May 6th, 2013 by admin

Location: Gooty, Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh

Distance: 264 km from Bangalore, 50 km from Anantapur, 306 km from Hyderabad

Route: Bangalore – Hyderabad National Highway 7. To reach Gooty one has to take a left deviation from the main highway.

Travel time: Around 4.30 hrs from Bangalore

Accommodation: There are few lodges but nothing decent. If you are going with family best staying option will be at Anantapur or Kurnool.

Food: Available at local shops but no decent restaurant.

The star attraction of this town is the magnificent Gooty fort. As we were nearing Gooty town, we came to face the towering fort. The fort located on a hill can be seen from a distance. The hill rises abruptly out of miles of plains around and has no range. Earlier people used to stay inside the fort but with increase in population people started living outside the fort and thus rouse the town of Gooty around the fort. It is not straight forward to find the way to the fort. It took us asking few people to find the correct route. The road to the fort goes through a bazaar and leads through the boundary of the fort. At the foot hills of the fort there is a settlement of population. One has to track around 2 – 3 km to reach the top of the fort. At one end of the foot hill, there is a cemetery of the ones who ruled the fort once and their subordinate.

We started climbing in the afternoon in the month of August and it was pretty hot. To go around the fort it would take more than 3 hours time. At the foot hill, the climb starts and there is stone paved way with walls on both sides. I have been to many forts but this one was unique and landscape around was also unique. As we were climbing I could notice the various layer of additions this fort might have gone through. Some part of the fort is almost in ruins. ASI has mentioned it is a protected monument but it needs some help immediately.

The fort is said to be in existence since 7th century AD but I could not find any concrete evidence on who built it. It is understand that this area was under Gupta emperor Ashoka’s rule as archeologist have found one of his rock edit few kilometers away from here. Major construction of the fort might have started during the Vijaynagar empire. Under the Maratha rule the hill was further strengthened. Murari Rao, one of the Maratha general in the 17th century captured the fort and made it his permanent residence. His favorite place in the fort is know as Murari Rao’s seat. In 1775 Hyder Ali captured the fort and it went to British hands after his son Tipu Sultan died in 1799.

As we continued climbing our view of the surrounding became better. Now I could see the hills had only one major access without any barrier which was walled by the rulers to control access. After some time we opened up to a plateau which houses a water storage, ammunition depot and soldier resting place. From here we started to see Bangalore Hyderabad highway. Some steep hiking here onwards will take you to the peak of the hill where the palace and watch tower is located. I had to return back from the summit of the peak due to peer pressure who were not ready to climb further. From here I  saw see a goods train going towards Bangalore. The descend was pretty easy and by early evening we reached the foot of the hill.

Today Gooty is just a small town but it is an important railway junction.

To view more pictures visit, Travelingbeats Photo Gallery.

March 14th, 2013 by admin

After my trip to Kumbhalgarh towards the end of July 2012, I was planing a trip this long holiday weekend (31st Aug – 3rd Sep). Joined by 3 other friends we hired an Indica car for a day trip. The idea was to cover as much as we can in the Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh.

Rate per Km: Rs 6
Driver bata: 6 am to 10 pm = Rs 200, If you need to use the cab before 6 am and after 10 pm, driver will ask for another set of bata
Andhra Pradesh entry fees: Rs 500 for Indica car
Toll charges: National Highway 7 is mostly tolled upto Gooty. We paid 3 toll charges till then. If you pay return charges at the same time, it comes cheaper.

The pickup started early in the morning by 5.30.  We are able to leave Bangalore city by 7.30 am. After crossing Hebbal and Devanahalli airport junction, we had breakfast at Kamat Lokarruchi on NH 7. While we were having breakfast we noticed a superbiker group with green Yamaha Ninja, Suzuki Hyasong and a Hurley Davidson. They were also on a ride that day and later we met them again at Lepakshi temple. The Andhra Pradesh – Karnataka border post is at Bagepalli. After entering Andhra we traveled little further on smooth NH 7 and then took a left on country road for Lepakshi village. It is around 120 km from Bangalore. The demography of Anantapur district and the neighboring Karnataka district is very similar.

Lepakshi Temple

Few hundred meters before the main temple we saw a monolithic statue of Nandi. Lepakshi temple built under Vijaynagar empire’s patronage is historically as well as architecturally superb. Read my article separately on Lepakshi temple. By noon we left Lepakshi. We got back on NH 7 and kept traveling for Gooty. On the way we saw the diversions for Pavagada, Penukonda, Puttaparthi, Dharmavaram and Tadipatri. All these were on our list but we were not able to cover them due to scarcity of time. Little before Anantapur, we had lunch at one of the Dhaba. We paid a premium price for having food on the highway. Food was decent to can have grade. One plate (small) chilli chicken was Rs 140, wheres the same in Bangalore would be in the range of Rs 80 – 100. For lunch of 5 people (including driver) we paid Rs 790. Here, I am mainly taking about the quality and quantity against the price.

By the time we hit the road again, it was 1.30 pm. We traveled past Anantpur city over a flyover. This is a good plan by NHAI where in people traveling on the highway need not enter the town. Anantpur is around 200 km from Bangalore and 354 km from Hyderabad (capital of Andhra Pradesh). It is the largest district in the state of Andhra Pradesh covering an area of 19130 square km. From tourist point of view, nothing to see in Anantapur but one can halt there in the night for more than one day tour. Gooty (pronounced as Gutti) is around 58 km from Anantapur. On NH 7 one has to take a left diversion to read Gooty town. To go to Tadipatri, Yadiki caves or Nellore one has to go via Gooty town.

Even before entering Gooty town, Gooty fort could be seen from around 4 to 5 km away. Gooty fort is located on a 300 meters or more high hill which rose above the plains besides Gooty town. We had to ask a few people to find the way to the fort. Gooty fort is one of the oldest fort in Andhra Pradesh. It changed several hands and it is historically very intriguing. Read about Gooty fort and our trek up there on a separate post. We were very tired and sweating by the time we descended from the fort. Bought couple of cold drinks and water from Gooty town. Then felt soul back in the body. It was over 5 pm then. We had plan to go to Yadiki caves but to reach there we were told it takes 1 hour and to see the caves it takes around 2 hours. So the consensus was we do not have enough time and we proceeded for Penukonda or Puttaparhi.

We ended up going to penukonda town. It was once the capital of Vijaynagar empire. On the way we saw a large cement architecture of Kumbhakarna, a mythological character from the epic Mahabharat. It was describing the scene when people were trying wake Kumbhakarna. It was almost evening when we reached Penukonda. We entered through the entrance of the fort. Then traveling inside we saw many temple, some new and some old. Then we looked for the way to hill fort. After finding the way, we started driving up the soil road up the hill. The road is still under construction and by the time we reached the dead end from where one has to walk to reach the top, it was pitch dark. During day time one can command a awesome view from here. With nothing to do there we left for Bangalore.

One hard lesson learned was view the destinations as you travel. That way we can see more places and spend less time on travel. On this trip we spent more time on travel. We reached Bangalore 9.30 pm and I was home by 10 pm. I have no complains as for me traveling is as important as the destinations. Traveling is like a release for me. I have enjoyed the trip.

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