From the world of wonderful legends, it was time to discover the wonders of our world hidden beneath us at India’s second largest caves system, the Belum Caves. Belum Caves and Borra Caves near Araku Valley are the two popular cave systems in Andhra Pradesh.
The Nether world
The 44 km drive from Yaganti to Belum Caves took us via Banaganapalli, enroute, the scenic Owk Reservoir made an appearance.
It took us an hour to reach Belum Caves from Yaganti. AP Tourism runs a Haritha Resort here and before we visited the caves, we stopped for a cup of tea at their restaurant.
At the entrance of Belum Caves, there is a huge statue of Buddha. If you are wondering about the Buddha connection, centuries old relics belonging to Buddhist monks were found in the caves and it is believed that monks used to meditate inside these caves.
When you see the area from outside, you can’t believe there are deep caves right below you ! Everything seems quiet and dry until you purchase your entry tickets and proceed to the mouth of the caves.
Steps lead you down to the entrance, the excitement starts as you look upward and see how the open sky far above you.
The moment you enter, it feels like you have entered the nether world from all the mythological stories. Massive caves gape at you, the lighting adding to the effect !
The lighting effect inspired us to indulge in some “hellish” photography !
Underground marvels !
The Belum Caves stretch to around 3 kms, only half of the caves are open for public. AP Tourism has laid a pathway to walk around, created air shafts to pump oxygen into the caves. There are signs here and there pointing to interesting rock formations.
As you keep walking, you will be awestruck by the dark, wondrous world under ground. It is hard to imagine that something like this lies beneath the very ground you walk on !
Here and there, AP Tourism has beautified the place, like adding this fountain.
For a moment, we thought it was a natural underground fountain, not that the fountain looked natural, we were too lost in the amazement !
In one of the chambers, we found a sign board saying “Pathalaganga”, an underground stream, a few steps lead you further down. We went round and round in search of the stream but couldn’t find it. That is when it struck us that if we were to get lost in these caves, there is no way out and then an even scary thought came to us. Caves are hollow within, what would happen if they simply collapsed while we were there? Suddenly, most of us felt very clasutrophobic !
It was a similar feeling as we crawled our way into this tiny opening that would lead us to the “Meditation Hall”.
The Meditation Hall is a deep chamber where monks were believed to have meditated. The chamber is so congested and closed that within less than a minute, you begin sweating and breathless, oxygen must be of short supply here !
By the time we clicked the above picture and crawled out of the Meditation Hall, we were sweating profusely and panting for fresh air, wonder how the monks managed to focus and meditate here ! Or may be only people with that level of focus and will power can meditate and become monks !
How are such caves formed? How many millions years of wear and tear results in caves? How does the ground above remain still when there is a cavity beneath it? The ways of the Earth are mind boggling !
Just imagine if there was a power cut or the oxygen supply failed and you are stuck in a chamber like this !
The sign boards point to various rock formations like a saint’s bed, stalagmite formations supposed to be in the shape of a thousand headed snake, some like several Shiva Lingas in one place.
We walked around the caves clicking pictures and imaging different crisis situations, it made people like this writer get out as soon as possible ! However, to get to the entrance, you will have to walk back the entire distance. After spending more than hour inside the caves, we came out into the fresh air. The world beneath was as amazing as it was frightening, the wonder that our planet is deserves a bow in reverence !
Once outside, we chilled out for a while sipping on some soft drinks and relaxing. AP Tourism’s resort has a nice area to sit back and relax, there is also a play area for kids.
Earth is a beautiful planet and unlike its residents, its beauty is not skin deep, far beneath its skin, the earth exudes such beauty that it will leave you breathless !
– Belum Caves are located 107 kms from Kurnool and 27 kms from Tadipatri. Tadipatri is nearest centre for trains and buses.
– The caves are open from 10 AM to 5 PM. There is an entry fee of Rs.50/-. You could take a guided tour if you are keen to know more about the caves and identify the important formations, we are not sure about the cost for this.
– Stick to the pathway and don’t wander off too far. The caves are way to deep and large, if you lose your way, help is hard to find. We’ve heard first hand stories about people who were lost in the caves and were found by the authorities after several hours with great difficulty.
– Finding food is not an issue here, Haritha Restaurant is within the premises. The resort here provides dormitory accommodation.
– You can plan a trip to Belum Caves combining it with Mahanandi, Yaganti and Gandikota, spread over two days. You could also check out Yadiki Caves, 44 kms from Belum Caves on the Gooty route, we gave it a miss, though.
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