Off the Beaten Track Gandikota,Belum Caves and Ahobilam

“Dare to Live the Life,You always wanted.”

Wow !! Which place is this? Does India have such gorgeous places? What a gorge and caves too? These are some of the reactions to my posts in facebook and Instagram after a short trip to the lesser known places like Gandikota & Belum Caves in Andhra Pradesh.IMG20190201181155-01

This trip was planned just after the kodachadri Trek,frankly I joined in because almost all the members of the trek were there for this trip and I had bonded well with them so I just tagged along just to have some fun.On reaching Gandikota I was dumbfounded by the beauty of both the Canyon and the Caves.These are the some of the hidden treasures of our beautiful country.I am so grateful to my friend Jessy who took the initiative in planning the trip and later Krishna of Darkgreen Adventures  for  planning a perfect trip with everything going smoothly.

We had booked our seats in 11041 Chennai Mail which starts from CSMT halts at Dadar and Thane.Three of us were boarding from Thane.A friend of Jessy had joinedand .I instantly bonded with her.My anxiety about not to miss the train brought us to Thane station at 1 pm the scheduled departure was 2.38 pm 🙂 The 2 min halt of the train at the station made me very edgy and nervous. We    comfortably boarded the train inspite of my misgivings. 🙂 We were twelve of us but scattered at different compartments.Vrushali joined us at Pune at about 7 pm.

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Inside the Train

At about 7.30 pm we gathered together to have dinner.We relished the different varieties of food which turned out be a veritable feast.

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Dinner Time

At about 8.30 pm we decided to turn off the lights.Our destination was Tadpatri reaching at a comfortable time(7.30 am).The train was about 15 minutes late from its expected arrival time so we reached Tadpatri at about 7.45 am.

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After Alighting from the train at Tadpatri Station

Day –1 Belum Caves

On the way to Belum Caves at around 8.25 we stopped for breakfast at a restaurant, we relished the Dosas and Idlis.The bill was only Rs 600 for twelve people and a cup of tea cost  only Rs 5.

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Breakfast at Tadpatri

We reached Belum Caves at 10 am.The tickets cost Rs 65 per adult and for Foreigners pay Rs 300.There are clean wash rooms maintained by Sulabh Shauchalaya. One has to pay Rs 5 for using them.

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Entrance to Belum Caves

Though these caves were known to the locals for thousands of years,the first official records that mention them are from 1884, by Robert Bruce Foote,a British geologist and archaeologist who conducted surveys for the Geological survey of India.In the 1980s Indian Officials worked with a German expedition headed by German speleologist Mr H.Daniel Gebauer to explore and map the caves.

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Entrance to the Caves

The relics found in the caves dated back to around 4500 BC and showed that the caves were inhabited by Buddhist and Jain Monks.In 1999 the Andhra Pradesh Tourism took over the caves for maintenance.They cleared the mud and debris inside ,built pathways ,provided illumination and sank ventilation shafts to make the caves accessible to the public.There are   steps leading to the entrance of the cave.

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Steps leading to the Caves

The entrance is like a pit cave. After descending around 20 meters by the stairs from the entrance, the caves become horizontal. The first section one enters is called Gebauer Hall.We hired a guide for Rs 300.(If you inquire at the ticket counter they will help you to hire one).

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Gebauer Hall

We met our guide Shaifee at Gebauer Hall,this entrance chamber is called after Mr Daniel Gebauer the person who mapped the caves.

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The Pit Opening in Gebauer Hall

We walked along long passages,narrow galleries for a few metres and then crawled for a few yards and reached Simdwaar.IMG20190201105334-01

The stalactite formation here resembles a lion’s head hence the name.After squeezing ourselves through narrow passages we reached the Chelapati Hall named after B.Chelapati Reddy a retired DSP who assisted the German expedition.

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The Stalactites Formations

After this we all went down one by one to Patalganga aptly named the deepest part of the cave about 150 ft as told by our guide.

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Patalganga is a small perennial stream which disappears into the depths of the earth. This stream flows from the southeast to northwest. It disappears and is believed to be heading towards a well at the Belum village, located 2 km away from the caves.One has to mind one’s head from the undulating formations of the cave roof.

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Don’t forget to take your blessings 🙂

After finishing the tour of Patalganga, we decided to return.We covered a distance of 2 kms through narrow corridors.The route is circular as we returned to the starting point of the cave wall where 9.7.2007 was written.The cave is 3 kms long but only 2 km is accessible to the visitors.

