This is a travelogue of a one day road trip to a place that I never knew existed in India, until a friend recently shared the pictures. I just couldn’t believe that I had never known about its existence! Upon asking him for more information and after doing some research myself, this place was on the immediate travel list over the coming weekend.
About the place :
Belum Caves - "Belum Caves is the largest tourist cave in Indian subcontinent and the longest caves in plains of Indian Subcontinent, known for its stalactite and stalagmite formations. Belum Caves have long passages, spacious chambers, fresh water galleries and siphons. It is a natural underground cave formed by the constant flow of underground water.The caves reach its deepest point (150 feet from entrance level) at the point known as Pataalaganga.In Telugu language, it is called Belum Guhalu. Belum Caves has a length of 3229 metres, making it the second largest natural caves in Indian Subcontinent after Krem Liat Prah caves in Meghalaya." - Source : Wikipedia.
60 kms from Belum caves,there exists a remote village called Gandikota.
Gandikota - "Gandikota is a small village on the right bank of the river Pennar, 15 km from Jammalamadugu in Kadapa district, Andhra Pradesh.It was founded in 1123 by Kapa Raja of nearby Bommanapalle village and a subordinate of Ahavamalla Someswara I, the Western Chalukyan king of Kalyana.The town played a significant role during the Kakatiya, Vijayanagara and Qutub Shahi periods. The fort was made more impregnable by Pemmasani Thimma Nayudu. The fort was under the control of Pemmasani Nayaks for over 300 years.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 Situated amidst beautiful landscape and wild forests, it is endowed with vast natural resources." - Source : Wikipedia.
The Plan :
Leave Bengaluru early in the morning. Reach Belum caves by 12 noon and spend a couple of hours exploring them. Travel 60 kms to reach Gandikota for a sunset view over the gorge on the banks of the river Pennar. An overnight stay at APTDC resorts near the fort. Witness sunrise and return.
The sequence of events that unfolded :
03:30 am - 04:30 am : Woke up in the morning; turned off the alarm! Got ready, packed my bag and left.
05:15 am - 05:30 am : Parked my bike at a friends place. Picked up two other friends and hit NH-44 towards Belum caves in his 6 months old Honda City i-vtec VXMT.
07:30 am - 08:00 am : Pit stop at a restaurant for a quick breakfast - Masala Dosa, Idly and hot coffee
08:00 am - 9:30 am : The journey continued for little over an hour on a good stretch up to Anantapur.
09:30 am - 11:30 am : Took a deviation at Anantapur towards Gooty and the road got patchy. On the way,we witnessed landscapes that were very dry clearly suggesting lack of rain in the region. The terrain reminded me of a town named Pushkar in Rajasthan that I had visited a couple of years back.
11:30 am - 12:00 pm : We finally reached our first destination after a 6 hour long journey. Refreshed ourselves and headed straight towards the access point to the caves for some exploration. As per the plan we had 2 hours before we headed to our next destination - Gandikota.
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm : Cave Exploration!
Will leave the pictures and videos to do some talking.
Access to the caves:
Click to view the Gallery:
02:00 pm - 02:30 pm : Came out of the caves tired, exhausted and we were in desperate need of some fresh air and food. Had lunch at a restaurant in a nearby village and resumed our journey to our second destination - Gandikota.
02:30 pm - 04:15 pm : The road narrowed further into a single lane as we reached closer to the village of Gandikota.
04:15 pm - 04:30 pm : Entered the premises of APTDC resorts and upon inquiry at the reception, an unexpected news of all the rooms being unavailable hit us. This was the only resort in the vicinity and it had all its rooms occupied and we were told that the closest place for accommodation is 100kms away. With no options left, we were compelled to make changes to the remaining part of the plan. We had to call off our trip after sunset and decided to return to Bengaluru on the same day.
04:30 pm - 06:30 pm : We had 2 hours with us before we resumed our return journey.
06:30 pm - 01:00 am : The return journey was tiring and exhausting. Opted for a different route (Gandikota-Pulivendula-Kadiri-Bagepalli) and it turned out to be more pathetic than the one we took during the first half of the day. The speed slowed down to 20 kmph for most part of the stretch until we hit Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway.
Trip Date - 3rd Sep, 2016
Bengaluru to Belum Caves - 325 kms
Belum Caves to Gandikota - 60 kms
Gandikota to Bengaluru - 280 kms
Total Distance - ~700 Kms
Car - Honda City i-vtec VXMT
Fuel - Filled the tank twice.Half tank left unused in the end
Mileage - ~16kmpl
Camera Body - My new Nikon D5300
Lens Used - AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55 mm F/3.5-5.6G VR and AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200 mm F/4-5.6G ED VR II
Tolls Paid - Rs 345
Entry fee to the caves - Rs 50/adult
Road Conditions -The interior roads are bad.Drove very carefully and still ended up scraping the under belly on 4 occasions
Pros - Though the final access to these locations are poor, they are definitely worth a visit.
Cons - I wonder why the resorts at Gandikota have no online booking. They work on a first come first serve basis.
My favorite image from the trip: