Dasara Festival: Trip to Warangal via Gandikota and Lepakshi
Updated: Oct 10, 2022
Date: Oct 1st to 8th, 2023
I planned to visit Warangal for Dasara festival, a major festival for lot of Hindus. Read through for more details on the festival.
Route: Samir, my Bangalore friend, and I started the trip on Saturday Oct 1st and rode towards Gandikota, a place where I was planning to go last year. Sai Krishna another friend of mine whom I met in Leh joined with his gang of friends from Tenali. The following day I left to warangal and my friends left to their homes. Unfortunately one of the bridge at Jammaladugu crashed because of heavy rains so I had to take detour through farms. Lot of fresh air however, for Harley its not a smooth ride till I hit NH 40 which joins NH 44 at Kurnool. Spent 5 days in Warangal and later returned on Oct 8th to Bangalore.
Gandikota is part of Kadapa district, Andra Pradesh and the place is famous as Indian Grand Canyon. It is not as impressive as Great Grand Canyon of US but still worth spending 2 nights to check out and hike the entire place. When we reached the destination the weather was nice, we could do small hike and checked out the place. The fort is build by Kakatiya Dynasty which is the same dynasty that ruled Warangal, my hometown. In the evening it started raining heavily and my tent was blown away which we place on top of the mountain. Fortunately the owner of the tent took all my belongings and put the stuff in the Samir tent. The rain and wind was so heavy that both of us were holding the tent from inside so that it won't be blown away. Lot of guys came to checkout the place, we had late dinner and slept around 10PM. One bad thing in India is that folks make lot of noise by drinking and playing music during night which is very annoying instead of enjoying the place due to which I had on and off sleep.
The next morning was great and we again hiked for an hour and started early as I had to ride another 9-10 hours I . Otherwise Gandikota is a good place to hike for a whole day and one dont sweat as the hikes are not that hard. Apparely one can also do kayaking in the river but because of lot of water it was deemed risky.
On the way to Warangal I had to do detour because the bridge at Jhammalamadugu collapsed because of the heavy rains the previous day. This took the route through some farms for about 40 kms and was
exhaustive. However, it is through lot of farms so kind of lovely to go through. Should have taken few photos, I need to break this habit of reaching home quickly instead of enjoying every moment. Anyway on the way I met these 3 farmers who are pretty cool. we talked about what they do and they planned to hook me up with a nice girl :). The route led to NH 40 which is almost empty and nice, it merges at NH 44 at Kurnool on the way to Hyderabad.
The festival is basically is celebrated over 9 days where generally people are supposed to fast and worship different goddess for 9 days. The last day is when Lord Rama has killed demon Ravana so people celebrate it as auspicious day. Different regions celebrate differently particularly in West Bengal they celebrate by worshiping Goddess Durga or Kali Mata however, in Warangal we celebrate in two main days.
The day before main day is called Bhathukamma where women/girls celebrate by making a huge flower pot and dance around it.
On the main day we cook lot of delicious meals especially mutton, gyaralu and drinking lot of Toddi (alcohol made out of palm tree sap). Also at home my mom made 3 types of laddus which are also my favourite. Communities gather in a large area to burn large effigy of demon Ravana with ten heads as you can see in the photo.
Also this time of the year is famous of Custard apples. I love these fruits and I at least 6 of them each day.
The next day me and my school friends gathered to have lot of Toddi near paddy fields. Weather was great and we had lots of fun in drinking. Drinking Toddi is very cultural thing and people from this region were allowed to drink at very young age. It is generally sweet before it gets fermented and advised to drink before that. Also the drink has health benefits specially dissolving kidney stones, I do not know how :).
On the way back to Bangalore I planned to stay at Lepakshi so that early morning I can view the temple when its empty. Unfortunately the only hotel at the place is fully booked as this is a holiday season. So it is better to book online if you plan to stay there. On the way I had to take multiple breaks as somehow riding on Harley my back hurts after every 50kms. I met this family, photo to the right, who are on the way to party for the family kid's birthday. All the people in the truck is one whole joint family and they seems excited to chat with me.
The architecture of the Lepakshi temple is pretty impressive, unfortunately lot of it is gone. Some of these are done on single stone carvings. Also the murals on the ceiling are amazing. Its difficult to spot them unless you point your camera to it.