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Belum Caves

We also observed big holes on the roof of the caves created by water pressure as told by the guide.Inside the caves its quite warm the oxygen level is also low but the exhaust fans were quite a boon and we stood under them for some time to catch on our breath.

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Group Photo Inside the Caves

Some members of the group were also feeling breathless and claustrophobic.After we came out of the caves,Jessy treated us with delicious ice creams which was very refreshing.

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We came out of the cave at about 12 pm and after paying our guide(Rs 300) we walked to the 40 ft tall Buddha Statue built by Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department.The statue adds a spiritual and serene ambience to the place.We all turned Buddha for a while and competed with each other to take meditative poses with the serene Buddha as the backdrop.

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New Age Buddha

Around 12.30 pm we headed to Gandikota which is about 60 kms away from Belum Caves.After half an hour of drive we were all out of the bus the reason being a flat tyre. It gave us the opportunity to stretch our legs and click some photographs.It took just 15 minutes to change the tyre by our efficient driver Prasad.

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Prasad Changing The Tyre

It took about one and half hours to reach Haritha Resort in Gandikota.

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Haritha Resort

It was 2.30 pm by the time we settled in our allotted room.Jessy, Meera and self were in one room.We carried our luggage as we didn’t find any porter services.(an advantage if you travel light)

After a quick shower we proceeded for lunch.There was not much option available, there was only veg fried rice,egg fried rice and jeera rice on the menu with raita( a unpalatable combination).Lack of tourists is the reason for such a unpalatable menu.The fruits bought by Krishna in Tadpatri was the saving grace.The advantage of having a hearty breakfast was that we were not very hungry,we sort of overlooked the unpalatable food.We left the resort at 4 pm to the Gandikota Fort and the Canyon it is about 15 minutes walk from the resort. On the way we spotted some beautiful birds.

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The Fort Entrance

Gandikota is a village on the right bank of the river Pennar,15 km from Jammalamadugu in Kadapa district, Andhra Pradesh, India. Gandikota was ruled by Kamma kings for more than 200 years.

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Gandikota Fort

“Gandi” means a gorge in Telugu while “Kota” means a fort.The picturesque gorge came to the forefront when a subordinate of the Chalukya king Kalpa Raja built a sand fort here in the early 1120s.The fort was annexed by the Khiljis,later the famous Vijayanagar kingdom drove away the Khiljis and took over the region.Gandikota was given to its commanders who were known as the Kamma Kings.The Kamma kings ruled for over 200 years and expanded the Fort.The strategic position of the fort by the gorge made it perfect station for defense.  Gandikota was covered with dense forests and water springs.The flowing Pennar river through the gorge allowed the whole region to flourish not just in trade but agriculture too.

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The Masjid at the Entrance of the Fort

We were inside the fort at about 4.15 pm.At the entrance of the Fort is a Masjid under a huge tree.After walking for a few metres we found a Hanuman temple.We paid our obeisance from outside as it was very dark inside the temple.However that didn’t deter Jessy from photographing Hanumanji. !!!

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The Hanuman Temple Inside the Fort

We continued walking and as it is always I have a zest for not missing out anything so walked around the fort walls but soon encountered  a dead end.

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Turmeric Plants

Down below we saw what looked like turmeric plants.From there we walked to the Madhavacharya Temple as this was the main attraction.The Gopuram can be seen as you enter the fort and it sort of beckoned us.

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The Madhavacharya Temple

The path leading to the temple can be called a dirt track.When we reached the gate we were awestruck by its sheer magnificience. Every inch of the temple’s gate had beautiful carvings depicting myriad stories from Indian Mythology.The beauty of this place is that we could have the whole place to ourselves this place is not very touristy hence we took pictures without photo bombing 🙂 The first sentence we uttered when we stepped inside was “Hey this looks like Hampi” and rightly so because this place was built during the reign of Krishnadevaraya the famous king of the Vijayanagar Empire, Hampi was the capital of his kingdom.

 

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Structures Inside the Temple

I  wish we could spend some more time here but we had the remaining part of the fort to explore and we wanted to reach the gorge before sunset.

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The Hampi Styled Structures inside the Temple

From the temple we detoured to the Charminar quite unlike its namesake in Hyderabad this Charminar is a single structure with four minor minarets atop its roof.This actually was a pigeon tower.The tiny holes along its windows were doorways for the pigeons.This looked like the most maintained structure of the Fort.

