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.


genial said...

It has given the world a number of forms of performing arts, handloom and curios.

Did you pick this photograph your self..??? You did it on your travel there?? Awesome! Wonderfull!!!

ARUNA said...

tht's an excellent photography......shows ur versatality!!!!!!!

ShantanuDas said...

Thanks Genial and Aruna. Yes I took the photos myself. The caves are underground some 2-3 kms... and though lots of light was there it was not sufficient for photography and at dark places though I had a flash it was not easy to focus and nor was I carrying a tripod to steady my camera so it was a bit tough and these are the photos I could produce.. Good place!!

Preetilata【ツ】 said...

beautiful photographs i must say.

Tanmay said...

Nice post with lots of pics! Thanks.

Pls find our experiences at Belum caves here:

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