Bangalore weekend drive: Gandikota and Belum Caves, Andhra Pradesh – Part 2

Date: December 17th, 2011

After a tiring Saturday, we had an extremely relaxing sleep (despite Anand’s heavy snoring — which he denies! ;)). Feeling much better, we packed up and checked out of our room.

AP tourism Gandikota room hotel India
I forgot to take a photo of the room when we checked in yesterday, so I made the bed the best I could, just so I could take this shot
Gandikota hotel cottage Andhra Pradesh India
From my phone
Gandikota hotel cottages Mithun Ramesh
We checked out by 9:45am

We settled our bill, which including yesterday’s food and room tariff, came to Rs. 1080 ($20/€15). Tipped our receptionist/attendant/waiter for all his help, despite his handicap.

Gandikota fort wall Andhra Pradesh India
We drove back to Gandikota fort
Parrots Gandikota fort red stone India
From Ramesh's camera
Green parrot Gandikota fort
From Anand's super-zoom camera
Gandikota fort tower village India
We parked our car here this time
Gandikota village stone houses India
We walked down this path at first

Gandikota village home Coca Cola India

Gandikota village stones Andhra Pradesh India
But we realized we were going down the wrong path, so we walked back up and took a path right behind the tower
Way to Madhavaraya temple Gandikota
Still wasn't sure if this was the right way to the temple. There's no sign or anything.
Madhavaraya temple through twigs
But we were getting closer to Madhavaraya temple
Gandikota fort well Andhra Pradesh India
The village pipe extends all the way into this well
Path to Madhavaraya temple Gandikota
There she is
Madhavaraya temple Gandikota Andhra Pradesh India
But... we didn't see anybody at the temple
Gandikota Madhavaraya temple entrance gate locked
As we walked closer, we saw why there was nobody here. The gates were locked.
Madhavaraya temple main tower Gandikota
Damn, came to the fort again just to see this temple!
Green parrot Madhavaraya temple
At least Anand's camera caught more parrots
Madhavaraya temple through gate Gandikota
I had no choice but to take photos through a gap in the gates
Madhavaraya temple tower ceiling Gandikota
The architecture and design looked impressive

Madhavaraya temple stone carving art GandikotaDespite the fact we couldn’t go in, standing at gates, we didn’t feel like moving… at all. There was a cool breeze just flowing through and you could hear the distinct sound it made! It was like a ‘natural’ air-conditioning experience — the breeze was really relaxing.

Just then, Ramesh noticed something about a second padlock on the gates…

Gandikota temple gate lock open
This smaller gate wasn't locked, Ramesh just pulled the latch and nudged it open!
Madhavaraya temple tower architecture Gandikota India
We could now enter the temple
Madhavaraya temple Ramesh closing gate Gandikota
Since we were the only ones at the temple, we got selfish and closed the gates so we could go about our photography in peace

Madhavaraya temple ancient architecture Gandikota IndiaMadhavaraya temple pillar art Gandikota India

Madhavaraya temple ancient stone carving Gandikota India
The stone carvings were impressive

Madhavaraya temple Ramesh Gandikota Andhra Pradesh IndiaMadhavaraya temple god stone carving Gandikota IndiaMadhavaraya temple hall pillars Gandikota IndiaMadhavaraya temple Ganesha stone carving Gandikota IndiaMadhavaraya temple pillars Gandikota Andhra Pradesh IndiaMadhavaraya temple stone pillars Gandikota IndiaMadhavaraya temple pillar boundary Gandikota IndiaMadhavaraya temple design Gandikota Andhra Pradesh India

Madhavaraya temple ancient ruins Gandikota India
Went in here

Madhavaraya temple room Gandikota panorama

Madhavaraya temple tower clouds Gandikota India
Madhavaraya temple is worth checking out

Ramesh was trying the whole ‘levitating’ shot sequence, so we all got in on it.

