How many times have you wondered if you could just visit the Grand Canyon, at least once in your lifetime? After all, it is one of the most fascinating natural wonders with a landscape that is unique and signature to its geography. But it’s not. Because you can have your very own version of an Arizonian holiday right here in India! Look no further than in the heart of South India and experience the Grand Canyon of India in Gandikota.
A small village in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, Gandikota is home to one of nature’s most spectacular rock formations. The massive mounds of naturally-formed rocks, with the Pennar River cutting through the Erramala Hills, render a spectacular site, akin to its American counterpart. One of the hidden geological treasures of India, Gandikota will leave you in awe.
How to reach
The canyon and its adjacent village are well-connected to major cities and towns in south India. You can book a cab in Bangalore and take the fastest route through NH 44 and reach Gandikota in about 6 hours.
The Gandikota Canyon
The mountains and boulders of Gandikota Canyon are formed of red sandstone, limestone, and quartz, morphed in layers since the prehistoric era, rendering a golden yellow and orange glow to the landscape. The Pennar River cutting through the canyons is flanked by stretches of greenery which collectively add to the unparalleled natural beauty of this region.
The imposing rocks around the canyon house numerous caves which attract tourists and adventure seekers. Of all, the Belum caves deserve special mention. The second largest and the longest cave system of the Indian subcontinent, the Belum Caves have prominent stalactite and stalagmite formations, caverns with freshwater ponds, siphons, and a naturally-formed sun-roof. There is a central gallery for visitors to learn about the cave’s history and geology.
Other things to see
Besides the magnificent gorge, Gandikota also boasts a few prominent landmarks, each of which is incredible on its own and exploration worthy.
A majestic 13th-century fort sits atop the gorge, adding to the vista. Made of red sandstone, the fort houses several grand palaces and is enclosed by a robust stone wall. There are natural springs on the fort premise which feed the surrounding vegetation, enhancing the greenery of the locale. There is also a temple and a mosque built on the fort grounds, adjacent to each other.
The emerald green waters of the Pennar River dissecting the golden rocks is indeed a sight to savor. The river banks have camping options for those who seek peace and quiet and want to absorb the splendor of nature. The river and its surrounding land offer various adventure options for the thrill-seeker. You can do kayaking, canoeing, trekking, and rappelling. The rough surface of the canyons is a rock climber’s paradise. Good for regular and pro climbers, the tedious ascent bears fruits with an awe-inspiring view of the river, canyon, and the sunset horizon.
Down in the village of Gandikota, you can find remains of two ancient temples built in the days of King Krishnadevaraya. The Madhavaraya and the Raghunathaswamy temples are or were a complex network of hallways, chambers, and corridors creating a mystic vibe about the site. Built in red granite, the architecture of both temples are sheer art on stone with intricately carved pillars, walls, and ceilings. The temples have no presiding deity and enshrine almost all Hindu gods and goddess.
Away from the spotlight of tourism for so many years, Gandikota is opening up to tourists and travelers with an enriching experience which can make you forget about traveling far and wide and explore the Grand Canyon of India. In case you are planning a long trip and wish to see all surrounding places, the best thing to do would be to opt for a car rental in Bangalore.