A visit to Gandikota provides an escape into one of the many unique terrains and ancient histories that India has to offer.
Nicknamed the ‘Grand Canyon of India’, Gandikota in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is a world of its own with gorges, an impressive fort and the river Pennar running right by it. It still remains a somewhat offbeat choice for a weekend trip from major southern Indian cities such as Bengaluru and Chennai. The quaint Gandikota also is home to a cute granary, two old temples and a mosque. Even as there are very limited options for guided tours to the canyon present there or information on the fort, temples and other sites located there, Gandikota deserves a visit for the beauty of nature that it brings together with the river, forest and canyon at one site.
Gandikota lies at a distance of around 280 kilometres from Bengaluru, the capital city of Karnataka and a distance of 350 kilometres from Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu. Thus, making it an ideal for a road trip weekend destination from both the cities. Buses are an option but driving through by a car is highly recommended for a more flexible and nature-soaking trip. The road to Gandikota itself is lined with small hills and a scenery that is pleasant, with occasional windmills to be seen if one is heading there from Bengaluru. Housing the ruins of a fortress of red granite stone that is said to be a structure from the 12th century, the arrival at Gandikota will make one feel grand and a memorable one. This Fort has served several crucial dynasties in this part of the country such as the Vijayanagara and Kakatiya.
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The fort walls themselves, or what remains of them are quite impressive with carvings that add to the look of the gorges that surround the fort on a side. The other side of the fort is bordered by the Pennar, making the entire view of the fort quite remarkable. Besides the fort, in Gandikota, one can head to some of the temples such as the Ranganatha Swamy temple, which is currently in ruins but has carvings which are still quite impressive. Another such structure to be seen in the area is the Madhavaraya temples as well as the Jamia Masjid, which is quite grand in size. The Granary, which is currently in use as a tourism office, is also something to see.
The natural terrains of Gandikota are what makes it stand out among the several ruined forts to be found in and around the country. With gorges that shine in reds, browns and sometimes grey from the rocks, a climb up this terrain can be quite tricky but the view makes it worth the trouble. Amidst forests of lush greenery, the contrasting colours and heights of the gorge make for an out-of-the-world experience.
If in Gandikota, to experience the beauty of the terrain and appreciate the shapes and curves of the canyon, it is essential to watch it as the sun goes down and comes up. The light, as it fills in or fades out, makes for a natural yet mystic show of its own, with glistening stones, water, shadows and a view of the mighty sun itself amidst the greens and reds.