Gandikota - the great canyon of India

Backpacking Across Gandikota – The Grand Canyon of India and Belum Caves

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When given a blank sheet of paper, we usually draw two mountains and a sun with a river flowing in between. Remember? But did you ever think why there weren’t any rocks instead? Does a place like that even exist? It sure does and we’ve been there. Gandikota! With a lot of history, this natural wonder is completely lit reflecting all the golden rays of the sun on rocks with the Penna River flowing in-between.

This bucket-list destination is an out-of-the-box experience you shouldn’t miss. Gandikota, meaning Gorge Fort, is situated near Jammalamadugu in the Kadapa district of Andra Pradesh. For a mile or more, the river Penna cuts its way through a gap of 200 yards wide. On either side of which, rise cliffs of about 200-300 feet in height, crowned as the Gandikota Fort.

Explore Gandikota & Belum Caves

Gandikota

Gandikota - ruined fort view near the gauge

Best Time To Visit

During summers the temperature sours up to 35-45 ℃. So the best time to visit Gandikota is during winter, between September and March.

  • Entry fee: Free. All other activities cost extra.
  • Timings: Open 24*7 all year round
  • Restroom: Not available
  • Parking: No dedicated parking. You can park anywhere near the village.
  • ATM Availability: There is no ATM available in the region. Carry enough cash needed.
  • Network Coverage: Poor to moderate coverage. You can’t browse the internet in the region.

How To Reach?

By Air

Tirupati Airport (220km, Airport Code: TIR) is the nearest airport to Gandikota. Hop on a private bus or cab to reach Gandikota from the airport.

By Train

Jammalamadugu Railway Station (18 km, Station Code: JMDG) is the nearest station. No direct trains are available that connect major cities.

By Road

The most convenient way to reach Jammalamadugu, 15 Km away from Gandikota is by bus. APSRTC public buses and private buses are available frequently from Chennai, Banglore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, etc. From Jammalamadugu, hire an auto/ tuk-tuk to reach Gandikota as the bus frequency is less.

Where To Stay?

Haritha Hotel maintained by APTDC, (Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development. Corp.) is the only hotel available near Gandikota. The hotel has a restaurant service as well. The stay costs Rs. 1500 per night during weekdays and Rs. 2000 during weekends (exclusive GST). Tents are available for stay at Rs. 500 with food. Pitch your tent at the base of River Penna or the gorge viewpoint.

Contact: +91 99483 13972,+91 8309883364 – Moonlight Tents

 

Where To Eat?

Haritha Hotel has a restaurant service available. There is also a local snack shop at the entrance of the village. No other eateries are there in the region. However, you can drive to Jammalamadugu for numerous hotels.

Top 8 Things To Do In Gandikota

Rappelling in Gandikota - Things to do
Rappelling in Gandikota
  1. The ruins: Ancient Madhavaraya and Renganatha Swamy temples built with exquisite craftsmanship, the grand Jamia Masjid, Charminar – a replica of the one in Hyderabad, a jail, a large granary to store food, and a small stepwell pond are all places you can visit in the village. On walking past the ruins you’ll find the viewpoint from where you can catch the Grand Canyon.
  2. Watch sunrise and sunset: Watching the Grand Canyon play with the golden-yellow light is a delight to the eyes. Camp in a tent and spend a magical night under the shimmering moonlit sky reflecting on the river.
  3. Kayaking: Kayak in the river Penna but be careful, you just might lose yourself gazing at the beauty of the landscape.
  4. Coracle Ride: Gandikota is one of the very few places in India that offers Coracle rides.
  5. Cliff Jumping: Thinking of cliff jumping in the river Penna? First, ask the locals for the right place. 
  6. Rock climbing and Rappelling: Adventure junkies can conquer the rocks of the fort at certain places and rappel down with the help of ropes.
  7. Camping and bonfire: If you rent a tent from the local services, they will provide options for a bonfire at night.
  8. Gandikota waterfalls: Hidden in the canyon of rocks and drylands lies the Gandikota waterfalls with a small pool. Take a break from the heat and humidity and take a dip in this refreshing pool!
Gandikota fort - ruins

All ancient places did give us an overwhelming experience and thought of stopping but we said, not today! We asked the locals for other nearby places. “Belum caves,” they said. Next thing you know we are on a bus en route to the caves.

You might also be interested in visiting Dudhsagar waterfall. Click here now!

