Place: Gandikota & Belum Caves
Distance: 725kms in total (400kms + 325kms)
Directions: Bangalore > Chikbalapur > Lepakshi > Ananthpur > Gooty > Belum > Jammalamadugu > Gandikota > Kadiri > Bangalore
Krew: Dileep (koof) > Madhu (Barca) > Karthik (Sp)
Bikes: Thunderbird > Pulsar
Previous Visit: Savandurga – the festive trek
Budget: Rs 2250/head
IN LESS THAN 50 WORDS:
This was an amazing two days 725kms, 2 day ride to the ancient caves of Belum & the Grand Canyon of India – Gandikota. Gandikota is known for the famous view of the Penna River from the red glowing gorge. But it does have a lot of history associated with it. Belum caves is the second longest cave in India. Also, it was come back 2 days trip after 3 years! (And all those years of watching Telugu movies, it was time to put the language to some testing :P)
INTRO & PLAN:
Alright, I had applied leave for my birthday as I wanted to spend some time alone (as in last time) on top of Kabbaladurga. But then, once Dileep & Madhu told they would also join, I planned for Gandikota & Belum Caves. I booked one room at the Harita Hotel, Gandikota. These two places had been in our bucket list for almost 3 years. Finally it was time to scratch them off and release some dopamine. And what better way than on a birthday!
TIME: 22:00 (6/6/2016)
ASSEMBLE & LEAVE:This time had prepared a neat schedule (back of the brain I knew it would never stick, but atleast it gave us some clarity) and budget plan. Yeah I was up at 04:00, did a few push ups & sit ups, had some yummy bread omlet & a cup of hot water and was all set to go. As the meet was scheduled on the ORR near Nagarbhavi, left my home picked Madhu and joined Dileep at the ORR. Together we left Bangalore.
RIDE 1: (Bangalore – Chikbalapur – Hindupur – Ananthpur – Gooty – Belum Caves)
This a 325kms ride mostly on wide huge highways. The first 275kms is smooth neat ride. After which last 50kms was in total heat and it was damn tiring. Initially the ride took off in full pace as we made it out of Hebbal and onto to the Airport road. Once on the airport road the traffic existed until Devanahalli after which the clouds came upon us and entertained us with some light drizzle.
We pulled over for some hot tea. After which as we continued, we were awed by the sight of Nandi hills which was completely shrouded in mist. It looked almost mystical. We pulled over at a new hotel at the Chikballapur by pass junction for some breakfast.
After a good breakfast, we settled in for some hot tea. After which we took off, the weather was just inviting. Dark clouds above with light drizzle made riding bliss. As we progressed there were hardly any vehicles on the road. Green mountains began to emerge on both sides of the road. We made it to Hindupur and spotted the deviation to Lepakshi.
Simple rule, during very long rides “Ride 50kms and pull over for a short break (needed/not needed)” We did the same, as we began approaching Ananthpur the temperature started soaring and we could feel the raw heat being emitted from the ground below. We pulled over at a small shop asking him directions for a juice shop we went into a small village and grabbed some juice, water and soft drinks.
We pulled over at about 25kms from Ananthpur and sat on the highway for about an hour and finished off the drinks. Ah, it felt nice! After speaking about college and all other shit, we decided it was time to leave.
As we left, riding felt extra nice. We decided to ride the next 75kms at one stretch. Making fun of each other we rode at constant 80-90kmph to reach the deviation at Gooty. By now the temperatures had soared to 36deg C. We headed into the deviation road and pulled over at a small hotel to belt the heaviest lunch I had till date.
I was barely able to move after the heavy lunch. After all the juice, and then a heavy lunch made us uneasy and dizzy. As we left the hotel I notices Dileep’s bike was punctured. So we searched for a puncture shop and got it fixed. We could spot the Ultra Tech Cement Factory a few kilometres away. And boy, are these cement factories big or what. The other two that we saw were Penna Cement & Dalmia Cement works. We spent about an hour at puncture shop; I was beginning to get worried whether there would be time to see Belum Caves.
After having the puncture fixed, the roads turned bad and the vehicles on the road increased. It made riding a little tiring. After asking locals for the directions we kept riding until we could spot the words “BELUM CAVES” written on the hill itself. We made it to the premises, bought the tickets and were all set to enter.
