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  1. Precursor to the trip(Skip if you want to know Only about the trip) : All five of us went on to a trip nearly 10 years ago. And in all these 10 years , all of us together haven't met even once. We were working at various places - Hyderabad , Chennai , Pune , New Delhi & Bengaluru. As years passed by, 4 of us moved to Hyderabad due to various commitments. Only one was left out in Chennai. At the end of Jan 2018 , Mr.Chennai , gave me a call ans started discussing about his boring and torturous boring IT life. He suddenly pops up the idea of a weekend trip from Hyderabad, only guys trip without wives. Over the next couple of days , we made whatapp group and discussed various options and finalised Belum Caves and Gandikota. We planned to go at the March 2018. As weeks passed by , each one had to drop off due to some or other reason. At the start of March , only Mr.Chennai and me were onboard ( My wife had to go to her parents place). But Mr.Chennai , was very adamant, he used to share the photographs of 10 year old trip on the whatsapp group. People became nostalgic , First to say yes was Mr.Microsoft , Then Mr.NRI and a day before the trip we have a confirmation from Mr.Daddy. Day 1 of the Trip : Plan was , Mr.Chennai would reach my house by 6 and we would have an early breakfast and leave by 7 from my house. But Indian railways have another plans. Mr.Chennai arrived at my house at 7:45. After freshening up we started at 9:00 A.M to pick up Mr.Microsoft and Mr.Nri. And last pick up of the day was Mr.Daddy , from ORR Gachibowli.(We wanted to give more time for him to spend with his daughter). By the time we picked up Mr.Daddy , it was 10:00 AM and we started cruising on ORR , towards Kurnool. My car has Fastag, and i zipped past the traffic on ORR and the Highway. At 12:00 P.M we stopped at Food Pyramid to have brunch. We had heavy lunch and then off to our first destination Belum Caves. The road till Kurnool was NH and was good , After Kurnool we has to take Rayalaseema Expressway(Toll Road) , this was beyond good. It is better than national highway. (Rayalaseema Expressway - Road work going on the Left lane) By 3:00 P.M we were at Owk reservoir, MR.Chennai was mesmerized by scenic beauty and wanted to stop for few photographs. And indeed the place was super scenic. Its just that it was mid afternoon in Rayalaseema. The cool breeze flowing from the reservoir was a bit of relief from the hot Sun. (From L-R : Mr.Chennai, Mr.Daddy, Mr.NRI & Mr. Microsoft, Im Mr.Driver & designated photographer for the trip) (Panoramic view of the Owk Reservoir) The owk reservoir has APTDC center , with restaurant , and has boating and other activities. But we wanted to head to Belum Caves before they close it down. We next stopped directly at Belum Caves. The caves close at 5:30 P.M , and you have to exit the caves before that. We Reached Belum caves at 4:00 P.M. There is an entry fee and parking fee. We were charged somewhere around R.s 285/- for the 5 of us. This is the first time im entering a cave system , and i was amazed. The caves were neatly maintained, and properly ventilated with the help of electric fans. They were well lit too. I'll tel the pictures do the talking from here. And if you are planning a trip to Belum caves , be ready to carry a huge water bottle , as it is humid as hell, and also wear stretchable clothes , You have to bend and crawl through some spaces. (Map of the caves ) (Entrance to the caves) The entrance has a flight of stairs , at the start of which the security checks for your tickets. Once you show his the tickets , you have to walk down nearly 40-50 steps. Any body can do it, both old and young. Once you get down the stairs you will see this plaque. (This is where the Plaque is posted. After this its all dark) (Notice the pipe behind, circulating fresh air) (L-R - Mr.Daddy & Mr.Driver-Me, you must be wondering why i was wearing goggles in a pitch dark cave, i have sight , those are powered , and i forgot my normal glasses, and yes i put this picture only to point that out ) Soon it was 5:20 and we were off to the entry/exit. And while we were ready to leave , suddenly there was a small power cut and everything went dark. It was pitch dark , and even with cell phone torch we couldn't figure out the exit. Luckily for us it was just intermittent power loss. And the power cut lasted for a maximum of 45 seconds to 1 minute. After coming out of Belum caves , we went to the Budha statue near by to click some sunset pics. (Mr.Chennai Tried to be creative) (Budha Statue at Belum Caves) (Last Pic of the sun set into the clouds) On our way we stopped at a small place called Kolimigundla to have some tea. There is a APTDC restaurant at Belum caves , it closes at 5:30 P.M along with caves. Next day we planned to visit Gandikota , and wanted to stay as close as possible. We couldn't get a reservation from APTDC Gandikota. And place nearest to Gandikota was Jammalamadugu. But we could find any hotels online to book. However during the trip we found that there are a lot of lodges and small hotels available at jammalamadugu. You can directly go and take a room for rent , without pre-booking. We could only reserve a room at Prodattur. Our reservation was at Sri Devi palace. Imagine the shock of our life when we found out that Sri Devi Palace is actually Sri Devi Palace Function Hall , and there was a wedding happening when we went there. (Surely made our trip memorable ) (Full scale wedding with Guests outside) Surprised and Shocked we called the contact provided on booking.com. The owner was friendly , apologized and said he would rent out the rooms on normal days, when there is no wedding and arranged us a place(lodge) within in Proddatur. There is nothing special about the lodge , the washrooms have leaky faucets. But since all of