Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia

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Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 1/14 by Abhishek Sharma

Hi guys! This is the story of how I spent my long weekend doing a ride from Bangalore - Belum caves - Kadapa - Gandikota - Kadapa and back to Bangalore. I also met a fellow traveler in the unlikeliest of places..

Just like most of my adventures, the beginnings of this one lie behind my eternal quest of traveling over weekends. I had come out of a grueling project at work and needed a break to recharge the 'little grey cells'. So I was researching the colorful labyrinthine recesses of the internet and came across this link -

Wanderlust Traveller: Gandikota & Belum. The road less travelled

This immediately caught my attention and I decided plan a ride to both the attractions! There was just one holdup. Just like the city of LePakshi, there was only one hotel in the vicinity of Gandikota. This APTDC property was booked and the next option was in the city of Kadapa, which was 90 km from the canyons, so I had to turn this into a 3-day affair.

You can check out the LePakshi ride here -

Ride to LePakshi - Historic Ruins of India

This is what my final itinerary looked like -

Bangalore to Belum caves to Kadapa Kadapa to Gandiktka to Kadapa by nightfall Kadapa to Bangalore and enjoy well-deserved rest before returning to the most useless cubicle in the universe

Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 2/14 by Abhishek Sharma

Tea break during the ride.

Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 3/14 by Abhishek Sharma

On the way to Gandikota - Indian Oil petrol bunk on both the sides of the road

Now I have a few rules that I follow during all of my rides. I will list them out here, so that y'all know why I do what I do -

- I start my rides early in the morning. Like 4-5 am and end them by 6-7pm. Overnight riding is a strict no-no. So my itineraries are always planned to accommodate this. - My motorcycle is very comfortable, so I keep pushing and like to cover long distances in one go. - Covering long distances doesn't mean that I ride fast. My speed averages at about 70kmph, and never cross 100. Even that happens on rare occasions.

Now that we've covered the basic rules, let's get back to the story -I started the ride at 4:30 in the morning. The highway was smooth and I managed good speeds. I took one tea break and reached the Belum caves site by noon. I Walked around the caves, made a video of the whole cave system (whatever areas were open to public) had a really great lunch in the premises at the restaurant and was back on the road, on my way to Kadapa, by 3-4ish

Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 4/14 by Abhishek Sharma
Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 5/14 by Abhishek Sharma

Belum caves were hauntingly beautiful!The cave system is the largest one in India that is open for public!

Google Maps is generally reliable when it comes to navigation, but this is probably one of the few times it has failed me (other instance, which was worse, happened during my ride from Coimbatore to Ooty. That was very bad. I shall write about that in the future). There was road construction going on, so it was blocked. I had to figure out another way to cross this area. And I ended up in the following situation -

Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 6/14 by Abhishek Sharma

Rider on the off roads

Photo looks great, but this was slippery and I had a really heavy bag at the back. Also, I was tired after a long day of walking, riding, and generally being alert with all my senses at their respective peaks. Thankfully, it got over sooner than later, and I came out of the stretch unhurt.

Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 7/14 by Abhishek Sharma

Riding with a view of the Windmills

Rest of the ride to Kadapa was mostly uneventful and I Reached my hotel ( Upendra Residency, Kadapa) by evening. My review of the hotel is - It was good. I checked for bed bugs and there were none. There was a fan, a window and I felt comfortable. I travel cheap, am conservative with the expenses I make, so full 5 stars to this one. I got a good night's rest and started for Gandikota late in the morning.

One thing about Gandikota is, it is breathtaking! (Keanu Reeves is, yes, but so is Gandikota) and the roads leading to the canyon are even more so! These have to feature in the top 10 roads in India. I was completely floored by the smoothness of the tarmac and the vast open landscapes. And all of this just added to the anticipation of the canyon itself. Thrilling!

