February 3, 2016

Belum Caves, Gandikota Grand canyon of India, Yaganti, Oravakallu and Mahanandi



I got a chance to visit Belum caves and Gandikota again during June 2017 and updated with better looking photos than before. Enjoy reading and sharng

I heard from my friend about this Grand Canyon of India and Belum caves which were the main factors for us to plan this trip. Beautiful landscapes, Colourful fields, variety of crops, unique rock formations and rocky terrains, Caves and Cave Temples, huge cement factories, power grids, and well laid state highways ..... there are too many things we liked in this part of Andhra. You should plan and visit these places once in your lifetime. They are far more than just "Wov!"


The places covered in this Blog post are (check the photos of these below)
  1. Grand Canyon of India - Gandikota, at Kadappa district
  2. Photos of various crops and fields on the State highway, Andhra Pradesh 
  3. MahaNandi, Mahanandiswara Swamy Temple, Kurnool district and Nava Nandi Kshetras
  4. Yaganti Uma Maheswara Swamy Temple and Cave Temples, Growing Nandi, Kurnool district
  5. Oravakallu Rock Garden, Kurnool district
  6. Belum Caves, India's largest underground caves, Kurnool district
  7. Photos of Cuddapah stone quarry and the rock formation
I suggest you keep Nandyal as a base for stay and visit these places around.

Distance Chart of all the places covered in this blog...

Place
From Nandyal
From Bangalore
From Hyderabad
Gandikota (Grand Canyon of India)
97 Kms
283 Kms
362 Kms
Belum Caves
67 Kms
325 Kms
365 Kms
Yaganti Cave Temple and Uma Maheswara Swamy Temple
49 Kms
335 Kms
304 Kms
Mahanandi
18 Kms
411 Kms
303 Kms
Oravakallu Rock Garden
53 Kms
364 Kms
234 Kms


Stay Options

It was bit tough to decide on the place to stay as there were not much details in Google. We found Haritha Hotel at Gandikota and two at Nandyal town. We did not know that we had to book Online for Haritha hotel in advance. When we reached they said no cottages available and all booked online. He asked us why you did not book online. So readers, you should book online before you visit. All these APTDC hotels were so neat and looking great (from outside, we did not stay). Not sure about the service etc. You shall check in TripAdvisor. Not sure about Food as well. It was Shankaranthi (Pongal) festival time and long holiday, so all were booked. Refer this link for booking Haritha hotels of APTDC http://www.aptdc.gov.in/accommodations.html

Luckily we had "Plan B" in mind as well, so drove to Nandyal and stayed in Hotel Suraj. We heard about Hotel Subha as well which was good. Read my review on Hotel Suraj by clicking this link. Note: APTDC means Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation. Also use Google Maps to locate these places.

Note: When I went again for a photography tour, I could get accomodation here and it was really good. Read my Tripadvisor review here. 

Food Options

Each time we visit different states of India, we plan to eat some special local food items, sweets and savouries specific to that area. But Nandyal is a small town and unfortunately we hardly seen any good place to eat. We had dinner at Hotel Suraj where we stayed, but it was too hot and spicy. Then we decided to search for other restaurants where it will be less spicy. Luckily we found "The Tourist Hotel" which is Udupi style hotel and not spicy at all. Also opposite to this hotel, little further you will find a sweet shop named "Sree Rama Ghee Sweets" right after the Ramalayam temple, where you can try "Putharekulu or Pootarekulu" Andhra special sweet. In English you can say Rice Foil sweet. Laddoo at Mahanandi (if you visit) also is very tasty and good. You may want to buy extra and pack it for your snack time. Note: Use Google maps to locate all these places.

Fields throughout the state highways

Chilli Fields, Sun flowers, Mustard, Citron, Jowar, Rice, Coriander, Sugarcane, Maize, Cotton, Marigold and we got to see all these. More than the time we spent on the places we planned, we spent lot of time in these fields and taking photos. The entire stretch of roads more than 50+ Kms is only fields and there are hardly any trees and only plain fields. Most of the state highways are like this. We saw Red-Soil and Black-Soil at different places. See below the photos of various crops and fields.

