Gandikota From Mumbai:
I couldnt find any information for reaching Gandikota from Mumbai, still the train tickets were booked till what looked as the nearest station near Gandikota in the map (Station called Yerraguntla ). I have a knack of finding things , just found the Dark Knight’s prison on my last Jodhpur visit [ Click to read about Dark Knight’s prison] Such a beautiful canyon of India seemed to be of interest only to the nearby peeps of Hyderabad & Bangalore. Its was going to change today. This Mumbaikar was hell bent on reaching it & enjoy the superb sunrise.
How to reach Gandikota from Mumbai
After much research ( asking the locals) this is the proper way by train:
- Book the train till a station called TadiPatri. We booked the Chennai express ( Rs 500)
- Share the rickshaw till the Tadipatri Bus station ( Rs 10)
- Take the bus to Jammalamadugu (Rs 46)
- Take the bus to Gandikota ( Rs 10)
The bag was packed with the usual stuff for a weekend trip and an additional tent for camping on the banks of river Pennar. This was going to be one adventurous & a budget monsoon trip. This time my friend Pankaj would be joining me.
CHENNAI Express leaves from Dadar at 2030 hrs everyday and reaches Tadipatri on 1230 hrs the next day. No matter how much time you have on your hand as usual there is always a rush in the end to get the train. After lot of huffing and puffing we did manage to get the train. I love night trains – It means to have dinner and sleep off the train and thus less time to be spent in the train with having nothing to do.
The Guntakal station arrives by about 1100 hrs the next day where you can get hot Utthapa which makes for a really tasty breakfast. There are other options like the vada, idli, medu vada, dosa etc to choose from. As a plus point all the stations after Dadar & Kalyan are extremely clean and very well maintained. Since you don’t understand the language and you see such clean stations you almost start to wonder whether you are still in India 🙂
Most of the fellow passengers were going to Tirpupati for getting a clean shave 🙂 . Most people i checked with for probable routes didn’t have idea about Gandikota. Till the very end we were wondering whether to get down at TadiPatri or the subsequent station of Yerraguntla. At last we decided on TadiPatri station .
Let the COMMUNICATION Gap begin:
From here onwards it was a fight to find people speaking Hindi. In the entire trip for the 2 days we met only TWO people who could speak Hindi. The struggle was real. You can watch my cracking the language barrier in the vlog ( Click here to watch the Gandikota vlog) After sharing the rickshaw to the TadiPatri bus station, we could see that life moves pretty slowly here. The entire two laned road was empty and the motor cyclist were not going above 30 kmph. Felt strange.
At the bus stop checking the bus timing seemed to be another problem. No one spoke Hindi, all the signs are in Telugu, all the timings are in telugu. I was perplexed and happy to have taken this trip. This is a whole new ball game. After speaking / gesturing for atleast 5 minutes with the announcer he gestured that the bus to Jammalamadugu would be stopping at the corner of the bus depot. Lot many buses that kept arriving at the spot with the name plates in exotic language added to the confusion. Finally after an eternity of confusion got in the right bus and was set for the next stop- Jammalamadugu.
From Jammalamudugu the next bus to Gandikota was after two hours. Not wanting to let the sun set before we reach there we decided to take a rickshaw for Rs 200 directly till Gandikota ( the bus ticket for the same is Rs 10 ). The route is scenic and keeps on getting better and isolated as we reach the destination.
At Gandikota, the fort welcomes you with the majestic walls and the royal entrance.
Walking through the winding road through the fort and the huge gates we reach the Charminar.
Things to see in Gandikota:
- The fort itself ( if you have lots of time )
- Ranganathaswamy temple
- Madhavrayaswamy temple
- Jamia Masjid
- The beautiful gorge/ canyon
- Jail, Granary etc
All these places are all clustered around on the way to the canyon. Only one Madhavrayaswamy temple is a bit off the route.Not wanting to miss the sunset , just had a glimpse of the Jail, Jamia Masjid, granary & Ragunathaswamy temple beforing heading to the Canyon. The Masjid has a mighty presence.
Stole a glimpse from outside.
As we moved ahead the canyon started to become visible. All the 20 hrs of travelling and last minute planning started to materialise.
The beautiful canyon welcomed us in all its glory. Walls of the gorge are multi layered like a cake 😛 . Orangish brown rocks layered represented millions of year of evolution. The Pennar River had cut through these tough rocks for an eternity for us to enjoy this view now. I didn’t let its effort go waste and got busy with the camera. I moved from one spot to the another to get the best possible picture. The sunset was divine.
