“Collect moments not things”
It was another long weekend and I had slogged enough for past few holidays to let this one slip off uneventfully. I virtually visit the place over the internet before setting sails for real. So through my “research” I realized that my long pending wish to see the grand canyons of India could be realized this weekend itself.!
So, I booked ticket from Kalyan railway station in Chennai central mail train, via tatkal booking. It’s going to be a long journey, so if feasible, book at least a third AC coach. It will cost you rs.1400 one way in tatkal. Rs. 1100 if booked in advance. Rs. 600 (approx.) for non AC reserved seat and Rs 250 for general dabba.
The train left Kalyan station at 3.15 PM on Saturday and Sunday 8.30 am I was at Tadipatri station.
Tadipatri station: It is by far the cleanest railway station that I have come across lately. Absolutely no litter seen. Very surprising but true. I later came to know that Tadipatri is one of the best districts in Andhra Pradesh. Plastic has been banned here and citizens adhere to this rule. They are happy with their political representatives. They take pride in fast development of their locality. Roads are over all very smooth. I am impressed, hands down.
Now, from Tadipatri train station one has to take a rickshaw ride to bus station. Its 20 Rs with light luggage, or Rs. 30 if you are travelling with some heavy gear like me.
From Tadipatri Bus station it’s an officially two but actually three-ish hour ride to reach Jammalamadugu (hope I spelt that right). Its Rs.48 one way. From Jammalamadugu it’s a rickshaw ride, expensive one, at Rs. 170 to the actual Gandikota canyon complex entry. Then, you have finally reached.
Half way to Jammalamadugu is another caves called Belum Caves, which I skipped. If you have time, then it’s a must do.
So by 12pm, I was at Gandikota finally.
Pro tip : eat on the way because you won’t get anything at all besides soft drinks and water/ chips/ biscuits here at Gandikota complex. Haritha resort is the only resort on the way. It’s a Govt resort, neat/clean and spacious. It gets booked months in advance, just so you know. They have limited menu, but better than relying on softdrinks and chips.
Rest of my day was spent enjoying the sights around. It was a warm and tiring day, so dress comfortably.
Gandikota canyons: Gandi means gorge. Gandikota was an important fort in Chalukya dynasty in 1123 yr AD. In the fort are two ancient temples, dedicated to Madhava and Ranganatha. Then there is a jama masjid and a granary. There is a big stepped ladder tank. Behind all the structures is the mountain cliff below which flows the Pena river forming the gorges, giving rise to canyons.
What is travel if one does not connect with local folks and food.
While wandering around Gandikota I met a fellow solo traveler, Abhishek. We bonded over shared interest of travel and photography.
He is a motorbike enthusiast and had ridden from Bangalore all the way by himself. He rides a CBR 250 and talks to his bike. Qualifies as mild crazy if you ask me.
I was hungry like hulk by the end of the day.
After some local recommendation we realised there is just one bar with restaurant in Jammalamadugu (Haritha ran out of food). So we headed to Dwarka restaurant. I would strongly recommend coming here if you visit Gandikota. Go by the chef’s recommendation and you’ll taste the most authentic biryani Andhra has to offer. The staff is very courteous and accommodating. It is pocket friendly too.
Interestingly the manager also introduced us to an elderly gentleman Mr Reddy. He later explained us that the manager wanted help in understanding our language (both of us can’t speak Telugu). As an afterthought he also set Mr. Reddy’s chair with us, believing it would be good company for all of us.
Thoughtful indeed. For almost an hour we had leisurely discussions about life in a small Andhra town vs the cities. How it is important to stay physically fit. Him and His son’s shared passion for Royal Enfield motorcycles. How he’s proud of his daughter pursuing medicine. And what he thinks is lacking in younger generation these days.
Thankfully we checked the watch at the right time and rushed to Jammalamadugu bus station. Last bus to Tadipatri station from there is 8.15pm. By 11pm I was back at Tadipatri station. Again, it’s pleasure to see a clean station. My train back was after 3.5 hrs at 2 am. So I had enough time to relax and write the story of this trip.
By Monday 7 pm I was back at Kalyan station with another destination off the list.
Enjoy the video.
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