Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Road trip to Bangalore from Hyderabad- consider taking these diversions...

Ever planning a road trip to Bangalore from Hyderabad, then consider taking these diversions (if you have the time) along the route.

When we first chalked out the plan for the trip there was only one place in our list- Lepakshi. But later, we found out that Belum caves  and Gandikota (near Kurnool) too were not very far to reach.

So we decided to visit Lepakshi temple near Ananthpur while going towards Bangalore and Belum caves and Gandikota at the time we would return to Hyderabad.

Driving on a misty December morning, we were welcomed by a thick cloud of fog as we entered the highway making our drive almost invisible. This, soon cleared out and gave way for us to reach Lepakshi by noon.

Lepakshi 

Lepakshi is a small village in the Ananthpur district of Andhra Pradesh. It is about 350 kms from Hyderabad and 120 kms from Bangalore.

No sooner did we enter the village than we were welcomed by the monolith Nandi at the entrance. Standing tall at 15 feet height, it surely is a sight not to be missed. The sculpture has been positioned in such a way that it faces the Shivalinga which is shielded by the seven-headed serpent inside the Veerabhadra temple.

The monolith Nandi...


























The Shivaling inside Veerabhadra temple...


























The Veerabhadra temple was built by two brothers Viranna and Virupanna and is an excellent example of Vijayanagara architectural style. The temple is famous for its' hanging pillars.




























The hanging pillars...




















































The scorching heat and the empty stomach didn't let us loiter around the temple to take more pictures so we headed towards Bangalore soon.




























Gandikota 

We headed towards Gandikota after staying in Bangalore for three days. Though we started from Bangalore at an early hour, we stopped at Nandi hills and spent sometime midst the fog and of course a big crowd of people.

To reach Gandikota one can look for stay option at the APTDC hotel in Gandikota but we were 'so lucky' enough that all the rooms were booked. So we had decided to stay overnight at Proddatur from where Gandikota would be just half hour drive.

The drive from Bangalore to Gandikota should take around 5 hours 30 mins but our delay in visiting Nandi hills and the view of the landscape and the stop overs made us reach Proddatur by 7 at night.

Lovely landscape during the drive...














































































The stay at Proddatur turned out to be a sour experience; not in terms of stay but because of food. Being a very small town, restaurant options were bleak and especially so because of being pure vegetarians.

'Re- visiting the nightmarish restaurant for an early breakfast would be foolish', with this thought in mind we agreed in unison to reach Gandikota for breakfast. At least we knew we could get something at the APTDC hotel. The drive between Proddatur and Gandikota is filled with a stretch of Jowar fields and tiny flock of birds feeding on them.

After filling our stomachs at the APTDC hotel we headed towards the famous Penna river gorge.
Popularly known as the Grand Canyon of India (it truly is...), Gandikota village is situated on the banks of the river Pennar.

The magnificent Penna river gorge...




















































Gandikota was founded by Kapa Raja, a subordinate of the Chalukyan king in 1123 A.D.

Gandikota acquired its' name due to the presence of a 'gorge' between Erramal hills (also known as Gandikota hills) and the Pennar river. The gorge acted as a major defence against enemy attack. The massive red granite boulders truly are natural defence systems.

A glimpse of this beautiful gorge has been recently captured in the movie 'Bajirao Mastani'.

One should to be prepared to climb on the big boulders to get a complete view of both the sides of the gorge. But the view of the valley that is around 300 feet deep is worth it.

Other structures located within the fort are the Madhava temple and Ranganatha temple. But like other small structures, they too are in ruins.

View of Jama masjid and Madhava temple from Ranganath temple...


























Within Madhava temple complex...


























Inside view of Madhava temple...



























Belum caves

We drove directly to Belum from Gandikota which is around 60 kms. and reached Belum at lunch time. To our surprise, the place was thronged by hundreds of people but there was not a single restaurant on sight to fill our famished souls! We gorged on some of the snacks that we carried and entered the caves.

At the entrance of the cave...


























Belum caves is the largest tourist cave in the Indian sub-continent. It is well known for its' stalactite and stalagmite formations. Formed by the constant flow of underground water, it is a natural underground cave. The deepest point of the cave measures upto 150 feet and it has a length of around 3000 meters. But the actual length accessible for tourists is only 1.5 kms.





















































The interiors of the cave are unusually hot. But vent holes made by the APTDC gives respite at several places. The cave was discovered in 1884 by a British surveyor Robert Bruce Foote. Later in 1988, it was taken over by the state government.

The cave has many chambers with a specific name given to each chamber. The installation of soft illuminating lights adds to the beauty of the caves.





























By the time we came out of the cave, we were sweating profusely but were thrilled at the same time. Without wasting any time (as were extremely hungry) we headed towards Kurnool for our night's stay which is about  100 kms. At night, we were only happy to snuggle up ourselves inside the soft beds DVR Mansion.





Sun Temple at Modhera

A couple of playful squirrels welcomed us to one of the few shrines dedicated to the Sun God- the Sun Temple at Modhera. This was our stop ...