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Old 12th June 2017, 15:12   #1
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Default Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD

Gandikota is a village on the bank of the river Pennar, 15 km from Jammalamadugu in Kadapa district, Andhra Pradesh. Earlier the place was ruled by powerful Telegu dynasty, Pemmasani Dynasty and had one of the most secured forts in India. Gandi in Telegu means Gorge, that’s where the place and the fort had acquired its name from. It is secluded in Erramala range of hills.

How the trip came into picture.
Wife’s colleague: The weather is getting awesome, any plans for weekend.
Wife: Not yet.
Wife’s colleague: Have you heard of this place called Gandikota
Wife: Yes, it’s called Grand Canyon of India and has wonderful rock formations.
Wife’s colleague: hear it’s wonderful, you have any idea. (expecting google based knowledge)
Wife: Give me 24 hours, I’ll update you
Phone rings …
Wife: Hey, you have any plans for weekend.
Me: Longdrive?
Wife: Gandikota?
Me: SURE!

A picture to set the mood. Best Parking lot ever
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-masjid-view-2.jpg


We started on June 10th at 3pm in the afternoon. The plan and places we had planned to visit.
Gandikota
Belum Caves
Oravakallu Rock Garden



Route Used -
Let me come to the route used before I get to describing the actual beauty of the place. There were several blogs in TeamBhp that helped me with the planning. Some blogs from Bangalore and some from Hyderabad. However, unlike the Vizag trip with colleagues, this time I would be driving with my family, so places I would be traversing and at what time of the day was a major deciding factor. I was aware of the road conditions till Kurnool and have driven along that till Bangalore recently for the Ooty trip, at night and it’s safe to say the least. For any trip, I like to stick to the National Highways as much as possible.
Hyderabad-{nh44}-Kurnool-{nh40}-Nandyal-[Allagadda-Paddamudiam-Jammalamadugu-Gandikota]
{ } -nh40 is still under construction at few places, when I went and almost at its finishing phase. Do watch out for unmarked diversions and one-ways at few places, especially near Nandyal Town bypass.
[ ]- Country road but in good condition, do watch out for bone jarring unmarked triple humps.

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-hybdnandyal.jpg

Since I was unaware of the road conditions after Kurnool I extensively used google maps to come up with few numbers. Also, when I checked the route on Friday night around 9:30pm from Nandyal to Gandikota, Google map showed orange traffic. Post 10pm if the route has sporadic traffic it’s a relatively busy route, which is welcome in this scenario and while travelling with family late night.
There were two routes to get to Gandikota, via Gooty or via Nandyal.
Gooty-Gandikota – 115kms in 2hr 46mins -Average speed 41kmps
Nandyal-Gandikota -96kms in 2hr – Average speed- 48kmph
So Nandyal-Gandikota route was faster although it had traffic, stating a better road condition.


Hyderabad-Gooty-Gandikota – Average speed -56kmph
Hyderabad-Kurnool-Nandyal-Gandikota – Average speed -54kmph


Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-hybdgooty.jpg

So the average speed was almost the same for both the routes but Nandyal route involved travelling roughly 40kms less. Also, the last few kilometers involved driving post 9pm and I preferred a faster route.
We started at 3pm from Hyderabad and reached Gandikota at 10:15pm in the night. Involved an evening break and a dinner break. Once you get down from NH40 after Allagadda it’s a narrow one-way route but the road is relatively new and in good condition. Again, Allagadda to Gandikota has 2 routes.
A) 56kms in 1hr 22min – Average – 41kmph
B) 68km in 1hr 39mins- Average -42kmph


Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-allagaddagandi.jpg

We can use either of them and both are extremely scenic (we realized while returning). Crossed few 6-seater tempo travelers commuting with local folks. Although it was past 9pm at night we could see few people on the road and some vehicles too. At 9-10:15pm It was pitch dark on either side but the country road was great and we made good progress.

The Scenic NH40 near Nandyal town.



Harita Resort, Gandikota
AP Tourism nails the locations and the design of their resorts spot on. The resort is designed like a fort and the road leading to it is just epic. The staff consists of 5-6 guys who were very accommodating. We had informed about our late arrival when we started from Hyderabad and they had made all the necessary arrangements. The location has ample space to park vehicles although you can also park them just in front of your room. The Hotel is nicely laid out and serves the purpose for resting and spending the night. Please don’t expect 5 star rooms but the welcoming nature of the guys and their cooperation is more than enough. There is provision to camp and put up tents as well but the weather did not permit. It was already late when we settled down and called it a day.

