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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: 

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Route taken: Hyderabad (Gachibowli) - Kurnool - Gooty - Belum caves - Gandikota - Orvakal - Kurnool - Hyderabad

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All the 'India-drive men' have gathered at the meet up point by 5 15 a.m. and after a brief introductory session about the rules and their position during the convoy, the drive towards the 'Grand Canyon of India' was set to track as the clock swept 5 30 a.m. The cars got tattooed before the drive was set to pace and yes we were 'Road-Trippin' at the moment

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We took our first pit stop at the 'Hill-Park Drive-Inn' to grab some Indian breakfast delicacies followed by minutes of interactions and interesting conversations.

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All the cars of the drive line up to pose for a click before we steered on to the highway post breakfast

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Our 2nd pit-stop was to re-fill the car tanks after we crossed Kurnool

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We took a quite 5 minute break after the refueling to stretch ourselves before we headed to our first destination of the drive i.e. 'Belum Caves'

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And so we commenced the drive towards Gooty

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We drove down the highway along the convoy to elaborate safety and eliminate risk:D

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Here is something that you would get used to while driving in a convoy with 'India-Drive' - That's how you space up with the car ahead of yours

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We then broke free from the drive after we reach our first destination by 12 30 p.m.

 

Destination description:

 

Belum Caves:Belum caves, supposedly the longest caves in India after Borra, is about 80 kms from 'Orvakal'. Belum Caves have long passages, fresh water galleries and siphons. It is a natural underground cave formed by the constant flow of underground water. The caves reach its deepest point of 150 feet known as 'Pataalaganga'.With all fresh faces we pose at the entrance of the cave before we started to explore

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Only point in the cave where the sunlight creeps in is this entrance

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We were all set for a cave photo walk

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Carves formed by the flow of underground water

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Unlike the Borra Caves in Vishakhapatnam the Belum Caves have long passages and spacious chambers

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Muted lighting adds to the mystery and beauty of these caves

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Few glimpses of the caves captured during the photo walk

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Everyone of us got involved in clicking some beautiful pics

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And we head out to exit the cave

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Some really unique Buddhist relics have been found at the Belum caves. The serene 60-foot Buddha statue built here by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism

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After a tiresome photo-walk inside the caves, we moved out to recharge ourselves with the Rayalaseema delicacies for lunch.Post lunch, we resumed the drive and steered towards the Gandikota to sight the gorge during the sunset time

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We had stopped by for a small break to click some pictures on the open road

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The sun behind the dark clouds reminded us about the sun set at the Gandikota gorge and we started the drive towards our next destination

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Destination description:

 

Gandikota:

The name Gandikota was acquired from the picturesque gorge formed between the Erramalai hills. A deep valley with massive boulders of red granite resembling the Grand Canyon surrounds the fort. The Penna river flows between the gorge which is ~100 meters below the western and northern sides of the fort.

 

We had reached the fort area by the sun set time but we still knew that we were late by a quarter

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On our way towards the gorge, we spotted a Raghunatha swamy temple around which is being maintained by the ASI.

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We trekked on to the edge of the cliff to sight the beautiful 'Gandikota gorge' before the light dimmed down

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After an evening exploration at the gorge, we decided to revisit the place the next morning for the sunrise and headed back to the Harita resort where our accommodation was reserved. The Harita Resort in Gandikota is located just a Half kilometer away from the fort area which is quite easily walk-able.

 

And our exploration the next morning has begun :D

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Few glimpses while we trekked down towards this beautiful landscape

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The little kid had no looking back while he traced his path towards that point

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Everyone of us had explored the place all over cheering and wondering at the geography that looked similar to America's Grand Canyon!!!

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A deep valley and impassable hills surrounded by massive boulders of red granite, does remind us of the Grand Canyon.

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The huge red boulders added to the magnificent background and the landscape looked majestic

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We spent there for about 2 hours exploring and resting at the top edge of the cliff and clicking hundreds of pics

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One our way back from the gorge we stopped by the fort and the architecture of the mosque looks complete with the intricate carvings on the Minar.

