A night in Proddatur – The “Second Bombay”

11.12.2016:

18.10 hrs – We were waiting in front of the entrance of Belum Caves for a vehicle which could drop us at Kovelakuntla, so that we can catch us an onward bus to reach Proddatur. My brother Vijay lives there and I wanted to pay a visit to him! After a long wait, a bus came and we got into it and reached Kovelakuntla. The conductor of the bus suggested us to get down there and get an onward bus to Jammalamadugu from where we can get good number of buses to Proddatur.

18. 35 hrs – We were dropped at the Kovelakuntla bus station. We were feeling damn hungry and looked around for some food. The best part of Andhra Pradesh is that one can find a lot of make-shift shacks or carts mushrooming on the road-sides selling hot pakodas, bajjis and other street food. We found a cart where hot mirchi bajjis were being fried and I took some of them while Bilal took some aloo pakodas. While in the coastal region of Andhra, the mirchi bajjis will be slit and some onions will be stuffed into them, here they were cut into pieces and some chat masala was sprinkled over them! Nevertheless, I loved them 🙂 🙂

19.00 hrs – A bus stopped in front of us and we got into it! The distance between Jammalamadugu and Koilkuntla (other name of Kovelakuntla) is around 70 kms. It took us two long hours to reach Jammalamadugu and luckily we got a bus to Proddatur immediately from there. @ 21.10 hrs – Proddatur is another 25 kms from Jammalamadugu. On the way, we saw so many cement factories like Ultratech, Penna etc. By 22.00 hrs – We were at the Gandhi Road Junction waiting for my brother to pick us up. And there he was, freshly bathed and in his t–shirt and pyjamas, whereas Bilal and I were almost mud-colored after travelling all through the day! 😦

22.10 hrs – My brother took us to the Nirmala Sweets Bakery and Restaurant in the M.G.Road and  told us that it is one of the finest restaurants that serves some fine vegan food. We ordered Vegetable Biryani, Nirmala Special Biryani (Steward’s choice) and also Egg Biryani along with some coke. Food tastes better with coke! 🙂 The food was served hot within minutes and we really attacked it! 🙂 😀 Nirmala Special Biryani was too good. They served it with lots of vegetables, spicy and with some fried potatoes and paneer (Paneer 65 and Aloo 65).

22.45 hrs – We were at my brother’s place. After a quick shower, we settled down to show him our pics of various places so far we visited and jumped on the discussion about our next destination. Trust me, we don’t have any planning or a specific circuit! That’s why I described this as a wild tour! Lol!! We started googling the distances of various places in and around proddatur and it was then I came across a video about Ahobilam! And my brother too told me that he heard that it’s a beautiful and must visit place! So, it was fixed! My next destination is Ahobilam!!

23.30 hrs – I drifted into a deep sleep and have no idea when the guys slept! I need to wake up early also, as my brother has to leave for his field around 07.30 hrs and Bilal should also reach his place early that evening!

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Gandikota – Grand Canyon of India

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Probably one of the least explored places in India. Situated on the rivers of Pennar, in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, and is one of the best places in India. Truly an equivalent to the Grand Canyon.  Gandikota derives its name from two Telugu words, “Gandi” meaning gorge and “Kota” meaning fort. But, why this name? Coz, the river Penna forms a Gorge in this tiny village and there is a fort just on the river side, which is believed to have been built during the later half of the 13th century.

Places to Visit:

# Gandikota (Gorge Fort): It is a stone fort built upon a bill. Guarded by a huge entrance gate that is some 20 feet high and 101 bastions each over 40 feet high, it still remains a very imposing structure. Believed to have been built during the later half of the 13th century AD. Gandikota impressed the French traveler Tavernier, so much that he opined that it resembles Hampi, Vijayanagara in its massive monuments. And the Mukhadwara (entrance) of this fort welcomes us to enter the Gandikota village.

# Juma Masjid: It’s wonderful to see a mosque and a temple in the same complex of that tiny village. It was quite a big one and we can find a “Charminar” here too. Yeah, there is a charminar backside of this mosque. There is a granary just beside the mosque and had a vaulted roof. One can enter inside and see how the kings used to store their food treasures here 😀

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# Ranganatha Swamy Temple: On walking a further from the granary, one can find this temple. The temple is not in a good condition, yet people from the nearby villages come here to offer prayers to the Lord Ranganatha (Vishnu). The temple is located on an elevated platform. But the art on the temple walls has not lost its sheen.

# Pennar Gorge: A few steps further from the Ranganathaswamy temple, there lies thousands of rocks, small and big. Trust me, there won’t be a trace of what you are searching for. One has to take the pain of climbing up and down those rocks carefully, keep a watch on the surroundings and on their own footsteps and hunt for the treasure. After few minutes, one will find the treasure of nature’s beauty. The awesome Pennar Gorge. Stacks of rocks arranged in a perfect manner as if it was a book shelf, a mighty gorge and the river Pennar flowing through it. The beauty was beyond description. It just needs to be captured by one’s own heart and soul.

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# Madhavaraya Temple: While all the above mentioned places are on side, this temple is on the other side. It takes some time to reach this place from the gorge. This is probably the biggest structure among all the ones present in this village. The main sanctum of this temple is also elevated and there are good number of mandapas surrounding this temple. Truly a majestic structure.

Gandikota is yet another majestic creation of the mother nature. For the folks who love going on long drives, the stretch from Proddatur to Gandikota via Jammalamadugu is really a must try. Especially, if you plan to visit this place in the months of December and January, trust me, you will never regret. Coz, the mother earth will be covered with a blanket of sunflowers during this time, just like the below pic. For trek lovers, this place is worth trying as one can trek down the rocks from the fort hill to the pennar river flowing down. Don’t miss the sunrise 🙂

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Wait a minute, what about the food? If you wanna try the desi spicy food of Rayalaseema, you should try out eating Dosas with that Red chilli Chutney in the breakfast and Hot & Sour Soup in the dinner. I bet you will cry 😛

How to reach? 

Kadapa is well connected with the major cities like Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Bangalore by road. One can reach either Proddatur or Jammalamadugu and from there can catch an auto or a cab to drive to Gandikota. And the drive will be smooth as the condition of the roads is too good.

A special thanks to my friend Ruthwik for suggesting me to pay a visit to this place and to my loving brother Vijay for joining me in this beautiful journey.