I am sure you will appreciate it. See at the end for beautiful photos of these fields.

Planning tips

I suggest two plans. If you like temples the go with the Plan A that includes Nandyal. If you are interested only on Caves and Grand Canyon then go with Plan B. Note: Yaganti also have caves which are beautiful so included. (You can check photos below and decide).

Plan A: 2 nights and 3 days, Nandyal as a base
Day 1: Start early morning at 7:30AM from Bangalore, Reach Gandikota by 12:30PM. Have Lunch and visit places here. Then drive to Nandyal and stay.
Day 2: Visit Maha-Nandi Temple in morning and then to Yaganti Cave Temple and Lunch on the way back at Banaganapalle. After lunch, visit Oravakallu in noon and back to Nandyal late evening for stay. After Yaganti visit, when you come back you will touch Banaganapalle town where you will find a small hotel named "Sree Lakshmi Vilas" on the main road itself. Stop there for Udupi style food which is not spicy.
Day 3: Belum Caves and back to Bangalore

Plan B: Weekend Plan, 1 night and 2 days
Day 1: From Bangalore, head to Belum Caves first and next to Gandikota. Stay at Gandikota (Haritha
resort)
Day 2: Visit Yaganthi, have Lunch on the way back and back to Bangalore by late evening. Here you don't visit Nandyal, Mahanandi and Oravakallu which you can ignore.

Let me start with my favourite place first which is Belum Caves

Belum Caves

We have watched Sanctum movie before and seen this cave pictures in Google before we visit this place. So we already had some "Wov" factor with mouth wide open. This cave is no way close to what you see in Sanctum movie but give you a feeling when you are inside. 

You must visit this place in your lifetime. In whole of India, this is the only largest and longest underground cave. See the photos and I am sure you have planned your trip. In one of the place inside cave, it sweats a lot and so hot. Since I had too many photos, I have created a Video out of it by adding guide's recorded voice. See below the video. 

This caves are natural and millions of years old. Known to local villagers for ages. First recorded by Robert Bruce foote in 1884. Explored and chartered by H.D. Gebaeur  German caver and his team in 1982-84. Declared as natural heritage by Andhra Pradesh Archaeology Department in 1989. Taken over by APTDC by 2000 and thrown open to public by 2003.

You get to see Stalactite and Stalagmite formations, beautiful and naturally formed lines and fractures on the surface of the cave walls, pit holes on the ceilings...etc. More details are in Wiki

There are few places inside the cave you might be interested to see.... 
  • Meditation Room (very hot and sweats a lot here)
  • Thousand Hoods
  • Mantapam
  • Banyan Tree Hall
  • Koti Lingalu
  • Maya Mandir
  • Pathala Ganga
  • Stalactites and Stalagmites in chambers
  • Pit holes in ceilings
  • Lines and fractures in the passage
The following German Speleologists and Locals helped exploring and chartering this caves.
  • Daniel Gebauer, Germany
  • Andre Abele, Germany
  • Nicole Boullier, Germany
  • Claude Chanbert, Germany
  • Gisela Rothaupt, Germany,
  • Sibylle Wolfgramm, Germany
  • B. Ramaswami Reddy, Belum
  • K. Padmanabhaiah, Belum
  • M. Narayana Reddy, Speleologist, 
  • P. Ramasubbu Reddy, Belum
  • B. Chelapathi Reddy, Belum (Founder of Belum Caves)
Check photos now...... I am sure you planned your trip after seeing photos.... :-)

Belum Caves
Cave opening .... 


Belum caves
How beautiful !
Lines and Fractures at Belum Caves
Notice the so smooth and so soft roof and the lines, fractures, pit holes and the passage...
Belum Caves
Largest and Longest and with oxygen supply !