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All these 13th century built Jama Masjid, Temples and Forts around the Gorge are being maintained by the ASI

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We then started back from the fort area to the resort for breakfast

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The accommodation which was reserved for a night stay at Gandikota Harita resort was quite decent and immensely spacious

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There is a provision to park your car beside your room

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After a sumptuous breakfast at the resort, we were all set to start our drive back to our next destination

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There they pose bold at the entrance of the resort before we exited the place

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As the Marshall lead the convoy, our drive continued towards Orvakal to sight the Natural igneous rock formations

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Destination description:

 

Orvakal:

Orvakal is a place situated about 30 kms from Kurnool on NH-18 which is the Kurnool-Ongole route. It is famous for its natural igneous rock formations. A slight drive up-hill, we had a decent view from the top with the rocks in the background.

 

After a session long drive of about 3 hours, we reached the Orvakal rock garden and had our lunch at the Harita rock garden resort

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Post lunch, we explored the natural rock formations sight and our principle photography session had begun

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A glimpse of the rock garden along with our run machines

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A group pic with the most famous natural igneous rock formation which was formed by the mix both of sandstone and limestone

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And then the rock alone :D

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We stopped by a small broken wooden bridge to get a click while we were exploring this picturesque landscape

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Drawing down to the final pic of the drive before we started back to the start point around 5 p.m., I have no doubt in saying that this drive meet wouldn't have been so much fun without these high spirited souls. Cheers to all these 'India-drive men' flag.

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We had a perfect overnight meet, Thank you all for making the drive successful.

 

Cannot find proper words to express, drive was fantastic.One of the best till now.

 

Had so much fun walking around in caves (missing the routes) and trekking at Gandikota.

 

Meeting new members, late night conversations, resort with beautiful view all together made my weekend amazing.

Hope to see you all again in the upcoming drives.

 

Excellent travel log 

 

Felt like I am on the trip again, Thank you for sharing.:clap:

Will try to post the videos, when I get time.

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Wonderful meet up report sagar. You have made us relive our trip through this travelogue.. Reading this makes me itch to do this circuit again. Thanks a ton for sharing :D

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Brilliantly written mate.. The pictures look really awesome.. The convoy pics you articulated so explicitly needs a special mention.. :clap:

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Wonderful travelogue and extensive photographs too.. I'm sure you guys must have had an amazing time. I'm definitely not missing the next drive :)

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Superb landscape and amazing pictures. The cottages that you guys have booked also looks very neat. Thanks a lot for sharing this :)

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Beautiful narration of the entire drive sagar .. It really makes me think why i did not join this convoy.. :(

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Excellent and meticulously planned drive and your pictures never fail to disappoint us. Great to see the cars follow a convoy and the rules which is quite a departure from Indian nature to follow rules. Can't imagine this kind of convoy amidst the western ghats. Waiting for your next with an even longer convoy.. Good luck India-Drive.flag

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Fantastic travelogue and beautiful photographs  .. Drives like these are best enjoyed i'd say. I feel like kicking myself for missing such a drive.. Are you guys planning any drive for the upcoming long weekend.. Sept 3,4,5. ?:Dont know:

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It was hard to drag myself to the office on monday morning after such a wonderful weekend.Lovely convoy of cars, meeting fun loving like minded people, beautiful landscapes and whats more memories to be cherished for a very very very long time to come. What else can you ask for over a weekend??

P.S : For all those who couldnt make it to the trip, Do make sure you wont miss any in the future.To spice things up... Have a look at my contributions to the gallery.

 

The Convoy

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The First Glimpse of the rocky terrain and the mangled remains of the fort

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The Gorge

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Selfie??? At the edge of a cliff?? who cares??? say cheeseeee!!!

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With a view as spectacular such as this, you won't realise time fly by!!!

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It was hard to drag myself to the office on monday morning after such a wonderful weekend.

Lovely convoy of cars, meeting fun loving like minded people, beautiful landscapes and whats more memories to be cherished for a very very very long time to come. What else can you ask for over a weekend??

P.S : For all those who couldnt make it to the trip, Do make sure you wont miss any in the future.

To spice things up... Have a look at my contributions to the gallery.

Beautiful pictures Ravi, Specially sunrise picture.

Next time you should conduct some photography sessions (free of cost).

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  • Similar Content

    • By LoneRanger
      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.
       
       


    • By Jagan24
      By the way we did a trip to Gandikota and orvakal two weeks back.. and Tried to cover both sunrise as well as sunset.. It was an unplanned trip and we stayed at a small lodge in JammalaMadugu Village. Nothing to write home about the stay and the food options available in that village but the trip was worthy.. Here are few pics..
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

  • Gandikota meetup on January 26 and 27th

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