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Gandikota – the gorge fort on the Indian Grand Canyon!

Gandikota Temple Tower kemp Gandikota. indian Grand Canyo kemp.jpg.Gandikota is 325 kms from Bangalore via Ananthpur, good roads ! This unheard of place 1670 above sealevel is a one-horse village inside a fort near Jammalamadugu past Tadapatri – you take a diversion from Anantpur from NH7 on to the State Highway to reach Gandikota via Tadapatri. This lesser know place is situated in our neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh – Kadappa District.
The only one facility to stay & eat is at the Andhra Pradesh Tourist guest house – Harita. Kindly book on-line to get accommodation here. No accommodation is given to walk-ins. This place has 11 rooms & 3 Dormitories – each housing 8 people totalling to 24 persons. Facilities are built well but could be managed better. It’s got a limited menu on its list to cater to the tourists. Please note, the nearest town Jammalamadugu is 16 kms, half an hour drive and Gandikota. These areas are lonely but safe. Night travel is not advised. For more details with regard to booking call Harita on 0738-223-7380. Weekends are fully packed here. There’s nothing much to see. Just rest & rejuvenate a night and be prepared to drive 650 kms – the journey of the trip. Roads are good riding zones for bikers!
Buses are connected from Anantpur, Tadapatri & Jammalamadugu. The nearest railway station is at Muddanuru 26 kms away from Gandikota (currently bad roads – highway under-construction here). Roads are lonely and are of very good condition. Ensure you carry eatables, drinking water & other beverages. No ATMs, ensure to carry sufficient cash on you.
Gandikota is a fort village situated on the Pennar river gorge and a sight to see. The sightseeing places are the Gorge, looks beautiful from sunrise to sunset. The Jumma Masjid – beautiful mosque structurally laid, the Ranganatha Swamy temple, the beautiful Madavacharaya Temple with it’s imposing gopuram, the jail, the granary and a pigeon tower in the center of the village housing hundreds of birds. One can also view the gorgeous fort walls encompassing the lush green agricultural fields. All transportation inside the fort area is by walk or your own transportation… a good walk. Narrow roads!
Malayalam Dam is a closeby tourist destination place. Belum Caves – 65kms & a 90 min drive away from Gandikota is another destination – 1.5 kms cave exploration place which will take half a day. Apart from these, Gandikota is a place to enjoy trekking or solitude. Being with nature seems to be forgotten by us urban folks!
Gandikota is dotted by a tank and two wells along with a few places of worship. The village is in harmony and consists of people of all faiths. The village needs to badly adopt our PM’s ‘Swacha-Bharat’ policy immediately…It needs to be spruced up asap!
Gandikota is a good place to do some trekking. The best place to trek down the gorge is at a metal pipeline going down the gorge. Plz take assistance from the friendly simple village folks. The only language of understanding & communication is Telugu or make do with signs & broken mixture of all dialects.
Gandikota – the small village on the right bank of the Pennar river and was founded in 1123 by Kapa Raja of nearby Bommanapalle village, he was the subordinate of Ahavanamalla Someswara 1 – the Western Chalukya king of Kalyana.
Gandikota played significant role during the Kakatiya, Vijayanagar & Qutub Shahi periods. The fort was built only in 1589. Harihara the first of the Vijayanagar kings is said to have built the first temple at Gandikota. The fort was made impregnable by Pemmasani Thimma Nayudu and the Nayakas controlled it for 300 years. ‘Gandi’ means ‘gorge’ in Telugu hence the name Gandikota – the ‘Gorge-Fort’. It’s a natural defence strong fort in the Eramala range of hills along side the Pennar river – incidentally this is one of the two rivers which take birth on Nandi hills (Karnataka), the other one is Arkavati. Both these rivers are rain-fed rivers.
After the fall of Vijayanagar kingdom – they moved south with their treasure on 550 elephants, making this area their domain down further south. They made Penukonda – their first capital & Chandragiri – their second. After Gandikota new forts sprung all around the surrounding areas at Jammalamadugu, Vajrakarur, Kamalapuram & Tadapatri.
After the Kammas ruling Gandikota for more than 300 years,  in an act of treachery this fort falls in to the hands of Mir Jumla, the Golconda Muslim invaders in 17th century. Again treachery takes another form and Gandikota falls into the hands of Marathas in the 18th century. Another century later this fort falls into the hands of Hyder Ali – Tipu Sultan’s father. Here Tipu Sultan’s grand father and Hyder Ali’s father Fateh Ali Khan Kolari also known as Nadim Sahib distinguishes himself as a brave soilder with good adminstration & war skills. Hyder Ali improvises this fort further. Later the British take control over Gandikota from Tipu Sultan. The beauty of this region is captured by two British painters – Sir. Thomas Anburey & Thomas Fraser in 1799 & 1802 respectively and exists in archives till this day!
Further to this French traveller, Tavernier stayed at Gandikota from 2-15th September 1652and recorded his observations in his book ‘Travels in India’. He is all praise for this place – Gandikota!
Efforts are made to make Gandikota – a world heritage site.
A weekend visit to this place with family & friends is rejuvenating.

-Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography
[email protected]

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