Why Everyone Needs to Visit India’s Hidden Grand Canyon Right Away

Grand Canyon of India
Grand Canyon of India | © Sudhakarbichali / WikiCommons

Everybody is familiar with the USA’s Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. But did you know that there is a hidden Grand Canyon in India as well? There is, and it is nothing less than breathtaking.

Loved by over 40s

It’s true – in the Southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, there is a small village in the Kadapa district named Gandikota, and it is home to India’s Hidden Grand Canyon. Carved by the Penna River that snakes its way through the Erramala Ranges in Andhra Pradesh, experts believe the canyon is more than a thousand years old. The best part is that the untouched and unexploited natural beauty blends seamlessly with the area’s rich historical past.

Grand Canyon formed by Penna River

What to see and do

The gorge is known for its spectacular views and scenery, but the area also offers several other beautiful attractions that are worth checking out.

One prime spot to explore is the 13th-century Gandikota Fort, a red sandstone structure with intricate carvings, protected by a five-mile-long (eight kilometres) rocky wall. The fort includes 101 bastions, all of which are more than 40 feet (12 metres) high, and a gorge that stands at over 300 feet (91 meters) above the Penna River. The view of from the top is majestic. And when the sun goes down, the gorge becomes all the more spectacular with a beautiful colour palette covering its cluster of rocks. While it’s amazing, the hike to this spot isn’t an easy one, with treacherous rocky terrain throughout and no human presence whatsoever. But once you reach the summit of the rock and see the beautiful views of the surrounding hill forests, gorge and Penna River, you’ll know that it was worth it.


Gandikota, India’s Hidden Grand Canyon

The remains of two temples (Ranganatha Swami Temple and Madhava Swami Temple) built in the 13th century and a mosque – the Jamia Masjid, built a few years later – sit in the precinct, abutting the fort.

Ruins of Ranganatha Swami Temple
Jamia Masjid

Close to Gandikota Fort is Rayalacheruvu Lake, another surreal hidden natural wonder built with stones. Water from the Penna River pours into this lake, and the belief is that the fountain in Jamia Masjid connects to this water source.

Pro tip: Not many food options are available near the canyon to fuel you up, so take some food and water with you.

Rappelling, kayaking and rock climbing are some of the popular activities in the gorge, and most are available through adventure companies, such as Freakouts Adventure.

Grand Canyon of India

An hour’s drive away from the Gandikota Canyon, in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, lies the second largest cave in India, the Belum Caves (10,594 feet [3,229 metres] long), black limestone cave structures formed millions of years ago. This cave beckons to the adventure, history and science lovers. As the water passed over the limestone deposits, it resulted in the unique and beautiful stalagmite and stalactite formations. The cave is 150 feet (46 metres) deep, and at the deepest point, called as Patalganga, you’ll spot an underwater stream that flows year-round, thus, forming a natural waterfall – truly a sight to behold. In addition to the underground stream, there is a 40-foot (12-metre) Buddha Statue in the precinct, natural sculptures, water galleries and sink holes. So, if you’re planning to stay for more than a day in Gandikota village, do backpack to this district to explore these fascinating natural wonders.

Belum Caves

How to get there

There are several options for reaching the gorge. Visitors can arrive at the village via roads from various cities, including Bangalore (175 miles or 282 kilometres) via NH 44, Visakhapatnam (466 miles or 750 kilometres) via NH 16 and Hyderabad (228 miles or 367 miles) via NH 44.

The nearest railway station is Jammalamadugu, approximately 10.5 miles (17 kilometres) from Gandikota. There is also Muddanuru, 18 miles (29 kilometres) away; Cuddapah, 55.9 miles (90 kilometres); or Tirupati, 139 miles (225 kilometres) from Gandikota. The nearest airports are Tirupati Airport, about 137 miles (221 kilometres) away, or Bengaluru International Airport, about 160 miles (258 kilometres) from the Hidden Grand Canyon – visitors can take a private cab/bus the rest of the way.

Where to stay

Within Gandikota, there is an APTDC Complex run by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department – it is near the gorge. It has a dorm, 12 cottages, a dining area and ample parking space. Several hotels are also available in the area. Plus, several adventure companies offer lodging and camping trips.

Best time to visit

August to February is the best time to witness India’s Grand Canyon.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.