us are guys , and we wanted to enjoy the trip , we were ok with good beds and AC , for having a good night's sleep, Which it had. But if you are going with family , there are many new lodges with similar price range. You can go , check the rooms and then make a reservation. Same is the case in Jammalamadugu. You will find most of the lodges in Bus-stand road in proddatur. After checking in , and unloading our luggage in our respective rooms, we went out to have dinner at the Andhra Spice Restaurant. It was good for family , but there is no parking available, the security made some adjustments and arranged some space at the entrance. We has a sumptuous dinner, had the restaurant special - "Chicken Navya" , did some shopping for toiletries and went back to hotel to rest for the day. (Chicken Navya - Boneless Chicken curry , made in butter with roasted cashew's and stuffed in an omelette and sprinkled with grated cheese , roasted cashews & coriander) Day 2 - Gandikota , Orvakal Rock Garden , Alampur. Next day woke up at 5:00 A.M got ready and woke up everybody else. Everyone was ready within an hour. Advantage of not having women in the trip. Our idea is to reach Gandikota before sunrise. If you are planning a trip to Gandikota , plan to reach gandikota before sunrise. Reached Gandikota at 7:00 A.M , it was already sunrise , but God it was beautiful. The canyon, the rocks they were in explicable. I would have stayed there for eternity , enjoying the beauty. (First shot of the Canyon , when we reached there by 7:20 A.M) (Sunrise reflection on Penna River) (Mandatory Group Pic) (Mr.Microsoft, Mr.Daddy & Mr.NRI were happy looking at the scenery and dint want to explore any more) (Mr.Chennai on the other hand doesn't want to leave any nook or corner. We stayed for more than an hour and we are way away from shade. It was getting Sunny and hot , hence we decided to explore the Gandikota fort. There is nothing left at the place. Only places remaining are Ranganatha Aalayam , Gandikoda Granary , and kathula Koneru. The places in pristine condition are Juma Masjid. Heard from locals that it has been redone in recent times by archaeology department, and they will soon improve the other remaining places too. (Juma Masjid) (Inside the Masjid) Came out of fort , there are multiple roadside eateries , all of us are hungry and just stormed into one of the eatery where we all will fit. The eatery is an extension to the home and is managed by father - daughter duo. We had dosas for breakfast , and had coffee right after. The eatery owner told us that there are tents available for rent , and other adventure actives are available to do during evening time. (Campfire, Canoeing, Boating etc , also sleeping bags are also available for rent). After breakfast i observed a road split off and going in the direction of the near by mountain and windmills, looked more like a service road. I inquired if tourists can drive up there , and to my surprise , they said yes. Drove to the top of the hill , and view of Gandikota fort from there is pretty awesome. we decided to take some pics before leaving. (The view of the fort is towards the left of the pic , with penna reservoir in the background, not quite visible) We left the place at 9:30 at started towards our next destination Orvakal Rock Garden. The Rock garden is opposite to the Kurnool Airport Gate , we reached the place by 12:30. Google maps took us through a route with is not great till we reached the Rayalaseema express way, but it was very scenic. Too bad we didnt take any pictures while driving , and just enjoyed the views. It was 12:30 , by the time we reached Orvakal Rock Garden. There was a APTDC resort. And entry Fee to enter the rock garden. As it was 12:30 we decided to have lunch before heading into the resort, but each one of us went and bought an ice cream or Kulfi , ( Feels like child , when wife or parents are not around). Went ahead to Orvakal Rock Garden. It was not big, but the rocks have been sculptured by air flow over thousands or millions of years. But since it was 12:30 in the after noon , it felt very big. Entrance to the Rock Garden , stairs are neatly cut , and anyone can reach it without any difficulty Once you climb up the stairs , you will be greeted with this statue , and then similar statues of multiple animals It was so hot that we settled under the iota of shade available in the entire rock garden. Notice Mr.Chennai missing from the picture , he again went to explore every nook and corner of the Rock Garden. We waited till he came back and started off to our next destination Alampur. Alampur is one of the 18 shakthipeetas , it is the place where Krishna meets Tungabhadra , and is the place for deity Jogulamba. It is said that when Sati immolated herself , Lord Shiva carried her body across the universe. Vishnu not able to see Shiva's sorrow , cut the body of Sati with his Sudarshana Chakra. Those body parts fell back on earth. And it is said that alampur is where Sati's Upper Jaw/teeth fell. The road to Alampur was well paved , and Telangana tourism has provided drinking water and other amenities to pilgrims. Mr.Daddy who was here some years back was surprised to see the roads and amenities provided. The temple has Medieval architecture , and even if you are not a religious person , but interested in history , you should visit this place. There is a Museum for History buffs. We left Alampur at 3:00 P.M and reached Food Pyramid at 4:30 P.M , had some tea , snacks , and started back to Hyderabad. We reached Hyderabad at 7:30 P.M , went to DLF to have chai. And after chai , everyone went their own separate ways . May be all 5 us will together be on a trip in 2019 next. Signing Off Mr.Driver P.S : This is my first post , please provide feedback , on Pics , mistakes , Spelling , writing style , any thing which you felt is out of place.
