On the second day morning, we were ready on time as per our schedule. We had a lot to cover today. We had aloo veg with puri and spicy coconut chutney in breakfast. After that, we started from Jammalamadugu→Gandikota. Roads were good and excellent view. Other than the towering hills, some other towering machines also caught our attention. Windmills, standing tall, casting shadows across the hills and fields, a stark juxtaposition of ancient and modern India.
"Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world." - Gustave Flaubert
These wind-powered turbines set up by Suzlon Energy are here to bring a wind of change and are probably the only solution to a country plagued by power blackouts.
Gandikota was ruled by powerful Telugu dynasty, the Pemmasani Dynasty and was one of the most prominent forts in the country.
The fort of Gandikota acquired its name due to the 'gorge' (in Telugu it is called 'gandi'), formed between the Erramala range of hills, also known as Gandikota hills and the river Pennar that flows at its foot, reducing its width to a mere 300 ft (see the river image below). Situated amidst beautiful landscape and wild forests, it is endowed with vast natural resources.
We parked our car just inside the entrance and walked through the huge gate. It led us onto a winding path that took us to an open area. The main entrance made by the pure iron material.
"The use of traveling is to regulate imagination with reality, and instead of thinking of how things may be, see them as they are." - Samuel Johnson
A whole village existed inside the complex - houses, shops and even a primary school. We followed the stone path, jumping over a few lazy cattle, cow dung and scuttling chicken. On the way, we passed several ruins. We first saw a four-tiered tower, aptly named Charminar.
We passed a brick building which was marked as a Jail.We went to inside that jail and it's now bat home. We also saw a small path on the left that led to the Madhavaraya temple. It's representing old era architecture.
The village road ended at the Jamia Masjid. We later came to understand that we could have taken the car further inside through the village road till the Masjid, as we found a few tourist cabs parked adjacent to the mosque's wall.
The walls of the gorge were extremely impressive. Our eyes trailed down the magnificent cliffs and rock faces. We could make out the different layers of rock by color - red, brown, gray - which proved how old these mountains were. You see billions of years stacked up and cut through. Considering how flat the drive to Gandikota was, it was hard to believe how high you really are until you reach the rim and look down into this gorge.
We tried climbing up some of the boulders. It was a treacherous climb at some places because we did not know whether the stones were loose. From the top, we could also get a better view of the crumbling fort wall that snaked around the fort. We could also get a glimpse of the Mylavaram dam and reservoir from the chasm. We passed the Masjid, a building which was marked as Granary and the Ranganatha Swamy Temple.
"Tourists don't know where they've been, travelers don't know where they're going". Paul Theroux
After sightseeing and little bit rock climbing, we were feeling hungry so we did reach the Gandikota APTDC complex by 12 pm. It's very near to Fort. Covering an area of about 10 acres with 12 cottages, a dormitory, a dining hall, and kitchen, and most importantly a huge parking space and kids play area, the APTDC complex at Gandikota is a sprawling affair. To match with the fort besides, the whole complex is built in stone. One small museum was there.
We had lunch there and per plate 100 RS cost. Most important thing food was hygienic and good.
There are no online bookings for Gandikota, only offline bookings. So, you can call to near APTDC office and book room there in advance. It's usually full at weekends.
After 1 pm we started for Gandikota → Belum caves. It's 61 kilometers from Gandikota. The routes were good. We took Gandikota Road and Jammalamadugu - Muddanur Rd/Kadri - Jammalamadugu Hwy/Tadipatri - Jammalamadugu Hwy to Jammalamadugu-Tadipatri Rd.
"People don't take trips - trips take people." - John Steinbeck