Grand Canyon - Everyone knows, yes I am talking about Grand Canyon in Arizona USA, but do you know India has a place which is also similar to Grand Canyon in Arizona, its name is Gandikota. Gandikota is a village and historical fort on the right bank of the Penna River, 15 km from Jammalamadugu in Kadapa district, Andhra Pradesh, India. Gandikota was the capital of Pemmasani Nayakas for more than 300 years. Pemmasani Ramalinga Nayudu constructed the huge fort at Gandikota with 101 towers replacing the previous sand fort constructed by Kaka Raja, Vassals of Kalyani Chalukya rulers.
We visited Gandikota from Hyderabad in the month of March, it was about 6.5 hrs. drive from Kondapur, Hyderabad. We didn't go directly to Gandikota, instead we thought of staying at a Resort nearby, its name was Royal County. Whatever searches we did, to locate something good to stay, this resort name popped up every time, so we selected the same. Our plan was to start from Hyderabad at around 6 30 AM, reach Royal county by afternoon. Me and my wife have our 6 year old kid travelling with ous, so we thought taking rest at intervals from Hyderabad as he is not very good in travelling by car, have motion sickness. So we took couple of stops in between, some food stops, some pee breaks and by afternoon around 2 30 PM, we were at the resort.
Royal County resort location was not that good, it was just beside the Jammalamadugu main road. I would advise not to visit Andhra in summer season, as it’s too dry and it would like sun is about to engulf you. So in that scorching sun, reaching the resort was really finding an oasis in desert. From outside resort looking fine, but to utter surprise, the office of the resort was too deep inside, we were allocated a room upstairs and we settled in. Took bath and came back down to have lunch. Nothing special, menu was not that great, not kid friendly also. We ordered something plain as our kid doesn't love spicy food. Menu was not great, even they didn't had any sandwich or French fries, and I mean the snacks which the kids love.
After lunch we started roaming around, Sun was too hot, we laid low around the bushes, in the resort only. Looking at other places inside the report, it was very clear that some form of party has took place, and no-one dared to clean. Used food plates, decoration items were lying around, in addition, people seemed to come to drink alcohol only, mainly the party workers. So didn't love the environment, it was pretty costly but its didn't match to our expectations.
Some more facts about the resort -
There was a nice pool in the resort, we thought of taking bath, my kid was really excited about. But the timings were too odd, morning 6 Am to 10 AM, and then evening 3 PM to 6 PM. I couldn't allow my son to get down, so we spent sitting beside it.
Garden area of the resort was good, I spent time in finding how the plants were kept as I had most of the plants in my apartment in Hyderabad.
Kids playing area had some facilities but they were pretty old and broken, but my son played some time with those only.
Looked like because of the trees, plants and some decorations, the resort was famous for photo shoot. We saw couple of parties doing photo shoots for their kids.
Next day in the evening around 4 PM we thought of going to Gandikota, it was 50 minutes’ drive from the resort. Road was very good, in general also, Telangana roads are good, neat and clean, but I noticed Andhra roads are better, they are neat, clean and well-constructed keeping USA roads in mind. Do visit Andhra, you will come to now whey I told the same. Reaching the actual place inside the Gandikota fort was something tricky. There is a temple inside named Madhavaraya Swamy Temple and Raghunatha Swamy Temple. Next to Raghunatha Swamy Temple, you will see the Gandikota Fort 180 View point. You need to park your vehicle beside the Jumma masjid and walk down to visit the view point. View was really nice, close to Grand Canyon in Arizona.
While coming back, you can visit the Charminar, take a look at the camping ground, and also visit the Madhavaraya Swamy Temple. The best part was that you get to drive inside the fort, the fort door closes at 5 PM, so you need to get out, otherwise you stay inside, and there are houses inside, so nothing to worry. No fees to go inside. People rarely know of this place, Government or any other institution should take charge to protect it, otherwise it matter of years when people in that locality would break down everything. We saw, the near-by house made of wood and stones from the ruins of that fort only.
Out next day plan was to start way back but in aiddferent route, visit belum caves, and then stay at Kurnool. We started in the morning again, it was 2 hours’ drive from the resort. Reached around 10 AM, place looked nice but looking at the face of the cave gate, its bit scary. Being claustrophobic, its bit of scary for me. We bout tickets, I think it was Rs 30 for adults. Took a guide (took around Rs. 300) before going inside the caves, I think it was a good decision to take the guide, first the road inside is bit scary and you don't know which way to go and what to see inside. The Belum Caves, located in Nandyala district of Andhra Pradesh's Rayalaseema region, is the second largest cave system on the Indian subcontinent, known for its speleothems, such as stalactite and stalagmite formations.
Couple of sites to look for when inside the cave, first is Patalaganga - a small perennial stream which disappears into the depths of the earth. This stream flows from the southeast to northwest. It disappears and is believed to be heading towards a well at the Belum village, located 2 km away from the caves, second is Simhadwaram - lion's gate. It is a natural arch of stalactites formed in the shape of a lion's head, third is Mandapam – This is a huge area inside the cave with magnificent stalactite structures on the sides giving it a look of a hall with
Took around 2 hrs. to go inside and then come back. Couple of times there was power outage, so it would become totally dark, only light is your phone torch. There would noise of the exhaust for air circulation, when power goes off, there is absolute silence and bit of fear in the heart. But nothing to worry, all is well.
After coming out of the cave, had some snacks outside, there are stalls, place to sit and take rest as inside, it’s too hot and humid. Then again started from there and there was drive of 3 hrs. to reach a hotel near the rock garden named Triguna CLarks Inn. I think the worst decision of our tour, to book this hotel. The locality was too bad, just opposite the hotel there is some dump, where it stinks and the environment is not good, looked very pale and unhygienic. Food was Ok, front office staff was not cooperative, they check us in, and they left us alone to go to the room. It was really bad and pain for us, as we were not able to locate the room on the floor.
Next day we checked out early around 7 AM, packed our breakfast, which the hotel did a good job. We started for our last destination - Rock garden, 30 mins drive from the hotel. Nice place, we were the first visitor to the place, well maintained. We bought he entry tickets and cup of tea, had our kid take some breakfast before we enter. It was nice place, really a place to visit, all red rocks, and some rocks in different angles, which was really nice to see. There are cottages avaible inside to stay. We didn't know, otherwise we would have taken that option.
At last we started to ride home back, it was 4 hrs drive back home, reached Hyderabad around 1 PM. nice trip, lots of good places visited, no trouble with my motion sick kid. Roads were too good. On the way back, we stopped at some dhaba to sip a cup of tea and snacks. Overall it was nice trip.