~ B. Sujitha
One need not visit the United States to enjoy a pristine and visually spectacular Grand Canyon. A trip to Gandikota, in Andhra Pradesh, would still give you the same experience, because Gandikota is home to the Grand Canyon of India. Gandikota should be the must-visit place on one’s travel list, if one is looking for a budget-friendly trip. But not willing to compromise on the visual pleasure. Hold on, that is not all: If one were to visit Gandikota, you can not only enjoy the splendid gorge but also enjoy the aura of a magnificent fort and rustic local tradition and culture.
Where is it located!
Gandikota is a village and also a place of historical significance situated 15km away from Jammalamadugu, a town in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. ‘Gandi’ means Gorge and ‘Kota’ means Fort, the name Gandikota itself means a fort constructed at a gorge.
The Grand Canyon Of India
Gorge of Gandikota is situated in the Erramala Range of Hills in Andhra Pradesh. This natural feature is formed because of the downward pressure of the Penner River which flows at the foot of the hills. This massive canyon is a spectacular group of red granite rocks, cut and layered. This is generally perceived as the miniature look-alike of the famous Grand Canyon of the Colorado River of the United States.
The Fort: a relic of history
Gorge acts as a natural defence of the area around it. It makes Gandikota a perfect place to construct Fort. The Fort will be a secure, strategic and protected one. The Fort naturally became a seat of power for various dynasties through history and it played an important role in Andhra History.
Fort was constructed by Pemmasani Nayakas, Commanders of Vijayanagara Empire in the 13th Century. They have constructed the present Fort replacing a sand Fort constructed by Vassals of Kalyan Chalukyas. In the 1650s Fort fell to Qutub Shahis of Golconda and then went under the rule of Mughal Empire Aurangzeb. During the period of the Decline of Mughals, Mysore Ruler Hyder Ali used this Fort to station his troops. And finally, in 1791, the British gained control over the Fort. The influence of different rulers and dynasties has left its mark on the Fort. Charminar at the entrance and Juma Masjid are examples of later Islamic reign; the two temples are splendid examples of Vijayanagara Architecture.
Inside the fort:
- A Charminar greets you at the entrance of the fort.
- The Fort is home to striking Juma Masjid.
- Fort consists of two temples: A Ranganathaswamy temple and Madhava Swamp Temple.
- A huge granary is present, used to stock pike the produce for armies and emergency situations.
- A lake body is present inside the fort which is called “Kattula Koneru”. The lake was named so because Rulers of Gandikota who went to battles, returned and washed their blood-stained swords in the lake. And consequently, the water in the lake used to be red in colour. A tale that throws light on the victories of the rulers of Gandikota.
Other tourist attractions:
The historical site also provides a thrilling boating adventure to its tourists in the deepest gorge of India, a go-to for adventure lovers. Anybody going to Gandikota need not bother about the problem of accommodation, because the Andhra Pradesh State tourism department runs Haritha Resorts in Gandikota, just beside the Fort, giving a budget-friendly accommodation and the opportunity to enjoy the serenity of the place. All to encourage tourism to the site.
A group of friends going to visit a place like Gandikota would barely want to stay in resorts when camping in tents alongside the Gorge is allowed. Camping alongside such an ecstatic place will give one the peace and scenic view. Hardly anyone wants to miss this!!. The ecstatic Erramala hill range in which Gandikota is situated is not a place to ignore for trekking lovers. More importantly because special efforts are made by the State government to benefit the enthusiastic trekkers.
Not so known- why?
Despite all its scenic beauty, historical significance and cultural plurality, Gandikota is not so well known and is hardly part of anyone must-visit places list. The structures of Gandikota are not tended to properly and are in a dilapidated state. This situation has come about as an interplay of a lot of factors viz., the location being in the deep interiors where transport reach is limited; to promote tourism in Gandikota as a policy has acquired significance recently and by then much damage was done, some beyond the possibility of redemption.
But, off late, this bleak picture is fading away with various initiatives by the state government as mentioned. A significant role is also played by different vloggers and bloggers in increasing the awareness about India’s deepest gorge; special thanks to them!!
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