Google Map images of the Hotel area.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-haritagooglemap.jpg

Reference google map image of Hotel with respect to the fort.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-gandikota-river-view-google-map.jpg

Day-2
Woke up next morning early and Headed straight for Belum Caves. It’s a 1.5 hours’ drive with some scenic view. After Jamalamaddugu you can touch NH67 with average speed of 40kmph. Not the best of the road but there are no other options. Early start avoids traffic.

Route Used – Harita, Gandikota – Jamalamaddugu- Dalmia Cement Factory (Its Massive) – Belum Caves.

Belum Caves.
The largest and longest cave in India. Its known for its stalactite and stalagmite formations. The cave foundation was due to underground water flow, several layers on the rock surfaces reminds you of the grand canyon formation. There are indications that Jains and Buddhists monks occupied these caves. The cave and its rock formations have been named and now is split into several sections. Kotilingalu, Saptasvarala Guha or Musical Chamber, Patalaganga- stream that feeds a well at nearby village, Mandapam – It’s the biggest section inside the cave. Unlike Borra caves which had minimal ventilation mechanism for tourists, Bellum caves has a much elaborate exhaust system to keep the cave cold and un-suffocating for tourists.
We spend roughly 2 hours exploring and appreciated the level of maintenance and the helpful nature of the staff and guides there.

Few Images from the cave.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-belum-caves-1.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-belum-caves-2.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-belum-caves-3.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-belum-caves-4.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-belum-caves-5.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-belum-caves-6.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-belum-caves-7.jpg


View of the Hill that's visible from quite a distance.

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-belum-caves-8.jpg





Arrived back at Gandikota, had a quick late breakfast and headed straight for the Gandikota Fort. The fort could be seen from the hotel roof and the Temple made an epic appearance. Yes, the rooms had stone slabs attached to its wall which doubled up as stairs and made way for the roof. The view from the top was majestic. For bird watchers and bird lovers I heard voices of some birds like red vented bulbuls, Some varieties of sparrow, A group of eagle, probably bald headed. Didn’t really get the time in the morning but I guess the eagles were nesting on a tree very close to the resort rooms and from the roof could yield some excellent shots.

Morning shows the day.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-morning-view-harita-3.jpg

Few pictures of the Fort and Temple from the roof of the Harita rooms.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-morning-view-harita-1.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-morning-view-harita-2.jpg

The Parking arrangements inside the Resort.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-harita-1.jpg

Fort like structure of the resort.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-harita-3.jpg

Since its a relatively new found Heritage site, vehicles are allowed inside. Going forward I am sure the vehicles would need to be parked outside. Duster could fit easily in between the main entrace and other entrances on the way. For reference Duster is 1.82m in width.
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Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-duster-fort-gate-2.jpg

After crossing the Fort gates we had to park the vehicle in the Masjid premises. On the left side is the Masjid and on the right is this beautiful artificial water body.
From my Hampi trip I came to know that these structures are called Pushkarni. Temple tanks are wells or reservoirs built as part of the temple complex near Indian temples. They are called pushkarini, kalyani, kunda, sarovara, tirtha, talab, pukhuri, etc. in different languages and regions of India. Since ancient times, the design of water storage has been important in India's temple architecture, Temple tank design became an art form in itself.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-masjid-.jpg

Ancient Parking lot, "they" parked horses here, I just parked 110 of them.
I was lucky no one left a stone engraved ticket under the wiper blades for parking longer.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-masjid-view-1.jpg

The other structures in the fort, include another large granary, with fretted windows and an extensive palace built by bricks with some plastered decorations.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-masjid-view-7.jpg

Short Video of the drive inside the fort.


Map describing the structures.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-gandi-map.jpg

Last edited by ARAY : 13th June 2017 at 01:31.
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Old 12th June 2017, 15:14   #2
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Default re: Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD

Day-1 Continued ...

Gandikota Fort.
There are no special time to enter or exit the Fort but yes you can drive inside the fort and reach the “epic” view point. Parking is available inside the masjid. Just before entering there is a rocky road that goes parallel to the structure's premises and takes you closer to the view point. Although I would not advise anyone to take their car up the stairs, to say the least a Duster AWD can climb up that road and take you a little bit closer and give you that eternal peace of owning an AWD.