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PC : Shubhankar Dhar

Right next to it was the old jail.We ventured inside and were immediately struck by the foul smell of bats.There were steps leading to the dungeon but we decided not to go as the smell was very strong and we were feeling quite claustrophobic.

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Group Photo Outside the Jail

We could not locate rest of the group hence continued our walk to the Masjid.

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Jamia Masjid

The classic Islamic architecture with its intricate domes and large arched gateways will definitely impress you.We opened the gates and went inside.We found construction material dumped in front of the Masjid maybe some kind of restoration work is under way.We were lured inside by the beautiful floral patterns on the windows and we tried to find a staircase but there were none !

Next to the Masjid was the Granary and Kattalu Koneru.(Water tank) Kattalu means a sword and maybe this tank water was used to clean the weapons after a war.

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The Granary

The granary held provisions for the entire citadel. It seemed quite huge from the outside and appeared to have multiple entrances and floors.Since it was locked we could not go inside.

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The Water Tank

As the time for the Sunset appeared closer we walked fast towards the gorge just a few meters away from the gorge was the beautiful Ranganath Swamy Temple.We marvelled at the systemic arrangements of stone pillars against a backdrop of boulders,we saw the temple from outside as the gorge was beckoning us.

The Gandikota Canyon

I have read about  and seen pictures of the Grand Canyon of Arizona and struck by the beauty of the canyon but I was awestruck by the mersmerising beauty of our very own Grand canyon at Gandikota.The spectacular gorge formed by Pennar river that cuts through the Erramala hills has now gained momentum in the tourism circuit. A gorge is typically a narrow valley between hills or mountains, typically with steep rocky walls and a stream running through it. In fact, gorges are formed because of rock erosion over a long period of time.

“Nature does not hurry,yet everything is accomplished”

Though it is hard to believe that Gandikota’s Pennar River could have carved such a huge gorge, the continuous flow of water eventually led to a deep trench through the land, which went on to expose many layers of rock. In this entire process, a spectacular site was formed, which got to be known as the hidden grand canyon of India.

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The  Mermerising Canyon

After hopping through uneven rocks we reached the Pennar River Point.Words and photos don’t do just to this marvellous sight.We took many photos of the beautiful gorge with some taking daring photos on the rock.One has to be careful because careless stunts may land you in the gorge!.After a while we climbed some more rocks and reached a kind of flat surface from there we got a spectacular view of the gorge.Group and single photos with yoga poses were clicked !!

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Yogis at the Canyon 🙂

The sun set did not take place over the Pennar river but at Jamia Masjid and Ranganatha Swamy Temple.

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But we didn’t want to rush down to watch the sunset but wanted to sit and enjoy the calm and serene environs of the gorge.It is a place where you would like to sit endlessly and enjoy this beautiful creation of nature.It was getting dark and we headed back as traversing the uneven terrain would be difficult in darkness.We reached down around 6.45 pm and stopped at a roadside tea stall for coffee and omelettes.We reached the resort at 7.30 pm after a refreshing cup of tea we proceeded to have dinner.Dinner was equally unappetising as they did not have any vegetables including potatoes.The menu was dal, rice and a tomatoe sabji.

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Dinner at Haritha Resort,Gandikota

Poor tourist turn out is a reason for such a menu.The property is beautiful and the the entrance is made like a fort keeping to the spirit of the place.The rooms and the facilities are good.We had working Air conditioner and geyser in our room.I did hear complaints about the AC and geyser not working from some members of the group,so do check before you check into the room.Tourism here is still taking baby steps and I am sure in the coming years it will improve.I would not mind little discomfort to see such a spectaular place.

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The resourceful members of our group gathered wood and we lit a fire and sat and exchanged stories about the exciting adventures of some of the members Vrushali’s Everest Base Camp stories and Jessy’s Kilimanjaro trek kept us enthralled.We also talked and planned about the next trip with the same group.We called it a day at 11pm as we had an early morning drive to our next destination Ahobilam.There was a lot of voting and discussion on seeing the Sunrise or making an early start to Ahobilam,as Ahobilam is about 80 kms and the driving time about 2 hours.To see all the nine temples we needed to start early and reach Ahobilam around 9.30.So if we included the sunrise it would be difficult for us to reach Ahobilam by 9.30.So even though I wanted to see the sunrise agreed to skip it and make an early start to Ahobilam.It was decided that we meet by 6.30 am.

