Sunday, June 21, 2009

Belum Caves, Andhra Pradesh

After one night at Horseley Hills I started at 7 am downward and after 6 kms hill drive reached the plains to the fork area where right goes to Madanapalle and back to Chennai. I took the left road to Anantapur. One thing you will notice that the land is all barren around you.

I wonder why Tatas did not build Nano Factory here! Mamata Banerjee of Trinamool Congress is right. Business people building factories on crop land when we have so much barren land and yet not that far from cities too (Bangalore will be some 100 kms? or little more? from this place at least) is not accepted. Anyway I diverted from travel to Politics and Economics. Let me come back.

So here as you see on both sides of road no greenery but only barren land and rocks. You drive on NH-219 to Anantapur till Vattalapalli (Palli means Village in Telegu - this point is around 30 kms ahead of Anantapur and 66 kms or so from Madanapalle) where you turn right to Tadipatri at the signboard below- 59 kms from here.

This is Anantapur bypass road to Tadipatri. after driving along this narrow road, of 34 kms and which is not difficult because you will be allowed to overtake by the trucks at places where they can. Once you reach a main road T Junction where left goes to Anantapur - this is the Anantapur Tadipatri Road. From here Tadipatri is 25 kms exactly takes 40 mts to cover.

From tadipatri Belum Caves is 30 kms. Tadipatri is a large town but do not expect it to be anything like towns near metro cities. This is an area where only mining is done. Eg Cement and Granite so the town and the rest of the road will be covered by white dust only. From Tadipatri go straight and at the first junction (a big one) take left turn. You get a bridge, cross it and then turn right after that immediately 2-3 kms near an IndianOil Petrol Pump. The road then will go through Granite Cutting factories on both sides.

You reach a T-Junction. Here you turn left straight to L&T -Ultratech Cement Factory after 10 kms.

At the factory take a right turn & go straight to a junction again where there will be a small signboard pointing ahead to Belum Caves. 4 kms from here. Take the straight road. Here you will find all hills devastated by granite mining and cement mining.

A set of Hills look like the Sphynx of Egypt!

Finally after driving this barren road you can see Belum Caves from afar.

Belum Caves is the second largest cave in Indian sub-continent and the longest caves in plains of Indian Subcontinent. Belum Caves derives its name from "Bilum" Sanskrit word for caves. In Telugu language, it is called Belum Guhalu. Belum Caves has a length of 3229 meters, making it the second largest natural caves in Indian Subcontinent. Belum Caves have long passages, spacious chambers, fresh water galleries and siphons. The caves reach its deepest point (120 feet from entrance level) at the point known as Patalganaga.

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.
Belum caves is located at Kolimigundla Mandal of Kurnool district which is about 320 kms from Hyderabad.These caves present a breathtaking view.Attractions. Around 2km are now open to public.*Main passage, which is horizontal begins after descending 20 metres through convenient steps provided for safe entry. Awe-inspiring stalactite and stalagmite formations throughout the caves. The cave system consists of spacious chamber, fresh water galleries and siphons. Soft illumination throughout, enhancing the beauty of the caves.Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) has provided pathways through the length of the caves and has created fresh-air-shafts for the convenience of the tourists. Canteen, washroom and toilet facilities have also been created near the entry point.Tourist can spend an hour or two visiting the caves.
Main Sections of Belum Caves:
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.
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.
Dhyan Mandir or Meditation Hall - This section is near to the entrance. An interesting 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 Ananthapur.
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.
Mandapam - This is a huge area inside the cave with magnificent stalactite structures on the sides giving it a look of a hall with pillars.
Slide Show for other photos.

Belum caves are located in Kolimigundla Mandal near the Belum Village 110 km from Kurnool via Banaganapalle ont he state highway. It is l85 km from Ananapur, 30 km from Tadipatri , 270 km from Bangalore, 320 km from Hyderabad and 500 kms from Chennai. Chennai distance measured in my route as above.

Fashion Sketch-1

Trying my hand in Sketching using Adobe.

