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.
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.
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|
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
wow... this is amazgin stuff.. havent heard of this place, and it sure looks like it belongs in another country..ReplyDelete
The place is amazing and you would definitely feel you have landed in another planet.Delete
Wonderful shots of interiors of the cave.ReplyDelete
Niranjan you are a wandering genius. like your depth of study and love for travel.ReplyDelete
amazing pictures too
Thanks a lot Jatin. Nice to see you here. Keep visiting.Delete
This is amazing, thank you for sharing this wonderful experience. Felt like I was doing the expedition, admire your passion.ReplyDelete
Thanks a lot Sir. You must visit the place. Thanks for dropping by.Delete
We travel abroad in search of such places not knowing such wonders exist right here....Wonderful job of posting it..Lovely photographs too!!!ReplyDelete
Thank you Mridu. You are very right. Many places in India still remains unexplored and people go in search of treasures abroad.Delete
Its great post and superb pictures...ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing this wonderful travel experience.Its really amazingReplyDelete
My pleasure, Nesi. Thank you.Delete
I was there some time back.ReplyDelete
So many pictures? they will get stolen... seriously!
Yeah, high chances of it being flicked. Can't help. :)Delete
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?ReplyDelete
Thanks a lot Divya. The place is well maintained by the tourism department.Delete
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?
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.Delete
Please feel free to share this link on your fb page.
Thank you so much for the permission :) Do send me an add request
Thanks Apoorva for sharing it. Have added you on facebook.Delete
Wow! That is quite a place. Pathal Ganga must be a stream there!ReplyDelete
Its an awesome place Kusum. You must visit it. Yes, Pathal Ganga is a small stream.Delete
Though I've read and seen so much of belum caves, its the first time Im getting so much information about the caves themselves.ReplyDelete
Awesome pics and great narration.
Thanks a lot Kishan.Delete
Really interesting and informative Niranjan! The pictures are great! Thanks for sharing this!ReplyDelete
Thanks a lot Shubhra. Nice to see you here. Keep dropping by.Delete
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!!ReplyDelete
Thanks Anu. The place is a must visit. Its well maintained by the tourism department. Head there soon.Delete
Good to see another report about this cave. The images show the cave formations. Wish they hadn't concertised the place.ReplyDelete
Yeah, but that has helped vistors to go further deep into the caves. The place is quite well maintained by the tourism department.Delete
Jaw-dropping images, Niranjan! We're sure fortunate to see these pictures. That must have been such an amazing experience.ReplyDelete
Thanks a lot. It was indeed an amazing experience.Delete
Hi Niran good. How you are managing it. Always special places.ReplyDelete
Hi Niran. Wonderful place. Good snaps.
Thanks a lot Ramdas mama. It is my passion for travel that is taking me to all these places.Delete
Great snaps and useful information!!ReplyDelete
Absolutely stunning and as usual I had not heard of this before!ReplyDelete
Thanks Mridula. It is a stunning place. Do visit it when you get time.Delete
Thank you. Keep dropping by.Delete
Beautiful snaps. Loved the lighting.ReplyDelete
Thanks Gowtham. Keep dropping by.Delete
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.ReplyDelete
Thanks a lot. Its a magnificent place. Head there soon.Delete
Wow. This is an amazing account of your adventure. The pics are awesome. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Thank you Ramakrishnan.Delete
nice shape and cool light coming in :)ReplyDelete
The place is a heaven for photographers like you, Joshi!!Delete
Fantastic pics and a great account - and an interesting place as wellReplyDelete
Thanks a lot Lakshmi.Delete
Beautiful pictures. I have heard a lot about this place. Now, your excellent account and pictures make me wanna go here soon.ReplyDelete
Thanks Sankara. Head there soon.Delete
WOW !! Great pics ,..i never heard about this place .. Thanks for sharing this one ..!!ReplyDelete
Thanks a lot. Keep dropping by.Delete
Very good article with quality content that you have shared, the pictures and everything inside are good, I will definitely send it to my friends to read, thank you and respect you.ReplyDelete
Thanks a lot.Delete