Stalactite at Belum Caves
Roof with Stalactite formations
Belum Caves
This can be seen only on Summer time due to mud and water inside
Pit holes at Belum Caves
Pit hole on the ceiling
Lines and Fractures at Belum Caves
Look at the lines 
Stalactite at Belum Caves
Stalactite formation
Belum Caves
Yes this is how you go down...!
Buddha status at Belum Caves
Beautiful Buddha Statue near the caves when you enter this place!
Oxygen supply inside Belum Caves
Air circulation from the ceiling, yes without that you cannot stand here !
Belum caves narrow passage
Narrow Passage inside the cave with the lighting on top !
Belum caves opening on the ground
Yes, this is how the cave opening looks from the ground level, you have steps to go down !
Pathala Linga and Pathala Ganga of Belum caves
Pathala Linga and Pathala Ganga of Belum caves

Stalactite dripping at Belum Caves
Dripping from ceiling and Stalactite formation !
Air circulation pumps at Belum Caves
Air circulation pumps on the ground, going to the caves below !

We have recorded the voice of our Guide at Belum caves and added more photos. If you want to see more photos of this place and listen to the local guide's explanation, then view this Video below.
Note: Watch in FULL HD for the good clarity.


Gandikota - Grand Canyon of India


Just immediately after the Haritha Hotel on the left side of the main road, if you drive 300 meters, you will see a Fort and that is the entrance to all the places you need to visit in Gandikota. So you better stop the vehicle outside the fort and don't drive inside. The roads are so narrow inside and difficult to drive. Still you can see vehicles going in. Carry snacks and water bottles as you might need.

Built in 13th Century AD. Stone gorge fort with a entrance of 40 feet high and 101 bastions over 40 feet high. Below are the places to see in Gandikota. Don't worry much, all are in same place and make life simpler. Just walk inside the fort. Keep walking through the village street further and you will see Masjid complex.
  • Madhavaraya Temple
  • Jama Masjid
  • Granary
  • Ranganatha Swamy Temple
  • Gandikota Fort View Point
  • Fort Entrance
  • Gandikota Gorge View Point
  • Jail
  • Rayala Cheruvu

For us, the major attraction was the Gandikota Gorge View Point or Grand canyon of India. It was such a beautiful view point. This is on the river Pennar and from here you can see the Mylavaram dam and reservoir as well far away. You need to carefully go on the boulders to get a nice view point. Be very careful though. Some goes down using the water pipeline, but dont try that. The river and the view is fantastic. Check photos now...

Gandikota Grand Canyon of India
Beautiful view of Grand Canyon Of India - Gandikota
Gandikota Grand Canyon Of India
Look at the colors on the Rocks !
Gandikota Grand Canyon Of India
View of the Mosque and the Temple in Fort complex with the Windmill in background
Gandikota Grand Canyon of India Information board
Good to see this board with the map and the place names !
Gandikota Grand Canyon of India Fort view
Complete view of this Fort complex from distance, Wov, I was so amazed to see this entire place. Wonderful. 
Note: If you want this view, drive further on left side road, from where yous see the fort entrance on your right side. Keep driving till the roads go higher and from one of the turning, you could see this. I was so amazed at the planning they did those days to come up with such fort complex. 

Gandikota Grand Canyon of India Fort view
Closeup view of the Huge Fort walls seen from long distance, notice the roads in middle with ups and downs !

Gandikota Grand Canyon of India Fort view
Another closeup view of the Fort complex, Amazing planning !


Panorama of Gandikota Grand Canyon of India
Panorama of Gandikota - Grand Canyon of India


Cave in Gandikota Grand Canyon of India
Yes, did you see the cave? Unexplored.... !
Gandikota Madavarayaswamy Temple
Madavaraya Swmay Temple, Gandikota
Apart from these, I also could see lots of colors in nature. God is really great and science can never explain "Why?". Look at the colors of the nature from the below photos. All these photos taken on the way to Madavaraya swamy temple. You could see lots of butterflies. Very colorful. 