Belum Caves

Belum caves entrance
Entrance to the Belum Caves

The second-largest natural underground cave 2.5 km long is situated 67 km from Gandikota in the Kurnool district of Andra Pradesh. Also known as the Kurnool caves, this archaeological cave is well maintained by APTDC with lighting and ventilators installed for air circulation since the cave is long and deep. Within it, you’ll find spacious rock chambers, formations of stalactite and stalagmite by limestones, and freshwater galleries and siphons.

Rock formations in Belum caves
Rock formations inside the cave

How did it form? With such large spacious pathways extending for several miles with unimaginable rock formations, this place is in the most literal sense a hidden gem.

During the rainy season, the cave is covered with water and is closed to tourists. But the water dries up real quick.

  • Entry fee: Rs. 65 for adults, Rs. 45 for children between 5 to 10 years. Rs. 300 for foreigners
  • Time taken: 2 hours
  • Timings: 10 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Best time to visit: November to February
  • Cloakroom: Available near the entrance
  • Guide: Available who can speak multiple languages (Hindi, English, Telugu, and Kannada)
  • Restroom: Available
  • Parking: Available
  • ATM Availability: There are no ATMs available in the region. Carry enough cash needed.
  • Network: Poor to moderate coverage. You can’t browse the internet in the region.

How To Reach?

After visiting Gandikota, hop on a public bus from Jammalamadugu to Kolimigundla. From here you can share a tuk-tuk ride for 3 Km with the locals to reach the caves. If you own a vehicle, you can click here to add the route to Google Maps.

If you are dependent on public transport on your way back, board a bus to Anantapur or Tadipatri which is not frequent (every 30 mins- 1 hour). From Anantapur and Tadipatri, you can find frequent buses to Bangalore and Chennai. One can also reach Kurnool. You can ask locals for train and bus information for your desired destination.
Reach Tadipatri Railway station (Station code: TU, 30 Km away) from Belum caves. This railhead is well connected with daily trains to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Goa, Tirupati, Hyderabad, Ahmadabad, Goa, and other cities.

Where To Stay?

Although Belum caves can be visited in 2-3 hours, if you wish to stay near Belum caves, there is only one option in the same compound, the Haritha Hotel run by APDTC. There are 3 Dormitory rooms of 8 beds 2 dorm rooms of 6 beds at Rs. 150 per head and one double bedroom at Rs.350.

Contact number for booking: 9705389600
Note: Staying here is not recommended as the place is not well maintained.

Where To Eat?

There is a snack bar near the ticket counter and one eatery that offers decent veg and non-veg food outside the entrance of Belum Caves. No other eateries are there in the region.

Top 8 Interesting Things To See In Belum Caves

Narrow passage ways at Belum
  1. Dhyana Mandir (Meditation Hall): As the name suggests, this place near the entrance was used for meditation in ancient times by Buddhist monks.
  2. Pathala Ganga: The perennial underground water stream at 150 feet down from the entrance, being the lowest point starts here and disappears into the depths of the Earth. You can enjoy a natural free fish spa here.
  3. Koti Lingalu: The stalactite and stalagmite formations of rocks resembling the 1000 Siva Linga.
  4. Saptavatsala Guha (Musical chamber): The most recently discovered chamber that produces musical sounds when stalactites are struck with knuckles or sticks.
  5. Simhadwaram: Stalactite resembling the shape of a lion’s head.
  6. Thousand hoods: Stalactite formations appear like thousands of cobras have opened their hood.
  7. Banyan Tree Hall: The stalactites hanging from the ceiling look like a giant banyan tree.
  8. Mandapam: Huge area with stalactite and stalagmite formations on the sides making it look like a hall with pillars.
Wide hall or pathways in the cave

Note: There are signboards indicating the name of each section inside the Belum caves. To know more, you can get a guide for free, available at the entrance of the cave.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Gandikota Safe?

Yes. It is safe to visit Gandikota. The area is open and vast with no guards or security. So, please do not venture to far-off places. Staying alone in the region is not safe and is not recommended.

Is Camping allowed in Gandikota?

Yes. You can rent a tent from the local services, Contact: +91 99483 13972,+91 8309883364 – Moonlight Tents, or pitch your own tent and enjoy the stay.

Is one day enough to visit Gandikota and Belum caves?

Yes. A single day is enough to cover both places. However, camping under the moonlit sky at the base of the gorge is the highlight of the trip. So, we recommend you to spend a night there.

Is Gandikota open?

Gandikota is open throughout the year with no entry charges.

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