Ramesh Anand Mithun levitating GandikotaMadhavaraya temple arches Gandikota Andhra Pradesh IndiaMadhavaraya temple architecture Gandikota Andhra Pradesh India

Gandikota fort wall Andhra Pradesh India
We closed the gate as it was earlier and left the temple
Gandikota fort barracks Andhra Pradesh India
We walked back to the car
Gandikota fort wall steps
We were done...
Leaving Gandikota Fort Andhra Pradesh India
...it was time to leave Gandikota

Gandikota fort doors Andhra Pradesh India

Leaving Gandikota road Andhra Pradesh India
We had to drive back to Jammalamadugu

Gandikota reservoir lake Andhra Pradesh IndiaDalmia cement factory Andhra Pradesh India

Cotton fields Andhra Pradesh India
Passed by cotton fields

Sun rays through clouds Andhra Pradesh

Suzlon windmill farm Andhra Pradesh
A lot of windmills being installed in this part of Andhra Pradesh
Road to tadipatri Andhra Pradesh India
We were taking one straight road to Tadipatri
Bindu jeera soda bottle Andhra Pradesh India
We stopped at a village on the way to have some tea
Road to Belum caves junction Andhra Pradesh India
At the end of this long stretch, take a right to get to Belum Caves

Road to Belum caves Andhra Pradesh village

Anand car parked sunflower field Belum
We knew we were getting close, so we stopped here to take a proper photo amongst some sunflowers
Sunflower field Belum Andhra Pradesh India
We had driven past so many sunflower fields, but never stopped to take any good photos

Sunflower pollen Andhra Pradesh IndiaBack of sunflower India

Sunflower pollen yellow Andhra Pradesh India
I love taking macros shots of flowers

Sunflower yet to bloom India

Mithun Ramesh sunflower field Belum India
Photograph by Anand Phadake

Sunflowers Belum Andhra Pradesh IndiaFord Fiesta sunflower field Belum IndiaSunflower fields Andhra Pradesh India

Belum caves entrance Andhra Pradesh India
Reached Belum Caves at 12:45pm
Belum hill buddha statue Andhra Pradesh India
There's a massive Buddha statue here
Belum caves white buddha statue Andhra Pradesh India
From Anand's camera

There was ample parking space for our car, we then walked to the ticket counter.

Belum caves entrance Andhra Pradesh India
The entry ticket costs Rs. 40 ($0.75), none of that 'pay extra for camera' nonsense here
Steps down Belum caves Andhra Pradesh India
Down we went

Entrance to Belum caves India

Gebauer hall Belum caves Andhra Pradesh India
You see this as soon as you enter the caves
Belum caves rabbit hole Andhra Pradesh India
This is called Gebauer Hall, named after a German speleologist (cave explorer) who re-discovered these caves in the 1980s
Belum caves Ramesh Anand
We went in

Belum caves attractions facts Andhra Pradesh IndiaBelum caves start Andhra Pradesh India

Belum caves attraction Andhra Pradesh India
It wasn't until recently that Belum Caves was turned into a tourist attraction
Belum caves stalactites Andhra Pradesh India
There's droplets of water dripping down the stalactites above
Belum Caves shadows photographers India
Ramesh and Anand
Belum Caves Andhra Pradesh India
We kept walking further in

Belum caves Chalapathi Reddy hall Andhra Pradesh India

Chalapathi reddy hall belum caves Andhra India
Chalapathi Reddy hall, where some work was going on

Belum caves steps stones Andhra Pradesh India

Belum caves visitors crowd Andhra Pradesh India
I tried my best to take shots without any people, but some sections were just too crowded
Ramasubbareddy hall Belum caves Andhra Pradesh India
Ramasubba Reddy hall
Belum caves steps inner sanctum India
We went down
Belum caves steps down Ramesh Andhra Pradesh India
You'll have to mind your head at certain sections
Belum caves walk Andhra Pradesh India
It would have been nice if they sold little maps for say, Rs. 10, just so we know where we were going
Belum caves hollow path Andhra Pradesh India
We honestly had no clue where we were headed as there are multiple paths

Belum caves lighting Andhra Pradesh IndiaBelum caves tunnel Andhra Pradesh India

Belum caves vandalized Andhra Pradesh India
Even underground, our precious natural wonders aren't spared from being vandalized by our country's idiots!