Butterflies at Gandikota
Did you see the Peacock feather like color on the Wings ? God is great !

Beetle at Gandikota
Look at the Black and Yellow stripes

Butterflies at Gandikota
This combination of colors on Butterflies I have seen even at Nainamalai Hill temple near Namakkal, Tamilnadu as well. They dont sit in one place and keep fluttering rapidly !

There are many photos to share and I have put them in a video. Please check the video below to see all the places in Gandikota.

Note: Watch in FULL HD for the good clarity.


Yaganti Cave Temples, Uma Maheswara Swamy Temple and Growing Nandi

Very interesting fact about this place is the multiple caves around.  The caves are named as Rakallu cave, Agastya Cave, Shankara cave. Venkateswara cave and Veera brahmam cave. Inside the Uma Maheswaraswamy temple you get to see the "Growing Nandi".... yes it is growing in size. Archaeological Survey of India has confirmed that the idol increases by 1 inch in every 20 years. Experiment suggests that the rock used to make the idol exhibits a growing nature.

Now lets look at photos of the place....

Yaganti Cave Temples
Do you see the path to two of the caves? One on Left side and the other in middle. 
Yaganti Uma Maheswaraswamy Temple
Beautiful view of the Temple Tower and Caves behind, pond in front !


Yaganti Cave Temples
Closeup shot of the entrance to Cave temple !
Yaganti Cave Temples
Steps leading to Temple above and you should see there is a opening and sunlight reaches down !
Yaganti Cave Temples
Another view of the steps leading to outside the cave !

Yaganti Cave Temples
Ceiling of the cave !

Yaganti Cave Temples
Venkateshwara Swamy Shrine is here !

Agastya Cave at Yaganti
Inside Agastya Cave !

Agastya Cave at Yaganti
Way to Agastya Cave !


Growing Nandi at Yaganti
Growing Nandi, yes really Growing. Read the details in the beginning of this section above !

Growing Nandi at Yaganti
Growing Nandi !
Growing Nandi at Yaganti
Growing Nandi 

Nawab Bungalow at Yaganti
Nawab Bungalow near Yaganti

Yaganti Cave Temple Route
Entrance Arch to Yaganti Cave Temple and Uma Maheswara Temple

Banaganapalle Sri Lakshmi Vilas
Sri Lakshmi Vilas Udupi Style hotel in Banaganapalle

Oravakallu Rock Garden

Rock Garden? Yes, full of rocks everywhere. Simply nothing but rocks. If you are seriously interested, then you may visit. But you get to see some unique shapes and sizes formed naturally over billions of years. Here APTDC has Haritha hotel for stay. See below the photos of the place....

Oravakallu Rock Garden
I guess you got the shape? Dog shape !

Oravakallu Rock Garden
Looks like some horse? 

Oravakallu Rock Garden
Well balanced and naturally made !

Oravakallu Rock Garden
Some nice added attraction !


Oravakallu Rock Garden
Well balanced 

Oravakallu Rock Garden
Mushroom shape ? 

Oravakallu Rock Garden
Haritha Resort inside Oravakallu Rock Garden !

Oravakallu Rock Garden
Another Dog shape? 

Oravakallu Rock Garden
Haritha Resort Oravakallu Rockgarden 

MahaNandi - Mahanandiswara Swamy Temple


From Gandikota, we started to drive towards Nandyal which is 80Kms. Again it is a State highway and a beautiful drive throughout. Variety of crops grown throughout. Stopped at lots places
and took photos. We reached Hotel Suraj with the help of Google Maps. Stayed overnight here and we made this as a base for other sight seeing places.

Early morning we visited the Mahanandiswara swamy Temple at Mahanandi. See below the photos. There is a pond where the water is gushing down from the Nallamalla hills on backside. Everyone take a dip here, it is a fresh water. Just right opposite to temple, there is a restaurant named "Annapoorna". It is very basic, dont have high expectations, but to fill your stomach. Buy Laddoos and have them, they are very tasty.

