Belum Caves are the second largest cave in Indian subcontinent and the longest caves in plains of Indian Subcontinent, known for its stalactite and stalagmite formations. Belum Caves have long passages, spacious chambers, fresh water galleries and siphons. It is a natural underground cave formed by the constant flow of underground water. The caves reach its deepest point (150 feet from entrance level) at the point known as Pataalaganga. Belum Caves derive their name from "Bilum" Sanskrit word for caves. In Telugu language, it is called Belum Guhalu. Belum Caves has a length of 3229 metres, making it the second largest natural caves in Indian Subcontinent.
History and Geography of Belum Caves
It was brought to scientific attention in 1884 by a British surveyor Robert Bruce Foote, later in 1982-84, a team of German speleologists headed by H Daniel Gebauer conducted a detailed exploration of the caves. Thereafter in 1988, the state government declared them protected, and Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) developed the caves as a tourist attraction in February 2002. Today, 3.5 km of the cave has been successfully explored, though only 1.5 km is open to tourists. There the main entrance and there are deposits of Quartz in the caves. The caves are formed in Black Limestone.are 16 different pathways, including the main entrance and there are deposits of Quartz in the caves. The caves are formed in Black Limestone.
Belum Caves are geologically and historically important caves. There are indications that Jains and Buddhists monks occupied these caves centuries ago. Many Buddhists relics were found inside the caves. These relics are now housed in Museum at Ananthapur.
Archaeological survey of India (ASI) also found remnants of vessels, etc. of pre-Buddhist era and has dated the remnants of vessels found in the caves to 4500 BC.
Pillidwaram - pillidwaram means cats 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 used 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.
Address of Belum Caves
Belum Village is located in Kolimingundla Mandal, Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh state, India - 518123.
How to Reach
Belum caves are in Kurnool District, near to Banaganapalle town. These caves connected by road and surrounding railway stations
Distance From: Hyderabad- 319 km, Vijayawada - 377 km, Bangaluru - 324 km, Kurnool - 107 km, Nandyal - 67 km.