Belum caves inside Andhra Pradesh India

Belum caves tunnel path Andhra Pradesh India
I tried my best to take photos as steady as possible, couldn't set up my tripod everywhere
Belum Caves Anand Andhra Pradesh India
We often had to wait for paths to clear while other visitors took photos
Belum caves dark area Andhra Pradesh India
Some areas are really dark, so you have to watch your step
Belum caves Anand posing India
This wasn't just a section to pose for photos
Belum caves ceiling vents Andhra Pradesh India
There are ducts above pumping fresh air into the caves. Oxygen wears thin in certain sections and it can get quite hot deep inside.

Narrow path Belum caves Andhra Pradesh India

Lighting Belum caves Andhra Pradesh India
I must say, they have done a good job of illuminating the caves

Belum Caves narrow path Andhra Pradesh India

Pathala Ganga Belum caves Andhra India
According to mythology, 'Pathala' is the kingdom of demons; Ganga is the river (Ganges to Westerners)
Belum caves tunnel lighting Andhra Pradesh India
I wondered which way to go next
Belum caves Pathala Ganga Andhra Pradesh India
Went the other way instead

Stalactites stones Belum caves Andhra Pradesh India

Belum caves stalactites stalagmites Andhra Pradesh India
It led to this hall
Anand Phadake standing under vent Belum caves
Anand cooling off under a vent, and this section needed it!
Ramesh remote Belum caves India
We felt this was a good spot to take a group shot. So as I set the camera on the tripod, Ramesh tested his remote to see if works on my camera.
Ramesh Anand Mithun Belum caves Andhra India
It worked just fine
Zoomed out Belum caves Andhra Pradesh India
Took one zoomed all the out to give you an idea how wide the hall is
Stalactites light Belum caves Andhra Pradesh India
I wonder if these lights do the rocks any damage, given how hot they can be
Limestone small stalactites Belum caves India
We left the hall

Belum caves walkway stalactites Andhra Pradesh IndiaCommon hall Belum caves India

Belum caves underground Andhra Pradesh India
Instead of going back the way we came, we tried another path
Belum caves limestone smooth ceiling Andhra Pradesh India
As much as I'm against vandalizing natural wonders... I was *so* tempted to etch cave man drawings on the stones above just to mess with the heads of archeologists 😛

Belum caves silhouette Andhra Pradesh IndiaWalking back tunnel Belum caves

Belum caves tunnel Andhra Pradesh India
These caves were well worth the visit!
Belum caves limestone rock formation
Never knew such sights were this close to Bangalore
Belum caves way out Andhra India
We headed back

Belum caves rocks IndiaBelum caves hole Andhra Pradesh IndiaBelum caves big tunnel Andhra IndiaBelum caves limestone smooth ceilingBelum caves going back Andhra Pradesh India

Way to meditation hall Belum caves Andhra Pradesh India
Once back in Ramasubba Reddy hall, we went to the 'Maditation hall'
Maditation hall sign Belum caves Andhra Pradesh India
See? Maditation 😛
Ramesh Mithun Anand meditation pose Belum caves
We 'maditated' for a photo

Ramasubba Reddy hall Belum Caves Andhra Pradesh IndiaStairs Belum Caves Andhra Pradesh IndiaBelum caves from elevation Andhra India

Chalapathi Reddy hall flash photo Belum caves
We stopped on the way back to take one last group photo in front of Chalapathi Reddy hall
Mithun Divakaran camera Belum caves
I set up the camera...

Ramesh taking photo Belum caves India

Group photo Belum caves white limestone Andhra Pradesh India
Belum Caves 2011... officially done!

Belum caves Andhra Pradesh panorama

Belum caves hollow underground Andhra Pradesh IndiaBelum caves walking to entrance

Belum caves water dripping limestone panorama
Panorama comprised of 2 shots

Belum caves limestone stalactite formationsBelum caves entrance area India

Gebauer hall tour group Andhra Pradesh India
They have organized tours to Belum Caves. At the ticket counter, you can arrange for a guide too, but they only speak Telugu.

