The fort of Gandikota acquired its name due to the 'gorge' (in Telugu it is called 'gandi'), formed between the Erramala range of hills, also known as Gandikota hills and the river Pennar that flows at its foot, reducing its width to a mere 300 ft (see the river image below). Situated amidst beautiful landscape and wild forests, it is endowed with vast natural resources.
History of Gandikota Fort
Gandikota was founded in 1123 by Kapa Raja of nearby Bommanapalle village and a subordinate of Ahavamalla Someswara I, the Western Chalukyan king of Kalyana. The town played a significant role during the Kakatiya, Vijayanagara and Qutub Shahi periods. The fort was made more impregnable by Pemmasani Thimma Nayudu. The fort was under the control of Pemmasani Nayaks for over 300 years. The exploits of Pemmasani Nayaks, Gothram : Musunulla, Rulers of Gandikota and Commanders in Vijayanagar army to protect the honour of Telugu land are well known. Vemana, the famous Telugu poet, native of Kadapa district and believed to have lived in Gandikota area.
Geography of Gandikota Fort
Gandikota fort is Surrounded by a deep valley and impassable hills, with massive boulders of red granite and the river Pennar that flows about 300 ft. below on the west and northern sides, its location affords strong natural defence to the occupants of the Fort. Summing all the features Gandikota area looks like 'Grand Canyon' of America. So Gandikota popularly known as Grand Canyon of India.
Important Places to Visit in Gandikota Fort
The area within is full of the debris of ages and many ancient structures in varying stages of decay. The fort has a Masjid, a large granary and a temple. The Jamia Masjid has two adjacent minarets. The large granary, with a vaulted roof, is now used as the traveller's bungalow. Within the fort are two ancient temples, dedicated to Madhava and Raghunatha.
The other structures within the fort, include another large granary, a magazine, a graceful 'pigeon tower' with fretted windows and an extensive palace built by bricks with some plastered decorations and some wells. There is an old cannon still lying in the fort. There is also the 'Rayalacheruvu' with its perennial springs irrigating some lime and plantain gardens. It is said that this 'Cheruvu' was connected to a fountain in Jamia Masjid by pipes, traces of which can still be seen.
There were other gardens and springs. There is an undated inscription on a boulder, near the 'Nagajhari' outside the fort, recording the gift of two gardens at the place to the temple. There was also a garden called 'Parebagh' with a waterfall at the foot of the hills, on the bank of the Penneru.