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Things To Do In Gandikota
Very few places in India although small in area, are still capable of capturing the attention of thousands of globe trekkers worldwide. And Gandikota is one of those small places situated in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This small hamlet is more famous for the beautiful gorge at the Pennar river and the Belum caves. Admiring nature’s view of these places is just one of the things that take you breath away here. There are other places of interest in Gandikota, where a lot awaits you to make your vacation a memorable one. Below we have a list of the best things to do in Gandikota during your short stay in the village.
Take a Mesmerizing View of the Ravine — Pennar Gorge
It’s good to prepare a list of things that you must do in the city you are visiting. Fo Gandikota, if you have a similar list, visiting the Pennar Gorge Viewpoint should definitely take the first spot. This famous viewpoint is situated just 1 km from Gandikota Bus Station. The place offers a mesmerizing view of the gorge that is formed here by the Pennar river when it flows through the huge rock-hill formation. Getting at the top of the slippery rocks and taking a view of the gorge is just awe-inspiring.
This gorge is basically a narrow valley between the mountains, lying 290 feet deep from the hills. Because of the resemblance of Pennar Gorge with the Grand Canyon of Arizona, many people have started calling this place the Hidden Grand Canyon of India. Describing the beauty of the view is simply not possible in words. It can only be experienced and felt. The best time to visit the gorge is during sunrise and sunset. So you cannot miss visiting the Pennar Gorge Viewpoint during your trip to Gandikota.
Walk Through the Ruins of the Fortress — Gandikota Fort
The next best thing to do in Gandikota is walking through the remains of the mighty Gandikota Fort. This fort is located 1 km away from the Gandikota Bus Station just close the Pennar Gorge Viewpoint. The fort has a long history and has been ruled by different rulers since its creation. This Kalyani Chalukyas, Cholas, Delhi Sultanate, and the Golconda Sultanate ruled this fort with great honor. Irrespective of which dynasty ruled Gandikota, the Gandikota Fort remained the center of their power. The Pemmasani Nayakas ruled this fort for more than 290 years and were the first to build it. The Kaka Raja of Kalyani Chalukya rulers later built over 100 towers in the fort.
Then, the fort fell into the hands of the Muslim rulers who continued to add their version of typical Islamic architecture. As you walk through the remains of the fort, you will sight the Jamia Masjid and the two ancient temples of Madhavaraya and Ranganatha Swamy. Plus, the ruins of other palaces in the fort can also be spotted easily. The large granary that was used to store grains is worth watching which is now being used as watchman's quarters. Pigeon tower with fretted windows, a magazine, and a huge palace built by bricks with some nice carvings and wells, and old cannon can be viewed inside the fort along with springs, gardens, house of the Drum, Charminar, Jail, and Red Koneru — the pond.
Get Captivated by the Ancient Caves — Belum Caves
Belum Caves are one of Inda’s ancient sites located at 43 km from Yeganti in the Kurnool district. These historic caves are the second-largest in India and offer a captivating view from the inside. These massive caves are 3230 m long and have huge chambers, fresh-water galleries, siphons, and extended passages. Just as you enter the caves, you’ll spot the deepest point of the caves that is 118 feet. It is said that these caves are a million years old and were formed by the disruption in limestone deposits in the area by Chitravati River that flows 32 km south of the caves.
Besides the sublime inside view of the caves, the other thing that will attract your attention is the huge Buddha statue near the caves. It is said that ancient Buddhist monks used these caves for meditation. They used the huge meditation hall in the caves for practicing meditation and other Buddhist rituals. This, one of Gandikota’s top attractions, is situated close (at about 3 km) to the Kolimigundla village on Nandyal - Tadipatri route. The Andhra Pradesh Tourism has built bridges and pathways for visitors to reach the caves. There’s also a resort run by the AP Tourism department near the entrance of the cave that can be used for a stay and having snacks.
Admire the Old Islamic Structure — Jamia Masjid
The next thing to do in Gandikota is to admire the old Islamic structure that is the Jamia Masjid. This beautiful structure is located inside the Gandikoa Fort at just a half kilometer away from Gandikota Bus Station and attracts the attention of many visitors. It’s also known as the central mosque that was used to perform prayers including the Friday and Eid prayers. It’s located beside an ancient Hindu temple and, therefore, this is one of the most notable examples of unity in diversity and showcases the great Indian values and culture. The grand mosque is very simple in design and it’s also very spacious.
The beautiful minarets of the mosque resemble the ones in the famous Charminar of Hyderabad. Although the walls of the mosque have lost their shine over several centuries, they can still attract and captivate visitors who happen to visit the mosque with its simple but elegant Islamic design. When you get to the top of the entrance, you’ll spot the tower of the Madhavaraya temple situated nearby. Besides admiring the mesmerizing beauty of the mosque, you can also visit the Kattula Koneru pond opposite to the Jamia Masjid and the granary which was used to store grains.
Visit the Notable Ancient Temple — Madhavaraya Temple
Madhavaraya Temple is one of the most notable ancient Hindu temples in and around Gandikota. At just 1 km away from Gandikota Bus Stop, it is located to the west of Gandikota village inside the complex of Gandikota Fort. This famous temple is one of the most-visited spots in Gandikota and you must visit this temple during your trip to this village. This temple was built during the time of Sri Krishna Deva Raya of the Vijayanagar Kingdom as an offering to Lord Vishnu. This is perhaps the most impressive structure in the entire Gandikota region. However, when the Nizams broke into the fort, the primary deity of the temple was shifted to Mydukuru. Therefore, you will not find any idol inside the temple.
