September 11, 2012

Belum Caves- Deep Down Under...!!


I was in search of a Lord Buddha statue after traversing almost 300 Kms across the barren plains of Rayalseema in Andhra Pradesh. The search was not to see the statue of Buddha but to make sure I was on the right path. The statue was the landmark and the destination was Belum Caves in Kurnool district. The charming lord invited me to the longest underground caving system in the Indian sub continent. 3.5 Kms of the caves have been excavated and 1.5 Kms of it is open to the public. First discovered in late 1800's by a Britisher, the caves are presently under the Archaeological Survey of India and Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation. When these millions of years old caves were explored again in early 1980's, speleologists found Buddhist relics and remnants of Lord Buddha's times. There are claims that the caves were occupied by Buddhist monks, sages and Jains.


Going down 40 feet

I went down 40 feet from the ground level with my guide. The steps led me to the entrance hall which had a low slanting ceiling and huge opening to the sky. My guide then explained to me how and when the caves were explored, what the excavators found and about the different kind of formations of stalactites and stalagmites. He also warned that the humidity level would be 80% in most places. Except for a few bats, he claimed the caves were devoid of animal presence. Supposedly millions of years ago, water flowed through these caves and the formation of the passages and the smoothness of the cave-walls are all a result of the flows.

Entrance hall

My guide



The caves have been lit up along the passages for visibility and this yellow light made the caves even more attractive. As we trod ahead, the smell of earth was so apparent and  I also realised that I was sweating profusely. The further I went, higher became the humidity levels, deeper became the caves from 40 feet to 100 feet below ground level and heavier became my perspiration. All these difficulties did neither distract me nor make me tired. I was lost gawking at the natural formations of stalactites,stalagmites, pit holes on roofs, animal paws, snake hoods, god look-alike and many many more formations. It took me some time to regain my senses as I was spellbound gazing at this heavenly wonder. Even as my guide kept explaining in detail about the caves, I was lost and transported to aeons back.



Ceiling formations


As we kept walking along the fairly wide passages, my guide stopped and said we will take a short cut. To save 200 meters of walk along the passage, he literally made me crawl for 15 meters in pitch darkness. The ceiling was hardly two and a half feet high and that was indeed a mind blowing experience. For the first time in my life I felt I was a true cave explorer.






The major sightings inside the caves are meditation room, mantapam, maya mandir, pathal ganga, banyan tree hall and musical chamber. The tourism department has done significant initiatives to promote these caves by placing bridges, cutting steps, lighting, air supplies at frequent points and excellent guides to help the visitors understand the history behind these extraordinary caves.



Can you see a Ganapathi here?



Bridges laid by tourism department


Formations on the ceiling

Banyan tree hall

After walking, crawling, gaping, clicking, posing and listening to my guide's geography classes for 1.5 Kms we reached Pathal Ganga. This is the point where there is a small spring and a stone in the shape of Shivalinga. The water was not cold as I expected it to be. Pathal Ganga is almost 120 feet below the ground level and is the last point up to which the cave is open to public. Even though explorers have gone much further ahead, it is not advisable for the visitors to follow their foot steps. My guide also mentioned that there are chances of animal presence further ahead of Pathal Ganga.


Pathal Ganga and Shivlinga






Pits on the ceiling




It was a long walk of another 1.5 Kms before I could breathe fresh oxygen, see the sun's rays and and get my senses back from the fantasy world. 
Belum caves is definitely one of the best caving options available in the whole of India. It is slowly but significantly gaining importance on the tourist map and is sure to attract many more visitors in the coming times. Please make sure to carry lots of drinking water when you enter the caves.


Signing Note- Go down the caves and transport yourself into a magical world...!!

Route- Bangalore- Chikballarpur- Anantpur- Tadpatiri- Kolimigundla- Belum Caves
Distance- 320 Kms

78 comments:

  1. wow... this is amazgin stuff.. havent heard of this place, and it sure looks like it belongs in another country..

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    1. The place is amazing and you would definitely feel you have landed in another planet.

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  2. Wonderful shots of interiors of the cave.

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  3. Niranjan you are a wandering genius. like your depth of study and love for travel.
    amazing pictures too

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    1. Thanks a lot Jatin. Nice to see you here. Keep visiting.

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  4. This is amazing, thank you for sharing this wonderful experience. Felt like I was doing the expedition, admire your passion.

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    1. Thanks a lot Sir. You must visit the place. Thanks for dropping by.

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  5. Wow, I am amazed that we too have such stuff here in India but hardly anyone knows about. Great going through you blog. Thanks for the beautiful journey. God bless.

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    1. Thanks a lot. There are numerous such unexplored treasures in India. Thanks for dropping by.

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  6. Niranjan!! super!! ust feel like visiting the cave!!.. The yellow lights indeed gives it a magnificient look!!.. what a feeling to visit such places!! Interiors look so awesome!.. We need people like u to discover more such places and create an awareness amongst people that India has such awesome places too!! Keep up the good job!! :):)


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    1. Thanks a lot. Those words are an inspiration to explore more.

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  7. We travel abroad in search of such places not knowing such wonders exist right here....Wonderful job of posting it..Lovely photographs too!!!

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    1. Thank you Mridu. You are very right. Many places in India still remains unexplored and people go in search of treasures abroad.

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  8. Its great post and superb pictures...

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  9. Thanks for sharing this wonderful travel experience.Its really amazing

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  10. I was there some time back.
    So many pictures? they will get stolen... seriously!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, high chances of it being flicked. Can't help. :)

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  11. Wonderful pics Niranjan... and excellent narration. Felt as if I was going through the paths as well. Wonder how the underground caves/pathways are so neat and tidy. Are they maintained by the Government?