I spotted the lush green riverbed and wondered how beautiful the sunrise would appear from here. That was the spot where we would be camping for the night
From the top of gorge the riverbed appeared quite near by and it seemed like a good idea to walk all the way down to camp. The trail that followed the pipeline takes you to the riverbed . But to my miscalculation the route was pretty long and takes a whole lot of time to reach down. By the time we reached the sun had long gone and the darkness had slowly creeped in.
Finding the camping spot
Even being monsoon the river was quite dry and the riverbed was pretty welcoming for setting up the tent. There were lots of thorny shrubs around
Bro Tips for your tents
Take into consideration that water level might rise
Stay clear of the sharp thorns which might tear your costly tent
Avoid areas prone to rock fall
Set up a fire for ego boost
Since we were late and it had start to drizzle we scurried in search of a proper place. Reaching here before sun down would have been dope.
Silence is Golden and Frightening
Found a place and quickly set up the tent on the higher grounds. After the tent ( CLICK HERE for more about my tent ) was hurriedly put up silence crept in. We could only hear the birds chirping and the wind whistling. This was going to be one hell of a creepy night. It was a good thought that i had bought Parathas from Mumbai. Parathas never tasted so scrumptious before.
As the night seeped in the birds went to sleep and we felt thankful to creators of Odomos. The silence was made worse by the light wind brushing against the huge walls of the canyon. Outer layer of the tent was loosely tied as it felt a bit hot inside the two man’s tent.
After may be an hour or two the wind speed increased drastically and almost ripped of the outer layer. At almost midnight it was time for a quick fix as I went in search of some rocks to tie the tent in pitch darkness. Not a single star was visible as the dark clouds had taken over. This is not good.
The tent lines were quickly tightened against the rocks making the tent rock solid. No sooner than the lines were tightened the rain made headway.Rushing back in I hoped that the tent would hold against the strong winds, didn’t have any power left now to go back again in rain.
Let me remind you that there is a resort outside the fort by APTDC Harita resort. Make sure you book it online before your reach here. However camping gives you a different high, wilderness is very lively to say the least.
It was a thunderstorm. Occasional lightning lit the canyon terrifically. The howling rain continued for the next half an hour. And after that was the pin drop scary silence.
The bullocks seem to be going past the tent as we could hear the silent steps. Heart skipped few beats. After all this i felt asleep only to be rudely woken up by pig singing a drunken song.
Here is a vlog from my day 1. Took a lot of efforts to make this video, do watch it.
I was glad that we could make it till the morning. The gorge looked brilliant in the morning light – the sun was hidden in the clouds. The sunrise colours were missed but i was not complaining.
One look at the top and the Gandikota fort got a completely different perspective from here.
There is a cave like opening at some distance from where we got down. Wish i could camp here someday
Started the way back to the top. The climb is definitely not a walk in the park. I sweated profusely as i managed my way back to the top. Its time to look at the other wonders of Ganndikota.
Started off with the nearest Ragunathaswamy temple. The temple carved out of red granites stood out of the green lawn very aesthetically. The carefully sculpted pillars are sight for sore eyes.
This can also be a very good camping spot if you are in a large number as it can get scary in the dark. The sculpting here is very beautiful and mesmerising. Found this window towards the Canyon of Gandikota
Next up is the granary which didnt interest me enough to go inside
The huge masjid stands silently. There is hint of peace in the air . The grazing bullocks add to the holiness of this place. After getting glimpses of the Masjid yesterday had enough today time to go inside.
Next stop is the Madhavrayaswamy Temple whose gopuram is visible from every nook and corner of the fort.
If you fancy my cameras
There might not be a idol in the temple, but it definitely feels divine. Once you reach near the gopuram, its grandiosity leaves you speechless.
This is the perfect peaceful climax for the Gandikota trip. The derelict monument tells us the stories of the lost kingdom and the social aspects centuries ago all preserved in the marvelous granite sculpting.
The peace that you feel here is unmatched . This Hampi-esque temple is definitely worth your time. I wish i had more time to just lie on the cold flooring and think about the bigger problems in life.
Next up is the Belum Caves. The only guy i met who spoke Hindi till now told me that there is a state transport bus at 1000, 1200 & 1600 hrs for Jammalamadugu. We reached outside the fort by 1300 hrs and got a rickshaw after 30 minutes to take us back to Jammalamadugu.
Towards Belum caves.