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Top 5 Places to see around Gandikota

Gandikota, also known as the 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 a 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, some interesting places in #AndhraPradesh 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 the Top 5 places you can club with the Gandikota trip to make your experience unforgettable.

Places to visit near Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India
The Buddha statue located just above the Belum Caves

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Places to see around Gandikota

Here is a list of all of the places to see around Gandikota that 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.

1. Belum Caves

Exploring the mysteries of ocean depths can be compared to discovering the wonders of an underground cave. The deeper you go, the more bizarre yet wonderful it gets. The unusual shapes and formations with eerie textured walls around, a 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 the Indian subcontinent - Belum Caves. It's definitely amongst the most unique places to visit near Gandikota. About 300 km from Bangalore and 365 km from Hyderabad lies Belum, a small village in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. We went to Belum caves from Hyderabad after covering the holy town of Srisailam and the Grand Canyon of India - Gandikota (Read our blogs in the link).

Belum caves - Places to visit near Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India
Belum caves - The largest tourist caves in Indian subcontinent

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 the 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 a huge sinkhole on top. Sinkholes are cavities in the ground formed naturally, mostly caused by the chemical dissolution of limestone.

As you go inside, you realize the scale and size of this place. The 1.5 km long area open to tourists is only half of the whole cave. It feels like a never-ending maze of weird rocky formations. Realizing that these were formed naturally over millions of years by water flowing on limestone deposits 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.

Places to visit near Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India
Inside the Belum caves - a must visit place from Gandikota
Places to visit near Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India
A water fountain inside the Belum caves - a must visit place from Gandikota

Even though locals always knew about the caves, they were first discovered by the rest of the world only in the late 19th century when British geologists visited them. 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 the meditation hall, and this also answers why the Buddha statue is built outside the caves. All in all, a must-visit tourist place near Gandikota.

Places to visit near Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India
Inside the Belum caves - a must visit place from Gandikota

2. Owk Reservoir

Just 12 km from Belum, while travelling 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 the road. Though there is not much to do here, one can spend some time clicking photographs or sitting in front of the huge water body. Owk Reservoir is one of the best places to visit near Gandikota, right on the highway!

Places to visit near Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India
Near Belum caves lies Owk reservoir - another place one can visit with Gandikota

3. Yaganti Temple

The next stop would be Yaganti temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is located 45 km 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 highlights of the Yaganti temple is the growing idol of Nandi. The Archaeological Survey of India has found that the idol grows in size by 1 inch every 20 years. They already have removed a pillar in the temple to accommodate the growing idol. One can spend a couple of hours in Yaganti and have free lunch before heading towards the next destination though devotees tend to spend an entire day here. Staunch believers of Lord Shiva - this is the place for you to visit near Gandikota!

Places to visit near Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India
Pushkarini - a small fresh water pond in Yaganti