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Old 2nd February 2015, 17:20   #1
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Default Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more

Bangalore-> Lepakshi-> Mantralayam-> Srisailam-> Mahanandi-> Ahobilam -> Yaganti -> Belum Caves -> Gandikota -> Kadiri -> Bangalore – 1460 kms

It’s Jan – perfect timing to do a long drive. Srisailam has been on cards for long. Checked for other places that can be covered in our onward and return journey from Bangalore. We wanted to do the temples around Srisailam for long. Charted a plan for the Jan 26th long week end. Did acco and other bookings. Off we are on 22nd Jan at 6.20AM.

Day 1
Started from Bangalore at 6.20AM. Our first stop was Lepakshi. It is a beautifully architected old temple built during Vijayanagar rule. We hired a guide to show us the temple. Major attraction is a large Nandi sculpted from a single granite rock. It is very well sculpted with various ornaments, and finer details taken care of. Other attractions are the paintings (used natural pigments) on the roof, Vaastu purush, Padmini Lady, hanging pillar, Lepakshi designs on the pillars which are being used to design sarees, stories carved on the walls, Markings of Viroopanna’s blood eyes (Viroopanna had a misunderstanding with the king, and the king ordered him to be blinded, hearing this, he himself removed the eyes and threw them on the wall, these blood marks did not fade away after so many years and can be seen on the wall), another point of interest is the Vishnu and Shiva temples installed by sage Agastya opposite to each other to spread the message that both Shiva and Kesava are one entity. After spending some good 2 hrs, had Breakfast in APTDC Harita and started our journey to our next destination Mantralayam. Stopped in Adoni for lunch. Mantralayam is the main temple of Shri Raghavendra swamy. Reached Mantralayam around 4PM, had darshan. The evening procession at 7.30PM is good.

Route: Bangalore - > Lepakshi -> Anantpur -> Gooty -> Adoni - > Mantralayam
Road condition: On the NH7, at Bagepalli which is around 120 kms from Bangalore, take a deviation and travel for 17 kms to Lepakshi. We visited Lepakshi, and came back to Bagepalli to get on to NH7. Its NH7 all the way till Gooty (a pleasure to drive), from Gooty it is a state road. We got stuck for 20 min at a railway crossing (currently a flyover is being built on the railway crossing) near Adoni, else the road is mostly good. One can see cotton fields on both sides of the road for most of the stretch till Mantralayam.
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Old 2nd February 2015, 17:26   #2
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

Few pics @ Lepakshi

Single stone Nandi
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6670.jpg

Single stone Nandi
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6671.jpg

Mural paintings with natural pigments
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6676.jpg


Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6685.jpg

Blood stains of Viroopanna's eyes
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6689.jpg

Mural paintings
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6697.jpg

Vaastu purush
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6701.jpg

Padmini Lady
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6702.jpg
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Old 2nd February 2015, 17:36   #3
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

Day 2
After a sumptuous breakfast, started from Mantralayam towards Srisailam. It is mostly state road till Atmakur which is good. Atmakur to Doranala which is around 60 kms stretch which passes through Nagarjuna Sagar – Srisailam forest reserve. The drive through dense forest area is very scenic. We got to see some deer and lots of monkeys. Beware of monkeys if you stop and pull down the car windows. We stopped to take pics of the deer and pulled down the window. While I was focusing through my camera, a monkey suddenly jumped in front of me to pull the camera from me. The Srisailam ghat road starts from Doranala and leads all the way till Srisailam. The road traverses through hills and valleys and is a nice drive. Stopped for lunch in Atmakur.

We visited Shikharam (from this point, one can view the Gopuram of the mail Srisailam temple), Paladhara and panchadara (said to be holy waters), Sakshi Ganapati (There is a saying that Ganesha takes attendance of the visitors to the main temple). We also visited the main Shiva temple which is one of the 12 Jyothirlingas. Other attractions in Srisailam are Akka mahadevi caves, rope way to Patalaganaga, Srisailam dam. We did not visit them though. Have done the rope way in our earlier visit.

