I will be the only driver decided against the same. You can plan a one day drive, if you have more than one driver. Else I would suggest against the same, since it will be bit tiring and you will have to hurry around.

2> Seeing around fort ~ 30 mins. Gorge another 30 mins. If you plan to trek down towards river (can be done only if water level in river is low) add another one hour.

3> Start from Gandikota before it is dark. More so since road till Jammalmadagu is bit isolated. Once you reach towards Muddannur or Tadipatri based on the route you are taking back it is fine.
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Old 5th November 2015, 14:48   #38
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

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Sorry, just saw the post. Hope it is not late for you.
Thanks a lot for the information. It is not late for me as I am travelling this Saturday.

Experience and PICS to come soon....!!!
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Old 6th November 2015, 15:41   #39
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

another great travelogue. I was reading the other one from Lalu and somehow missed this. In all the 15 years i had been in Blr, never heard of this place. Thanks for bringing this one to limelight. Am off to sirukundra in valparai tomorrow :d
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Old 6th November 2015, 16:58   #40
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

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Am off to sirukundra in valparai tomorrow
Thanks and happy journey. Enjoy the hairpin bends!
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Old 19th November 2015, 06:47   #41
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

Thanks for unveiling the Grand Canyon of India. Penna Gorge is amazing!

Belum Cave too resembles some place in the western world. Everyday I open Travelogues section, my wishlist is getting longer

Both places look clean and litter free. Is it because of the lack of popularity? Or maintained very well?

Sadly I did not knew about them while in Bangalore. That too something which could be even done in a days time if needed.
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Old 19th November 2015, 16:31   #42
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

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Belum Cave too resembles some place in the western world. Both places look clean and litter free. Is it because of the lack of popularity? Or maintained very well?
Sadly I did not knew about them while in Bangalore. That too something which could be even done in a days time if needed.
Thanks.
Yes, Belum caves is not that crowded, guess due to that it is still resembling western world. Let our countrymen get time and they will decorate the place with broken wine bottles and graffiti of love proposals . This process has started in Gandikota, however its still in initial stages.

Yes. Bangalore has a huge list of weekend getaways. Anyways, for you Bangalore is just a half day drive. Just like your BR hills trip, you can plan this too sometime later.
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Old 17th January 2016, 17:07   #43
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

Wonderful write-up Suhas. While gathering information in TBHP, got to know about this tread. Your travelogue is very illustrative & informative which helped us to take a decision. We clubbed Horsely Hills also in our two day trip, visited during 3rd week of July 2015. As you have mentioned, a road really less traveled.
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Old 18th January 2016, 16:44   #44
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

Hi All, I am updating this thread with my short travelogue. Our trip happened July 2015.

The Rational behind:
We never used to spend time in taking decision on travels. After couple of monotonous work-life ‘imbalance’ weeks, I suggested my wife on a weekend trip to un-wind, and her response was quick, seems she was about to suggest the same. I suggested her Belum & Gandikota for which she was asking where in the world is these places, I was sure she is unaware of these places. Then I showed her the snaps of a recent trip by one of my friends, her interest grew. And my neighbor who is my partner for most of our expeditions was ready to hit the road when I suggested of a trip to Belum / Gandikota. Reason? The snaps taken by our common friend had made both of us awestruck about this place. From then, we started gathering information from TBHP and other travel sites on accommodation, routes, food, places of interest etc. Finally, we decided to hit there on July 4th. Understood from this thread and from other sources that one does not have to spend more than half day at Gandikota or at Belum. Then struck the idea to club Horsely Hills also as it was on the way and is a hill station.

The Plan:
To start as early as possible on Saturday, reach Horsely Hills, Chittoor district by 9AM. Spend around three hours there and to leave Horsely Hills by 12.00PM to reach Gandikota, Kadappa district by around 5PM. Stay at the only accommodation you could find in Gandikota or Jammalamadugu - govt. run Haritha resort. And on Sunday, after an early morning expedition to the canyons to say good-bye to Gandikota and to start by around 9AM to reach Belum, Kurnool district by 10.30 AM. By afternoon, to leave Belum to reach Bangalore through NH 7 by late night. Seems very tight, but we made it.

