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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.
Ravi posted a topic in HyderabadRight from childhood, I always had this inner desire to stay alone for a certain period of time, do my chores, live my life all by myself, without my mother helping me nor my dad telling me what to do. I wanted to lead an independent life. This was because I never left home for any part of my life. So I took up this oath for myself that I would travel solo for at least 1 week of the 52 weeks in a year. This year,2017, was no different. It was 4 day trip within the Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad- Srisailam-Nalla malla forest- Nalla malla jungle camps- Gandikota- Hyderabad The numbers : Car : Hyundai elite i20 Mileage : 16.5kmpl (tank full to tank full) Total trip : 935kms It was not a pre- planned trip. Just as when things at home were at peace, a little effort to persuade mom paid off, a quick search in the India-drive paved the way for this trip. A Teaser ! Day 1 Drive day is the only day I would wake up so early in the morning (read 4 am) without even alarm setting off. Started at 5 am, and the plan was to reach Srisailam Dam before crowd sets in and explore the route from Srisailam temple to Nalla Malla Jungle resorts Gachibowli ORR - Dindi Reservoir- Srisailam Smooth roads and early morning fog made the drive refreshing! Reached Dam by 8:30am, crowd was sparse Clicking ample pictures, chugged along at a leisurely pace Moving along reached the top of Srisailam. I wanted to savour the moment, found a calm place over looking the dam. Spent a moment in tranquility and drove on. I am a self proclaimed atheist, so skipped visiting the temple and drove down the hill towards Dornala. With smooth tarmac and winding Ghats, the roads up until Dornala Junction were smooth as silk The drive got rugged and bumpy after taking a right at Dormala Junction, leading towards Bairutly on the Vijayawada- atmakur Highway.The road passes through thick and dense Nalla Malla Forest.It is a single lane, potholed road with heavy truck traffic, often veering off the road to allow truck to pass by. As irritating as it can get, and as bumpy as it could be, the silence in the forest and green cover has more than made up for the effort put in driving through this route. Stopped by a thick canopy of heavily grown bamboo trees/plants on either side of the road, turned off the engine, windows rolled down and a breath of fresh air brushes your hair. Blisss!! Savour the moment!The canopy was so dense, even sunlight couldn’t peek through, hence no photographs! Reached Nalla Malla Jungle Camps by 2:30pm. The manager was kind enough to arrange for some home made meals for my lunch. The resort had 4 double occupancy cottages and 3 tent like looking rooms and one dormitory. This was my allocated cottage! The rest of the day was spent in leisure, talking to the staff about the safari the next day and their lively hood in such dense forest. Day 2 It was quite a while since I had such peaceful sleep. Owing to such calm, non-polluted area and beautifully maintained rooms sound sleep was inevitable. Since it was holiday and festival of Diwali, the resort had no guests. I was the only moron I guess who wanted to elude the city pollution. So I had the whole day to myself and I was up and ready by 6am for the safari. A quick breakfast and off we went The safari vehicle The crew consisted of a driver (working as a driver for forest officers for the past 6 years) and local ‘gudem’ guy, Saidulu, who entered the safari vehicle with an axe. Safety I would think! It was a 8km circuit through the jungle I was told and would take about 2 hours for the safari When I asked the driver, what would be the odds of finding the Big Cat, he replied recklessly “very very very slim” Just then, he slammed the brakes of the shoddy safari vehicle and spoke to Saidulu He got down with the axe and did this .. Meanwhile,continuing my chat with the driver and looking around to spot the tiger, he asked me to get down the vehicle and walk with him. Apparently he found something odd at a distance. Walking along.. “Its a female” the driver reckoned! How? I spurted out! Looking at the edge of those pug marks, the rounded edges denote female. Male would have claws which would have dug deep into the mud, he explained! We decided to leave the vehicle behind and start walking. In excitement left my Camera in the vehicle (Facepalm Moment!) As we walked along, we found more pug marks and we were sure to find a few a small distance ahead. We walked for almost an hour, in search of the Wild cat but to no avail. We came across one of the bunkers/ rest areas for men who patrol the forests. There is one such bunker for every 40sqkm and they have 8 men guarding the area round the clock from poachers! Sadly though there have been reported cases of deaths caused by Tiger attacks on these men. This is the path taken by people who visit the Holy shrine of Srisailam during Maha Shiva ratri.This path transverses through the thick jungle, amassing a distance of 80kms. Enroute they have 3 pitstops, each at a temple which provides free food.They would cover the distance in about 11hrs flat. We were already Walking along the thick forests for almost 3hrs now and I was almost drained. Spotted a few deers here and there We sat down at a small pond under the shade of a tree. I asked Saidulu more about his life and what do they do to survive. He very simple replied “ government free rice isthadi, avi udakapedithe ganji osthadi, ullipaya & mirapakaya ikkada pandistham, aviti tho tinestham.dabbulu sampadinchali ani em undadu saaru ikkada” (Translation: Govt gives free supplies of rice, we cook and extract porridge. We grow onions and chilli, we eat rice along with it. We don’t think about earning money) He was very vivid in whatever he told us, what problem they often encounter, how his childhood was. After a while he was kind enough to invite me to his ‘Gudem’ It was an hour walk through the forest again. My eyes never stopped trying to spot a tiger though. There were about 35 people living in the ‘gudem’. They seemed content with what all they had, the kids were smiling and the ladies had their own avagatxion of either raising kids or singing their daily chores away. Lunch, was their staple food. A bowl of rice porridge, onion and chilli as accompaniment! (Left my camera in the vehicle & phone battery drained out. Hence no pictures)- Sorryyy After spending time with the local ppl , we started our long walk back to the resort. While we were walking back i was fortunate enough to spot a few cubs playing at a distance. No means to capture, it was just see and enjoy. After a long day, dozed off early as I had made plans to visit Gandikota the next day. Day 3: Plan was to reach Gandikota as soon as possible and relax during sunset time at the view point. After breakfast, spoke to the manager there and bit adieu to the staff. Bairutly- Atmakur-Jammalamadugu- Gandikota It was a 3.5hrs drive with roads varying from single late to beautiful 4 lanes. Reached Gandikota by 2pm. Explored the surrounding area of Kottalapalli, famour for windmills The service road leading to the Windmills It was too hot and humid, and I drove back to the resort to rest till evening. Made it to the view point by sunset time, and it was heavily crowded. Had an early dinner and dozed off. The beds and rooms were ill maintained at Haritha resort. I could barely sleep. Day 4: Woke up early, had little breakfast at the resort and started my drive back to Hyderabad by 8 am Gandikota-Kolimigundla-Belum Caves-Owk-Betamcherla-Orvakal-Kurnool-Hyderabad All the rounds were either 2lane or 4 lanes opening upto beautiful lush green fields on either side of the roads. Stopped by Owk Resevoir, which was full owing to bountyful rains they received this year Had lunch at food pyramid at Kothakota. Reached hyderabad by 1:30pm The car was battered to the maximum extent with dust and mud and it was cleaning time in the evening. It got all the pampering it deserved All in readiness for the next drive!!! Until then, Drive safe!!! P.S : After I forgot to carry my camera during the safari, I have decided to make this " All Mobile camera pictures only" trip. Sorry for the shady images if any