When I was younger, I visited Khajjiar with my parents. One of the many reasons why we included Khajjiar in our itinerary was the tour operators referring to it as mini Switzerland. Well, for unsuspecting travelers like us who hadn’t been to Europe, this sounded very appealing. After listening to the travel agents call it the Switzerland of India, I was very excited. But, upon visiting Khajjiar, I was extremely disappointed. It was too dirty and the lake had no water in it but rather a heap of plastic bottles. Similarly, calling Coorg the Scotland of India is probably one of the reasons which made Coorg so popular. Just like Khajjiar and Coorg, Gandikota is referred to the Grand Canyon of India.
Now there might be different reasons behind the comparison. But, I believe its unfair to compare our Indian destinations with the so called western “counterparts”. Most of the online travel websites have curated at-least one blog post in which they say that ‘Oh, you know what? You don’t need to go to Switzerland! You can just go to Khajjiar’ or ‘Oh, are you planning to go to Scotland? Why don’t you go to Coorg instead!’
Well, I call bull shit on that.
I don’t blame these travel websites though. They have their business goals linked to these blog posts. It’s a sales funnel. You are scrolling down your feed on Facebook and suddenly see an article which talks about 23 Indian places which are similar or even better than their international counterparts. “Oh my God” you’d think “Let me click on this and not miss out”. Yes, they just played you on your fear of missing out. The next thing you know, you are scrolling through their article and being bombarded by ‘Book Now’ Call to action buttons. Out of 100 people, 2 may book. Did you see what just happened? They got business through a click-bait title!
Let’s revel in the original beauty of our Indian destinations and not compare them with international counterparts. Frankly speaking, I don’t mind Ooty being called the Queen of Hill stations. Why? Because it’s not pitting Ooty against some European landscape. What I do mind is someone saying ‘Why do you want to go to Grand Canyon?’ Just go to Gandikota instead!
Now in some cases, the international destinations are way too beautiful than our Indian ones. For example, I am pretty sure Switzerland would be way better than Khajjiar.
Did I just call some International destinations better than Indian ones? Well, yes I did because they are! And I am not running a travel website to generate business, but just a blog. Also, I like to call a spade, a spade
But, at the same time some Indian destinations are definitely better than the international ones. I have no doubt that Kerala backwaters are way more beautiful than Venice canals. Also, our Himalayas can definitely give a tough competition to the French Alps.
But, irrespective of which one is better, let’s just stop comparing our Indian destinations with the international ones. Let’s take some pride in our own places, shall we?
Please share this article if you agree with me. I need your help to get this opinion out there because I don’t have millions of dollars to invest in SEO and paid marketing campaigns like these travel websites do.
Anyways, thank you for reading my rant. Now, let me share my experience of visiting Gandikota, NOT the Grand Canyon of India.
Frankly speaking, I have started to find destinations in South India very similar to each other. In the last 4 years, I must have been to all these hill stations multiple times. So, when we started to plan a trip to Gandikota, I got really excited.
Gandikota is unique in itself. Even though the landscape is rocky and very similar to Hampi, the gorge view is what sprinkles the unique flavor.
I visited Gandikota for just 2 days with my friends. It was a weekend trip and frankly, Gandikota doesn’t need more than 2 days. It’s a long drive from Bangalore, 282 KM. So, it may feel a bit hectic. However, we had decided to not waste a lot of time on the road and ended up reaching Gandikota around 2 PM, which is pretty decent according to our standards.
Here, I share my trip with you. To know more about how to reach from Bangalore to Gandikota, read this other blog post.
My travel buddies for Gandikota
We reached Haritha Resorts, by AP Tourism. However, we were not able to reserve the rooms in advance. So, we stayed in camps instead. These camps were located in the Haritha resorts premises only. While staying in these camps, we had access to the resort’s common washroom and restaurant.
As the evening Sun started its journey towards the horizon, we reached the Gorge view. The faint orange light of the setting Sun brightened the rocky walls paving path for river Penna. The river we saw was about 300 feet as it narrows down from a massive water body before entering the gorge.