Well, Belum caves are the second longest caves of India. It was discovered by a British Surveyor Robert Bruce Foote in 1884. The caves have been formed by the river Chitravathi which flowed in this region few years back. The caves stretch for 2kms long, but only 1.5kms is open to public. The deepest point of the cave is about 150 feet in depth. The limestone erosion by a natural flowing river brings out the true beauty of the caves. It takes about 1.5-2hrs to explore the caves on a weekday (less crowd). Some of the important places to look out for at Belum caves are:
1. Patalganga – spring located at the cave’s deepest point. The spiral congested stairs make the descent to this place a little tricky.
2. Kotilingas – A breath taking sight that include thousands of stalactites (thin rocks which hang from ceiling) that look like shiva lingas.
3. Saptasrala Guha – Caves, where in one can produce musical notes, by tapping on the cave wall with a stick.
4. Dhyna Mandir– A place where in ancient monks (Old Monks :P) immersed themselves in deep meditation
The caves are well lit and easy to traverse as the directions are clearly mentioned. But a few places the passages are narrow and going on a weekend might get you jammed in. There is also an excellent aeration system which keeps pumping in fresh air. One is bound to lose a lot of water, so carrying water bottles is something one must do. But trust me, it was a different world altogether and the experience is totally worthwhile!
We spent about 1.5hrs at this place and we enjoyed every bit. As it was the last hour of the week, we had the place pretty much to ourselves and we played around the caves and finally got so tired that we decided to head out.
RIDE 2: (Belum Caves – Jammalamadugu – Gandikota)
This was 60kms ride, but had to be the best on this trip. As we left Belum caves the sun had begun making its way down towards the horizon. We looked at each other and asked if we could make it to Gandikota for the sunset? The roads were narrow but awesome as it ran between dry lands which had completely nothing. So we were two bikes riding in some desert ridden land and with the sun setting behind our bikes. The sun had illuminated the red mud and the skies remained blue, to add more hue the green leaves of trees wavered in the wind, making it feel like paradise. It was truly a speechless.
The sunset catching ride continued in full swing (without taking stupid risks ofcourse). But as the sun began to head down fast, we were just 15kms from Jammalamadugu (30kms from Gandikota) we realised that we wouldn’t be able to make it, but nevertheless what an awestruck ride it was! As we reached Jammalamadugu, I suggested we buy off all the juice from this town as it was the last town before Gandikota. We bought two full bottles and headed towards the Gandikota.
The roads from to Gandikota are filled with patches. And once the darkness had come over the sky, we reduced are speed completely and rode slow between nothingness to reach a fort wall, well this was the Harita Hotel. We were again awestruck by the outward appearance of this hotel. I had heard it was good, but this was something we had not expected.
HARITHA HOTEL STAY:
We checked into the hotel showing the reservation confirmation (Yes, one must reserve in prior with 100% payment). We rode till our cottage and parked our vehicles in front of the cottage itself. We could hear turkeys and other animals in the premises. Finally we ordered a long list of food items and sat down at about 21:00 outside the cottage enjoying the cool breeze.
We drifted and floated with the winds that kept blowing, we had long discussions regarding ghost stories, rides, college life and what not. At about 23:00 it started raining as well. So we went for a walk inside the premises itself. After which at 00:00 Madhu & Dilip wished me and we started downing again (thank god no birthday bums) At about 00:30 we sat for dinner and finished off the rice items watching EURO 2016’s first match. We watched it till 03:00 after which we crashed.
KICK START TO A NEW YEAR! :
I was up by 04:45, (yeah I know, I know, highly insomniac) I went outside for a walk. Got onto the terrace and could see the sun making its way to the sky. Then I loafed around the premises and spoke to the dogs that had accompanied our last night’s party. After which I woke both Dileep & Madhu and asked them whether they wanted to see the sunrise. Madhu came outside (with closed eyes, note this point your honour) saw outside and said “yeah it is very nice, may I go back sleep now?” Hehe! there was no point in pushing him further. So locked the door and went to Gandikota, actually got lost, but explored the place and witnessed a beautiful sunrise. I sat on top of the red rocks witnessing the Penna river flow slowly. It was almost meditative. I must say a dream start to a fresh year. Finally after about an hour is came back to find these two still flat. I ordered some tea and sat outside. After 5.5hours of waiting enjoying the outside breeze finally Isro and Madhu woke up and we decided to go to the fort.
