This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Srikanth from the blog traveldiaries.vacations and the capter lead of RTC Hyderabad!
Today's destination: Gandikota gorge and Belum caves, Andhra Pradesh!
Nearest Airport: Tirupati Airport at Renigunta
Nearest Railway Station: Kondapuram
Prerequisites - Camping equipment if you're planning to camp
Packing - Gandikota can get hot during the day, plan to carry sufficient water and also extra layers for the night.
Time of the year - September
Length of the itinerary: 2 days
Srikanth and team set out from Hyderabad towards Gandikota - a natural gorge formed by the Pennar river in Andhra Pradesh. A couple of stops enroute the destination and a navigation error on google maps led Srikanth to the foot of some magnificent wind mills in the vicinity of Gandikota!
After spending some time refreshing themselves at the APSTDC branded Haritha resorts, the group heads towards the Gandikota fort by about 3pm.
Please note that camping areas are present in the vicinity of the fort, so do not fall prey to scamsters asking for money to pitch tents.
Once the group had settled in on the camping area, they set out to explore the fort and its monuments. First up is the Mini Charminar that welcomes you as you drive through the fort city after passing through the gigantic darwaaza or fort gates. The mini charminar is modeled after the original monument in Hyderabad
The other important monuments within the fort include the Jama Masjid, the Ranghanatha Swamy temple and the Madhavaraya Swamy temple (from the Hoysala era).
Along with the religious monuments, there are several other structures like the Granery, Mausoleum, Jail, Ponds and water bodies are abundant. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to discuss some of the smaller monuments due to time constraints.
Once you have enjoyed the history and architecture of the monuments, move over to the view points for some great sunset views of the gorge and the river.
Indulge in star gazing as night falls, enjoy a bonfire, a sumptous meal and spend the night chatting away with friends.
Wake up early for wonderful views of the sunrise and the sun painting the gorge into different colors.
The group head out towards Belum caves - the second longest underground cave network in India formed by a river several centuries ago, over 3 kms long! A beautiful Buddha statue welcomes you to the monument complex, it is believed that both Buddhist and Jain monks have lived here centuries ago.
The cave network is about 150m below ground level and tends to get pretty hot during the day, even in September!
The caves are well lit with a number of formations like Pilidwaram, saint bed, Dhyan mandir or meditation hall, Kotilingalu chamber (thousand hoods), Banyan tree, Patalaganga and many more interesting formations!
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