I reached Gandikota before sunset. Much before. The sun was overhead. The compound had an old mosque and next to it was the canyon itself. I parked my motorcycle at one of the dedicated spots and started on foot to check the mosque compound out first. This is where things started getting interesting. Just outside the entrance of the walls, was a guy sitting on the grass, assembling a drone. Now this was 2017 and drones were just starting out in India. The scene was compelling so I implored some more.

Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 8/14 by Abhishek Sharma

Entrance to the Mosque - in fish eye cam

I'm an introvert, and would never go and speak to a person on my own. But here, in this particular case, the guy had a drone. So I went ahead and started chit chatting. His name was Vishal. He was a Doctor by profession. This was interesting. In my world, doctors are intelligent beings who cure people of ailments and don't really get the time to do menial activities like traveling. So a doctor, who was a traveler and took drone shots of places was fascinating. He turned out to be the batch mate of an old friend of mine, so we had that connection too. We bonded fairly well. During this introduction session, he had assembled the drone and had started taking shots of the Mosque walls.

We went inside and I waited for him to do his thing. He tried doing a revolving video of the drone capturing the compound from its periphery but that didn't really happen. The moment guards heard the whirring of the drone, they came in and shut us down! So any of you planning this, be prepared or get a license from local authorities.

Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 9/14 by Abhishek Sharma

The nice looking mosque next to the canyon

We went to the canyon after this and that was a good walk. There were a lot of people there. And it was fairly safe considering it's a canyon. We navigated through the cracks on the rocks and sat on top of the cliff.

Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 10/14 by Abhishek Sharma

Pure bliss, this view!

We just sat there for a few hours till the sun went down and then moved away. This was one of the high points of my life. Pretty great. Stuff we live for!

There were people who were setting up tents on the canyon for an overnight stay, so I think that is also allowed. But I'm not sure, you will probably have to get in touch with a local guide to check this out. There is also a trail that goes all the way down to the river body. We did not have the time to check it out, but this is also doable.

Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 11/14 by Abhishek Sharma

Panoramic view of the canyon and the rocks

More about Dr Vishal - he mostly travels in buses or trains. We had a good day and shared interesting conversations, so we thought of ending the night with a few drinks before parting ways. He had to take the bus back to Pune from some small city which was on the way to Kadapa. So he became my pillion till we reached that village. But now that we had reached this place, we couldn't find a bar in this village. Nothing! Zilch! We had to ask locals, and they directed us to a small compound which looked like this -

Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 12/14 by Abhishek Sharma

The bar in the middle of nowhere!

The manager here was amazing. He couldn't understand our language. We couldn't understand his. None of the people in the bar were able to translate. But we somehow placed the order of a few beers and some starters. Meanwhile, the manager called the English teacher of the village to share our table and sit with us. Heartwarming stuff all of this! Wholesome.

Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 13/14 by Abhishek Sharma

Two happy faces after a round of Beers - Me clicking the picture with Dr. Vishal in the background

It was a nice good homely mini adventure and I left this village with good memories in my heart.

I dropped Dr. Vishal at his bus stand and reached my hotel late in the night, and ended up violating one of my rules of later riding. But, I still believe that the memories that were made that night completely justified missing out on the rule!

Photo of Ride to Belum Caves & Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India | UtopiaAmidDystopia 14/14 by Abhishek Sharma

I finish this story with a picture of my Motorcycle in front of a holy deity. Blessings straight from the top, uptop!

I've mostly lost touch with Dr Vishal and have spoken with him only once since then, but we still spoke like good friends on that occasion. Travel makes better bonds than other normal bonds, I think!

You can check out his blogs over on BingeWander

Cost Breakup-

Petrol - ~Rs. 2000Hotel - Rs. 845 for 2 nightsFood + Beers - ~Rs. 800

Total - Rs. 3645

As a closing remark, I would recommend a trip to Gandikota to all Indians and foreign travelers. This is an underrated, unknown legend, and will surely make you gawk at its majestic views.

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