Well like Belum, I will just list out the places to watch out for at this place as well. This fort is situated on the Penna River and was constructed by Kakarajum. In the latter years it came under Tippu Sultan and Hyder Ali. Once the British defeated Tippu, all the cannons of these forts were melted and the iron was exported to England. The fort has 101 towers which were used to fire at the invaders. Few of the important places at Gandikota include
1. The Doors – The doors of the fort are huge and have huge iron knobs. The entrance also has the 90deg blind turns concept. This made invasion difficult.
2. House of the Drum – The drums were beaten the alert the army in case of invasion.
3. Charminar – A small Charminar exists a we enter the town of Gandikota
4. Jail – A Jail exists beside the Charminar, where in the prisoners were held captive.
5. Jama Masjid – This happens to be one of the main attractions of this place beside the gorge. A serene and peaceful place.
6. Red Koneru – The huge lake in front of the mosque. During wars, after a ferocious battle the warriors used to dip their swords in this lake and the waters used to turn blood red.
7. Granary – Building used for storing food and grains.
8.Ranganathswamy Temple – This is near the gorge and resembles “Somanthpura” & Talakadu” Here we bought ice lollies as it had been nearly years since we had one.
9. Gorge View Point – The main attraction of this place. River Penna flows between the ridges at 300feet below. And the view looks simply majestic. It gives a calm and soothing experience when you sit in peace witnessing the sunrise (without photography ah!)
So, that was the places, what do you think? Worth the visit, definitely is, go pack your bags lazy bums! We made it back to the hotel at about 11:30 and then we were in dilemma whether to head back to Bangalore or stay another night at the place. After about half an hour of oscillating between decisions we finally decided to head out. (A prolonged good thing is bad right?)
RIDE 3: (Gandikota – Jammalamadugu – Kadiri – Hindupur – Chikbalapur – Bangalore)
This was 325kms ride back to Bangalore. As we left Gandikota, we rode to Jammalamadugu and asked the locals for a good local hotel and we pulled over at one for some nice heavy lunch. As we munched down, I told others the ride would get eventually cooler and guessed finally it would rain as we entered back Bangalore. (any guesses what happened?)
After which we rode towards the Kadiri road, pulled over at a petrol bunk and re-filled our tanks. After which the worse of roads began. For the next 25-30kms took us more than an hour. The roads were a mixture of very smooth roads and no roads at all. By the end of this 25-30kms are fingers were in pretty bad shape. We reached a town, where I asked the other two whether to take a deviation to reach back Tadipatri and to join back at Ananthpur. Just then a bus arrived from the opposite direction from Kadiri. We asked the driver regarding the roads. Once he said the roads were good, we trusted his words and continued in the same path.
The roads to Kadiri turned out to be fantastic. It was like riding in the Wild West movies. A lonely single road that ran between desert like terrain. A few ghat section here and there made things interesting. Once we entered back into Kadiri, we pulled over for some fruit juice. Then we had a hard time reaching back Hindupur as the roads ran through a lot of small towns and the condition of the roads were pretty miserable as well. Dilip’s side-ways seating and finally balcony sitting was the highlight of this stretch.
Once we reached back the highway, we yelled at the top of our lungs and we shifted gears. We rode at constant 80-90kmph and as we began to approach Chikkbalapur the dark clouds gave way for some light drizzle and it was bliss to ride. After which heavy rains started slashing at us without mercy. We pulled over for some hot tea. After which the sunset happened fast and darkness came over the roads in no time. From here on I struggled to keep up with Madhu, who was riding the other bike. Finally from BEL, through HMT layout we reached Tumkur road at Gorguntepalya. After which we dropped Madhu to his home, settled the bills, and headed back to our respective homes.
“an awesome two day trip is all I can say. Never expected this to turn out so well! from sitting on the gorge alone witnessing the sun rise on a fresh year to sitting with friends on the divider, it had all elements in it, thank you guys!”
1. DILEEP: what a kickass rider and his easy going and cool temperament makes any ride smooth and memorable. His thunderbird with the modified handle was a more of a companion! Also, his ghost stories kind of shook us all up!
2. MADHU: as usual, the picking on each other, beating up each other will always be there with this big guy! His presence and jokes kept the spirits in a whole new level.
3. SP: was very, very satisfied with a superb run. And was very happy with the way his birthday was spent on the gorge half-tight :P
Haha, until next time, Cia \m/