Andhra Pradesh is an Indian state that is renowned for its varied culture and heritage. The land is a pleasant mixture of ancient charm and modernity. Through the years, Andhra Pradesh has proven to be one of the major tourist hubs in India. With its rich temples, museums, forts and more this state has attracted the attention of tourists from far and near.
Apart from the aforementioned attractions, Andhra Pradesh also has something that can be enjoyed by vacations and adventure-seekers alike - The Belum Caves. The Belum Caves are a natural wonder which are also famous as the second largest caves in India, as they are 3229 meters in length. Visitors are allowed to explore these caves and the best time to visit them would be from the month of August to December.
The Belum Caves are located at the Belum village in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. These caves were first explored in 1983 by German Herbert Daniel Gebauer, after which it was developed by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation and was made open to public in the year 2002. These caves are of immense historical importance as there is evidence of Buddhist and Jain monks occupying these caves centuries ago.
In addition, the Archaeological survey of India has found relics belonging to the pre-buddhist era and artifacts such as vessels that date back to 4500 BC, that have been preserved at the museum in Anantapur, which is at close proximity to these caves.
The Belum Caves are a delight to witness as they include beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations, along with long passages, vast chambers, siphons and freshwater galleries. Though about 3.5 km of the caves have been explored, only 1.5 km are open to the public to visit. The Belum Caves are formed from black limestone and have 16 different pathways that can be taken by the visitors and explorers to get inside.
These are some interesting aspects that can be seen inside the Belum caves such as the Kotilingala Chamber, which has a large number of stalactites formed in the shape of Shiva Lingams. Also, there is a Patalganga which is a small perennial stream inside the cave. There is also a Saptasvarala Guha which is a musical chamber where musical notes are produced when the stalactites inside are knocked on.
Apart from the interesting musical chamber formation, Belum Caves also have a meditation chamber near the main entrance, where the stone formations look like a bed and pillow. It is believed that sages used to meditate at this place. There is also a Thousand Hood chamber and a Banyan Tree hall inside the caves, which are surreal structures formed by stalactites.
The Belum caves can be entered by paying a fee of Rs. 50 and Rs. 300 for international tourists. It is best if the visitors explore the caves with the help of guides. The Belum caves are at a distance of about 320 km from both Bangalore and Hyderabad and can be reached easily.