This Gandikota Gorge view point was definitely way above my expectations. There have been many instances when I get disappointed after visiting a place. The credit goes to some travel bloggers who use flowery language for every place they visit. But this Gorge view didn’t disappoint me at all. Not because it’s mesmerizing, alluring or jaw-dropping. But it’s unique; the likes of which I haven’t seen in India. I have always been a huge fan of massive landscapes which make humans look like a speck. Landscapes which make me realize how tiny our egos are. The Gandikota gorge view was a vantage point for one such landscape.
The Gandikota Gorge view as seen at Sunset and me making faces
If you are looking at the Gorge view, your back will be facing west. So, when the orange light stopped reflecting off the gorge walls, we ran in the opposite direction to discover a vantage point to see the Sun set at the horizon. Until now, we just saw the Sun disappearing behind fort ruins.
The setting Sun, behind the fort ruins
Chasing the Sunset. See the ‘art’ by a romantic couple? Don’t know how to stop such people for spoiling our heritage
After jumping some rocks and crossing a dilapidated fort structure, we were able to find a spot to see the Sun set its journey towards the other side of the horizon. The frame resembled one from childhood paintings, the only thing missing was a hut.
And, there’s your proper Sunset! Mountains, Horizon and a perfect V shape to accommodate the Sun
We reached back to our camps and had an early dinner. The tents were too hot to stay in. So we just laid down on our mattress after pulling them out of the tent. Most of us thought it would be a great idea to just sleep in open. But when the creepy crawlers started marking their territories on our bodies, we knew our idea was flawed.
If the Sunset happened behind our backs while facing the Gorge view, the Sunrise would obviously take place over the Gorge. Now that would be a perfect Sunrise setting, wouldn’t it? The Sun slowly appearing from where the river enters the Gorge. We woke up at 5 AM and just when the faint light appeared at the horizon, we had reached the Gorge view. The orange glow was taking over the horizon in the shape of an inverted triangle.
I sat at a vantage point, waiting for the Sun to appear and gradually it did. Oh, so gorgeous! The Penna river below was reflecting the Sun rays and painting the moments in a fascinating shade. I wasn’t sure if the Sun would appear from above the gorge, but it did. It appeared right over the river and I realized how happy it made me. Sometimes, traveling presents me with such small things and instances that leave an everlasting impression on my mind. The Sunrise at Gandikota was certainly one of them. These moments make me realize why I love traveling so much!
The Gandikota Gorge views looks absolutely stunning at the Sunrise. The strong winds, surrounding silence and a gorgeous Sunrise curated a combination which I loved!
The adventure enthusiasts who went hiking on the rocks
This pic shows how people like to indulge in something so grand. Some prefer to sit & relax at a vantage point while some go hiking and seeking adventure, as if trying to get as close to the Sun as possible. Which one would you be? I love adventure, but in that process of finding adrenaline, I didn’t want to miss the stunning Sunrise. So, I let the nature lover triumph over the adventure enthusiast in me.
Once the Sun started to dominate the horizon, it was time to go. We were supposed to reach Bangalore today itself and a friend was not feeling well. So, we didn’t stay back for lunch at the resort and left for Bangalore.
The other attractions at Gandikota are in proximity to the Gorge view. So, we didn’t have to spend any additional time to see them. Frankly speaking, there was nothing much to see apart from the Gorge view of Gandikota.
All in all, visiting Gandikota was a good decision. It gave a change from the mainstream hill stations of South India and also offered a unique view point, the likes of which I haven’t seen till date. The best part of Gandikota is, it hasn’t been commercialized as compared to its potential. So, there are no restrictions here. In fact, you can camp wherever you want around the vantage points offering you a view of the Gandikota Gorge view. So, you should go to Gandikota before someone slips and falls in an attempt to take selfie. I hope that doesn’t happen to anyone, but you know these selfie daredevils, right?
Some time back, Avalabetta near Bangalore was also pretty unknown to regular folks. But recently, from what I have heard, the authorities have installed a barricade at the protruding rock due to the increase in tourist rush. Before something like that happens at Gandikota, you better visit it soon.
So, that was my experience of visiting Gandikota. Below, I have answered some questions that might arise while planning Gandikota trip.
