I’ve heard of Gandikota, introduced to me as the Grand Canyon of India. Never found myself planning a trip to there, until a dry period without trips/outdoor photography for around 4 months.
When I read about Belum caves in Tripadvisor, that was the tipping point, I quickly planned an itinerary on a Friday evening, to visit both these places.
I had already committed to a mid-noon cricket match , thereby pushing the start of the trip to 4:30pm on Saturday. The plan was to take the night halt at somewhere in Kadappa. The initial part of the route is towards Tirupathi and Renigunta and then towards Kadappa. The night halt was at Ziara Hotel, located near Ameen Peer Dargah, a small detour from my planned route.
I wanted to be at the place a little before sunrise. I was able to start only by 4:30AM. Gandikota is a good 2 hours from Kadappa. The last part of journey will be through scarcely populated Erramala range of hills. The roads are just about ok, but driving through places especially at about 6 in the morning is super fun.
I reached the place a little past 6:15AM. The sun had rose already, and I had very little time to lose.
To get a view at the gorge, you will have to climb a few boulders while also making sure none of your camera equipment swing and hit anything else.
Once you climb one of the vantage points, you are in for a visual delight.
April in general, is not the best season in South India for landscapes, yet this place managed to super impress me. It looked better than the best pics I’ve seen of this place. My only wish now is to visit this place again around the winter time to witness sunrise and sunset here.
After spending close to 2 hours here, it was time to gear up for the next destination. This region being very rural, I assumed chances of restaurants on the way to Belum caves to be very slim which pushed me to have the breakfast at Haritha’s — the AP Tourism’s Hotel and Restaurant in Gandikota.
Though not my first choice, it was still a huge mistake, I could have very well gone hungry instead of having anything at this place. This place might have been decent place to bunk, so if you plan to visit Gandikota consider this for your stay. Just make sure to bring something yourself to eat.
Belum caves was another 2 hours from Gandikota. The caves open only around 10:30AM, so it is an ideal place to visit after seeing sunrise in Gandikota.
The caves are tastefully lit, atleast better than the current Indian tourism standards.
There are places where there arent adequate oxygen/fresh air supply. In some of the places, there are ventilating fans installed. Given the humidity in the place and the temperatures, you will find scores of people (including myself) taking breaks below these fans.
The place is well maintained but tall people ought to be extra careful. There are quite a few places where you will have to crawl as a four-legged.
There is a small water body at around 150 ft below ground level and it is known as “Pathala Ganga”. But you have to make sure to bring enough drinking water as it really sweats a lot under here.
Few things to remember:
You are most likely get drenched in your own sweat, just remember dress lightly and have a spare t-shirt. Carry enough water, 1/2 ltr was not enough for me.
Prepare to be patient enough to get four legged and sometimes squeeze yourself to get through to places. All these things may look like draining the fun out of the trip, but just trust me, its all worth it. Now a couple of videos to end this journey.
Thanks for reading
This post was originally published on Medium.