I did visit Gandikota several times before while practicing as architect in Hyderabad. Me along with a team of architects explored the place five years ago as part of a project to develop tourism related facilities (includes adventure) under APTDC. The project was pushed by the then CM Dr.YSR. I led the team under the supervision of principal conservation architect of Kshetra Architects, Hyderabad. Our job was to identify and document the components for tourism in the Gandikota fort and village and prepare guidelines for the same. Based on our report only further development took place and is still continuing now (The newly built accommodation facilities out side the fort).
The place has great significance in terms of geology (quartzite stone in sedimentary form & Gorge), archaeology, architecture (Vijayanagara and Quli qutb style), sculpture, irrigation (earthen pipes connecting several water bodies - built 500 years ago), culture, language ...etc.
Taking advantage of the gorge on three sides fort wall was constructed on other sides......it was almost unconquerable. First layer of construction was in 12th century.. exact date was..... Jan 9th, 1123 AD by Architects Gurikandlu and Arikandlu of certain cheif Kakaraja. (This info was authentified by some documents provided by Govt...) Incidentally the resurrection of the place was also started exactly on the same day after 800 years i.e., Jan 9th, 2005 by the visit of two other architects (Me and principal architect of Kshetra)... ...We came to know about this coincidence only later during our research. ;-)
After 12th century many kings and their reigns showed interest towards the place right from Western Chalukyans to Vijayanagara kings (Sri Krishna deva raya) to Hyderabadi muslim rulers (Quli qutbs) to Tippu sultan to British. The reasons for not knowing this could be attributed to the remote location and Gandikota was never a primary capital, it was most of the time a secondary or a tertiary one.
The entire fort wall has a perimeter of five miles (makes it one of the largest forts in India) and the length of the gorge is about 4km and depth upto 700 feet at certain locations. Few villagers have ancestral links to the original occupiers of the fort. The language, dialect and the kind of dresses they wear bear the original footprint of the place. Villagers have a very distinctive style of sports and games (typical to Rayalaseema) which can be witnessed during annual ritual happens after Ugadi every year. The names to the several places within the fort (Veerabhadra banam, Rama banam, Soodigundu) give an idea about linguistics development in the region.
Along with two big temples and masjid, there are many structures unexplored on the site. There are few secret paths to the valley through caves, one of them can be observed near the western edge of the fort. There were many interesting ways in which the people used to catch leopards and other animals moving around. You could even see now, some of those traps built with stones.
Another village Kottalapalle, southwest to Gandikota offers a breathtaking view of the fort and the surroundings. The banks of Penna in the environs of Gandikota were excavated long ago by Britishers and ASI, only to find out that there was human habitation in the region even during Paleolithic ages. My apologies if the info I gave here is like bits and pieces. It has been long since I read and wrote about the place.Each time I visit the place I end up identifying some new edge of the fort with the help of villagers. I feel there is definitely some mystic about the place in terms of the positioning of structures and the silent valley. There is still a lot to unearth about the place. 1960's Telugu movie title "Gandikota Rahasyam" reinforces this belief.... :-))
ASI employees there in the site have few pictures and maps. They and villagers are quite helpful to guide throughout and offer insightful & hilarious (sometimes not authentic) info.
We thought of conducting an exhibition at Hyderabad with the pictures of the place but back tracked later only to prevent misuse of the place till the Govt. facilitates the tourist's requirements there. Any way, I am happy to share this now!