The Execution:
Horsely Hills: As planned, we started early and reached by 9.30 AM, odometer showed 145 kms from Bangalore; had a tasty breakfast (masala dosa) at a small restaurant at Madanapalle. Horsely Hills is a small hill station which would be the likes of Nandi Hills or Yelagiri. There are some out-door activities / adventure rides available. Felt that the nature park can be maintained in a better way. The view point from behind one of the hotels, which is not noticeable from main road gave us a surprise with its breathtaking view of the valley amid a very big expanse of rock and a super cool yet heavy wind. Children enjoyed the cool rush of air and has rejuvenated every one. We spend most of our time there.

Gandikota: We reached Gandikota by around 5.30PM, odometer at another 185 kms. Gandikota has truly magnificent sight of the Rocks, Canyon, & River beneath apart from fort, temples, & mosque. The view of the river and canyon during Sunset should not be missed. The grand old fort & temples will take you to an ancient world. The adjacent mosque is equally old and all the structures carry lot of history. The village-half inside & half outside the fort is cut-off from the hustle & bustle of otherwise busy life and takes you to a different perspective of life. After check-in, we rushed to catch a glimpse of the sunset rays falling on the canyon & river. We managed to get the final glimpses of the sun rays falling in the gorges & canyon. It was a scene that will be ever cherished in my life, so enchanting. Came back to the rooms; the Haritha is in a vast tract of land not so far from Fort; car can be parked in front of the cottage. We booked through their website one week before, did not get A/C room, but the standard room was big. Staircase, attached to each cottage takes you to a terrace, from where you can see the fort and the vast expanse of land filled with shrubs. You can lie down in the wide parapet wall for hours gazing the stars. The cool wind towards the night was very soothing. The facility with all amenities was in terrible shape due to lack of maintenance. The room was also not maintained. We felt pity for such a good facility not maintained properly. No complaints on food or hospitality, better than we expected from a govt. run resort.

Sunday morning, by around 6AM we went to the gorges once again, climbed up the steep rocks, had view of the river and canyon from top in the morning sun rays. Later I and my friend decided to be a little adventurous by climbing down towards the river, while family stayed in the rocks. We decided to stop half way; loose gravel & small rocks were a risk. Visited the Ranganayakaswamy temple, and mosque which are very adjacent. There was a very rare sight waiting inside the mosque, at least a hundred parrots in the walls and trees. Children and grown-ups were equally amused to see so many parrots together. Later, visited the Madhavarayaswamy temple, and came back to the resort by 9.30 AM. The caretaker of the resort has saved idlis in hotpot for us as we have told them about our early morning expedition. Below are some of the important points one should not miss; all these are close by and is walkable from the parking lot.
• Madhavaraya Swamy Temple
• Jumma Masjid
• Ranganatha Swamy Temple
• Gandikota Fort View Point
• Gandikota Gorge View Point
• Rayala Cheruvu

Belum Caves: (Some facts from google : Belum Caves is the second largest cave in Indian subcontinent and the longest caves in plains of Indian Subcontinent. It has long passages, spacious chambers, fresh water galleries and siphons. It is a natural underground cave formed by the constant flow of underground water. The caves reach its deepest point (150 feet from entrance level) at the point known as Pataalaganga. Belum Caves derive their name from "Bilum" Sanskrit word for caves.[1] In Telugu language, it is called Belum Guhalu. Belum Caves has a length of 3229 metres, making it the second largest natural caves in Indian Subcontinent. Belum caves was formed due to erosion in limestone deposite in the area by Chitravati River, millions of years ago. This limestone caves was formed due to action of carbonic acid — or weakly acidic groundwater formed due to reaction between limestone and water. The carbonic acid dissolved minerals in the limestone rocks in the area. The presence of river Chitravati in area for a long period of time enable a vast labyrinth of underground cave to form. Now Chitravati River flows almost 30 km south of Belum. Belum Caves are located on a flat agricultural field in Belum Village. There are 3 well like cavities in plain agricultural fields. The central cavity is the main entrance to the caves. However, the locals report hundreds of cavities in the area. The walls of the cave are very smooth as result of erosion by river)

