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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Gandikota


My interest to travel in Rayalseema began a few years ago when I explored Ananthpur district in 3 days. Everything about that travel was special - The food, friendly people, fields and uncrowded historical sites. When I read about Gandikota, nicknamed as the Grand Canyon of India, I was very excited to go there. Finally, on the 1st of October, along with my friend Manohar, I drove towards Kadapa district. 


Since we had only two days in hand, I decided to drive directly to Gandikota. On our way, we stopped once at Gummayyagaripalli for breakfast. I enjoy eating in small village restaurants that are setup by the main road. The dosas were delicious. The chutney, especially was spicy and tasty. One of the important thing to notice about food in Andhra is that they are hot and spicy. 



Gandikota is around 285kms from Bangalore via Kadiri and takes you around 6 to 7 hours to reach there. We started at 7:00 AM from Yelahanka and reached our destination at around 1PM.




Just outside the fort, is the only hotel in the area called Hotel Haritha. The place is run by the Government of Andhra and mandates visitors to pre-book the rooms online. Unfortunately, we had no such information so we tried to see if any rooms were available. As expected, all rooms were pre-booked. I had already thought of a backup plan to stay at Jamalamadagu, a town only 15kms from Gandikota. 

It was lunch time, so we had some good vegetarian meals at the hotel. I always enjoy eating pappu. After lunch, we decided to explore the village. 

Gandikota, loosely resembles Hampi. It is not as vast as Hampi but has several ancient architectures spread across the fort like the ruins of Ranganathaswamy and Madavaraya temple, Jamia Masjid, Chaarminar and an ancient jail. 



The Chaarminar has been renovated and the Jamia masjid is under renovation. 









Well crafted pillars of Ranganathaswamy temple are very impressive and has stood the test of time.





The magnificent main entrance of Madavaraya temple still stands tall. 



At one point while entering the Madavaraya temple, I wondered the life of the villagers during the Muslim invasion. The temples were ruined so that no worship could be continued in a damaged temple without a main deity. There were no other temples around from that era. Then how did the Hindus live in such an environment? I wondered how they worshiped God during those times? Where they allowed? Where they not? What happened to all those sculptors who built these beautiful temples? Why did they not build anything similar after the attack? I must read through the history books, if at all there are some details about it. S L Bhyrappa, in his book Avarna though indicates the prominence of Bhakti movement in this period. Poets like Meera Bhai, Kanaka Dasa, Purandara Dasa, Tulsi Dasa, Kabir Das tried to keep the devotion alive. 

On the other hand, Manohar and I also discussed whether it is important to rebuild or renovate these temples and we came to a consensus that perhaps it is not the most important thing to do. We recollected the scene from another novel of S L Bhyrappa called  Sartha where when the Muslim rulers attack the sun temple of north west India the people get worried and they decide to die protecting it.  The main protagonist tries to convince them that they could always build another temple. and it may not be wise to die protecting it. But what still remains important is to be aware of the history and not shy away from it in the name of being secular. However, we should be mature enough to not associate this event with the people of the same community today but at the same time, we must also not deny a terrible history that has shaped our present. 



However, what is more popular here is the picturesque gorges and the river Penna cutting through them. The views of red sandstones topped with some green patches were mesmerising.





We drove to Jamalamadagu and began hunting for a hotel to stay. There are limited options here and the hotels are not very clean or comfortable. So, if you are traveling with family, it is advisable to book Hotel Haritha in advance or find a bigger town like Kadapa or Tadipatri for overnight stay. Luckily for us, we found a hotel, the name of which I do not recollect. It was not the best but it was manageable. 

While locating Gandikota on google maps, I had seen a small temple on the other side of the gorge. I thought it would great to explore the opposite side as I knew it would have fewer visitors. So, we decided to drive there. Google maps showed some really crazy path to this location. We drove over a dam to get there. It was a bit scary to drive over the flood gates but it was quiet an experience. 




We reached Mylavaram on the other side of the dam. There is a famous museum here which unfortunately was closed on the occasion of Muharram. There are a few artefacts displayed on the outside. 



The deserted road to the other side of Gandikota gorges was interesting. The road ends at a Agastyeshwara temple. We walked towards the gorge. Apart from a troop of monkeys, there was nobody there. We sat there for a while absorbing the serenity and beauty of nature. At the valley, we saw a few wild boars roar. 





It was a perfect moment to pull out my art kit and sketch. Here is what I could complete in half an hour, before it got dark. Deciding to complete the sketch later, we left.





Back in Jamalmadagu, we had dinner and retired for the day. It had been a long but exciting day. Gandikota truly impressed me with its magnificent rock formations and historical monuments. The image of the Penna river flowing between the coloured gorges would stay with me forever. 




5 comments:

  1. Bonsoir cher ami,

    Je vous remercie pour ce joli périple... Des photos fantastiques. Des photos qui révèlent des paysages d'une rare beauté avec des roches aux couleurs étonnantes.

    Gros bisous 🌸

    ReplyDelete
  2. PS : Merci pour votre gentil message laissé sur mon blog et en réponse à votre question concernant le vignoble, je me trouvais dans les vignes d'un ami à Saint-Tropez.
    Bisous

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautiful. This place has been my wish list for long time now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Amazing... that's one more on my wishlist... have done some places in interior Andhra.. but Rayalseema seems elusive...

    ReplyDelete

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