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Tourist Places To Visit In Gandikota
Have you heard of the Grand Canyon of Arizona? A place in the US that attracts about 5 million visitors towards itself every year? What if we tell you that there’s also a hidden Grand Canyon in India? Would you believe it? Well, there is such a place in the state of Andhra Pradesh. And the name of the place is Gandikota. This small town in Kadapa district is famous worldwide and people visit this small village only to sight the beautiful gorge that’s formed here. Besides the unparalleled beauty of the gorge, Gandikota has several other places of attraction that can blow any visitor’s mind. And this article is an attempt to uncover those places. Let’s talk about some of the best places to visit in and around Gandikota.
The Amazing Pennar Gorge
The first place on our list is the amazing Pennar Gorge that’s formed here by the Pennar River that cuts through the Gandikota Hills or the Erramala hills. This marvelous view is situated just 1 km away from Gandikota Bus Stop. This gorge is basically a narrow valley between the mountains with upright walls of rocks and a water stream that runs through it. The Pennar Gorge is over 290 feet deep from the cliff. Now you must be wondering how this gorge is formed. The Pennar river couldn’t have carved such a huge gorge. However, due to the continuous flow of the Pennar river over so many years, it was able to cut a deep trench through the landscape. This cut exposed several layers of rock and thus created the magnificent site that we all see today and get mesmerized.
Many travelers who visit this site have started calling this place as the Hidden Grand Canyon of India due to its striking similarity with Grand Canyon of Arizona. The almost 90-degree valley with numerous rocky formations will compel you you feel as if you in a different planet. The view that you see from the top of the hills will leave you speechless, especially, during sunrise and sunset. To get here you’ll have to walk for 1 km from the fort’s entrance. Although it is easier to get bewitched by the stunning beauty of the gorge you must be extremely cautious while climbing the uneven rocks. And therefore, it is not suggestible for the children or elders to get here without guidance and support. Ensure you are carrying enough snacks and water as there aren’t any shops near the viewpoint.
The next on our list is one of India’s most historic sites, the Belum Caves. These massive caves are the second-largest in the entire country. These caves are located at a distance of 43 km from Yeganti, between Nandyal and Tadipatri in Kurnool district. These massive structures are 3230 m long and have vast chambers, fresh-water galleries, siphons, and extended passages. At the entrance level of the caves, you’ll spot the deepest point of the caves that is 118 feet. These caves are pretty ancient some millions of years old and were formed by the erosion in limestone deposits in the area by Chitravati River. This river now flows 32 km south of the caves.
The prime attraction of the caves is the massive Buddha statue that is situated near the caves. It is believed that Buddhist monks used these caves for meditation in the huge meditation hall in the caves. The inner view of the caves is also very stunning which you will enjoy thoroughly. This Gondikota’s top attraction is situated quite close (at about 3 km) to the Kolimigundla village on Nandyal - Tadipatri route. This place can be reached through buses that are run quite frequently. AP Tourism has worked out bridges and pathways for visitors to reach the caves. There’s also a resort near the entrance of the cave that is run by AP Tourism.
Gandikota is an ancient village situated near the bank of the Pennar river. This small hamlet was ruled by different dynasties including the Kalyani Chalukyas, Cholas, Delhi Sultanate, and the Golconda Sultanate. Irrespective of which dynasty ruled Gandikota, the stronghold of the Gandikota Fort was the center of their power. Gandikota was the capital city of Pemmasani Nayakas, for over 290 years, who constructed the massive fort in this hamlet. The fort has over 100 towers that replaced the earlier sand fort which was constructed by Kaka Raja of Kalyani Chalukya rulers. The subsequent Muslim rulers who ruled Gandikota added different versions of Islamic architecture to the fort.
The major attractions of the fort include the Jamia Masjid and the two ancient temples of Madhavaraya and Ranganatha Swamy. One can also see the ruins of different structures inside the area. Plus, the large granary that was used to store grains is now being used as watchman's quarters. Other sites inside the fort include a pretty pigeon tower with windows, a magazine, and a huge palace built by bricks with some nice carvings and wells. You can also see an aged cannon in the fort. Additionally, spings, gardens, house of the Drum, Charminar, Jail, and Red Koneru (the pond) are other things to admire about the fort.
