India is a treasure cove of innumerable historical monuments which bear testimony to its rich cultural heritage. With their towering architecture, unending labyrinths, hidden cells, royal symbols, ornate paintings, and lavish places of worship, these structures had always intrigued me with their mystic beauty and had innocently compelled me to appreciate the heights of human caliber in the pre -machine age.
Post my Golkonda visit almost 4 years back, there had been a brief hiatus in my architectural quest. Hence, when RD proposed a trip to Gandikota fort – I instantly said Yes. The very next moment, a look at the images of the GORGE, left me speechless.
You can read everything about Gandikota here, and not to mention the numerous internet blogs. What you would read or see next is my view of a beautiful journey to an era gone by, painted in stones, with a master stroke of unimaginable scenic landscape.
Drive from Bangalore to Gandikota is a breeze. Leave by 5.30 A.M. to ensure you catch the sunrise view and a traffic and pollution free highway.
The different hues in the sky left me dumb-founded. Could count at least 5 shades of blue that day.
While my eyes were trying to adjust to rocky fauna, the car suddenly slowed down to make way for the well behaved fauna.
There are km boards at regular intervals to ensure Google is guiding you to the right path. NKS obliged me with this one shot, for which I’ll be grateful to him for ever.
Please don’t ask me, how far I was from Bangalore. I am learning to look forward.
There were 3 toll booths during to journey and 3 during return. What a co-incidence, right?
And we brazed past through all of them.
After a lot of dilly-dally and constant rebuke, we finally halted here for breakfast.
Had 2 set dosas, one tea and one milkybar. The owner was very humble and in addition to helping us with our hunger, also guided us with the route. This place is soon after Ananthpur . Look for below landmark if you are craving for yummy dosas and crispy pooris.
In addition to Ananthpur, we crossed several towns in AP , of which Tadipatri deserves a special mention for its cleanliness and a mix of modern yet traditional outlook.
Route to Gandikota is laden with windmills, another scientific marvel which always brings out my childish instincts – and bipolar nature- clockwise or anti-clockwise.
Around 1 P.M, we entered Haritha Hotel, Gandikota. HighwayOnlyWay has glorified the resort aptly. My only piece of advice will be to book the rooms online, well in advance, even if you are visiting on a weekday. We didn’t and had to console ourselves with a dormitory. Overall experience was decent, could have been better if we had the so called villas to ourselves.
Post the Andhra BUFFET and 15 min power nap, we headed for the fort. It’s a 5 min uphill drive from the hotel.
Before unveiling its true form, the fort greets you with below information board.
Well I am a bit biased towards Hampi. so I won’t call it 2nd Hampi. However, I would definitely rate it as one of the best historical places visited so far.
Entrance to the fort made me imagine the huge royal caravan that would have crossed these gates in all pomp and glory.
RD mentioned that doors are created thus to ensure even elephants cannot break them.
Once past the entrance, we could see a mini town housed inside the fort. Not sure if the locals are descendants of original inhabitants, but all of them looked very much at ease with the secluded and meager life they had woven around themselves.
The first structure you would witness, is Charminar. It might be 1/4 of the Hyderabdai Charminar, built with an intention to keep a watch on invading army.
Charminar lead us to Jail, which was quite baffling. Why would someone have a jail so close to the entrance. Beats me. Also, the emptiness made me wonder if there were underground dungeons still haunted by the souls of its inmates.
Next stop was Jama Masjid, and this is where we parked our car.
The reason I like Islamic architecture is because they give me ample scope to click symmetrical shots.
There is a Big tank constructed to the right of Jama Masjid. I am sure these names do not convey the historical significance of the structure. A source of water, may be now, not sure what it was back then.
Masjid campus includes the Royal Granary. Simple building, which served its purpose well.
The only information board inside the fort and erected next to granary, is in a very bad shape. Hope ASI replaces it soon.
Next was Ranganatha Swamy temple, but we decided to give it a miss and instead headed for the Grand Canyon Of India. Gandikota fort is flanked on one side with this beautiful gorge referred to as Penna Gorge. You would find images on internet, where the river is seen in its full glory. Not sure if its the case now.
After a micro trek, we reached the other side and could see the fort wall overlooking the gorge. People usually stay back for sunset or try to be here at sunrise. I couldn’t but would have loved those shots.
One distinct feature of Gandikota was the animal species you could spot, be it birds or reptiles.
Soon, it started pouring, which made us run for shelter in Ranganatha Swamy temple, as if God’s way of conveying that, when in distress he is around to give shelter.
The temple is akin to many south indian temples built by ruling dynasties.
A visit to this temple helped me shoot this beautiful composition.
After Mathura, this is the next place in India where I had witnessed a mandir and masjid in a single frame.
Now I’ll take you to the best part of my trip – MadavaRayaSwamy temple. We came back for this, thanks to RD’s decision, which we didn’t repent even for a second.
This temple is located far from the main center of attraction, which only adds to the peace it bestows on you, once you enter its premises. Thankfully, we were the only ones here, which gave me ample scope to capture this beautiful architectural marvel in the receding sunlight.
India have numerous such stone monuments, but this was the only one with a green tuft.
Interiors were grand, but bare. Imagine marigold flowers, a priest performing Homa in the center, flanked by men and women dressed in traditional attire and Shahnai and mridangam being played in the background, It surely would have been divine.
I would have dedicated an entire blog to this temple, only if I was more knowledgeable of its architecture. What I can share with you now, is a view of its majestic interiors.
There’s never like a beautiful sunset to end a memorable day. Ours was indeed one.