Despite that, the beautifully colored mandapa is still intact. Similar to the Jamia Mosque, the Madhavaraya temple showcases a captivating architecture with many carvings of Hindu Gods. One can also identify the day-to-day rituals of worshipping performed by common people on its walls and pillars. The 5-floor temple and its tower can be seen from any corner of the Gandikota village. Click selfies and photos around the art that displays the culture and life of the historic kingdoms preserved in its granite walls. Also, visit the Gandikota Jail near the temple. However, you will only be able to spot the dark area infested with bats. Nevertheless, it is worth a visit, given that the jail could have been the most dreaded building in the fort back then.
Take a Holy Dip in Pushkarini — Yaganti Temple
Located in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, Yaganti temple isn’t that far from Gandikota. This beautiful temple houses the idol of Lord Shiva known as Sri Yagantiswamy Temple or the Uma Maheshwari Temple (as known famously amongst the locals). It is perhaps the only temple where the idol in full form of Lord Shiva is worshipped instead of the Shiva Linga. Built in the 5th and 6th centuries, many kings and emperors from the Cholas, Pallavas, Chalukyas, and Vijayanagara contributed towards beautifying the temples as offerings to the Lord. However, the contributions of Vijayanagara Kings Harihara & Bukka Rayalu are the most significant.
Besides the temple in Yaganti, you will admire the Yerramala hills as it offers unique settings to the locals and superb natural beauty. The area is surrounded by numerous caves used by many saints throughout the ages including the likes of Potuluri Veera Brahmam Garu — the Great Telugu saint and astrologer. The most notable feature of the temple is the Pushkarini that has absolute pure water. It’s still a mystery as to how the water flows into Pushkarini in different seasons. Pilgrims consider this Pushkarini a holy water stream and take a holy dip in it before they visit the temple.
Experience the Ancient Architecture — Raghunatha Swamy Temple
Just half a kilometer away from Gandikota Bus Stop, you come to yet another ancient Hindu temple famously known as the Raghunatha Swamy Temple. This temple is also located inside the complex of the Gandikota Fort adjacent to Jamia Mosque. It falls under the category of the most-visited places during a Gandikota trip and you shouldn’t miss visiting this place. The temple here has an intricate system of pillars, corridors, and hallways. Just like the Madhavaraya Temple, there is no idol inside the sanctum. However, the relics of the temple are still catchy enough for any photographer to capture some nice shots.
The temple isn’t that large but the architecture is simply outstanding as you watch the temple designed with red granites. It’s obvious that the temple now is not in its original form; still the ruins of several mandapas and pillars along the perimeter of the temple are attractive enough for anyone. You’ll love the impressive carvings on the pillars and walls, with pillars sculpted with the stories of Dasavathara. The most notable one of them all is the carving of the killing of Hiranyakasipu by Lord Narasimha. Visitors love taking a slow walk on the premises of the temple. You can also witness distinct engravings on some rocks. To get a panoramic view of the hills on one side and the majestic Penna valley on the other, climb up the ruined outer walls.
Indulge in Water Sports Activities — Owk Reservoir
The Owk Reservoir is a famous dam that’s built across Paleru River near Owk in Andhra’s Kurnool district. It’s a popular Gandikota attraction that is located some 10 km from Belum Caves. This dam was constructed in the year 1946 and comprises three smaller dams namely Gollaleru, Thimmaraju Cheruvu, and Paleru. Earlier, Thimmaraju and Paleru dams were used to provide water to the Owk village for about 2000 and 600 acres respectively.
To attract more visitors towards this dam, the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department has taken a good initiative by setting up a boat club in the backwaters of the beautiful reservoir. Many tourists and locals visit this reservoir simply to enjoy the view from the top and they indulge heavily in the water sport activities. So the efforts of AP Tourism are paying off well. You can try different water sport activities such as speed boating, cruise boat, and so on. Also, there are two waterfalls — Paleru and Gollaleru — in the catchment area of the reservoir. You can visit them and enjoy your time there in the water streams, but be cautious of the water flow.
Enjoy Boating at the Boat Club — Mylavaram Dam
The last thing to do in Gandikota is to visit the Mylavaram Dam located 10 km away from Gandikota. This irrigation project is constructed across the Pennar river in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. Majorly, people visit this dam for the view it offers especially when the water is released. It looks beautiful at that time. This dam is also known by the name Tatireddy Narasimha Reddy Reservoir and was constructed to fulfill the irrigation and other water requirements for an area spreading across 75000 acres.
There are two primary canals in the reservoir. The first one is the MR North Canal that has an extent of 50,000 acres and the second one is the MR South Canal with an extent of 25,000 acres. Apart from viewing the dam, visitors can visit a museum situated if interested. The view of the dam during the sunset is the most scintillating one letting you spend a wonderful evening. Additionally, you can enjoy boating at the boat club set up recently by the AP Tourism department in the backwaters of the dam to attract more visitors.