Day 2 – Ahobilam

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Haritha Resort,Ahobilam

I was up by 5 am and woke up the others so that we could all be ready by 6.30 and as scheduled we were at the Traveller by 6.30 am.Slowly the rest of the group trickled in and we finally left at 7.15 am and reached Ahobilam at 9.30 am.We relished the idlis,dosas for breakfast.By now a fellow traveler Shubhonkar was really tired of idlis and dosas and was longing for some puree-sabji.(Loochee Tarkaari in Bengali) 🙂 .We reached Haritha Resort at about 10.15  and we assembled at the reception.Discussions on whether to take a guide were going on when the people at the reception contacted Mr Shiva.He promptly arrived on his motorbike and a deal was struck for  Rs 2000 for a guide.He would accompany us for the four temples which we had to trek.The remaining temples required the services of a jeep and a driver.Each jeep could seat 6 persons and would charge 2500 which later they increased to Rs 3000.The total cost was Rs 8000 and we had to pay Rs 600 each to which everyone readily agreed.Trekking to the temples with the guide was a wise decision as we would not be able to complete the tour without his able guidance.Here again I thank Jessy for taking the initiative in putting  the Ahobilam trek on track :).

Get Spiritual with the Nine Temple Tour in Ahobilam

Ahobilam is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Prasesh in the Nalamala hills of Eastern Ghats.The nine shrines are dedicated to the nine forms of Narsimha. Lord Narsimha is a Avatar of Vishnu donned this form to kill Hiranyankashyap to save his disciple Prahlad.Ahobilam can be divided into Upper Ahobilam and Lower Ahobilam.

The Upper Ahobilam includes the following Narsimha Temples.

  •  Ahobilam Narsimha
  •  Kroda Narsimha
  •  Jwala Narsimha
  •  Malola Narsimha

Lower Ahobilam includes the following Narsimhas

  •  Yoganand Narsimha
  •  Chatravata Narsimha
  •  Pavana Narsimha
  •  Bhargava Narsimha

On th way to Upper Ahobilam from Lower Ahobilam is the Karanja Narsimha Temple.

ahobilam temple route

We started from the resort in our vehicle at about 11 am after a short drive we reached Ahobilam Narsimha also known as Ugra Narsimha temple.Located at the foothills it is the main temple and one of the earliest of the nine shrines.The deity here is Svyambhu(self-manifested)The lord here appears in a fierce form(Ugra) who is the presiding deity of the temple and is known as Ahobila Narsimha Swamy.

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Ahobila NarsimhaSwamy Temple

After we finished the darshan our guide suggested we hire walking sticks which were available at the temple,as the climb would be steep.We had to traverse 7 kms to see all the four temples.

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All set with the sticks for the steep Climb with our Guide Shiva

After collecting our sticks we started the trek to the first temple the Malola Narsimha Temple which was a km away from the main temple at the foothills it was about 11.20 am when we started the trek.On the way we passed structures where we found small stones piled on top of each other, signifying the number of visits made by an individual to the shrines as explained by one of the locals whom we met on the way.

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I also spotted a tree on which colourful cloths were knotted with something inside and tied to the branch of the tree.It looked as if they were offerings made to the Lord.I didn’t find any local near the tree so could not clarify the significance of the ritual.

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A km away up is the Malola Narsimha Temple, here the deity appears is in a Saumya(graceful form)Lord Narsimha is seen with his consort Lakshmi.He is known as Malola Narsimha Swamy.Malola means beloved (Ma- lakshmi Lola- beloved)

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We reached at about 11.40 to the temple, we offered our prayers and proceeded to the Varha Narsimha Temple.This temple is about half a km away from the Malola Temple and we reached in about 15 minutes at about 11.45 am.

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Varha Narsimha Temple

The image of the deity has the face of a boar(varaha or kroda) and the lord is seen along with his consort Lakshmi.After offering our prayers we proceeded to the Jwala Narsimha Temple which is the most difficult part of this trek.It is about 3.5 kms from the Ahobila temple.