Route: Mantralayam -> Yemmiganur -> Kodumur -> Kurnool -> Atmakur -> Doranala -> Srisailam
Road condition: Mantralayam to Atmakur is a state road and is good. Kurnool doesn’t have a bypass, we had to traverse through Kurnool traffic which is bad, Atmakur to Doranala although scenic is a single road, so if there is traffic on the opposite direction, one of the vehicles has to give away to the other by getting off the road. Doranala to Srisailam is a toll ghat road, and appeared like it is recently laid and is good, not too many hair pin bends and is easy to drive
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Old 2nd February 2015, 17:41   #4
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

Cotton fields on the way to Mantralayam
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6710.jpg

Cotton fields on the way to Mantralayam
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6712.jpg

Mantralayam Shri Raghavendra swamy mutt
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6716.jpg

Krishna doing Tandavam - this is at Mantralayam
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6729.jpg

Sunflower fields on the way to Srisailam
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6747.jpg

Sunflower fields on the way to Srisailam
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-20150123_115345.jpg

Sakhshi Ganapathy temple in Srisailam
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6752.jpg

Srisailam - Mallikarjuna swamy temple Gopuram
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6754.jpg

Srisailam - Mallikarjuna swamy temple Gopuram
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6757.jpg
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Old 2nd February 2015, 17:49   #5
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

Day 3
Started early from Srisailam. Our first stop was Mahanandi. This is again a Shiva temple visit. From Mahanandi, we visited Ahobilam. Ahobilam is also mainly a temple visit. However it is a trekkers’ delight too. Ahobilam is divided in to Lower and Upper Ahobilam. It is believed that Lord Narasimha killed Hiranyakashipu at this place. The Nava Narasimha temples (they are 9 temples) are located in this hilly area. 3 of them are motorable. But one has to trek to other 6 temples. 4 of them are easy, but it is preferable to do a 4-wheel drive to the other 2. The trek to Ugra stambha is said to be very difficult. We covered 6 of the temples (the easy ones).

Our plan was to stay in Ahobilam that day and proceed to Yaganti, the next day. We called up Ahobilam Mutt before our travel, and they assured us a room. However it being a long weekend, they have done a First-in-first and by the time we reached, the rooms were full. We could not get accommodation anywhere else in Ahobilam. We were advised to try for acco in Allagadda which is 25 kms from Ahobilam. Unfortunately we did not get acco there also. We were told that it was marriage season, and hence it was full. We were advised to go further to Koilkuntla to try, which is another 30 kms. Koilkuntla is a very small town. We got a room in Sidhardh lodge which is a very basic one, and should be tried only during such emergencies. Lunch in Ahobilam, dinner in Koilkuntla.

Route: Srisalam -> Doranala -> Atmakur -> Nandhyal -> Mahanadi
Road Condition: Srisailam to Atmakur is covered above. Atmakur to Nandhyal is decent. There is a deviation to Mahanandi from the outskirts of Nandhyal, doesn’t require to get in to Nandhyal. This stretch is also a good road.

Route: Mahanandi -> Nandhyal -> Allagadda -> Narasapuram -> Ahobilam – is the usual route taken. This is 75 kms. However we chose to take the difficult below one, we did not regret the decision.
Mahanandi -> Gajulapalli -> Mahadevapuram -> Rudravaram -> Narasapuram -> Ahobilam. This is 58 kms. The road is a single road mostly, literally passes through small village roads and fields on both sides. Thoroughly enjoyed driving through these village roads. We saw farmers working in the fields, village men sitting on the common village areas and chatting, kids playing on the roads.
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Old 2nd February 2015, 17:51   #6
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

Few pics in Upper Ahobilam, during our trek to the temples:

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6765.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6766.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6779.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6781.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6783.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6784.jpg
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Old 2nd February 2015, 17:54   #7
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

Day 4
Started from Koilkuntla very early, as our plan was to complete rest of the places and reach Bangalore the same day. We started the day with visiting Yaganti, which is a Shiva temple. The main attraction in this temple is the growing size of the Nandi. Archeological survey of India confirmed that the Nandi is growing in its size by 1 inch in 20 years. Earlier, devotees were able to do pradikshan (going around) around the Nandi, however due to its increased size, there is no space between the Nandi and the surrounding pillars any more. There is a small pond inside the temple, water in the pond is warm, crystal clear and said to have medicinal properties. There are few caves around the temple, which are good to visit.

Route: KoilKuntla -> Banaganapalli -> Yaganti
Road Condition: Good state road


Our next destination was Belum caves. These are underground limestone caves with beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations. The caves run 3.1 kms under the ground, around 1.5 kms is open for public. AP Tourism did a wonderful job in marking various points in the caves, making the caves traversable, have put lights at various places, provided free guide service.

Route: Yaganti -> Banaganapalli -> Belum Caves
Road Condition: Good state road. There is a dam on the way to Belum caves which is a nice scenic spot.


