Top 5 Places to see around Gandikota
Gandikota, also known as Grand Canyon of India is one of the most unexplored gems of India. Visiting this timeless village surrounded by a medieval times fort on the edge of 300 feet gorge is truly remarkable experience. But one should also cover some more interesting places nearby if you are visiting Gandikota. Especially if you are on your way to Hyderabad, there are some interesting places in #AndhraPradesh which can be covered in a day. These interesting places provide a unique range of experiences as each is different from the other. Here is a list of Top 5 places you can club with Gandikota trip to make your experience unforgettable.
All of these places to see around Gandikota are on the same route from Gandikota to Kurnool and it is preferable to cover them as a part of a road trip. They are listed below in order of their location if you start from Gandikota.
Suggested read about places to see in Gandikota: Gandikota - Grand Canyon of India
1. Belum Caves
Exploring the mysteries of ocean depths can be compared to discovering the wonders of an underground cave. The deeper you go, more bizarre yet wonderful it gets. The unusual shapes and formations with eerie textured walls around, myriad labyrinth of underground waterways below and the damp moist earthy air filling the empty space - This was what you would experience on visiting the largest tourist caves in Indian subcontinent - Belum Caves. About 300 kms from Bangalore and 365 kms from Hyderabad lies Belum, a small village in Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. We went to Belum caves from Hyderabad after covering the holy town of Srisailam and Grand canyon of India - Gandikota (Read our blogs in the link).
The first thing one would notice before reaching the caves is a huge white Buddha statue from a distance lending a spiritual touch to the place. The hill behind the statue reads Belum Caves, Belum is derived from Sanskrit word 'Bilum' meaning hole. You would realize why a hole after you buy the tickets and start towards the caves. The caves are underground; accessible only by a staircase going down a hole. On reaching down you would notice a circular space with some seats on the sides and huge sinkhole on top. Sinkholes are cavities in ground formed naturally mostly caused by chemical dissolution of limestone.
As you go inside, you realize the scale and size of this place. The 1.5 kms long area that is open to tourists is only half of the whole cave. It feels like a never ending maze of weird rocky formations. To realize that these were formed naturally over millions of years by water flowing on limestone deposits just shows the unimaginable capabilities of nature. Stalactites, Stalagmites, Siphons, Sinkholes and Waterways made this a geologist's paradise and a tourist's delight. However photography would be extremely poor if you don't have a tripod.
Even though locals always knew about the caves, they were first discovered by rest of the world only in late 19th century when British geologists visited it. Detailed exploration and studies started only about 30 years ago. Post this government has taken an active role in protecting this nature's creation by constructing pathways, installing air shafts and providing soft yellow illumination apart from facilitating research. They have discovered remnants of vessels used in 4500 BC and found evidence of the caves being used by Buddhist and Jain monks thousands of years ago. Thus there is a section named in the cave called meditation hall and this also answers why the Buddha statue is built outside the caves.
2. Owk Reservoir
Just 12 kms from Belum while traveling towards Kurnool lies another village called Owk which has a huge lake called Owk reservoir. An artificial reservoir formed primarily by feeding water from canals and earthen dams is right next to road. Though there is not much to do here, one can spend some time clicking photographs or sit in front of the huge water body.
3. Yaganti Temple
Next stop would be Yaganti temple, a hindu temple dedicated to lord Shiva is located 45 kms from Belum towards Kurnool. This temple is known for Pushkarini - a small pond of fresh water and 3 caves named after saints who lived there. The pond water in Pushkarini comes from hills but no one knows how. Devotees take a bath in the holy pond before heading to the temple to pay tribute to lord shiva. The caves are easy to climb and have their own historical significance. One of the highlight of the temple is growing idol of Nandi. Archaeological survey of India has found that the idol grows in size by 1 inch in every 20 years. They already have removed a pillar in the temple to accommodate the growing idol. One can spend couple of hours in Yaganti and also have free lunch before heading towards the next destination though devotees tend to spend entire day here.
4. Oravakallu Rock Garden
Heading towards Kurnool our next stop was Orvakal or Oravakallu rock garden. Just 20 kms before Kurnool and 60 kms from Yaganti lies this expanse of igneous rocks in water pools which is developed into a 1000 acre park by #AndhraPradesh Tourism department. They have also created a Haritha resort with comfortable rooms and a restaurant here. The unusual rocks formed out of quartz and silica would be fitting end to your day. A day that started at gorges of Gandikota, led to limestone rock caves of Belum and finally a rock garden overlooking a beautiful sunset. The rock garden is known for being a shooting location for many a movies including Indian blockbuster Baahubali. One can spend couple of hours here and enjoy photography before traveling to Kurnool and spend the night there or you can spend the night here too based on your preference.
5. Kurnool Fort
Kurnool is fifth largest city by population and one of the major cities of Andhra Pradesh, India. River Tungabhadra (coming from Hampi) flows through the city and joins river Krishna heading towards Srisailam, Nagarjuna Sagar and Vijayawada. There is not much to see from tourist point of view in Kurnool except Kurnool fort. Kurnool fort also known as Konda Reddy fort was built by rulers of Vijayanagar empire but is more famous for Konda Reddy who was a ruler in 17th century and imprisoned here by Golconda kings. The historical monument is good enough for spending an hour or so and clicking some good photographs with the architecture of the fort.
We had spent some time around sunrise at Gandikota fort before starting towards Kurnool. We were able to cover Belum caves and Owk reservoir reaching Yaganti temple around lunch time. After having lunch and spending some time at Yaganti temple, we were able to reach Oravakallu rock garden at evening and we saw the sunset from here. We reached our hotel in Kurnool at around at around 7 PM and visited Konda reddy fort or Kurnool fort in the morning before traveling back to Hyderabad. Another place one can visit is Alampur in Telangana which is just around 30 kms from Kurnool. The temple town of Alampur apart from being famous for its many temples is the meeting point of Tungabhadra river coming from Hampi and Krishna river coming from an area near Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra. The larger river formed as a result of the confluence is Krishna river which flows towards Srisailam, Nagarjuna Sagar, Vijayawada before meeting Bay of Bengal.
If you have already visited Gandikota, you can also cover places listed in this travel blog over a weekend as a standalone trip especially if you are in Hyderabad or vicinity. We covered all the above listed 5 places in a 4 day journey covering Mallela Theertham, Srisailam and Gandikota starting from Hyderabad. Have you visited these places? How did you find them? Do you know of any such interesting places to visit around Gandikota which could be added to this list? Do let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.