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)
- Grand Canyon of India - Gandikota, at Kadappa district
- Photos of various crops and fields on the State highway, Andhra Pradesh
- MahaNandi, Mahanandiswara Swamy Temple, Kurnool district and Nava Nandi Kshetras
- Yaganti Uma Maheswara Swamy Temple and Cave Temples, Growing Nandi, Kurnool district
- Oravakallu Rock Garden, Kurnool district
- Belum Caves, India's largest underground caves, Kurnool district
- Photos of Cuddapah stone quarry and the rock formation
Distance Chart of all the places covered in this blog...
Gandikota (Grand Canyon of India)
Yaganti Cave Temple and Uma Maheswara Swamy Temple
Oravakallu Rock Garden
Stay OptionsIt 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.
Food OptionsEach 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 highwaysChilli 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 tipsI 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
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
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
- Banyan Tree Hall
- Koti Lingalu
- Maya Mandir
- Pathala Ganga
- Stalactites and Stalagmites in chambers
- Pit holes in ceilings
- Lines and fractures in the passage
- 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)
|Cave opening .... |
|Notice the so smooth and so soft roof and the lines, fractures, pit holes and the passage...|
|How beautiful !!|
|Largest and Longest and with oxygen supply !|
|Stalactite and Stalagmite joining...|
|Roof with Stalactite formations|
|This can be seen only on Summer time due to mud and water inside|
|Pit hole on the ceiling|
|Look at the lines|
|Yes this is how you go down...!|
|Beautiful Buddha Statue near the caves !|
|Air circulation from the ceiling, yes without that you cannot stand here !|
|Pathala Linga and Pathala Ganga (below see the water)|
|Dripping from ceiling and Stalactite formation !|
|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
- Ranganatha Swamy Temple
- Gandikota Fort View Point
- Fort Entrance
- Gandikota Gorge View Point
- 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...
|Panorama of Gandikota - Grand Canyon of India|
|Beautiful view of Grand Canyon Of India - Gandikota|
|Yes, did you see the cave? Unexplored.... !|
|Masjid and Madavaraya swamy temple, Gandikota|
|Madavaraya Swmay Temple, Gandikota|
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.
Note: Watch in FULL HD for the good clarity.
Yaganti Cave Temples, Uma Maheswara Swamy Temple and Growing NandiVery 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....
|Do you see the path to two of the caves? One on Left side and the other in middle.|
|Beautiful view of the Temple Tower and Caves behind, pond in front !|
|Closeup shot of the entrance to Cave temple !|
|Steps leading to Temple above and you should see there is a opening and sunlight reaches down !|
|Another view of the steps leading to outside the cave !|
|Ceiling of the cave !|
|Venkateshwara Swamy Shrine is here !|
|Inside Agastya Cave !|
|Way to Agastya Cave !|
|Growing Nandi, yes really Growing. Read the details in the beginning of this section above !|
|Growing Nandi !|
|Nawab Bungalow near Yaganti|
|Entrance Arch to Yaganti Cave Temple and Uma Maheswara Temple|
|Sri Lakshmi Vilas Udupi Style hotel in Banaganapalle|
Oravakallu Rock GardenRock 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....
|I guess you got the shape? Dog shape !|
|Looks like some horse?|
|Well balanced and naturally made !|
|Some nice added attraction !|
|Mushroom shape ?|
|Haritha Resort inside Oravakallu Rock Garden !|
|Another Dog shape?|
|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.
|Largest Nandi at Mahanandi|
|Mahanandiswara Swamy Temple|
Nava Nandi Kshetras near NandyalWe 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 quarry !|
|Cuddapah stone structure !|
|House made entirely with the cut pieces of cuddapah stone|
|Beautiful isn't it ?|
|Temple beneath the rock, cave like structure !|
|Far away you see a small hill right, on left hand side is the Belum Caves !|
|Yes, this is just right opposite to Belum Caves|
Various Crops and Fields on State Highways
Straight onto photos...
|Red...Red....everywhere.... yes Chillies !!|
|Did not Sneeze ... ? When we went closer we started to Sneeze, so hot and see the dark red color !|
|Sorghum or Jowar Field|
|Cotton field and this is how it looks !|
|Have you seen Coriander field before? Here you go !|
|Citron, Lip smacking pickles come to your mind? Planning to buy now?|
|Yes, took the shot from centre, see sunflower on both sides. Amazing isn't it?|
|See the colors..... in middle you see the Marigold field !|
|Again Sorghum or Jowar !|
|Drying Maize !|
|Cute little bird on Mustard field !|
|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 !|
|Closeup shot of a Jowar or Sorghum|
Andhra Special Rice Foil Sweet - Putharekulu or PootharekuluThere are Sugar (left side) and Jaggery (right side) variety shown below. Choose based on your taste.
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.
You might also be interested to check the famous Blogpost on "Weekend Breaks Or Day trips from Bangalore" here...
Want to see more caves (not like Belum underground caves)? Then here you go....