The fort got its name as 'Gandikota' due to the presence of 'Gandi', which means 'a deep valley or gorge' in Telugu, formed between the Erramalai ranges of hills. Hence it is also called as 'Gorge Fort'. The Pennar River that flows at the foot of the valley is in the vicinity of the fort.
Built during the later half of 13th century, the fort is protected by the deep valley surrounding it and by the enormous boulders of red granite of the Erramalai hills, giving it a natural strength. The entrance of the fort has a huge gate, about 20 feet high, and has nearly 101 fortresses, each about 40 feet high, surrounding the fort. It has a Masjid, a large granary, temples and many attractive places to see.
The Ranganatha swami Temple and Madhava swami Temple, inside the fort, supposed to be built during 15th-16th centuries, are the master piece of art and architecture. The architecture of these temples resembles the style of Vijayanagar era with outstanding sculptures and fine carvings. The Jamia Masjid, inside the fort, covers a large area next to a granary. This granary was used during the time of a blockade in its heydays and today it is used as a traveller's bungalow. The fort also has a graceful 'Pigeon Tower' with windows and a palace built by bricks with plastered decorations. Old cannon used in those days still adorn the fort. A perennial spring called 'Rayalacheruvu' (lake), inside the fort, is said to be connected to a fountain in Jamia Masjid by pipes, traces of which can still be seen. From the top of the fort, you can get a panoramic view of the surroundings with lush green forest, sparkling river and beautiful valley.
The kings of Gandikota were so valorous that even the Pathan army of the Bahmani sultans feared them. Many of them became folk heroes and songs were sung in their praise in the later generations.