The third attraction of Gandikota on our list is the Jamia Masjid. It is located just about half a kilometer away from Gandikota Bus Stop. It’s an ancient mosque constructed inside the Gandikota Fort. The Jamia Masjid is known as the Primary Mosque of Gandikota and falls under the category of one of the most-visited spots in Gandikota. The massive Gandikota is the 12th-century masterpiece that houses the Jamia mosque constructed beside a Hindu temple. Thus this is one of the most notable examples of unity in diversity and showcases the great Indian values and culture. The grand mosque has a simple architecture and very spacious in size.
If anyone who has seen the Charminar of Hyderabad, he/she will be able to identify that this Jamia mosque resembles Charminar. Over so many years, the walls of the mosque have lost their shine and are not in the same state they used to be when they were built. However, they are still able to attract and captivate visitors who happen to visit the mosque with its simple but elegant Islamic architecture. Reaching the top of the entrance, you’ll be able to spot the tower of the Madhavaraya temple that is situated nearby. Besides the mesmerizing beauty of the mosque, you can visit the Kattula Koneru pond that’s just opposite to the Jamia Masjid and the granary which was used to store grains.
Madhavaraya Temple is an ancient Hindu temple located 1 km away from Gandikota Bus Stop. This temple is located to the west of Gandikota village, inside the Gandikota Fort complex. Undoubtedly, this famous temple is one of the most-visited spots that you must visit during your trip to Gandikota. This temple is a dedication to Lord Vishnu and was built during the kingship of Sri Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagara Kingdom. This is perhaps the grandest structure in the entire Gandikota region. The temple doesn’t have any idol because when Nizams broke into the security of the fort, the primary deity of the temple was shifted to Mydukuru.
Even though there is no idol in the sanctum sanctorum, the beautifully decorated mandapa is still intact. Similar to the Jamia Mosque, the Madhavaraya temple showcases a captivating architecture with many carvings of Hindu Gods. It also displays day-to-day rituals of worshipping performed by common people on its walls and pillars. The temple has 5 floors and the tower can be seen from any corner of the Gandikota village. You’ll admire the art that displays the culture and life of the historic kingdoms preserved in its granite walls. You can make out that this sanctuary was a holy place dedicated to Lord Vishnu by the carvings of tortoise and fish inside the entrance of the temple.
Yaganti is located in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh which isn’t far from Gandikota. This place is famous for housing one of the biggest temples of Lord Shiva known as Sri Yagantiswamy Temple or the Uma Maheshwari Temple (as known famously amongst the locals). Along with the Madhavaraya Temple, the Uma Maheshwari Temple is also ancient which is thought to be 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. Several architectures in and around the temple were completed during their reign.
As you enter the temple, you’ll see the idol of Shiva & Parvathi known as Ardhanareeswara which is carved out of a single huge stone. The significance of this temple is that perhaps, it is the only temple where instead of the Shiva Linga, Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of an idol. Legends say that Agastya, the Sage, performed sacrament for Lord Shiva here and requested the appearance of Shiva in the Ardhanareeswara form. Besides, the idol of Nandi is also worshipped here and it is said the statue is been growing in the size.
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 still 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.
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. Then, after a few years, by raising the bunds by 221 feet high, these tanks were converted into Owk Reservoir. Today, the reservoir is the primary source of irrigation in the Rayalaseema region and the internal area of the reservoir is more than 1000 acres. It also provides drinking water facilities to nearby towns and villages. The Andhra Pradesh Tourism has recently set up a boat club in the backwaters of Owk Reservoir for attracting visitors and tourists.
Mylavaram Dam is an irrigation project located at a distance of 11 km from Gandikota. It’s constructed across the Pennar river in Andhra’s Kadapa district. This beautiful dam is a must-visit place during your Gandikota trip. Mylavaram Dam is also known as Tatireddy Narasimha Reddy Reservoir built for fulfilling the irrigation and other water needs for an area that spread across 75000 acres. The formation of canals and the final construction of the project were completed by the end of 1982. The distributary system work was accomplished by 1986. The total capacity of the reservoir is 9.96 tmc.
There are two main canals in the reservoir. The first one of them 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. When the Srisailam right bank canal project gets over, the water from the Krishna river would be supplied from Srisailam Dam to this reservoir. For visitors, the view offered by the dam is scintillating and there’s also a museum closeby if you’re interested. The best time to be at the dam is during sunset to spend a wonderful evening. A boat club has been set up recently by the AP Tourism department in the backwaters of Mylavaram Dam to draw more tourist attractions.