The places of Gandikota and Belum Caves have been on my travel bucket list for a long time. One of the challenges with visiting these places has been the (lack of) accommodation. So, when I discovered that hotel rooms were available for the long weekend in August, I immediately booked it and decided to drive down.
We started off a bit later that I was planning to – getting four of us ready does take time, plus, in this case, we decided to pack some additional food as we were not sure of the restaurants along the way. This turned out to be a good decision, but more about that later.
Our route was along the Hyderabad highway, crossing the airport at Devanahalli, and then turning into the state highway passing through Kadiri. After a refueling (for the car) stop at Devanahalli, we stopped for breakfast at Cube Stop, one of the surprisingly few restaurants along this route. The place was crowded and the food took some time arriving, but the staff were pleasant.
The rest of the drive took us through some gorgeous countryside. My experiences with this part of the country were previously restricted to the train journeys we took as children, traveling from Mumbai to Kerala on our summer holidays. My recollections are of a hot, parched and dusty countryside that we were, frankly, happy to cross. But traveling now, during the monsoon season, presented a completely different picture. The countryside was green, if not lush, and the weather was absolutely pleasant (there was no need to switch on the car a/c). And, perhaps most surprisingly, the roads were in excellent condition.
Along the way, we passed through a stretch of road cutting between two steep red cliffs that reminded me a lot of the Australian Outback and the cliffs at Kings Canyon. Another memorable stretch was just before Gandikota (after Muddanur), when a newly laid road made the climb up a lovely stretch of bush covered hills.
The road conditions, plus that there was little traffic along the way, meant that we made good time and reached our destination – the AP Tourism Haritha hotel, by 1 pm. More about the hotel and Gandikota in my next posts.