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Varaha Narsimha Temple

After offering my prayers at the Varaha Narsimha Temple and after walking a few steps I was frantically searching for my sunglasses which I think I must have dropped.I didn’t want to go back as that would incur time in opening and wearing my footwear and I was already lagging behind the group, so I said goodbye to my dear Raybans.I was crestfallen, when Krishna asked me what had happened I told him about the lost sunglasses, panic driven I also dropped my glasses outside the railings of the path.Krishna first retrieved my glasses and then went back to the temple to search my sunglasses.I was overjoyed when he handed it back to me.It was very sunny and walking without a cap and sunglasses would make the journey even more difficult.So now I could protect myself thanks to krishna, from the blazing sun and continued with my journey to Jwala Narsimha Temple.

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Shiva narrating stories about the Temples

Jwala Narsimha Temple is on the edge of a hill,almost like a rock cave temple when you see it from a distance it looks like an opening on the face of a hill.The trek to this temple is a  path laden with stones and boulders at places you would find rocks in pools of water.The temple lies at a hill called Achalachaya Meru.This is the actual place where Lord Narsimha killed Hiryankashyap.

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The Rocky Path

We were trekking through the forest and there were specks of greenery as this was the month of February, during monsoons one would trek through lush greenery and waterfalls.A word of caution trekking in the monsoon would also be tricky with the path becoming slippery.

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We could see the Ugra Stambam and took group photographs with the Stambam as the backdrop.

Climbing it would take an hour and we didn’t have the time as we had to reach the main temple before 2 pm,to take the jeep ride to the Karanja Narsimha Temple.

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Steep Climb Ahead !!!

We climbed roughly 600 steps along with a km of rocky terrain with puddles of water.

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I was feeling dizzy due to the blazing sun a drink of Enerzol( made by Krishna) refreshed me and I continued with vigour for the rest of the trek.

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The Narrow Stretch to the entrance of the Temple

We walked through a narrow stretch to reach the temple, just before you reach the temple you will find the Rakth Kund, legend says, The Lord washed his hands here after killing Hiryankashyap.We found devotees had offered coins in the kund.

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Rakth Kund

During monsoon one gets drenched by the sprays of water from the mountains while going to the temple.But no such luck for us.We reached the temple at 12.30 pm.After reaching the temple we took rest, wiped our sweating faces and drank water.After catching our breath we proceeded for darshan. Some of us lit oil lamps and offered them to the Tulsi planted at the entrance of the temple.The Deity of Lord Narasimha here is seen tearing Hiranyakashipu with His radiant nails.After darshan we took some pictures of the Rakth kund and the surrounding hills.Just before the Rakth kund there is trek going upwards it would take at least one and half hour to complete the trek,we gave it a miss and continued with our descend.We reached the main temple at 1.30 pm.

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Waiting for the Jeep at Ahobila Temple

Two jeeps were waiting for us and we were divided into two groups of 6 per jeep.We started at about 2 pm,initially the ride was okay we passed a beautiful body of water maybe a lake and decided we would stop on our return journey.

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As the ride progressed we found roads disappearing and we were literally flung up and down as we traversed through deep ditches and steep rocky terrain it was a little better than the jeep ride that we had during our kodachadri trek.The Karanja Narsimha Temple is a 44 km(up and down) of roller coaster ride.

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Trying to balance ourselves inside the jeep

It took us a hour and 15 minutes to reach and we reached at about 3.15 pm.

The Jeep Ride

The image of the deity is installed under a tree called Karanja Vruksham. Hence the name Karnja Narsimha.

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Karanja Narsimha

Here the idol holds a bow,which is the uniqueness of the idol.According to legend Lord Hanuman had meditated here and when Narsimha appeared Hanuman refused to recognize his God Rama in any other form.As per the wish of Hanuman,Narsimha appeared in Rama’s charateristic weapon the bow.This temple is situated between upper and lower Ahobilam.We offered our prayers and immediately started for the Yoganand Narsimha Temple.

Yogananda Narasimha Temple is the place where Lord Narasimha appears in a yogic posture.After offering our prayers we also visited the Navnarsimha Temple and paid our obeiance to the navgrahas.On both sides of the Navnarsimha Temple there are stairs leading up with deities under a small canopy.We went up both sides and offered our prayers.

Yoganand Narsimha Temple

The legend says that, after killing Hiranyakashyap,Lord Narasimha taught Prahlad the principles of the ancient spiritual system through several yogic postures.Hence, the Lord at this place is called Yogananda Narasimha. After paying our obeisance we proceeded to Chatravarta Temple.

About 3 km from Lower Ahobilam the deity is installed under a peepal tree,hence the deity here is known as the Chatravarta Narsimha Swamy.Lord Chatravata Narasimha is the tallest and the most attractive amongst all the deities of the Nava Narasimhas.

