Once, one of the greatest forts of South India and now a small village, tucked remotely inside Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, Gandikota mesmerizes you with an aroma of the past and grandeur of grand canyon. Initially, we had planned to visit Gandikota to experience the canyon that river Pennar makes cutting through the red granite hills, but we were more surprised, actually fascinated seeing the ruins of this fort. Not as vast as Hampi, but certainly your Hampi memories will relinquish as you will sit in the solitude of Gandikota Fort ruins.
Gandikota Fort Ruins
A blue board at the entrance gate shows that some French traveler Tavernier had called Gandikota as second Hampi. Initially, we could not make much sense of it but we could not agree more with him as we walked inside exploring its vast heritage and historical structures.
Gandikota Fort was built in 13th Century and after being ruled gloriously for centuries by different dynasties, Gandikota passed into the hands of British. History has passed but Gandikota Fort still stands tall on the bank of river Pennar telling stories of the past. There is also a village inside the fort and you will observe a slow and peaceful life as you will pass through it.
There are many structures inside the fort spread over an area of 10 acres. Most prominent of all is the Jama Masjid (mosque) that sits in the center just before the grand canyon. There are also two grand temples on each side of the mosque dedicated to Madhava and Ranganatha. Besides, there is a granary next to Jama Masjid and also a prison. There are some more structures almost in dilapidated state and in different stages of decay. It would be worthwhile to watch them through the eyes of lens than us to write about them-
Grand Canyon of Gandikota
As you walk next to the Jama Masjid, you suddenly find the path sloping down towards a hill of boulders. As you reach closer, beautiful canyon unfolds in front of your eyes. Things become even more fascinating as you walk cautiously over the red granite boulders to reach the end point from where both sides of the river are visible. In case, you are with children and elderly people, please do exercise extra caution on boulders.
You can also view the boundary wall of the fort from here. It goes all the way following the bank of the river.
Locals told us that water level has been quite low for many years as they are constructing a tunnel downstream. Sun set views from the canyon were equally amazing with windmills providing a scenic background as sun sets down slowly.
Gandikota was an amazing experience. Even on weekend, it was quite peaceful since the place is still not very popular. There were mostly locals and school children for their picnic. Gandikota seems to be in neglect and requires maintenance so that we do not loose this unique piece of our heritage. If properly developed, this will certainly attract far many tourists.
After spending a day at Gandikota, we left next day morning to explore Belum Caves, second largest cave system in India.
How to reach Gandikota from Bangalore
A big question!! We first explored train options but could not find anything suitable as nearest railway station (Kondapuram) too was quite far and train frequency is also limited on this route from Bangalore. We could also not find any KSRTC buses plying on this route. Finally, when we searched on APSRTC website, we found some apt bus options for Jammalamadugu, from where Gandikota is only 15 kilometers away and you can easily get local bus/auto to reach the fort within 15 minutes.
Where to stay at Gandikota/jammalamadugu
Anothe big question :). Gandikota is a small village and there is only one hotel – Haritha Resort (7382237380) run by Andhra Tourism. They have certain rooms for which booking can be done by filling up a form online (at least 2 weeks in advance). If you do not get an email reply after filling up the form, it means that rooms are not available. They have dormitory option also but the same can be booked on the spot only as no one responds on the resort contact number. By the way, this is the only place to have lunch in Gandikota, basic but tasty meals for Rs. 100 per plate.
Jammalamadugu has few lodges that provide very basic rooms on 24 hour checkout basis. For none of them, we could find any phone numbers online and thus left from Bangalore without any hotel booking. Our bus to Jammalamadugu was scheduled to reach at 6 AM (Bangalore Departure: 9 PM) but it reached just too early at 3:30 AM and we were out knocking at the doors of all those lodges waking up everyone :). After being denied by two lodges, we finally got a room at Sagar lodge for Rs 600 for next 24 hours. We noted down numbers for some of them as displayed on their boards. Hope this helps fellow travellers –
- TRKR Lodge: 9704341495/7842535086/9652177876
- Sagar Lodge: 8019987080
Happy Exploration !!