The original photo is here

& I learnt the trick here at Genial's

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pepper Chicken

Pepper Chicken - Yummmy! Had it at Harthik Resorts, APTDC, Horseley Hills.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Horseley Hills, Andhra Pradesh

There are two routes to go to Horsleyhills:-
1. Via NH-205: via Tirupati or near Tirupati. This is longer.
2. The shorter one is NH-4 route. (Chennai {Poonamallee road} {then NH-4} -Sri Perumbudur-Ranipet-Chittoor-Palamner- {NH-219} Punganur- Madanpalle- Horseley Hills)
You take Poonamallee High Road from CMBT. Go straight till you reach a junction which on the left side goes to Guindy/Porur and the futher on you will find a road going to Poonamallee on the left side and you go straight on to reach Toll Road (NH-4) after 5 kms or so. 17 kms afterwards you can get Krishna Sweets for Breakfast. Further on you also get a Bakery. Seems to be a good one.. Never went inside!! Hyundai is 27.9 kms from CMBT. You will see another Eating Joint in the slideshow. Go straight till Ranipet Toll Gate (this will be the 2nd one, 1st being at Sri Perumbudur which is 36 kms from chennai. After Preumbudur you will see a Road to go to Kanceheepuram on the left- 64 kms from Chennai, from where Krishnagiri is 182,, bangalore is 276 kms Ranipet is 40 kms and Mumbai is 1220 kms ). Then in stead of going straight take a right turn under the flyover (see slide show). Both the straight and the right road goes to Bangalore. The straight road goes via Hosur toll road. The road to right goes to Bangalore via Hoskut (also goes to Tirupati and also to Chitoor which is 52 kms from this rt turn). Take this road and reach Chitoor after Ranipet (This road is not a TOLL road and so is narrow old NH-4). Afteer 7 kms or so driving from the right turn you will find a big junction.. a wide road goes to the left.. do not take that.. it goes to Vellore.. take the straight road which is narrower to Chittor. After some time you will come to a 4 road junction and a signboard. Do not take the left two roads but take the right one to Chittoor. There will be a highway resort and a restaurant here. Do not know how they are but you may try. Then a junction where you take left road towards bangalore/ Chittoor, right road goes to Ponnai. Then you reach Emerald Nagar from where Chittoor is 42 kms. For those who want to come to Vellore Institute of Technology or VIT from Chhenai this seems to be the shortest route as I saw it is 12o kms as per my calculation from Chennai and this road has an offshoot to take u there.
From Chitoor you reach Palamner and here NH-4 and NH-219 meet. Palamner is 192 kms from Koyambedu CMBT. At Palamner Town you will get a crowded junction where he left goes to Gudyattam, do not take this, go a bit straight 100 mtrs and on the right you will get a statue. Just after this statue take a right and travel till Punganuru. On this road you will find some Chicken Farming going on. After Punganuru you reach Madanpalle which is 248.9 kms from Koyambedu CMBT. Here you can take a right turn and take NH-205 to Tirupati. Take left turn towards Burrakayalakota direction. After Madanapalle there will be a junction.. with no signs.. as usual, you will find rocky hills in the distance, barren land and dust... take the left road.. madanapalle to Horseley Hills= 27 kms. It will be very confusing to know which Road is going to Anantapur as lots of junctions will come and no signboards. Then finally you will find a fork, you will have to take the left at this fork, travel a bit and then near a T-junction you will see a signboard of the Resort: Harthik Resort of APTDC (Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation). From this T-junction take left and it is 6 kms hill drive only.

The road on the right at the fork goes to Anantapur. I will talk of this road in my next post because it took me to Belum Caves- which will be my next post.

Usually when you go to a Hill Station, you can see the hills from afar as you drive on the plain road. You can feel a sense of exhilaration and adventure as you approach the mountain road that will finally take you to your destination. But here before the 6 km stretch you see nothing that even seems like a hillock from the NH-219. Even at kodaikanal you could see the hills from far. Here it is not so because the hill is not at all high! Even Yelagiri Hills is higher and I will still rate ooty as the best Hill Station in South. Kodaikanal rates lower. I have not seen Munnar in Kerala yet though. Nor have I seen Aravvalli range near Vizag.
Anyway the 6kms drive to Horseley Hills will not give you any feeling of going up a hill station but rather will make you feel you are going up a barren rocky hill to God Knows where. The hill top cannot be seen but then you can also see the sky above the top so you know it is not high and after all it is just 6 kms! How much can you go up in 6 kms when the road is not at all steep?