Entrance to the Masjid.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-masjid-view-5.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-masjid-view-6.jpg

Noticed a lot of work being done in conserving the heritage. I guess its a never ending process.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-masjid-view-8.jpg


The Fort is said to have been built in 1123AD by Kapa Raja of nearby Bommanapalle village. Kapa was an ally of Ahavamalla Someswara, Western Chalukyan king of Kalyana. The fort was built in deep valley and impassable hills with massive boulders of red granite and the river Pennar that flows about 300 ft. below on the west and northern sides of the ridges. The very location provided a strong natural defense. Gandikota was one of the greatest forts of Southern Asia and so were the kings who ruled the region. Gandikota fort was ruled by the Mikkilineni dynasty. Raja Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Naidu was the first king of Pemmasani class and during his period, few developmental activities took place, the efforts made in reinforcing an already secure fort is prominent. The rock texture and design if seen carefully points out the restructuring that happened which is believed to have happened around 1350AD.
Unfortunately there is no guide to tell you the history of the place but few metal and stone inscriptions tell you briefly about the glorious past.
Madhava and Ranganatha are the two temple structures. That are the North and south side of the fort. Since it rained all night making the entire region more beautiful and slippery rock surfaces, we had plans of going down to the Penna river but that never materialized. I came back to Hyderabad looking for how the place would look from the banks of the river and came across these wonderful paintings by travelers in 18th century.
http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/p.../gandikot.html

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-gandikota-view-1.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-gandikota-view-3.jpg

The Trail leading to the awesome view of the Penna river.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-gandikota-view-7.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-gandikota-view-4.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-gandikota-view-5.jpg

The Famous "Desi Grand Canyon View"
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-gandikota-view-6.jpg

Few more pictures of the fort from the Penna River View Point.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-view-penna-river-view-point-1.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-view-penna-river-view-point-2.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-view-penna-river-view-point-3.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-view-penna-river-view-point-4.jpg

We checked out from the hotel at around 1pm and decided to have lunch on the way back at NH40. At the gates of the hotel just for the sake of it, I asked the hotel manager if there is a road to go to the windmills and If it was allowed for public. He nodded and instead of going to the route for Hyderabad we decided to see how BIG are those turbines. From the hotel roof, we spotted around 25-30 turbines. Once we reached the place near the actual power grid we were astonished to see the number of wind turbines in that area. The entire region had several of them. Often while driving on the highways many of us must have spotted the extra-long trucks carrying a single blade. When we reached to the leg of one of the turbine the massiveness of the entire setup made us all overwhelmed.

So close to the Wind Turbines, pictures are not doing justice. Remember the long trailers carrying a SINGLE blade of these giants.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-windmill-1.jpg

National Aluminium Co Ltd (Nalco) has commissioned its first wind power project at Gandikota in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. The Government-owned company invested Rs. 275 crore for the 50-MW Suzlon-erected project.Indian OIL also has its fair share of reducing carbon footprint to an emission reduction of 102 TMTCO2e (thousand metric tonnes carbon-dioxide equivalent).
Source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/...cle4276709.ece and http://www.business-standard.com/art...1900032_1.html

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-windmill-2.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-windmill-3.jpg

While returning from the power grid and turbines we saw yet another great view of the fort and the valley beneath.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-windmill-4.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-view-fort-valley-.jpg


Short Video of the drive to the MASSIVE turbines.


The weather was already great, the fluffy clouds made for some great shots.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-return-cloud-view-.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-return-view-.jpg


We bid adieu to the awesome valley. (Video speed increased to 200%)


A close friend of mine and fellow Duster owner proposed not to miss Oravakallu Rock Garden while returning. It was pouring heavily when we reached but decided to wait for some time and go inside anyways.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-rock-garden.jpg

Rock Garden
The park, was developed by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC). Several fun and adventure activities have been arranged for a quick weekend getaway.
Rock formations, geologically called `fully weathered' rocks, are very rich in silica (silicon dioxide) and quartz and offered a great promise for the glass industry. Rock formations are prevalent several km in the district. It’s said several companies have approached the AP Government for mining licenses. Entrance to the park is Rs 10 per person. After spending few hours at the spot, we headed back for Hyderabad. Reached Hyderabad around 9pm and watched last few overs of India crushing SA.


Few images of the Rock Garden.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-rock-garden-1.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-rock-garden-2.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-rock-garden-3.jpg

A list of the adventure sports that are available.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-rock-garden-adventuress-.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-rock-garden-4.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-rock-garden-5.jpg

We stopped at a food court named Food Pyramid before entering Hyderabad, the ambiance is good with a small park for children to play and stretch their legs after a long journey.. Food courts are in abundance on NH44 and NH40.
Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-img_2584.jpg
Location: https://goo.gl/maps/b9iYWmafmjq

**Although you can deduce a lot about the road conditions via Google Maps, it’s not necessarily 100% accurate, several factors like terrain and live traffic data for that region plays an important role. I hope this short blog helps fellow travelers.