Stairs Belum Caves entrance IndiaStairs up Belum caves Andhra Pradesh IndiaAs soon as we all got out into the light, I went to the restrooms and freshened up. Then we had some ice cream and cool drinks to quench our thirsts.

Aiwaafine bottled water Andhra Pradesh India
No Aquafine, only Aiwaafine 🙂

It was past 2pm and time for lunch, but we were keen to dine at a dhaba on the way. So we drove towards the town of Anantapur and decided to stop at any good dhaba we would come across on the way.

Belum road Andhra Pradesh India
It was going to be one long straight drive from here to Anantapur

Road to Anantapur windmills

Windmills hills Andhra Pradesh India
Loads of windmills
Granite mine Andhra Pradesh India
We had to stop briefly when we saw this granite mine on the way
Granite mines Andhra Pradesh India
Never seen earth being cut like that! Look at all that granite!

Windmill hills Andhra Pradesh India

Cement factory Andhra Pradesh
Couldn't take a clear shot of this huge cement factory we passed

Haystack truck Andhra Pradesh road IndiaRoad to Anantapur tricycle Andhra Pradesh India

Anantapur town Andhra Pradesh India
By 3pm, we were in the town of Anantapur

Golden YSR statues Anantapur Andhra Pradesh IndiaAnantapur lamp posts Andhra Pradesh IndiaWe assumed Anantapur being a fairly big town, we would find a decent restaurant on this stretch of road, but post 3pm hardly anything that looked decent was open. Plus it was a Sunday.

Water tanker leaking Andhra Pradesh India
Wonder how much water is left by the time such tankers reach their destination

We kept driving hoping to find a dhaba on the way, but there hardly any! After yesterday night’s eating and drinking, we decided to give our stomachs a break and didn’t have breakfast at the hotel since all they had were puris — and we knew it was going to be made of maida, just like their chapathis! So all we had was tea, lots of it!

Lake Singanamala Andhra Pradesh India
Of course, when we saw this massive water body, we just had to stop!
Singanamala tank Andhra Pradesh India
This was Lake Singanamala

Lake Singanamala Mithun Divakaran Andhra Pradesh India

Anand Phadake dog chips
Made do with chips for 'lunch,' it is all we could find

Anantapur tower Andhra Pradesh India

Anantapur road connecting NH7 Andhra Pradesh India
We were finally back on NH7 (Bangalore-Hyderabad highway)
Bangalore Hyderabad highway NH7 Andhra Pradesh India
From here on it was super-smooth sailing!
NH7 Andhra Pradesh hills windmills
More windmills

NH7 Bangalore Hyderabad highway IndiaMonkeys NH7 Bangalore Hyderabad India

Hill range NH7 Andhra Pradesh India
The landscape was barren with not a village in sight

Looking at the landscape in this part of India and the quality of the roads built by NHAI, I realized how easy it is to build such highways in such geography. Unlike Kerala’s hilly and rich green landscapes, the land here is mostly flat and uninhabited, making land acquisition easy. Something which is very tough in Kerala given its natural beauty and of course, stupid politics.

That said, I wondered why on earth NHAI couldn’t build a 6 lane (3 on either side) when they had the chance to. Why isn’t every infrastructure project thought about for the long term? Just because there isn’t anything built on either side and the vehicle volumes are presently low, doesn’t mean it will stay that way for the next decade! Grrr, irritates me when the government does this!

140kmph Ford Fiesta speedometer
The ride handling in Anand Phadake's Ford Fiesta diesel was incredibly stable even at speeds of 140kmph. It's a really good car!
Evening sun NH7 lake India
We were in Karnataka by around 5pm
Evening sky pink clouds Nh7 south India
Ended the day with a beautiful sunset

As we neared Chikbalapur, finding dhabas became easy and we stopped at one to our left.

Dhaba window Chikbalapur India
At 6:30pm, we finally made up for the lack of a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner!

This weekend drive to Gandikota and Belum Caves is easily one of the top weekend drives I have ever been on. We left Saturday morning, reached Gandikota, saw the stunning vistas, had a blast at night with just each other for company. Woke up at a reasonable time today and saw all the above. Had we managed to see Madhavaraya temple yesterday itself, we could have finished Belum Caves by 1pm and been back in Bangalore by sunset.

