In this region of Andhra Pradesh, the popular tourist destinations are Belum Caves and Gandikota. Gandikota is more famous for its Grand Canyon-like gorge than the fort which people visit as a side show. Unless you are travelling to these two places as a weekend getaway in your car you would need to stay somewhere and this is exactly where our next tourist destination comes. The name of the place is Gooty or I think I should call it Gutty as this is what the locals refer to this place as.
My trip to Gooty was part of a tour to Belum Caves – Gandikota Gorge – Gandikota Fort. Gooty is a small town and the railway station is one of the diesel loco shed in the line between Chennai and Mumbai thus there is a sizeable population of railway employees who reside in quarters all along the railways station. The main Gooty town is however around 4 – 5 kilometres from the station.
How to Reach
Most trains travelling from Mumbai going down south towards Bengaluru or Chennai stop at Gooty. This station has only two platforms adjoining each other. One for the down train and the other for up train. Once you get down at the station take the foot over bridge and exit the station. This station has a monkey infestation and sometimes these can become a bit violent if they spot food packets in your hand so it’s better to hide them else they might come to snatch it from you.
Where to Stay
Gooty has limited options and I managed to only see three hotels where you can stay overnight with only one amongst the three recommendable. Even the locals will tell you that Hotel Ravi Theja is the best place with air-conditioned accommodations in the town. The only down side is that the hotel rooms do not have western toilets and you would have to get yourself accustomed with the Indian version. On the positive side, this hotel has a restaurant attached which takes care of your hunger problem. However, the taste of food is not that great and the saving grace would be that there are quite a few restaurants all around this place serving both veg and non-veg food.
From Gooty station you will find plenty of Auto and Vikram plying from the station towards the main town. Gooty station is a bit far (nearly 5 kilometres) from the main Gooty town thus this is the only viable option. A fully booked auto will cost you around 60 Rs. and takes around ten minutes to reach the hotel. Since this is a small town thus all the auto drivers know all the hotels in town so sit back and enjoy the short ride from the station to your hotel.
You can opt for the share Vikram also which would cost you around 10 Rs. per person. If you have luggage with you then travelling on a shared transportation can sometimes become bit difficult.
To travel to Gooty Fort from the hotel you need to take an Auto costing around 40 Rs. Since the fort is not frequented by tourists thus for the return trip you would also require a transportation. For this take down the mobile number of the Auto driver and inform him that you will call him once back from the top. Since Gooty is a small town thus it will hardly take him a couple of minutes to reach back.
History of Gooty Fort
The fortifications enclose a roughly circular of steep rocky hills which rise abruptly from the plains to a height of more than 680 meters feet above the sea level. These hills are connected by lower spurs enclosing a considerable area of level ground, within which is the old town of Gooty is situated. The ruins of a strong wall or rampart are strengthened by bastions. The citadel of the fortress is in the western most hill, which is conspicuously higher with elevated towers. The rock commands the lower fortifications and the town below which is defended by a series of ramparts built one above the other and connected by gateways flanked by bastions. Numerous small reservoirs made in the clefts of the rock catch the rain water seasonally and served well.
The summit of the citadel has two buildings which apparently, a granary and a powder-magazine. On the edge of a cliff, some 300 feet high is a small pavilion built of brick and plaster which is called ‘Morari Rao’s Seat‘ and present an excellent view of the town below. It is said that Morari Rao, the famous Maratha, used to sit and play chess or swing himself.
There are many other buildings in ruins, mostly granaries, storerooms, and magazines, and some of these were used by Munro as prisons for refractory hill Chiefs. Near the summit of the hill, on the rocks close to the ruined Narasimha temple, are eight inscriptions, but owing to their exposure they are seriously damaged. All that can be ascertained out of three of them is that they were of the period of Western Chalukya King Vikramaditya VI, surnamed Tribhuvanamalla, who ruled from 1076-1126 AD. It can be stated that the fort and the historical structures date back to Late Chalukyan Period.
After the death of Krishna Deva Raya, there was some turmoil in the Vijayanagara kingdom, Sadasiva Raya, a nephew of Achyuta was proclaimed as Emperor with the help of Adil Shahis. It was during Venkata II’s (1584-1614) rule the Gooty fort fell into the hands of the Qutb Shahis.
Aurangzeb captured Golkonda, he apparently took Gooty from Qutb Shahis. About 1746 A.D. Morari Rao established himself in the fort and eight years later he made it his permanent residence and repaired the fortifications. It is to this period that the stucco ornamentation of the small gateways belonged. In A.D.1775 Gooty was attacked by Haider Ali and sieged for five weeks the town and lower forts and two months later Morari Rao was compelled through lack of water to capitulate. At the foot of the hill is the European Cemetery, where rested the body of Sir Thomas Munro, who died of cholera at Pattikonda (Kurnool district) on the 6th July 1827.
(Above information from Arche logical Survey of India Hyderabad Circle)
The Climb to the Top
The short auto drive from the station to the Fort will take you across the small town and navigate around the small houses and temples you will reach the base of the hill.
Tip: Right at the foot of the hill before you climb there is a shop selling bottled water and carbonated drinks. Do stock up as the climb is steep and once up there are no shops.
At the base, you will see two cannons which act like a gate to the fort. To the left of the pathway that takes you up is the European Cemetery which remains open from 9 AM to 5 PM.
The climb at places is steep thus wear appropriate footwear. Take rests in between if you want there will be several boulders on the way where you sit for a while and catch your breath. While climbing up you will come across the Dargah of Hazrat Syed Basha, every year two days of Urs is celebrated in his honour on the 8th day after Milad-un-Nabi. This place can be a good place for you to take rest in between your climb up to the top. Right opposite to the Dargah you will find a small Muslim cemetery.
If you look back you will get a fantastic panoramic view of Gooty town from here, you will also be able to see the hill ranges all around. What you will also notice is that the fort walls extend to other hills around this central hill.
The climb after this is quite steep and after taking a sharp left turn you will see what appears to be the entrance to the fort. Right in front of you will be the tank and the granary to the left. Out here you will see other small room like structures which were probably magazine or residence. On the Eastern side you will be able to see the vast expanse of the valley below.
The structure which is most prominent is the Morari Rao’s Seat which looks to be the best-maintained building in the fort. Overall most of the structures inside the fort are in shambles and only some portion of either a gate or a wall remains. All around you will be able to see the watch towers strategically placed all around the hill.
Apart from the fort, the next interesting thing and ironically the best-preserved structure is the European Cemetery at the foothill. This is a very important and interesting place and this requires a detailed blog which I am going to post next. Till then bon voyage and have a good travelling experience.
Action Camera Footage
Click here to open the route map to Gandikota from Gooty on Google Maps
Gooty – Hotel Ravi Theja (Mobile – 83093 86360, this is the mobile number of the owner who can speak Telugu and Little Hindi. You can also WhatsApp him in this number in English)
Other nearby Tourist Attractions