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As per legend, two Gandharvas (celestial musicians) named Haahaa and Hoohoo from Meru Mountains appeased Lord Narasimha with their divine music. The Lord blessed them and fulfilled all their desires.

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After Darshan

Since then, devotees with skills in music, render performances before the deity here and seek the divine blessings of the Almighty The devotees are of the firm belief that Lord Chatravata Narasimha grants mastery in music and fine arts to the aspiring devotees.It is on the way to the Pavana Narsimha Temple.

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Pavana Narsimha Temple

The drive to Pavana Narsimha is again through dense forest.It is on the banks of Pavana river.The driver dropped us a km away and told us to hurry since we would be walking through the forest it was not safe,we may encounter some wild animal.Here the Lord is in the most peaceful form amongst the nine Narsimha temples.The Lord here liberates his devotees from past and present sins which might have been committed knowingly and unknowingly.The deity is with his consort Chenchulakshmi with Lord Bharadwaj at his feet.

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Group Photo after Darshan at Pavana Narsimha

We offered our prayers and quickly took some group photos and then rushed back to the waiting jeep and continued with our sojurn to the last of the nine shrines the Bhargava Temple.

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The Forest Trail to the Temple

The Bhargava Narsimha Temple:-

This is the place where Bhargava Rama performed his penance and hence the Lord here is called as Bhargava Narsimha Swamy.Bhargava is another name of Lord Parshuram.The jeep driver dropped us and we had to walk a km.The stairs to the temple were quite steep and we had to be careful of the monkeys who were ready to snatch our mobiles and bags.

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Steps leading to the Bhargava Temple

The temple was closed but we could have a glmpse of the Lord through the grill.We also offered lamps to the deity(Rs 10 each).Since this was the last temple we sat here for sometime to rest after the hectic day.

Monkeys Giving us company while we rested 🙂

As we came down the steps we noticed that the sun was setting and the time was 5.45 pm.

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We requested a devotee to click a group photograph for us.

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Group Photo at Bhargava Temple

It is considered auspicious to visit all the nine temples in a single day.We were happy that we could complete darshan of all nine temples in the same day,satisfied we made our journey back to the resort.Photography is not permitted inside some of the temples.

After paying the jeeps and the guide we searched some place to have tea/coffee.When we were sipping our tea Krishna called us to join them for a bite since we had missed lunch.

We bought packets of papads from the same stall to make our dinner a little more interesting.The Dosas cost Rs 30 and coffee Rs 10.Jessy bought some bananas and cold drink after that we made our way to the resort it was almost 8 pm.After a refreshing bath we joined everyone for dinner.

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Dinner was better than what we had in Gandikota.It consisted of sambhar,rice,pickle,dal and a vegetable and the papad made it better.After dinner we all assembled at krishna’s room for a round of cards and beer.We retired to our rooms at 11 pm.

Day 3- Lakshmi Narsimha Temple 

We woke up early and paid a visit to the Lakshmi Narsimha Temple near the resort.As we walked to the temple in the morning crisp air, we admired the peace and tranquillity of the place.The gopuram of the temple was looking magnificent through the specks of the rising sun.We were at the temple at 6.30, so there were not many devotees so we had a peaceful darshan and visited the other temples inside the complex. We admired the intricate carvings and sculptures on the pillars of the temple

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The Entrance to Shree Lakshmi Narsimha Temple 

The Temple is the tenth shrine built by Shri Krishnadevaraya the renowned king of the Vjayanagar Empire. A shrine dedicated to Sri Venkateswara exists to the south west of this Narasimha Temple and lends view to the episode that Lord Venkateswara obtained the blessings of Narasimha just before his marriage to Padmavathi. The Mukha Mandapa is now used as the Kalyana Mandapa of Narasimha Swamy. With Lakshmeenarasimha as the presiding deity, the main temple consists of a sanctum, Mukhamandapam and Rangamandapam with numerous pillars intricately carved and carrying rich sculptures.There are also three smaller shrines for Lakshmi, Andal and Azhwars. In the sanctum are also kept the Utsava idols of Prahlada Varada, Pavana Narasimha and the processional idols of Jwala Narasimha endowed with ten hands and with Sreedevi and Bhoodevi on his either side. A small idol of the first Jeeyar, Sri Adivan Satakopa Swami is also kept before them.

