Incredible India is a salad bowl of nature's wonders and man-made wonders alike. Among these, there are a few "HIDDEN GEMS" which are nothing but magnificent. Be it the monumental places of worship, beautiful palaces with exquisite carvings, mind blowing gorges with epic formations, old ruined temples with historical pasts, leagues and leagues of magical grasslands, unbelievable caves that are too good to be true to exist or just a simple creek irrigating the lush paddy fields, "Hindustan has it all". All we need to do is just get out of those four walled chambers (read as office cubicles) and experience what's in store.
800 Kilometers - 3 Destinations - 26 Hours - 1 Peaceful Ride.
Wait; what ??. 800 kilometers in 1 day ??. Was it worth it ??.....
"HELL YEAH" !!!!!. Take a look.
ZROYA RIDES TO THE SOD OF ETERNAL CLIFFS.
I've always cranked up Zroya with the head lights on (all thanks to NO 8 pm curfew at home - My impromptu plans always work). This time, it is no different. A shivering Saturday night. While most people tear up the dance floor and probably their ear drums to the loudest of Yo Yo Honey Singh's numbers by indulging themselves in Jack Daniels and Johnnie Walker; I am sipping on a hot cup of India's favorite drink (home brewed tea) and getting ready for a long ride. I dress to impress, not my girl but my motorcycle; pull up my socks and head out, all gloved up.
They say traveling is an expensive affair; well, sometimes its not. You don't have to carry an arsenal of cash every time you travel. Having said that; with a little more than a tank full of fuel and INR 150 in our back pockets, me and Sam (A.K.A The Lover Boy) start riding around 11 pm to witness the amazing sunrise at Gandikota which happens 285 kilometers away. With two breaks to enjoy one of the underrated pleasures of life (drink a hot cup of tea) on the highway, we reach Gandikota around 5 am (A little too soon for the sunrise).
Note : Getting to Gandikota at night without GPS is next to impossible.
Gandikota is one of those offbeat destinations which aren’t commercialized but no less bewitching than those in the limelight. This place is just gorge-ous. With a huge course of cliffs and river, the setting is breathtakingly similar to that of the Grand Canyon, and it goes one notch up if you were to imagine the backdrop hosting a crumbling ancient fort, a mosque, a granary and painstakingly carved temples with an epitome of history behind it. Enough said; if you are a fan of empty spaces and wide open areas, this is your heavenly paradise and its so khaali !!.
I've watched a Gazillion sunrises and sunsets (best sights ever) in my life, but watching the almighty sun rise over the raggedy canyon with just my buddy (YES !!!, we two are the only souls here) is an otherworldly experience. The rocks which seems to be stacked up for billions of years just shimmer and shine as the sun's rays fall on them. Mesmerizing, if not mind blowing.
The deep chasm with different layers of rocks by color - red, brown and grey seems to be a world of magical shapes again proving to the fact that Mother Nature has no shortage of surreal landscapes.
There's absolutely no one out here to stop us from doing whatever the hell we want. We get all Bear Grylls and take unrestricted authority to go all ape over the rocks to check whether our Adrenal glands work perfect; it does !!!. Well, what's the fun if there's no fun right ??.
If you are afraid of heights, then, this place is not your cup of tea. Its probably a 500 feet drop and getting too close to the end of the bloody cliff is not such a good idea. With a few extremely impressive pictures here and there, its the melancholic desire to hit Belum Caves.
Reaching Belum caves is cumbersome, if not fatigable. 70% of the roads are taken up by the local farmers to dry their produce, while the remaining 30% is taken up by farm animals (cattle, sheep, goats, chicken and what not) which have absolutely no intention of moving as we approach. They just stand on the roads and poop all they want all day long. They literally ignore us.
12 pm. We are greeted by a giant Buddha's statue. Calm surrounds us. It is such a welcoming sight. Then, in a couple of minutes we start entering the Belum caves, the 2nd largest cave system in India (1st being Krem Laitprah in Meghalaya) with our eyes and mouths wide open. It is like entering an alien land (literally). The caves are 3.5 kilometers long (unbelievable??) With stalactite and stalagmite formations reaching its deepest point of 150 feet from its entrance level.
All I know is there's magic in this world and not enough time to experience it; Belum caves is nothing but magical. Each and every sight inside the cave is enthralling, leaving us craving for more. The caves maintain Zen like calm in every nook and corner. No wonder Buddhist and Jain monks used these caves ages ago to meditate. It's such a calming place.
No two formations are the same. Getting lost in the cave's awesomeness and forgetting every damn thing about every damn thing is a total possibility while you are inside these caves. I'll be a man of few words and more pictures here because sometimes words fall short.
3 pm. We are at Yaganti. This place is mysteriously mysterious. A growing nandi and a temple inside a cave??, Yaganti has both. There are enough stories about the place which is basically out of my equation (I'm not a religious person).
Taking the help of Google Goddess and Brother Wikipedia should be a good idea because there's absolutely nothing I know about Yaganti (me coming up with a new story would be blasphemy) except that it has an inspiring gopuram which was built according to Vaishnavaite tradition and a few temples inside the enchanting caves. Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. Luckily I have a few thousand words up my sleeve.
After leaving the place, with multiple stops along the highway, we reach our homes at 2 am. The next thing I know, I am totally missing those places; and BOOM! - Emotions. I can only wish that I had a job which pays me for traveling. *sigh*.
Next ride very soon. Until then, ride hard ride safe !!!!!.