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Drive to 'The Grand Canyon of India' - Hyderabad to Orvakal, Belum caves, Gandikota, Andhra Pradesh

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This was in August 2014 after a very boring and hardworking week which meant we had to get away on a drive to chill out. So after browsing for places nearest to Hyderabad, we narrowed down on Gandikota, popularly known as the Grand Canyon of India. Gandikota is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh and got its fame due to the gorge formation caused by the river Penna. 




When: August. 1
Drive: Ford Fiesta
Fuel Type: Petrol
Route: Hyderabad - Kurnool - Gandikota
Distance: ~400 kms
Local Tour Distance: ~100 kms
Time: 9 p.m. (August 1st) - 1 a.m. (August 2nd) {4 hours including breaks}
Mileage: Avg. 16 kmpl (with AC)



Orvakal (Natural rock formations)
Belum Caves
Gandikota - The Grand Canyon of India


Route: Hyderabad ---> Kurnool ---> Orvakal ---> Belum Caves ---> Gandikota ---> Gooty ---> Hyderabad.




Our initial plan was to start in the wee hours of Saturday and reach Gandikota by evening but changed our plan and left on Friday night. The journey began at 9:00 p.m. from Manikonda and got onto the brilliant ORR and Bangalore highway. After a seamless drive till Jadcherla, stopped for dinner at our favorite restaurant called 'Drive-In' which is on the highway after crossing the toll at Jadcherla. After a sumptuous dinner, we continued our journey and reached Kurnool town at around 12:30 a.m.


Not having made any prior reservations, we went in search for a hotel to crash for the night. Based on suggestions in Google, we zeroed in on DVR Mansion near SBI circle. It was a pretty decent deluxe AC room. With lot of driving to be done the next day, we dozed off and got up fresh at 7:00 a.m. in the morning. After some nice complimentary breakfast and coffee, we checked out and started our journey to Orvakal Rock Garden, our first destination of the day.


Orvakal is a place situated about 30 kms from Kurnool on NH-18 which is the Kurnool-Ongole route. It is famous for its natural igneous rock formations. Although the AP Tourism website claims to have boating and rock museum, we couldn't find either and there was construction work going on. After a slight drive up-hill, we had a decent view from the top with the rocks in the background. We started to get some clicks with our new Nikon D3200. Next on the list was Belum Caves.


Glimpses of the rock garden



Beautiful natural igneous rock formations



Our drive up the picturesque landscape



And our principal photography began



Orvakal rock gardens is a mix of sandstone & limestone all over



We got involved in some 'Rock Climbing' activities



We stopped at a longer crack, probably about 20-25 ft high



Belum caves, supposedly the longest caves in India after Borra, is about 80 kms from Orvakal. The route is decent not the 4-lane highway so took us about 2hrs to reach the place with breaks. There was an entry fee of about Rs. 50 and we went exploring deep inside the caves. People with breathing problems have to be careful as the caves are quite deep with not many air vents. After taking several pictures of the beautiful caves, we were completely exhausted by the time we finished our exploration.


Few pictures of our journey down to the Belum Caves







Entrance to the caves, Tunnels inside the caves and broken stalactites.



And our underground rocks tour begun

12 (2).jpg


The second largest cave and one of the longest caves of the Indian Subcontinent



Sculpted by nature, Belum caves have spacious chambers, passages, all creations of the water flow



Main Sections of the Belum Caves





A stone pillar inside the Belum Caves



Carves formed by the flow of underground water



One of the small caverns





The lighted up narrow pathway



Caves photo-walk







Muted lighting adds to the mystery and beauty of these caves




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After an adventurous stopover at the caves, we started for our final destination which is about 70 kms from there. We reached Gandikota fort around 3:00 p.m. The cave exploration left us completely famished so stopped for lunch first at the Haritha restaurant which is run by the AP Tourism.

After a delicious meal and brief rest we reached the fort first which was not in great shape with walls strewn with people's writings and gibberish.Then walked to the other side of the fort where we have the view of the river gorge. Following the trek expert in our group, we climbed the rocks to the top to get the best view which truly resembles the Grand Canyon :D. And here's to show you the photo-log.


Amazing weather made our drive even more memorable en-route to 'Gandikota'DSC_0744~2.jpg







Architecture of the mosque looks complete with the intricate carvings on the Minar.DSC_0783~2.jpg

The Jama Masjid located near the fort is surrounded by a granaryDSC_0791~2.jpg

We found a few parrots chirping on the granary.DSC_0790~2.jpg

There are some temples around, which are being maintained by the ASI.DSC_0810~2.jpg



Raghunatha swamy temple besides the Gorge.DSC_0792~2.jpg


13th century built defensive fortressDSC_0804~2.jpg


Wait for it, we almost got there :DDSC_0812~2.jpg


Gandikota Penna CanyonDSC_0819~2.jpg


Ever thought India had geography that looked similar to America's Grand Canyon!!!DSC_0820~2.jpg


Even without water, the gorge did leave us spellbound for a whileDSC_0821~2.jpg


A deep valley and impassable hills surrounded by massive boulders of red granite, does remind us of the Grand Canyon.DSC_0831~2.jpg


The huge red boulders added to the magnificent background and the landscape looked majesticDSC_0823~2.jpg


We spent the next 2 hours resting at the top and clicking hundreds of picsDSC_0851~2.jpg


Finally around 5:00 p.m. decided to head back and started our journey to Hyderabad. The journey back we took a different route to reach Gooty where we re-joined the brilliant tarmac of NH7 and reached Hyderabad by 11:00 p.m. on Saturday including a break for dinner at our regular spot Drive-In. With that we ended our short weekend trip to the Grand Canyon of India. Cheers..!!! :D


One of the everlasting memories of a life time :)DSC_0779~2.jpg


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Dear Varun,

TS Tourism Vennala Resort is there beside Gandikota Fort , u can book accommodation in their Website.One Mr. Bhasah Attender is very nice person at Vennala, He will take care of everything His No. is 9704751400. you can plan like First Yaganti Temple from there Belum Caves from there night stay at Gandikota the next day see gandikota Early morning from there Alampuram Jogulamba Temple Return to Hyderabad.Its a 2 DayTrip. Have a nice time - Ravi Chandra

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12 hours ago, Sridhar Tandra said:

Strange, with all the comments above, am I the only one unable to see the images only on this thread? I am able to see all the images on all the other threads without an issue. I am on website using Chrome. :(




Hey @Sridhar Tandra, The post has incurred some technical glitch recently, Need to re-up all the pictures again :D We just noticed this too..

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