Less known places in India: Belum Caves in Andhra Pradesh.
Bangalore , Aug 02,2016
Belum Caves is the largest tourist cave in Indian subcontinent and the longest caves in plains of Indian Subcontinent, known for its stalactite and stalagmite formations. Belum Caves have long passages, spacious chambers, fresh water galleries and siphons. It is a natural underground cave formed by the constant flow of underground water. The caves reach its deepest point (150 feet from entrance level) at the point known as Pataalaganga. In Telugu language, it is called (బెల్లము గుహలు Belum Guhalu ). Belum Caves has a length of 3229 metres, making it the second largest natural caves in Indian Subcontinent after Krem Liat Prah caves in Meghalaya.
It was brought to scientific attention in 1884 by a British surveyor Robert Bruce Foote Thereafter, Belum Caves remained unnoticed for almost a century till a German team headed by Herbert Daniel Gebauer conducted detailed exploration of the caves in 1982 and 1983.
Thereafter in 1988, the state government declared them protected, and Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) developed the caves as a tourist attraction in February 2002. Today, 3.5 km of the cave has been successfully explored, though only 1.5 km is open to tourists. Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) has developed the pathways in around 2 km of the length of the caves, provided soft illumination and has created fresh-air-shafts in the caves. At many places inside the cave, APTDC has installed bridges, staircase, etc. for easy movement inside the cave. It has also created a canteen, washroom and toilet facilities near the entry point. There are 16 different pathways, including the main entrance and there are deposits of Quartz in the caves. The caves are formed in Black Limestone.
Earlier it is a water table and now it is converted to caves. Local guide has no much knowledge about its history but he has a good cave sense. Nice place to visit with the family. The tourists are charged an amount of Rs.50.00 for entrance. Foreign Tourists are charged Rs.300.00 per person for entrance. APTDC has installed electronic gates at entrance.
The entrance is like that of a Pit Cave. From the ground you can only see two pits side by side and third pit a little further away. After descending around 20 meters by the stairs from the entrance, the caves become horizontal. The first section one enters is called Gebauer Hall named after Speleologist Mr H. Daniel Gebauer, who had explored and mapped the caves in 1982-1983. The path to Gebauer Hall leads below the second opening, which lies next to the main entrance.
Very nice caves. Best times to visit this place is November to february. Worst time of visit will be during rainy season. It will be open from 9: 30 A.m to 6: 30 P.m. Entrance fees will be only Rs50. Winter season will be best season to visit these place as whaether will be cool and favourable inside the caves.
Situated 110 km from Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India. it is the longest cave system in the plains of India. These underground caves are located under a flat agricultural field and have three well like cavities with the central one being the main entrance. The exquisite stalactite and stalagmite formations and the imaginative colour illumination are the main attractions of the Belum Caves, which were adjudged as an "Unique Eco-Tourism Project" by the Government of India
The formation of rocks in the caves are different. The names of the area is derived from the nature of the rock formations. Some of them are described below:
- Simhadwaram - Simhadwaram means lions gate. It is a natural arch of stalactites formed in the shape of a lion's head;
- Kotilingalu Chamber - This section contains stalactite formations which are akin to shiva lingams. This section has thousands of such stalactite giving it a surrealistic look. It has one huge pillar formed due to stalactite and stalagmite joining together.
- Patalaganga - It is a small perennial stream which disappears into the depths of the earth. This stream flows from the southeast to northwest. It disappears and is believed to be heading towards a well at the Belum village, located 2 km away from the caves.
- Dhyan Mandir or Meditation Hall - This section is near to the entrance. An inresting formation at Meditation hall looks like a bed with pillow to recline. The local legend has it that in ancient times many sages use to live here. This section was used by Buddhist Monks. Many relics of Buddhist period were found here which are now housed in museum at Anantapur.
- Thousand Hoods - This section has amazing stalactite formations shaped like hood of Cobra. The stalactite formations on the ceiling looks as if thousands of cobras have opened their hoods.
- Banyan Tree Hall - This section has a huge pillar with stalactites hanging from the ceiling. This gives a look of Banyan Tree with its aerial roots when seen from below. The locals call it "Voodalamari" since it looks like a Banyan Tree with its aerial roots hanging from the branches.
- Saptasvarala Guha or Musical Chamber - Saptasvarala Guha means chamber of seven notes. The stalactite formations in this chamber reproduce musical sounds when these are struck with a wooden stick or knuckles. This section was opened to the public in 2006.
- Mandapam - This is a huge area inside the cave with magnificent stalcite structures on the sides giving it a look of a hall with pillars.
Situated 110 km from Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India. it is the longest cave system in the plains of India. These underground caves are located under a flat agricultural field and have three well like cavities with the central one being the main entrance. The exquisite stalactite and stalagmite formations and the imaginative colour illumination are the main attractions of the Belum Caves, which were adjudged as an "Unique Eco-Tourism Project" by the Government of India. nearest railway station is : Thadipatri and it is well connected by rail with major cities like - Bangalore, Hyderabad and Vijayawada.