Mahanandi
Largest Nandi at Mahanandi

Mahanandiswara swamy temple
Mahanandiswara Swamy Temple

Nava Nandi Kshetras near Nandyal

We have not visited these places, but sharing the details incase if any of you interested. There are Nine Nandi shrines within 15Kms radius from Nandyal. The Nine temples are Mahanandi, Shivanandi, Vinayakanandi, Somanandi, Prathamanandi, Garudanandi, Suryanandi, Krishnanandi (also called Vishnunandi) and Naganandi. Visit Wiki which has the routemap to plan your pilgrimage https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahanandi 

Cuddapah Stone

Cudappah stone cutting
Cuddapah stone quarry !

Cudappah stone
Cuddapah stone structure !

Cudappah stone house
House made entirely with the cut pieces of cuddapah stone

Beautiful Landscapes

Landscapes of Andhra
Beautiful isn't it ? 


Landscapes of Andhra
State highway

Landscapes of Andhra
Temple beneath the rock, cave like structure !

Landscapes of Andhra


Landscapes of Andhra

Landscapes of Andhra
Far away you see a small hill right, on left hand side is the Belum Caves !


Landscapes of Andhra
Yes, this is just right opposite to Belum Caves 



Various Crops and Fields on State Highways

Straight onto photos...

Chilli Fields Andhra
Red...Red....everywhere.... yes Chillies !! 

Chilli Fields Andhra
Did not Sneeze ... ? When we went closer we started to Sneeze, so hot and see the dark red color ! 

Jowar Fields Andhra
Sorghum or Jowar Field 

Cotton Field Andhra
Cotton field and this is how it looks !

Mustard Field Andhra
Have you seen Coriander field before? Here you go !

Citron Field Andhra
Citron, Lip smacking pickles come to your mind? Planning to buy now?  

Sunflower Field Andhra
Yes, took the shot from centre, see sunflower on both sides. Amazing isn't it? 

Marigold Field Andhra
See the colors..... in middle you see the Marigold field !

Jowar Field Andhra
Again Sorghum or Jowar !

Maize Drying Andhra
Drying Maize !

Mustard Field Andhra
Cute little bird on Mustard field !

Mustard Field Andhra
After seeing this, who will not stop to take a shot !! See the birds lined up on the wire and Yellow color flower bed below !

Jowar Field Andhra
Closeup shot of a Jowar or Sorghum

Andhra Special Rice Foil Sweet - Putharekulu or Pootharekulu

There are Sugar (left side) and Jaggery (right side) variety shown below. Choose based on your taste.

Putharekulu or Pootharekulu Rice Foil Sweet Andhra

Tourist places Kadapa District
This board was lying down at Haritha Hotels, very useful for readers, hence sharing !


My previous Blogpost: Thattekad Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary (Kerala), Click the image below to read...


Other Places in Andhra Pradesh you might be interested to visit are (Click my blog below)

1. Lepakshi, for its beautiful mural paintings, Hanging Pillar and huge granite Nandi statue...etc.
2. Veerapuram - for bird watching. Famous place for photography and bird watching.


Lepakshi Veerabhadra Temple Shivalingam
Lepakshi Veerabhadra Temple Nandi



http://myjourneysinindia.blogspot.in/2014/08/lepakshi-veerapuram-and-rangasthala.html

You might also be interested to check the famous Blogpost on "Weekend Breaks Or Day trips from Bangalore" here...

http://myjourneysinindia.blogspot.in/2014/07/weekend-breaks-or-day-trips-from.html

Want to see more caves (not like Belum underground caves)? Then here you go....

Siddarabetta Caves: 
http://myjourneysinindia.blogspot.in/2014/05/trekking-and-cave-exploration-in.html


Hope you liked the photos and details, please add your comments below and share with your friends. 

Thank you.



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