Apart from the Gorge view, you will see Charminar, a Juma Mosque, and some fort ruins. If you are going to the Gorge view, you will see these attractions by default. If you hike around the Gorge, you will be able to discover the Fort wall and something which appeared to be a road which might have led to the riverbed in past. However, now it is pretty much closed due to the rocks and bushes around.
There are a couple of more experiences to indulge in in case you are visiting Gandikota for a longer period. There is a hike which leads to the river bed. At the end of the hike you might find yourself at a secluded corner of the river. That might be a good experience. But, it would be a descent hike, hence the views from the river bed might not be as grand as seen from the vantage point.
There is a dam built on River Penna and you can visit here as well. To go here, you just to need to take a 3-4 KM detour. Again, nothing that will blow your mind.
While coming to Bangalore from Gandikota, we decided to visit Thimmamma Marrimanu by taking a 40-50 KM detour. It is apparently the World’s biggest banyan tree. However, the authenticity of this remains unclear. But, either ways, I would not recommend visiting Thimamma Marrimanu. There’s nothing there. It’s not always that taking the offbeat path leads you to something amazing. That’s what happened with Thimamma Marrimanu. It may look interesting to an environmentalist or ecologist. But to us, it was nothing great.
Juma Mosque interiors
A smaller mosque. These were all the part of fort in past
2 Days should be enough. The highlight of Gandikota is witnessing the Sunset and Sunrise from the Gorge view. The other attractions are very close-by and you don’t need to mark additional time to see them.
However, it’s 281 KM from Bangalore. So, you will have not more than 24 hours at Gandikota if you plan a 2 day trip. So, you can take a call accordingly.
There are very few options when it comes to staying in Gandikota near the Gorge view. Ideally, you should stay at Haritha Resorts, a property by Andhra Pradesh Tourism. The property is very close to the Gorge view of Gandikota and the other attractions. However, as many government resorts, this one also gets fully booked much in advance.
So, the other option you have is booking camps with Freakouts.com.
Now, frankly speaking, I would not recommend camping over resort rooms. The rates are too high! At Haritha Resorts, you will pay Rs 2000 for an AC room on weekends. While in these camps, you will pay Rs 3,500 per head! That’s Rs 7,000 for 2 people.
Now, the camping package includes meals and activities. The meals are very very basic, same as what you get at the resort as they have tied up with them. In activities, you have Kayaking, Rappelling & Rock climbing. Now, Kayaking through the Gorge sounds exciting, doesn’t it? But, they conduct Kayaking at a Dam nearby, not through the gorge. These activities aren’t worth the price and experience. They have bonfire also included in the package. But, because this campfire is lit within the resort area itself, you can enjoy it even though you are staying in the resort.
But, you think camping sounds good, don’t you? So just rent tents and go camp anywhere near the Gorge view! No need to book through Freakouts.
To book Haritha Resorts, you can visit their website here. Create an account and login to check availability for their Gandikota resort. Enter your dates and check availability. The rates for an AC room is Rs 1500 on weekdays and Rs 2000 on weekends. The resort is basic and you shouldn’t expect a lot of luxuries. The kitchen staff can barely communicate in Hindi & English. The food is basic but you can ask if they can prepare something special for you if possible. The staff will get alcohol for you if you tell them in advance. If you don’t tell them in advance, you will have to count on your luck, in case they have some beers.
Absolutely! In fact, this is the best option. You can pitch your tent right at the Gorge view. You can literally wake up, peek out and see a gorgeous Sunrise conjuring above the gorge view. Pitching your own tents will be economical as well. You can use the public washroom located close by if you don’t want to attend the nature calls in nature. For meals, there are a few shops nearby and Haritha resorts isn’t far as well.
Sunrise, hands down. When the Sun appears over the gorge, the orange sky and its reflection on the river looks beautiful!
In summer, it would be too hot. So, winters should be a good season. Monsoon would be good fun, but the rocks might be slippery if it rains, so don’t get too adventurous.
The roads are pretty sorted. But, if you take a shortcut, you will go through some villages and it might get a bit rough there. Otherwise its highway all the way. However, the shortcut saved us an hour roughly. I will leave this to Google maps.
You can go to Belum Caves which is located at a distance of 61 KM from Gandikota. We weren’t able to go because a friend was not feeling well. However, he started recovering so we took a slight detour and visited