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The Complete Guide to the Gandikota Trek

Gandikota trek gives one a slice of America’s famous Grand Canyon is in Andhra Pradesh. No Kidding. Just as River Colorado flows in Arizona, the River Penne flows among massive gorges through the Erramalai ranges in Andhra Pradesh. What’s more, there is a fort is located right at the edge of this gorge.

It is the Gandikota fort that was built in 1123 by a Chalukya king from nearby Bommanapalle village.


Gandi means gorse and kota means fort. This fort was built by a king from the Bommanapalle village that’s situated nearby. This fort was impregnable and in control of Pemmasani Nayaks for 300 years.

Those looking for a longer trek can hike till Mylavaram dam that’s 18 km away. While an asphalt road goes right up to the dam, you can also stay off the road during the hike.

➤ Highlights of the Trek

A trek to India’s Grand Canyon

  • Trek just beside the flowing river Penne
  • A weekend trek
  • Grasp sight of the beautiful ancient Gandikota fort

➤ Trail Information

The trek begins from gate of Gandikota fort. Explore the fort area before you begin your trek. Keep walking along the inner wall of the fort. Within a short distance, you come to a mosque and then the ruins of the Ranganayaka Swamy temple.

gandikota trek - indiahikes - Krishna Srivatsa Nimmaraju

Gandikota gorge (PC: Krishna Srivatsa Nimmaraju)

gandikota trek - indiahikes - srivatsa nimmaraju

A Soothing View (PC: Krishna Srivatsa Nimmaraju)

While there are well-made paths up to the temple, the trail becomes a blur beyond that. The area has a million rocks placed in interesting patterns. Here, you will find a sign that reads ‘Penna George.’ This route leads up the edge of the gorge. Following the straight-forward path is quite simple. But for adventure seekers, these rocks pose interesting trails. There are several prospects of bouldering and rock climbing. Climb up to the edge and camp there for night to catch the first rays of the sun. The view is otherworldly, with golden rays of the sun lighting up the surface of the river. Start your descent into the gorge soon after sunrise. The descent could be tricky as the rocky edges of Erramalai ranges are quite steep. Below, there’s a grassy valley surrounding River Penna. For those of you who don’t want to camp above, this is a good camping site. The trek to Gandikota is a half day affair. So, it is necessary to plan your travel well so that you make the most of this short trek. Ideally, you should begin the trek around evening and camp at Gandikota at night, so that you catch the sunset as well as the sunset. Note: This region, although steeped in history, displays neglect.It hasn’t been maintained well and you might well find a lot of garbage from the village near by. Try to steer clear off the areas close to the village.

➤ How to get fit for the trek

Cardiovascular endurance

The secret to ascending any trail lies in building your cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Ideally, you should be able to jog 4 km in 20 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too. Strength This is another area you should work on. You will need to build strength in your muscles and in your core body. You can do some squats to strengthen your leg muscles. Do around 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set. Apart from this, you can add planks and crunches to your work out.


Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek. Working out indoors

 What to take on the trek

what to take on a trek - indiahikes archives

No, stuffing it all in isn’t the right way to do it Packing a backpack correctly saves precious time that you might waste trying to find your things later. It is wise to spend some time on learning what really goes into packing a backpack.

What should I pack? 

On a trek, you only get what you take. Something as simple as a forgotten matchbox can cripple your cooking plans throughout the trek. So, it’s essential to prepare early and prepare well. To begin with, make a checklist. While shopping, remember this thumb rule – keep it light. “Every item needs to be light. This ensures that your backpack, on the whole, stays light,” says Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes. Balancing out heavy items with light ones isn’t going to have the same effect as having all light items. “Always opt for good quality, light items,” says Sandhya.

How much should my bag weigh?

“Your backpack for a weekend trek should weigh between 8 and 10 kg,” explains Arjun Majumdar, co-founder of Indiahikes, “To break it down, your tent should weigh around 2.5 kg, your sleeping bag, around 1.5 kg, and the ration, stove and clothes should constitute the other 5 kg.” The best way to plan is by concentrating on the basic necessities – food, shelter and clothes. Gather only those things that you’ll need to survive. Do not pack for ‘if’ situations. “That’s one of the common mistakes that people make – packing for ‘if situations’. It only adds to the baggage that you can do without on a trek,” says Sandhya.

One good way to go about it is to prepare a list of absolute essentials. Start with the most essential and end with the least essential. That way, when you feel you are overshooting the limit, you can start eliminating from the bottom. Another tip is to be smart while packing clothes. Invest in light. wash and wear fabrics. “Replace a sweater with two t-shirts,” adds Sandhya. Layering is the mantra when it comes to trekking. Refer to Sandhya’s clothes list to pack smart.


How to pack 

The thumb rule for this one is to eliminate air spaces. Make sure that everything is packed tightly, especially clothes and jackets, as they tend to take up maximum air space. Put in all the large items first. Then squeeze in the smaller ones in the gaps. This ensures minimum air space. A good way to pack clothes is by using the Ranger Roll method.

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Where to pack


Sleeping bag: Make this your base layer. Sleeping bags tend to be voluminous, but do not weigh much. They’re perfect for the bottom of the bag. Tent: Just like the sleeping bag, even tents are voluminous and light. Keep the tent poles separately and place the fabric at the bottom of the backpack.


Heavy jacket: Roll up the jacket in a tight ball and place it in the middle of the backpack, close to your back. The middle region of the backpack should always have the heaviest items. You can store other things like ration or mini stoves in the middle. 

Other clothes: Roll other clothes and place them in the remaining space, to fill air gaps.


Water: Water, although heavy, needs to be easily accessible. So put it in the top most region of your backpack. Medicine box: This is another component that you wouldn’t want to be scavenging for when in need. 

Poncho: It could rain at any time in the mountains. So, ponchos should be accessible easily. Also, having a waterproof poncho at the top of the backpack provides additional waterproofing to items in the bag.