Last edited by ARAY : 13th June 2017 at 02:03.
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Old 13th June 2017, 04:42   #3
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Note from Support: Thread moved to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 13th June 2017, 08:58   #4
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What are the chances that you will become a full fledged writer / photographer? Love your writing and keep them coming.
Long live the Team Duster family and travelogues like these. (Y)
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Old 13th June 2017, 09:36   #5
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Default re: Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD

ARAY,

Nice pics and very well written travelogue.

There was a mega Oravakallu (Full Moon) Festival on the 10th June weekend and everything seemed to be full when I checked for booking. How come I don't see any crowd anywhere in your pics ?

Any pics of the full moon ?
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Old 13th June 2017, 09:52   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kpzen View Post
ARAY,

Nice pics and very well written travelogue.

There was a mega Oravakallu (Full Moon) Festival on the 10th June weekend and everything seemed to be full when I checked for booking. How come I don't see any crowd anywhere in your pics ?

Any pics of the full moon ?
10th June evening around 10:15pm we reached the resort. We saw 4 vehicles parked outside but other than the hotel staff we didn't see anyone there. Also it was drizzling and it was pretty cloudy. Next day after Belum caves we went back to the fort but didnt see any remains from the festival, neither did any hotel staff mention about it. Coming to the booking, we booked online in APTDC and still saw 7 rooms left.
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Old 13th June 2017, 10:03   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ARAY View Post
10th June evening around 10:15pm we reached the resort. We saw 4 vehicles parked outside but other than the hotel staff we didn't see anyone there. Also it was drizzling and it was pretty cloudy. Next day after Belum caves we went back to the fort but didnt see any remains from the festival, neither did any hotel staff mention about it. Coming to the booking, we booked online in APTDC and still saw 7 rooms left.
Good for you, ARAY
We read about this and got interested.
But, sadly couldn't get through the bookings.

http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/in...June-9-/305171

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Old 13th June 2017, 10:24   #8
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD

Really impressive writing Aritra, Its nice to see bong covering the nook and corners of AP and TS giving better glimpses of areas to visit. I am now even more interested in visiting Gandikota. How is the road from Kurnool to Gandikota and also from Gandikota to Belum caves. You have mentioned about Haritha Resort and though i am not expecting a luxury, are there any other hotels to stay or eat nearby?
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Old 13th June 2017, 10:31   #9
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD

Hey Aray,

Wonderful Tlog and you inspired me to mark these places in my upcoming Trips list. I am from Hyderabad and was not aware of such a beautiful place around. Weather plays an important role to enhance the experience of any trip and looks just great from your pictures. Keep writing and we will keep reading.
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Old 13th June 2017, 12:50   #10
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD

Thank you for sharing. This is one of my to do's

On a side note ,Wanted to check if Hot Air Balloon rides @ rock garden are indeed an option ?( If they are then that price is super cheap)
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Old 13th June 2017, 14:20   #11
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD

Fantastic as usual Aray !! Back to back TLs. It's a nice weekend spot going by the pictures. You should take classes on how to click good pictures with an iPhone !!

Keep travelling & Keep writing !!

Regards

Pawan
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Old 13th June 2017, 14:41   #12
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD

Great travelogue Aray. Pics, especially the HDRish ones have come superb under overcast sky.

Also, feel it is much better to visit Gandikota in this climate since heat will be tolerable.

Glad to see other facilities coming up near the fort, this place has potential to become a tourist hotspot for weekend travelers from both Bangalore & Hyderabad.
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Old 13th June 2017, 15:08   #13
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD

So good to see a travelogue on Gandikota and Belum. I had done a similar one on my Ecosport TDCI last year.
Although the trip was amazing, we had a hard time finding a decent hotel to stay. I hope we have better hotels by now.
Here are some pics from my trip that I did not see here (for the benefit of readers)
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Old 13th June 2017, 18:21   #14
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD

Beautiful pictures, Aray!

In fact, we visited this place on our bikes and we took a wrong diversion which lead to another Gandikota some where 120 km away from the original destination. That was one bad day as another group who reached the destination early and had to wait for us for a very long time.

Incidentally, there was another Haritha there and yet another confusion

Otherwise, this place is hardly visited by any. Beautiful rock formations. Your photography is amazing.
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Old 13th June 2017, 19:59   #15
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Default Re: Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD

Team Bhp, Indian tourism and Renault, all three will be proud of you for your weekly contributions!

Yet another travelogue with excellent pics and beautiful narration.

Hope you remember our drive to Belum caves from Bangalore back in 2010? That was your first long drive in your k10 and i was driving my Alto. Seems like Gandikota was a bad miss for me. Thanks for the virtual tour.

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-img_7107.jpg

Hyderabad - Gandikota - Belum Caves in a Duster AWD-img_7069.jpg

Last edited by Samba : 13th June 2017 at 20:01.
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