But enjoy the rocky view. The rocky hills down below and above you all give you a good view of the place. As you come near to the top then the view changes and you can see Jacarenda Trees on the road. See below.

When you finally reach the top you will find that Horseley hills has only Harthik Resort and nothing else to see like other Hill Stations.
But wait.. do not get disappointed, it is worth staying one short weekend (2nights) with your Girl friend or family. Reach Friday evening, stay the whole day of Sat and Half of Sunday since 1200 noon is check out and then get back to Bangalore or Chennai on Sunday evening.
It is 279kms (not more) from Chennai- takes about 4 hrs. From Bangalore it is nearer. I have seen some people said why go there when it is so far and when Elagiri Hills are nearer to Chennai? Both Elagiri and Horseley Hills have nothing much to see nor are they proper hill stations as they are not high! But well go there for the APTDC resort and the long drive & nothing else.
The resort is not like a 5-star one, nothing there except a Swimming Pool and a small health Club with one or two machines and herbal massage (to pay extra) but the garden and the rooms are ok. You and your girl friend can walk in the garden full of Jacarenda and other flowering Trees. If you are married you all can enjoy the swimming Pool. Enjoy the sunrise over the rocky hils afar. But then I am finding that sunrises are not good due to the Pollution. Somehow the horizon is never clear! Alas!!
Actually since I was travelling alone I would have never gone to this place because it feels very foolish to stay in a resort all alone when everybody has somebody with them. I am sure by this statement you will understand that these type of resorts are just meant to be a place not to see inside or around, the place where such resorts (Elagiri or Horseley) are have nothing to offer but you get a place to go on an outing, and enjoy prime time with your loved ones- which you cannot do back home when you are busy going to office etc. Got me? You will to this Resort to enjoy with family or Girl Friend inside the Resort.
Outside there is nothing except rocky view. Here is a place which is like a Suicide Point. The rocky surface sloped downward ahead of me! Frankly I could not take myself to the edge to see down! I am not MAD! I know if I went I would have been dizzy and fallen off!!
That's it! Rest you can guess from my photos. I used this place as a halting place to visit Belum Caves
The best thing of this place is the food! Damn Cheaper than other resorts. For eg. Passport = Rs 70/- Haig= Rs 50/- per 30 ml. Foster's Beer 110/-. Black Dog 110/- per 30 ml. Baccardi 40/- per 30 ml. 50 60 kl rum. Food menu is here below.

There are various types of rooms starting from Dormitory at Rs 100/- per day to Independent Cottages (see photos) to a building they call Governor's Bungalow where ac rooms are there for Rs 1800/- per day. (My slideshow will have some of the buildings).

The contact:
Central Booking APTDC at Chennai: 31/ 14 Burkit Road 24353373 and 65439987
Horseley Hills: Harthik Resort (some call it Punami Resort) - 08571 279323
Slide Show..

Is this Slate?

Can anyone say what this is? Problem is when I take a photo like this nobody is around! How can somebody be around when I take this photo on the Road somewhere in between Ranipet to Horseley Hills. And even if somebody was there I do not know Tamil or Telegu!

The road looked like this between the rocky hills where above slate was found. I am proceeding towards Horseley Hills. The exact location of this place slips my mind now.
Seems to be Slate? The hills seem to be cut so these came from the hills around that I am sure..

Image Map from some of my Photos - Click to visit the linked blogs

Colonial days at Calcutta, India Agra Fort Madurai Temple Architecture Fruits, India Silk Worm Cocoons, India Fish Market, India Happy Children, India Logging in Andaman Islands, India Tramcar, Calcutta, India Dharamshala, India Snowy Roads, India Painting by my wife, India Catwalk, India Fashion Show, India Beas River, Manali, India Autumn Leaves, Manali, India Snow in Manali, India Vagator Beach, Goa Mussoorie, India Mysore Palace Jaisalmer Desert, India Tamil Marriage Indian Market Scene Rajasthani Village Girl Birds of India Bay of Bengal, Pondycherry Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary Hogenakkal Water Falls, India Indian Roads Gulab Jamun, India Globalisation, India Indian Map Indian City from Sky Clay Pot Art, India Himalayas, India Benares, India Indian Palace