Roadtrip - Bangalore to Gandikota (The Grand Canyon of India)


Gandikota Gorge
Open landscapes with amazing stone mountains, nice roads and scorching heat- thats how you get to Gandikota, or the Grand Canyon of India.
After our initial plan to start driving at 6 AM, we finally left from Bangalore at 7.15 AM post breakfast. A no-nonsense highway drive of about 2 hours brings you to Lepakshi temple. You can easily take about 30-60 mins out and explore it quickly. We were already running late and decided to give it a miss.

From Lepakshi onward for the next 1.5-2 hours, it is a beautiful drive through Puttaparthi and some hidden villages. We also came across a group of local pickle factory workers who were more than happy to chat, click pictures and overfeed us with the mango slices! :P

Pickle factory workers

Women chopping tonnes of raw mangoes

This lady is 100 years old. She also chops mangoes
They offered us raw mangoes. Not one but a lot of them.
The drive after this is through some stunning landscapes that keep changing every now and then keeping the excitement alive - barren lands, farms, villages, hills - you get to enjoy it all as they whiz past you.

Beautiful drive with minimal traffic but awesome roads

It was hot drive! 

Very hot drive
We finally reached our guesthouse by 2 PM. After lunch and a quick nap, we were ready to visit the gorge by 4.30 PM.

Gandikota is a small village on the bank of the river Pennar, in Kadapa district, Andhra Pradesh. The Gandikota fort was one of the most prominent forts of India in the past.

A villager of Gandikota

Village roads inside the Gandikota Fort leading to the gorge

Shops made of stone

Yes, there are such houses also

White House :)

Tried some fine art photography

The fort is less than a kilometer from the guesthouse. You pass through the fort, a small settlement and a few shops as you walk/drive to the gorge. Free parking space for car and bikes is available inside.
You can park here and then walk to the gorge

In the fort are two ancient temples. They are in ruins and the fort area is full of the debris of ages and many ancient structures. The large granary, with a vaulted roof, is now used as watchman's quarters. The Jamia Masjid has two adjacent minarets. 
The other structures in the fort, include another large granary, a magazine, a graceful 'pigeon tower' with fretted windows and an extensive palace built by bricks with some plastered decorations and some wells. There is an old cannon lying in the fort. 

There is only one guesthouse at Gandikota by APTDC, about kilometer before the gorge. You can make reservations online through the APTDC website. The cottages are actually quite nice, spacious and reasonably charged.

Lunch option - only Veg Meals (unlimited) - Rice, Sambar, Curd - INR 100
For dinner, there were more options (non veg included)
No other eating options are available around.

We made up our minds to visit the gorge again the next day to catch sunrise and hike down to the river. Called it a night!
A Mosque ruin
Note: You can choose to pitch a tent near the gorge or in the ruin area.

We started at 6 AM from the guesthouse the next morning. As you walk towards the edge of the gorge, you'll see a water pipeline going downhill towards the river. This was the best spot to start hiking down we were told the previous day.

We started climbing down along the pipe. While it is a fairly easy climb down, there are times you have to go on a fours, so be prepared.

Morning at GandiKota gorge. 

The stream is silent

Even the rocks have a character in the morning light

Formation of the gorge

Gandikota Gorge from the top. You can see the fort walls

Gandikota gorge

A random picture of the gorge

Half way down, you will reach some rocks from where you get beautiful eye-level view of the formation. After about an hour we started our climb up and explored the fort and ruins:

A panaromic view of the temple ruin. [VIEW IN FULL SCREEN]

Temple ruin. The gorge is behind this temple a few meter ahead


Mosque and a grain storage godown
Grain storage

Wondered why these steps lead to a random window
We climbed the steps

The storage unit is still in use

A mosque inside the fort

Exhausted, we came back to the guesthouse for a very disappointing breakfast of Pongal with sambar and chutney (khichdi).

After a quick nap, we were ready to leave for Belum by 1.30 PM.

Read next - Drive from Gandikota to Belum Caves
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  1. You've uploaded so many pictures that I'm tempted to visit here. Living in India yet it's so natural to overlook the beauty in our own country at times. Thanks for writing about where to stay & the meal details. Also catching that sunrise was such a great choice. I'm sure it must have been beautiful.

  2. Definitely worth the early morning hike! What was happening with the Mangos that were being slice? Canning?
    A very detailed write up - I'm not sure I'd personally do the hike on all fours - but it does look fantastic!

  3. I lived in Hyderabad for more than 2 years and still managed to miss this one. What is the best time to visit Gandikota - I assume it would be too hot a place to visit in summers or in monsoons?

  4. Gandikota looks gorgeous! How long is the hike? It sounds like it only takes a couple of hours? I love that it combines beautiful natural scenery with some old ruins to explore.

    And I'm intrigued by the pickle factory. Being American, I thought that meant pickles (pickled cucumbers), but they appear to be pickling mangoes? I love mango, but I've only ever had them fresh.

  5. Gandikota Gorge looks absolutely beautiful and the temple ruin, mosque and fort look interesting. I seem be learning everyday new places I had not heard of in India! I can't believe you met a lady that was 100 years old and still chopping up mangoes, I want what she is taking!

  6. Wow, this looks absolutely stunning, you are a good photographer :) I love the good vibe with the women who prepare pickles and the 100 year old is so beautiful! You got up so early (6a.m.!) as well, I don't know if I could do that :D Thank you for this inspiring article

  7. Loved going on the road trip with you. Road trips are one of our fave things to do but having never travelled to India before, I found all of this very interesting. Loved the photos of the women all cutting the mangoes for pickling. What a great opportunity to be able to hang out with them. I think the Indian history, particularly their colonial times is also interesting and I would love to explore those fort areas too. The gorge would be my favourite here for taking sunrise photos. What a beauty.

  8. Those are lots of mangoes! Are they sour? And that 100-year-old lady rocks! At her age, I would probably be just lounging around in bed, not working. (Or, most probably dead) I didn't know about Gandikota. I love their houses and the view at the gorge is amazing! I would go there for that and for the ruins too!

  9. Wow GandiKota is so beautiful! If you didn't say it is in India, I would totally mistake it for some places in North America. Your photos are beautiful and have inspired me to check out this part of India!

  10. Your pictures are stunning! India is such a large and diverse country. I am thinking more and more of renting a car and driving around its beautiful scenery.