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    1. Thanks a lot Divya. The place is well maintained by the tourism department.

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  12. beautiful pictures...thank you for sharing your experience..!!

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  13. Beautiful pictures.!
    My grandparents belong to kurnool, no wonder I have known this place.
    But you clicked the right places to be amazed of these caves.
    If you have time,
    DO visit the rock formations on either sides of the road which takes you to Orvakallu or Nandhyal from Kurnool.
    Can I share it on my fb page?

    http://apoorvathinks.blogspot.in

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    1. Thanks a lot Apoorva. I have visited Gandikota reservoir. I suppose that is Orvakallu. Correct me if am wrong. You are so fortunate to come from such a wonderful land.
      Please feel free to share this link on your fb page.

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    2. Sahred..
      Thank you so much for the permission :) Do send me an add request
      http://www.facebook.com/apoorva.writes.7/posts/281278421978582

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    3. Thanks Apoorva for sharing it. Have added you on facebook.

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  14. Wow! That is quite a place. Pathal Ganga must be a stream there!

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    1. Its an awesome place Kusum. You must visit it. Yes, Pathal Ganga is a small stream.

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  15. This is awesome place and I like this kind of places and wana enjoy adventure at this place. Can anybody tell how to reach this place?...

    http://www.indianluxurytours.org/

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    1. It is a beautiful place and adventure lovers are sure to love it. It is 290 Kms from Bangalore. The route is mentioned on my post.

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  16. Though I've read and seen so much of belum caves, its the first time Im getting so much information about the caves themselves.

    Awesome pics and great narration.

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  17. great place and great post...

    photos are beautiful

    your narration also nice

    thanks for sharing

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  18. Really interesting and informative Niranjan! The pictures are great! Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. Thanks a lot Shubhra. Nice to see you here. Keep dropping by.

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  19. wonderful!!!! I read about these caves on another blog just a few months back.. till then i was completely unaware of them!!! from your post, the place appears to be well maintained too... now i hope i can go there soon!!

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    1. Thanks Anu. The place is a must visit. Its well maintained by the tourism department. Head there soon.

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  20. Good to see another report about this cave. The images show the cave formations. Wish they hadn't concertised the place.

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    1. Yeah, but that has helped vistors to go further deep into the caves. The place is quite well maintained by the tourism department.

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  21. Jaw-dropping images, Niranjan! We're sure fortunate to see these pictures. That must have been such an amazing experience.

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    1. Thanks a lot. It was indeed an amazing experience.

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  22. Hi Niran good. How you are managing it. Always special places.










    Hi Niran. Wonderful place. Good snaps.

    Ramdas













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    1. Thanks a lot Ramdas mama. It is my passion for travel that is taking me to all these places.

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  23. Great snaps and useful information!!

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  24. Absolutely stunning and as usual I had not heard of this before!

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    1. Thanks Mridula. It is a stunning place. Do visit it when you get time.

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  25. Beautiful snaps. Loved the lighting.

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  26. i was completely about such an amazing place in India. I feeling flying there to have the experience. Awesome photos and ofcourse awesome your description.

    http://from-a-girls-mind.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks a lot. Its a magnificent place. Head there soon.

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  27. Wow. This is an amazing account of your adventure. The pics are awesome. Thanks for sharing.

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  28. a very fascinating place which is nicely captured in the photos!appears to be well-lit too.are people hesitant about entering the caves,because i didn't find anyone in the pics except in one!
    is there any period during the year when one should avoid a visit,say monsoon time? thanks,
    srinivasan

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    1. Thank you Srinivasan. There were a few visitors when I was there. It is just that I avoided them in my frames. You can visit them during anytime of the year. Since Rayalseema is mostly hot and dry, you may avoid the summers.

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  29. Thanks for sharing this. It looks amazing.

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  30. Replies
    1. The place is a heaven for photographers like you, Joshi!!

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  31. Fantastic pics and a great account - and an interesting place as well

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  32. Beautiful pictures. I have heard a lot about this place. Now, your excellent account and pictures make me wanna go here soon.

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  33. WOW !! Great pics ,..i never heard about this place .. Thanks for sharing this one ..!!

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  34. Niranjan, nice write up. Felt like am there while you explained it. Pics made them as much livelier!

    We are planning for a road trip on our bikes next week from Hyderabad to Belum Caves & Gandikota. Could you pls share some info?

    How is the accommodation over there, if you stayed there?
    Any timings for the Bellum Caves? We'll be reaching there by 11 am so will that be sufficient?
    How much did the guide charge?

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    1. Thanks a lot. I did not stay in Belum or Gandikota. There is a vegetarian restaurant in the premises of belum caves. The best stay options are in Anantpur. Nothing much near Belum and Gandikota. Reaching by 11 am would be apt. It would take about 2 hours to come out of the caves. Guides do not charge anything, but you may tip them. They are ssigned by the tourismdepartment. Hoever there is minimal entry charges. Thanks for dropping by. Keep visiting. Enjoy your ride to Belum.

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  35. So this place is now on the map as they say. Cool photos. How many hours did you spend inside. More than 2 am sure.

    I remember lots of friends visiting this place over the last 2-3 years.

    I wonder if you took any photos of the grand canyon like vistas of the river and red sandstone rocks which is also a part of the circuit.

    Lovely blog

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    1. Thanks a lot. It takes about 2-3 hours to finish the tour. The posts on gandikota is also there on my blog. Keep visiting.

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