When one is caught between zero long weekends and an upcoming sales quarter end, short trips are the only thing that bring solace. So, after spending Christmas eve crunching numbers and then juggling between caramelizing sugar for the plum cake and making meatballs in the kitchen on Christmas day, I was left with just enough time for a trip with one night’s stay. Gandikota was one such destination which was left unexplored and tailor-fit our weekend slot. I was keen on staying in a tent and came across many tour organizers offering packages for camping with bonfire along with dinner and breakfast.
Gandikota is situated about 300Kms from Bangalore, tightly midway towards Hyderabad. Googlemap suggests 2 routes, first via Kadiri and the second via Dharmavaram. It is India’s very own version of the Grand Canyon and is almost as beautiful as its western counterpart. The stunning gorge has been created by the waters of the famous Pennar river that streams from the Erramala hills.
Karnataka is famous for its vast sunflower fields and widely known for its extensive farming. How could I have left the yellow alone; stopped the car and trotted down the sides and skid into the sunflower farm. A word of caution, most of these sunflower fields alongside the highways are lined with thorny bushes in order to guard the field from intruders, much like me! A few quick snaps and we were off.
We drove right-ward from NH44 at Kodur and shadowed the map via Kadiri town. It was almost 9am and the town was in chaos; school and office-goers swamped the narrow streets while priests at the famous Narasimha temple prayed in unison. Men flocked at the corner chai-tea stalls while women served hot dosa with sago and freshly ground coconut chutney.
The sunflower farm
The weather was fine, a sunny cold winter day perfect for hikes. We were geared up but as soon as we turned into the lane with the view, about a hundred odd tents overlooking the gorge caught out attention. We had mixed feelings. We ran out to catch a glimpse and then had a shady rendezvous. The area opening out over the swirling gorge was in a colossal mess; every tent had a mini bonfire conducted with half burnt logs of wood and black soot scattered all over the place. It looked heavily damaging as tourists had left no stone unturned wrt to littering the area with single use plastic packets, juice tetra packs and countless glass bottles strewn all around. Needless to say, we dropped our plan for night stay at that very moment.
Tents overlooking the gorge
We continued our search for the perfect spot in the riverscape. A part of the trail was well-marked with white ink for hike assistance and then after much climbing and chameleon encounters, we perched ourselves at the presumably eminent point. We were lucky to have packed dry food and the ambience totally claimed it. With the profoundly bass-ed “Yuhi Chala Chal Rahi” playing on the speaker, cool breeze ruffling through our hair, munching on a few slices of cheese stuffed bread, we soaked in the scenic view. It was an impeccable scenery as the river twisted and wound along the narrow gorge; sparsely dotted with green thorny shrubs. I bet the sunset view would be breathtaking.
The food and beverage industry were most affected during and post pandemic, hence we sort resort at a local eatery run by the AP government tourism. We were served a basic veg south Indian meal comprising of white rice, sambar, pickle, papad and curd rice. We bid adieu post the heavy meal.
Trip duration - day trip
Car - INR 3,000 (petrol cost in a hatchback car)
Food - INR 150~200 per head
Basic expense total - INR 4,450** for 4 persons
** This cost is inclusive of all the food and activities during the day trip.
Food options are very limited at this location. Therefore, it would be a good idea to pack dry snack and water for the day's outing.
All the available washrooms are pay and use, but sparsely located. However, the ones available are in good condition.
Gandikota is ideal for a day's outing and not more.
One can chose to spend the night at tents. I would recommend pre-booking the government run campsites for comfort.