Weekend Ride to Gandikota and Belum Caves #NightRiders #Feb20-21 :2016

Group of travelling enthusiasts who have passion to explore the world on their bikes summarises #NightRiders.
#NightRiders embarked on ride to Gandikota and Belum caves from Bangalore …google maps indicating the distance of 330kms. Route Map: Bangalore ->Chintamani->Madanapalli->Kadri->Pulivendula->Jammalamadugu->Gandikota , state highway purposely chosen to make the ride exciting and also explore smaller towns. We started at 7am from KR puram where the group assembled. Once we took left from NH4 onto hoskote-Chintamani STate highway we were blinded by heavy early morning mist !!! Exciting to wind our way through mist with Ray’s of rising sun .

Our first official pit stop( not accounting innumerable smoking stops) was at Local eatery in Chintamani town. Vola!! 9 of us hogged on breakfast as if we hadn’t had food for ages. It was yummy and delicious and we had to force ourselves to stop … Hot Upma , Masala Dosa, Lemon rice, Kali dosa topped up by coffee.



Coerced ourselves to continue the ride after heavy breakfast…passing by vast tracts of agriculture landscape, farmers toiling their way . It was heartening to note that most of the local water bodies was filled with water which is lifeline for farmers. Mango , lime , papaya, vegetables( tomato, cabbage, cauliflower) farms dominated in this stretch. Once we crossed Madanapalli towards Kadri… It was millets, and paddy. As the day progressed the Mercury moved northwards resulting in quick dehydration… We stopped every hour to ensure we didn’t exert too much. Masala soda , buttermilk, tender coconuts kept us in good stead.

 Breaks proved a bit tedious for one riding BMW 1200!!! People thronged to have touch and feel of the beast… Selfies … Literally creating traffic jam!!!


Last 100 kms was most demanding as 6 hours of ride was taking a toll on us. Landscape was barren ( rayalseema) rocky terrains which was dotted with banana plantations , cotton fields. Road work was in progress which slowed us down considerably. Huge wind mills lined up over the hills on one side and thermal plant co existed too…


Finally at 3pm we reached Gandikota – Haritha AP tourism resort. It’s the only resort in Gandikota and to be honest we were surprised how well it was maintained. After quick lunch, group decided to disperse for power nap. after much deliberation on whether to visit the fort in evening or early morning , we decided to explore the same day not knowing what was in store!

Gandikota is small village in Kadapa District , 14 kms from Jamalmagulu.
The fort of Gandikota acquired its name due to the ‘gorge’ (in Telugu it is called ‘gandi’), formed between the Erramala range of hills, also known as Gandikota hills and the river Pennar that flows at its foot, reducing its width to a mere 300 ft .
Within the fort are two ancient temples, dedicated to Madhava and Ranganatha, both are in ruins and the fort area is full of the debris of ages and many ancient structures in varying stages of decay. The large granary, with a vaulted roof, Jamia Masjid that has has two adjacent minarets, a building with minimal Windows turned out to be Jail in fort premises. Other structures include vast brick structures which seem to be part of palaces once ruled by kings from 11th century, a big water tank which is still used by villagers staying around the fort.

         We were surprised to note that this property is open to public 24×7 with no personnel employed to preserve the ruins.

As we trekked to the point where we could view pennar river winding along the gorge which made the fort impregnable. Multi level fort walls that run along the gorge reflected the idea of rulers in choosing this strategic point … We stood stunned at the nature’s wonder ( see pic below)

India’s Grand Canyon we said in unison!!! So true … Which remained away from glare of public in a remote hamlet. As luck would have it, it was full moon day and fort basked in moonlight… Giving a magical feel to this historic site.spotted a group carrying sleeping bags and utilities planning to set camp for night at fort premises!!!


  
  
Though we boast of historical heritage , we seldom pursue to gain knowledge of our history . Maybe india is yet to learn from its past… Becoz history seems to repeat itself time and time again !!!

Once back at Resort, bikers as tradition goes gather for evening session… Reflecting on the day’s events… Getting to know about fellow riders and their experiences .
Day 2: sign off from Gandikota

 After breakfast we headed to Belum caves which is 65 kms from Gandikota . Entire stretch from Jamalmagulu to Belum caves was surrounded by vast tracts of cotton fields as far as eyes could see. Somehow was bit puzzled by numerous railway crossings all along the route ever since we crossed into Andhra the previous day … Was it the same line which was intersected by winding roads or other way round ???

At the Belum caves site, we made arrangements to keep an eye on our prized possession – Our Bikes!!! Ranging from BMW, Z800, Bonnie’s to Bullet!!!

Next one hour was trek down the caves walking 150ft below!!! Hats off to AP tourism in maintaining the site to international standards . Lightings inside the caves were spot on and guides available to share the historical significance.

Belum Caves is the largest tourist cave in Indian subcontinent and the longest caves in plains of Indian Subcontinent, known for its stalactite and stalagmiteformations. Belum Caves have long passages, spacious chambers, fresh water galleries and siphons. It is a natural underground cave formed by the constant flow of underground water. The caves reach its deepest point (150 feet from entrance level) at the point known as Paatalaganga. (See pic below)

 Belum Caves has a length of 3229 metres, making it the second largest natural caves in Indian sub continent.

It was brought to scientific attention in 1884 by a British surveyor Robert Bruce Foote, later in 1982-84, a team of German speleologists headed by H Daniel Gebauer conducted a detailed exploration of the caves.Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation(APTDC) developed the caves as a tourist attraction in February 2002. Today, 3.5 km of the cave has been successfully explored, though only 1.5 km is open to tourists.There are 16 different pathways, including the main entrance and there are deposits of Quartz in the caves. The caves are formed in Black Limestone.


  

Jains and Buddhists seemed to have occupied these caves centuries ago. A statue of Buddha in meditation welcomes us at entrance of Belum caves ( see pic below)


We came out smitten by this natural wonder at the same time exhausted after long hour trek underground !!!


Our tummy’s yelled out for Food , we headed straight to local dabba and gobbled up typical no frills Andhra meals ( which had some gastric side effects on quite a few of us)


366kms the GPS declared was distance back to Bangalore. The scorching heat wasn’t helping riders to digest this data… But only solace was we would be hitting NH 7/ AH43 saving us from unpredictable state highways !!! In a way it was thrill to ride through all terrains and not repeating the route .

It was around 3pm when we left Belum caves , initial stretch was littered with kadappa stones along the road and in vast stretches surrounding it too!!! Area had rich deposits of raw materials needed for Cement factories … We spotted huge ones enroute . After covering 80kms we hit the NH7… welcome sign of relief.


From here on the 4 lane highway was pleasure for super bikers who were spotted only on the hourly breaks till Bangalore 🙂 . We finally entered Bangalore by 9pm and group scattered to their respective homes signing off until the next RIDE .

#NightRiders ensemble ( pic Below)

(L to R: Sujay, Vinodh, PD,KK, Venky, Arun,Raj, Shaji, Kavi)

RouteMap :    https://goo.gl/maps/4KDz6iYvuDA2

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