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The cave maze in Belum and Gandikota- Exploring the indian grand canyon

Belum caves the second longest cave system in India was on my must visit list since couple of years. Lack of time / Company and the distance prevented me from visiting this place. When checking for a two day visit which can be clubbed along with belum, I came across gandikota which has a stone gorge fort and view which resembles the grand canyon in US.

These two places were ideal to be clubbed as the distance between both was less and both could be covered in same day. Srikanth was ready to join me for the trip and we headed to belum on Independence Day,

An early morning start after a sumptuous breakfast saw ur cruising on the Hyderabad Highway till we reached gooty. One needs to take deviation at gooty and proceed towards tadipatri to reach belum. Belum is approx 40 kms from tadipatri.

A short break for snaps of the distance hills an we headed to tadipatri

Hills in the distance

_MG_1517_resizeThe temperature and humidity was soaring by the time we reached tadipatri. Inquring the route we continued to proceed towards the caves. Another hour of driving and we could see belum caves written on the hill. We reached the cave by lunch time and we could already find lot of people there. Parking our car, we collected the tickets and proceeded towards the entrance of the caves

Entrance to belum

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The caves are made up of limestone and run quite a long distance underground

Belum Caves

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The  cave network is like a maze which runs deep underground. The government has maintained the caves well by providing lighting and marking the route for the visitors.With entry and exit points marked, it is easy for people to explore the caves. Some parts of the caves are still off limits. With humidity in the caves being high we were sweating a lot while exploring.

Roaming around the entire caves took us about an hour or so and we finally reached the main entrance. There was an fan kept at the top and we spent some time underneath it to get some relief from the heat.

With the cave exploration complete we had ample amount of time in our hands. Our next place on the list was gandikota which was around 60 kms from belum. Getting the route from google maps, we headed towards gandikota. The roads were pretty decent and asking for directions we soon reached the gorge fort after couple of hours of driving.

Gandikota is also called the grand canyon of india as it contains a steep gorge. Standing near the edge of the gorge one can experience the view similar to that of the grand canyon in US.

About Gandikota

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The gorge also contains a fort built in 13th century. The fort contains ruins of temple and a mosque.

Fort Entrance

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Scenes Inside the Fort

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The gorge

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Couple of mandatory selfies at the gorge and spending close to an hour taking photos and enjoying the scenary we bid adeiu to the place and headed to the car.

Selfie @ India’s grand canyon

Selfie

Our initial target of reaching ananthpur took a serious hit as we left the gorge only by 5.30. Reworking our schedule we decided to halt at kadiri before heading back to bangalore the next day.

It was night by the time we reached kadiri which is famous for lakshmi narasimha swamy temple. After checking into a hotel we had our dinner and called it a day to give our aching muscles some rest.

It was an early start the next day and we were on our way to bangalore. A short stop for breakfast midway and we reached bangalore by noon after spending an hour in the newly opened decathlon sports store on airport road. I was home by lunch thus ending a long pending trip.

Snaps can be found here

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Golconda Fort

Golconda fort is one of the major tourist attractions when one visits Hyderabad and as I was in the city of nizams on official work, I decided to pay a visit to the fort.  The fort is in ruins and has become a major attraction now.

The ruins contains 4 distinct forts and is 10 kms in ong outer wall with 87 semicircular bastions (some still mounted with cannons), eight gateways, and four drawbridges, with a number of royal apartments & halls, temples, mosques, magazines, stables, etc. inside.

I reached the fort after finishing my work. I could get only a couple of hours to visit. Those who are interested in knowing the history of the fort and significance of each structure can take a guide who’ll explain the history of the fort. Since I had less time i decided to just go ahead and take a few photos. As I was roaming the fort I heard a guide mention action scenes of the bollywood blockbuster Wanted was shot at the fort.

There is also a laser show at the fort after dark and those interested can buy the tickets for that.

Few Snaps of the fort

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Snaps can be found here

Horsley Hills

Horsley Hills the quint hill station on the outskirts of mandanpalle, AP was choosen for a long drive. My wife was insisting on going out I decide to take this opportunity to hit the road as it had been a long time since i too had been on a drive. I had choosen horsley hills after reading many reviews which praised the serene and calm atmosphere.

Destination: Horsley Hills

Distance From Bangalore: 150 Kms

Route: Bangalore->Hoskote->Chintamani->Madanpalle->Horsley Hills

About Horsley Hills: Horsley Hills is named after a British officer named W.D. Horsley, the Collector of Cuddapah district. He visited this place around 1840-43 and was impressed by the beauty of the hills and chose this spot for his summer residence. Now the Governor of Andhra Pradesh uses this house as a summer residence and hence this house is called the Governors bungalow.