Next destination was Gandikota. The major attraction at this place is the Gorge view, which is also called Grand Canyon of India. The fort itself is dilapidated mostly, however some of the structures like 2 temples, mosque, granary, Charminaar are intact. The 15 kms stretch from Jammalamadugu that leads to the fort has winding roads amidst hills and greenery and is scenic. After the visit to the fort and the gorge, had lunch in APTDC Harita, and started our return journey to Bangalore.

Route: Belum Caves -> Kolimigundla -> Jammalamadugu -> Gandikota
Road Condition: Good state road till Jammalamadugu. Jammalamadugu to Gandikota is a very scenic winding road, however it is a single road.

On the way to Bangalore, stopped at kadiri to visit Lord Narasimha temple. We are back in Bangalore at around 8.30PM.

Route: Gandikota -> Pulivendula -> Kadiri -> Bagepalli -> Bangalore
Road condition: Good state road all the way till Bagepalli, except for a 10 kms stretch of single road. From Bagepalli – it is NH7 to Bangalore.

If you want to do more of NH7, alternate route is Gandikota -> Gooty -> Bangalore. From Gooty, it is NH7. However this will be around 90 kms more.
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Old 2nd February 2015, 17:59   #8
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

Distance chart
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Trip map - there are few minor deviations, but mostly followed this
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Old 2nd February 2015, 18:06   #9
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

Few Pics at Yaganti

Sunrise at Yaganti
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6806.jpg

Yaganti Temple
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6808.jpg

Caves just beside the temple
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6810.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6822.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6823.jpg

Growing Nandi
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6832.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6833.jpg
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Old 2nd February 2015, 18:22   #10
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

Pics at Belum Caves.

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6839.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6841.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6846.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6850.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6855.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6865.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6866.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6883.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6887.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6895.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6906.jpg
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Old 2nd February 2015, 18:27   #11
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

Pics at Gandikota

Gandikota Gorge View
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-gandikota-gorge-view.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6919.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6953.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6954.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6955.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6961.jpg

Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6963.jpg
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Old 2nd February 2015, 21:57   #12
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

Awesome pics and some really wonderful places. I really love to visit temples which are situated in some scenic natural beauty and the ones you have put pictures with caves and gorges are really good.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 3rd February 2015, 12:42   #13
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

A nice and crisp travelogue. The pictures do a perfect justice to the travelogue.

I used to visited Mantralayam frequently in the early 2000's, but in the last 10 years did not get a chance to do the trip. Thanks for refreshing the memories.

I guess you people missed to visit the Panchamukha Anjaneya temple around 20 Kms from Mantralayam. It is famous for its unusual rock formations and the sage meditated here according to the temple history.

I would also like to know the vehicle used and other little details for this trip.
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Old 3rd February 2015, 16:26   #14
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahesh Prasad View Post
I used to visited Mantralayam frequently in the early 2000's, but in the last 10 years did not get a chance to do the trip. Thanks for refreshing the memories.
Few more pics of Mantralayam for you below.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahesh Prasad View Post
I guess you people missed to visit the Panchamukha Anjaneya temple around 20 Kms from Mantralayam. It is famous for its unusual rock formations and the sage meditated here according to the temple history.
We are aware of this temple. Could not visit though. We wanted to spend more time in the mutt. Sitting in the premises felt very good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahesh Prasad View Post
I would also like to know the vehicle used and other little details for this trip.
The vehicle is Swift VXI. Got around 17 kmpl average (includes travel on NH7, state road, a bit of Srisailam ghat, few single roads). What else do you want to know .

In front of the temple
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6721.jpg

Painting inside the temple
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6724.jpg

Painting inside the temple
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6725.jpg

Evening procession
Temple Drive: Bangalore to Mantralayam, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Belum Caves & more-img_6740.jpg
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Old 3rd February 2015, 17:20   #15
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Default Re: Bangalore,Lepakshi,Mantralayam,Srisailam,Mahanandi ,Ahobilam,Yaganti,Belum caves,Gandi

Quote:
Originally Posted by daisyb View Post
What else do you want to know
Hai,

A very nice write up. If I have to suggest, there are four more places you would have visited along with these -

1. Alampur - Jogulamba Temple - One of the Shakthipeet
2. Akkanna Madanna Caves - Srisailam - You have to travel 16KM in the Krishna river to reach this place
3. Mallela Theertham - Waterfall near Srisailam
4. Banaganepalli - You could have visited/explored this place more.

Thanks,
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