The last epic weekend drive we managed to undertake was when we drove from Bangalore to Pondicherry on Saturday and then drove to Mahaballipuram, then Chennai and back to Bangalore by Sunday night. This in some ways topped that one because we managed to see all there is to see in Gandikota and Belum, and the trip didn’t feel incomplete in any way.

Mind you, both places aren’t for everyone. The drive maybe easy, but the stay at the APTDC Gandikota Hotel isn’t going to get any better until tourist numbers go up. Also, climbing the rocks to take the kind of photos we took yesterday isn’t that easy for everyone, especially older citizens. Belum Caves is also quite challenging as some sections are suffocating due to the lack of oxygen.

But if you read all that and though “meh, I’ve done greater things!” then the weekend road trip to Gandikota and Belum Caves comes high recommended!

Previous post in this series:

Bangalore weekend drive: Gandikota and Belum Caves, Andhra Pradesh – Part 1

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19 Comments

  • florence

    10/03/2012

    Beautiful pictures !
    What is your camera ?

    (I’m french)

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thanks Florence, my primary camera is the Canon 7D

    [Reply]

  • Anil

    11/07/2012

    Really awesome pictures yarr! Gud to watch it! Nice photography! Keep it Up!!!!!!!!!!

    [Reply]

  • ladygarfield

    17/08/2012

    so you missed the part of the cave where water drips into a small pond! also, we hired a guide and he spoke english 🙂

    nice blog… quite informative and very interesting.

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    It got quite suffocating as we went deeper, so we had to head back.

    [Reply]

  • Deepak Patro

    31/10/2014

    Hi, could you please let us know where you checked in for overnight stay?

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Read this post http://mithunonthe.net/2011/12/24/weekend-drive-bangalore-to-gandikota-gorge-hills-fort-guide-photos/ the name and phone number is mentioned. If you are using Google Maps on your phone to get to the hotel, just set the final destination to Gandikota Fort as the hotel may not show up.

    [Reply]

  • Ash

    12/11/2014

    hmm very nice pics & intersting place!

    [Reply]

  • Bibhav

    19/01/2015

    Lovely account of ur trip. Will be doing it this weekend. Thanks for all the tips.

    [Reply]

  • Mridula

    26/09/2015

    Very nice blog!! We are planning to visit these places in October. Could you please give us any idea about, how to travel to Belum caves from Gandikota or vice versa if you don’t have your own vehicle.

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Hmm, from Gangikota to Belum caves without private vehicle is very difficult. Hardly any major town in between these places from where you can even take a bus.

    [Reply]

  • milind sabhapatikar

    03/12/2015

    What the beauty you caught in camera… great….

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thanks Milind!

    [Reply]

  • Nalini Ranjan Ghosh

    24/02/2016

    Your’s had been a very wonderful blog.The pictures were so vivid,that some one was thinking himself to be wandering with you to enjoy the panoramic views of the surroundings of the Gandikota Fort and Hills. |Also, thanks for detailing the entire journey from Bangalore to Gandikota Hills.

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thanks Nalini!

    [Reply]

  • H.D.VENKATESH

    19/08/2016

    The places are really worth visitng,Thank you very for your inspiring writeup and excellant photos . After reading your article ,we visited the the places on 14 & 15 th AUG 2016.We could not get accomodation in HARITHA HOTEL in Gandikoti, We stayed in JAYA SREE A/C LODGE in JAMMANADUGU–which is hardly 15 Kms from Gandikoti.The rooms were reasonably good and the rates were very reasonable–They charged Rs 900+100 (for extra bed ) per room.Hot water was available only in the morning time..we had food in the hotel which is in the ground floor.

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thanks a lot VENKATESH! Good to know there are other hotels coming up not too far away. Appreciate your comment.

    [Reply]

  • K v achyuta

    27/09/2016

    There can’t b more exhaustive travelogues than this great work. Should b planning to visit this place shortly. Just keep it up. Achyuta v das

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thanks Achyuta!

    [Reply]

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