Contrast is the taste of life.
The best things come in pair of contrasts.
Heads and Tails both come together to make a coin. Day and night together make the world go round. Food is tasteless with both salt and pepper. Combining opposite colors create wonders. So, it would seem natural that Gandikota and Belum caves would together make an awesome trip.
Both Gandikota and Belum are natural wonders created by mighty movement of water. But the similarities end right there.
Gandikota is famous for the canyon along the river Penna. It is often called the Grand Canyon of India. The ruins of the Gandikota fort next to the canyon adds to the appeal of the place. The huge canyon is charming with deep gorge in front of you, open sky above you and wind bellowing in your ear.
At 60 km. from the canyon are the Belum caves which transport you to a completely different world. Or rather to say underworld! Belum caves are the largest caves in the plains of Indian subcontinent. They don’t go very deep but rather have huge network of long passages under the surface (over 3 km. of caves). You take the steps under the surface and the narrow passages diverging from the main chamber lead you to your adventure.
We reached Gandikota just before breakfast. We had the Haritha resort close to the Gandikota fort as our rest stop. The resort was clean and basic facilities for a nice stay.
After breakfast we started on our trek across the Gandikota fort. We climbed over the boulders, walked on the fort walls, scrambled on top of the watch towers and sat in nooks of the fort structure. At one point when we couldn’t jump over the broken fort wall, we even had to take a detour across what looked like a burial ground. Creepy!! And all the way protecting our food from the hungry monkeys.
The sun was soon beating down on us. Not the trek but the heat was exhausting in itself. But we pushed ahead with pit stops along the way. We scraped and scaled our way to the best view point of the canyon. The draining trek in the heat was worth it.
We stood at the edge of the abyss with wide expanse of nothing in front of us and river Penna flowing far below us. Wind blowing in our hair and bellowing the sweet voices of nature in our ears. It was so serene.
We climbed down and made our way to the end of the trek. Thoroughly drained and sort of dehydrated, we were delighted by the sight of small shops selling water bottles. The cool shade and the lifeline of water brought back some sense to us. Rest of the afternoon we took rest from sun in the Haritha resort.
Nothing much around, we rode to the top of the nearby hillock in proximity to the wind power station. We couldn’t go inside the power station but saw the huge wind turbine blades up close.
We had planned to camp near the canyon next to the fort in the night. But it was so hot that we couldn’t stay inside the tents. So we just spread our sheets on the flattest rock beds we could find. It was eerily quiet in the night with nothing but the wind breaking the silence. Some of us couldn’t sleep due to the hot rocks while others were kept awake by the very nature of the surroundings.
We woke just before sunrise and witnessed as the red sun rose over the river spreading multitudes of color on the horizon. It was so beautiful that even the sleepless night couldn’t reduce our excitement.
Next stop Belum caves.
We arrived Belum caves early in the day. But had to wait for a long time as there was no power to illuminate the caves. APTDC has maintained the caves well with paved paths and electric lights. As we waited for the power, Sun rose in the sky and burned down on us.
We got a welcome respite from the sun rays when finally the caves opened and we went under the surface. But the relief was short lived.
As we ventured inside the caves, it quickly became hot and humid. Oh so humid! We have never till then or since experienced such humidity. We were drenched with sweat by the time we came back out.
In such conditions we needed extra effort to explore the caves end-to-end. Thankfully there were some air vents dispersed across the caves (god bless those who thought of it). So, aided with our water bottles and these air vents, we walked through the passages.
We found huge chambers and some very narrow pathways. We also came across some fountains, stalactites and stalagmites. And after finding some dead ends, we reached the deepest spot in the cave – Patalganga. This mysterious stream appears at one point and then disappears under some rocks within the caves.
Walking the lengths of these caves would definitely create an explorer or at least a maze runner out of you.
Do you have a story to tell about your Gandikota or Belum caves experience? Drop in a comment or send us a mail. We will definitely reply. All the interesting tales will be published in a special feature.