Checked out the rooms by 10.15 AM and reached Belum by 11.15 AM, travelling another 61 kms. After paying the entry fee, we were guided to the entrance of the cave. At the entrance, the ticket-collector asked us to avail the help of a guide who comes without any extra cost. Initially, we were hesitant about the idea, but later we called for a guide. We were surprised to hear from him that the total length that can be walked inside the cave is around 3.5 kms and there are many other routes which are still un-explored where as some others are closed for trekking as roofs started caving in. Cave is formed by continuous flow of water underneath the terrain for millions of years. The different shapes and the size of formations inside are truly amazing. You won’t believe, most of the area inside is wide enough to walk comfortably and is well-lit by electric bulb, and in some places you may have to bend down to pass by. Words can’t explain the breath-taking view and the feeling. Depending upon the shape and formation, different names has been given. There are huge motors kept at various places to pump in fresh air, and our guide was asking us to stand under the current. The oxygen levels are very low while we go inside, and we tend to get exhausted very fast. I was worried about the children but unexpectedly they were very lively till the end. In fact I was feeling tired and exhausted, may be after carrying my three year old for most of the stretches. Had we not taken the help of the guide, we would not have gone so far inside and would not have understood many important facts about the cave. The guide was very informed, enthusiastic and we were thankful to him for the once-in-a-life-time experience. While we came out, noticed the huge motors in both the sides of parking area which pumps oxygen, and was surprised to see where and all the cave is actually spread underneath. Overall a nice experience of a well maintained structure - very rare with a govt. run facility. Had a quick lunch at the restaurant just opposite the main gate.
• pillidwaram —means cats gate. It is natural arch of stalactites formed in the shape of lion’s head
• Kotilingalu Chamber - This section contains stalactite formations which are akin to shiva lingams. This section has thousands of such stalactite giving it a surrealistic look. It has one huge pillar formed due to stalactite and stalagmite joining together.
• Patalaganga - It is a small perennial stream which disappears into the depths of the earth. This stream flows from the southeast to northwest. It disappears and is believed to be heading towards a well at the Belum village, located 2 km away from the caves.
• Saptasvarala Guha or Musical Chamber - Saptasvarala Guha means chamber of seven notes. The stalactite formations in this chamber reproduce musical sounds when these are struck with a wooden stick or knuckles. This section was opened to the public in 2006
• Dhyan Mandir or Meditation Hall - This section is near to the entrance. Many relics of Buddhist period were found here which are now housed in museum at Ananthapur.
• Thousand Hoods - This section has amazing stalactite formations shaped like hood of Cobra. The stalactite formations on the ceiling looks as if thousands of cobras have opened their hoods.
• Banyan Tree Hall - This section has a huge pillar with stalactites hanging from the ceiling. This gives a look of Banyan Tree with its aerial roots when seen from below.
• And hundreds of other formations..a true visual treat.

We bid adieu to Belum too and head towards Anantpur to reach the NH7. From then it was very smooth drive till we reached Bangalore. Overall a nice trip with lots of good memories of nature’s fascinating creativity. A big salute to the Mother Nature and its generous creator.

Some points to note down while planning a similar trip,
Clubbing Horsely Hills is not worth for the two day trip to Belum and Gandikota, or you will end up very exhausted.
Book the AC room at Haritha, Gandikota, you may have to plan it in advance.
Try to be there in Gandikota for the sunset view.
Do not hesitate to take the help of a guide at Belum.
Do not be very concerned about food throughout the trip.
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Old 28th December 2016, 09:38   #45
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

Thanks Suhas.. Excellent write up with all necessary info. I'm from Hyderabad and wanted to visit Gandikota. I've been to Belum Caves, Mahanandi & Yaganti, the places around Gandikota but missed this place. Since, then I have a feeling that I missed one good place(Grand Canyon of India). I know it has been 2 years since you visited this place but I wanted to check the conditions there during your visit.. If we take camping tents, is it possible to stay near Penna Gorge at night with camping tents and have a camp fire?.. I mean, is the administration at Gandikota supportive to allow us do such activities?..
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