Compact Guide to India’s Hidden Grand Canyon in Andhra Pradesh

Gandikota, Grand Canyon of India: The river gurgles through the structures of the rock cuts is a whole different experience. When a vast expanse of land is covered with towering rocks crossed by water, it is nothing less than a striking sight. Gandikota is a picturesque hamlet located in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh that offers its visitors breathtaking vistas. This village is famous for the fascinating gorges formed by the Pennar River flowing through the Erramala hills. It is an offbeat destination that few people know about.Also Read – Iconic Ellora Caves will soon become the first heritage site in India to install hydraulic lifts

There are myriads of narrow valleys with babbling streams flowing past the rocks making Gandikota an amazing geological formation in India. Its etymology can be traced to two Telgu words – Gandi meaning a gorge and Kota meaning a fort.


According to the description on the Aptourism website, the first structure one will come across inside the fort is Charmiar, a three-storey tower that has been renovated with great zeal. To the left is a prison, a colossal stone structure with three doors. A little further, we will find the Madhavaraya Swamy temple. Despite the brilliance of all these monuments, the highlight of Gandikota is undoubtedly the view of Penna Gorge from the edge of the fort. Climb the mass of rocks beyond Ranganatha Swamy Temple for the best vintage spot.

Why is it called the Grand Canyon of India?

A canyon is formed over the years after the erosion of rocks by the river. Gandikota is a similar rock structure. The Grand Canyon in Arizona is renowned for its large gorges and rock-cut structures. Likewise, Gandikota’s gorge is magnificent in its own way although it does not stretch as far as its American counterpart. Nevertheless, it is considered with the moniker of Grand Canyon of India.

Things to do in Gandikota

Point of Peenar Gorge: Do you have a thing for sunsets and sunrises, then this is the number one thing to do in Gandikota. A short hike to Pennar Gorge Point will delight your eyes. The ravines created through the canyon make it the perfect place to spread out a bedspread and sit for hours watching the sky turn from blue to candy. A perfect way to start and end your day

Gandikota Fort: This fort is the central highlight of this village. It is said to have been the seat of power for dynasties in bygone times. It is believed to have been built around 13e century. Winding through the ruins of the place, the alleys will bring you to a temple, a mosque and a serene river. All are nothing less than architectural marvels. The alleyways of this red sandstone structure echo the stories the fort has known in the form of exquisite carvings.

Belum Caves: If you are ready to speed up the adventure, then the famous caves of Belum are not far away! About a 2 hour drive from here. Cross the grounds of the the longest and second biggest cave in India not to be missed in Gandikota. These caves are filled with stalactites and stalagmites; when you caress it you can hear music! The explored length of the caves would be 3.5 km but only a 1.5 km stretch is open to the public. Parts of these caves are said to be used by Buddhist monks. There is also a large Buddha statue nearby. It is another thrilling adventure to walk through the ridges and patterns created over the years in these limestone caves.

Adventure Activities

It is not only a place to dive into untapped South Indian history, but also has the potential to get your adrenaline pumping. Multiple activities like hiking, abseiling, rock climbing, and camping take place near the Gandikota Gorge and Fort. On top of that, there are water activities like kayaking on the Pennar River.

Things to remember:

  • Keep proper hiking shoes which would help you climb the rock structures.
  • Keep enough water and dry food as there are not many stores nearby.
  • Keep cash handy as ATMs are rare.
  • Mostly, until now, people have opted for campsites as a way to stay near the beautiful gorge. Therefore, make your reservations in advance.

Have we stung the travel bug in you? So get ready for Gandikota!

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