  2. Sridhar Tandra

    Hyderabad to Gandikota road trip

    Hola All, I have driven down to Gandikota on November 3/4 2018 weekend and covered below circuit which is usually not done by all. Gandikota is always paired up with Orvakal / Belum Caves / Ahobilam / Mahanandi by most of us. However, we do not want to do Ahobilam / Mahanandi to avoid rush in our 2 day (Sat / Sun) schedule and hence decided to stick to the same route that we have taken while going to Gandikota and covered a couple of major temples when returning and happily reached Hyderabad back by 615pm on Sunday. So, here it goes without wasting any more time. Day 1, Saturday (November 03, 2018) 5am: Start Point, Gachibowli ORR Plan was to start by 4am and as usual we had starting problems with crew not able to get up after Friday evening parties! We have reached Jammalamadugu (Location of our Night halt for the day) by 130pm with very leisure drive down with multiple pit stops (Including Jogulamba Alampur Temple & Darshan) for clicking pictures. We checked in to our hotel (Sri Ashwath Narayana Lodge, Near Fire Station, Jamalamadugu) and I dozed off for a quick nap since I was driving alone while crew explored a nearest restaurant, had lunch and bought me something to eat. We headed towards Gandikota at 330pm sharp to ensure we do not miss Sunset and were there at the Grand Canyon until 730pm. I will let pictures speak the rest for Day 1. First Pit Stop for Tea & to capture Surya ji rise! IDPL Toll gate Shot on OnePlus5. No Filters. All the below pics from here are shot on Nikon Coolpix P510 & OP5 together Some more pics shot on Nikon enroute Jogulamba! And the evergreen NAM with always awesome Tia baby!! Trying to click few snaps for ID and got caught by crew!! I wish Rayalaseema remain like this all the time! It was a bliss watching lush Green fields all along. My Love posing ❤️ First glimpse of Grand Canyon from the Shiva Temple! And the much awaited Sunset for the day Crew got a little creative! We did not want to stop clicking post Sunset too and it goes on! End of Day 1 at Gandikota and we proceed to our stay and dozed off after a couple of Drinks (after all it was a long day we had). Day 2: Jammalamadugu - Banaganapalle (Not going to forget Breakfast at Krishna Reddy Tiffins, Banaganapalle. Unforgetabe breakfast it was) - Yaganti - B. Palle - Nandavaram (Choudeshwari Temple) - B. Palle - Betamcherla - Kurnool - Hyderabad We started little late than scheduled again at 630am and reached Hyderabad (Shamshabad ORR Entry) by 610pm. Pictures speak rest! Akhanda Deepam will be lit on top of the hill that you see below and it is said to remain against wind and light rains until next day morning spreading light and peace to the whole world from this peak! Only 1 priest who conduct pooja at Shiva temple in Yaganti will climb this peak manually to lit this Deepam, he has been doing it since last 20 years! It is said that this Deepam uses about 3 liters of Sesame Oil and priest will carry it along with him. Wonder here is there is no path / stairs or anything that will take you to the peak. Priest will Crawl all over to this peak to perform rituals. 😮 😮
  3. Monsoon Drive Meetup at 'The Grand Canyon of India' Gandikota Fort & Gorge, Belum Caves and Orvakal Rock garden - August 20th and 21st 2016 Start point - Gachibowli (ORR) End point - Harita Resort, Gandikota. Start time - 5:15 a.m. Total Distance - ~810 kms Objective - A weekend monsoon drive to enjoy the sudden drop in temperature and thank the pre-monsoon showers. Participants: 1) Maruti Suzuki Wagon R 2) Hyundai Grand i10 3) Hyundai i20 Elite 4) Maruthi Suzuki Swift Dzire 5) Hyundai Creta (Red) 6) Hyundai Creta (White) 7) Honda Civic Cover Pic: Route taken: Hyderabad (Gachibowli) - Kurnool - Gooty - Belum caves - Gandikota - Orvakal - Kurnool - Hyderabad
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