Since the place was only 150 kms it was ideal for a day trip as we didnt have any bookings done earlier. It was a delayed start as we left home around 8. Thin traffic saw us reach hoskote in short time and soon we were cruising along to chintamni. The early morning mist and the chilly weather made the drive more pleasant. Traffic had increased and the speed had come down. The road was being 2-laned which also contributed in the speed reduction.

It was 10 by the time we reached chintamni and we stopped by a hotel for a short break. Stocking up the car with water and some snacks we continued towards our destination. The road conditions improved. The empty roads made the drive more enjoyable and in another hour we reached madanpalle. AP govt is promoting the place heavily by putting sign markers everywhere.

After encountering little traffic in the town limits, we continued and shortly we reached the ghats. Paying the entry fee we went ahead and reached the top. As it was already afternoon by the time we reached I wasnt expecting much. We asked a local, the places that could be seen and to my surprise he told me there was only a view point and the bunglow. When asked about the zoo which was present, I got a reply saying its closed and under renovation. With nothing much to do, we decided to pay a visit to the view point as we had come all the way. Taking a few snaps of the barren landscape we headed to the hotel for lunch.

Barren Landscape

There was a couple of crocs kept at a small pond, and a pheasant  and peacock farm present which is present just outside the bungalow.  While googling I had come across koundinya wildlife sanctuary which I felt could be covered, however I couldn’t find the exact location of the sanctuary and asking the locals wasn’t helping me either. With nothing to do, we headed back home.

Other attractions

There’s the house of W.D Horsley and the 123 year old tree which he planted, which is other attraction.

The house and the tree

Overall the place is disappointing, however there are some adventure activities like zorbing, rope walking etc on offer there which one can try.

Musthihalli Lake

Nestled away in a corner where the borders of the 3 states Andhra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu briefly touch, there lies a lake tucked away amidst hills.

Musthihalli or Musthipalle as the locals calls it, is a small village tucked away between the borders of karnataka and andhra

How Far is Musthihalli: 120 kms via kolar or if you want to take the longer route its 160 kms via krishangiri

How to reach Musthihalli: Bangalore->Kolar Bypass->Bangarpet->Musthihalli. There is no roads from musthihalli to the lake. One needs to park the vehicle at the village and walk a km or two to reach the lake

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Bangalore->Krishnagiri->Kuppam->Gudipalli->Musthihalli. One can ask for directions after reaching gudipalli.  Roads are in bad condition after gudipalle cross

Things to do in Musthihalli: Enjoy the serene atmosphere at the lake

After the wonderful chikmagalur trip, I decided to head to musthihalli lake the next day.  Since I had no idea about the route through kolar, I decided to take the longer route and hence headed to krishangiri.

The roads from krishnagiri to kuppam have some nice curves and driving on those twisty-curvy roads can be fun.

I reached gudipalle after a couple of hours of riding with a few short breaks in between

Reaching gudipalle, I asked for directions to the lake and one person offered to take me to the lake as he was on the way to the village.

The roads from gudipalle to the lake are in a worst condition, and the road leading from the lake to the village is in no better condition either.

I spent an hour or so at the lake taking snaps and enjoying the serene atmosphere

Musthihalli Lake

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During the return journey I took the kolar route which is 40kms less

Snaps can be found here

Lepakshi – A weekend outing

This was my first trip in our new car. After a lot of begging and pleading finally got the go ahead from my dad to take the car for the trip. My initial plan was to go to belur and halebid, however that wasnt meant to happen as the distance was a little long and i wasnt allowed to drive at night .

This prompted a chance in plans and after a few calls to my friend i decided to go to Lepakshi.

We left bangalore around 7 in the morning and quickly reached the new airport. I was maintaining a steady speed of 80-100kms and was really enjoying the drive. After a while we stopped to munch a few biscuits and we proceeded again. The scenary was quite good.

Scenary enroute to Lepakshi

The road got better as we drove long until we reach chikballapur.Negotiating the traffic we proceeded further until we reached bagepalli. Going further we found a toll booth which was about to be opened. After driving for a while we reached lepakshi. We entered the temple. The temple carvings reminded me of belur.

Carvings

Carvings

After clicking snaps and spending some time in the temple we headed back. While entering lepaskhi there is a stone carving on nandi which happens to be the largest in india. We stopped by to see that before heading back.

Nandi

Nandi from a different angle

Since we left early i wasnt in i a mood to go back early to bangalore which resulted in me ambling along the highway at speeds around 50 km/hr. We reached bangalore around 2. After a quick bite in a ice cream parlour, reaached home around 3.30

How to get to lepakshi

Route 1: Bangalore->Devanahalli->Chikballapur->Bagepalli->Lepakshi

Route 2: Bangalore->Doddaballapur->Gauribidnur->Hindupur->Lepakshi

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Snaps can be found here

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