After Darshan we walked to a nearby tea stall and had our morning cuppa accompanied with fresh hot idli sambhar.(idlis 4 in each plate cost only Rs 25 and coffee Rs 10) At around 8 we all gathered and had another round of coffee and finished off the snacks carried by all of us.

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Bye Bye Haritha Resort,Ahobilam

We started for Tadpatri around 8.45 am and reached Tadpatri around 11.30 we had lunch at Guruvayur Hotel.

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Lunch at  Hotel Guruvayur

We had delicious veg thali on a banana leaf.I loved the tamrind rice.We also packed food for dinner in the train.We reached the station which was just 10 minutes away at 12.40 pm and our train 12164 Chennai Express was 15 minutes late,we comfortably boarded the train and this time we got berths together so we played several rounds of UNO ,drank several rounds of coffee and relished the snacks sold in the train.At 7.30 pm we shared the packed dinner.The train reached Dadar at 6 am,our destination.We bid goodbye to each other with beautiful memories of the trip.

I thank Krishna for organising a successful trip.Thank you Jessy, Meera,Vamsi,Shubhankar,Ankit,Rashmi,Vrushali,Sarita,Shweta and Meenakshi for a memorable trip.Thank you Vamsi for being our Knight in shining armour and solving all our  language problems :).Thank you Krishna,Ankit and Shubankar for sharing the beautiful Photos.This blog would have not been possible without your Photos.

Jessy, Meera and myself hired a cab since we were staying close to each others place.I reached home at 6.45 am and narrated my experiences of the trip over a hot cup of tea.

This beautiful quote sums my experience of the Ahobilam Temples.

“ At the temple the dust of distraction seems to settle down,the fog and the haze seems to lift,and we can see things that we were not able to see before and find a way through our troubles that we had not previously known”

Tips for the Trip.

1) You can reach Gandikota by train from Mumbai ,the nearest station is  Tadpatri .Depending on the size of the group you can book a vehicle.You can contact Mr Prasad on this no 8297414313.Public transport connectivity is almost nonexistent.

2) The nearest airport is Bengaluru or Hyderabad.With Bengalaru being closer, and you can  cover the rest of the journey by a private cab or bus.

3) For accommodation both at Gandikota and Ahobilam you can book Haritha Resort run by Andhra pradesh tourism.You can also book online and phone numbers are available online.The Resort in Gandokota is very close to the Fort and Canyon and hence very convenient.Similarly the resort in Ahobilam is located near the Lakshmi Narsimha Temple.

4) For Belum Caves you can avail the services of a local guide if you ask for one at the ticket counter.For Ahobilam Caves contact Mr Shiva at 9491680313.I suggest you hire a guide without one you will be lost in those jungles.For food you have to rely on the services of the resort.In Ahobilam there are quite few stalls near the  near the resort and also the Lakshmi Narsimha temple.

5) Carry a bottle of water during the Ahobilam Trek.Sunglasses,Sunscreen,cap a must, to protect yourself from the scorching sun.

6) Carry ready to eat snacks/biscuits.

7) Travel light.

I would like to make a suggestion here and tweak the itinerary a bit.Instead of staying the night at Gandikota leave for Ahobilam at night. Its about 1.5 hours to Ahobilam.Rest the night and make an early start say 6 am to the temples.You can comfortably visit the nine shrines and other places like the Ugra Stambham and Prahlad Metu.Some group members suggested that the jeep ride to the Karanja Narsimha could be avoided as we were taking the ardous ride to pay visit to only one temple but then if you skip, your darshan of the nine shrines would be incomplete.Instead of the jeep ride there is a trek route to this temple which the guide can ably guide you.

 

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11 thoughts on “Off the Beaten Track Gandikota,Belum Caves and Ahobilam

  1. Krishna Kuma Singh March 3, 2019 — 3:09 pm

    Great Reena. Very interesting. I wish We could be part of the group. Best wishes for your future travells. Keep posting.

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      1. Great

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  2. Reena dear your travel stories are with such deep description that it feels like one has almost visited the places…So easy to visualize.Great going..Would love to join this group

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  3. Reena, as always, I enjoyed reading your blog and this time I shared it with my friends from Andhra. Looking forward to reading your next post.

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  4. A detailed description which transported me mentally. Inviting pics!!
    Bhavani Rao

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  5. Wonderful writing and beautiful narration. I’m glad to ba part of that journey

    Like

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