The enchanted world of caves promises magic and mystique to the explorers. If you are fond of exploring the dark and unknown interiors of the wonders of nature, then Belum caves promise you a myriad of other-worldly treasures. Located just 275 kilometres from Bangalore in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, these are the longest caves to be found on the plains of India.
What makes Belum caves unique?
Belum caves get their name from Sanskrit word Bilum, which means a hole. These magnificent caves were formed by the action of flow of water on limestone deposits for over millions of years. These caves are a treasure trove for stalactites, stalagmites, sinkholes, water galleries, and siphons. The locals were aware of these caves for thousands of years. However, the first official recording was done by Robert Bruce Foote in 1884. Robert was a British archaeologist and zoologist who carried out surveys for the Geological Survey of India.
The Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation took over the maintenance of the caves in 1999. They cleared the debris and mud inside for constructing pathways. They also provided ventilation shafts and illumination for making the caves accessible to the public.
Belum Caves are the longest and largest cave system that is accessible to general public in India. These caves are home to long passages, spacious caverns with fresh water and galleries. These caves are 3,229 m in length which makes them the second largest caves in the Indian subcontinent. There are 16 different pathways to this cave including the main entrance. The cave has rich deposits of quartz and black limestone.
Belum caves are quite important historically. There is sufficient evidence to prove that the caves were inhabited by Jain and Buddhist monks. The relics discovered in the caves date back to 4500 BC. The relics discovered have been housed in a museum in Ananthapur district. Remnants of several vessels have also been found in the caves that date back to the pre-Buddhism era.
How to reach Belum Caves?
If you are looking to go on a one-day excursion from Bangalore, then you need to head towards Belum Caves. It would take just 5 hours 30 mins to reach the caves from Bangalore. If you want to go on a relaxed holiday, then you can stay at Ananthapur and also explore other sightseeing places nearby. You can also catch a bus to a train to Ananthapur. Several buses ply to Belum Caves from Ananthapur. You will have to take a cab or a taxi from there to reach the caves.
Best times to visit Belum Caves
There is no such season restriction for visiting Belum Caves. You can visit it any time and during any season. It is best to visit these caves early in the day as it tends to get more humid when the sun is at its peak. You can still enter the cave after afternoon but you may not be able to cover the entire length. You would require more than two hours to explore the caves completely.
Belum Caves Timings
Belum Caves is open for the general public from 10 am to 5:30 pm. You should try entering the cave as soon as it opens. It would be a pleasant experience to explore it before noon. You can also try visiting by 4pm.
Activities at Belum Caves
- Photography – Belum Caves is a paradise for photography lovers. Do not forget to carry your tripod.
- Park- There is a park for children at the entrance. You can relax and picnic with your family at this lush-green park.
There are plenty of attractions to explore nearby Belum Caves.
- Gandikota –
Located at 60 km from Belum Caves, Gandikota is India’s small version of the Grand Canyon. This village is renowned for the spectacular gorge that river Pennar forms cutting the Eramala Hills. This beautiful locale is popular as the Hidden Grand Canyon of India by the visitors. There is a majestic fort that sits on the top of the gorge. Its beauty is unmatched. There is no noisy crowd around as this place has not yet been commercialized. The fort was constructed during the 13th century and has been built from sandstone. The intricate carvings and the perennial springs are quite mesmerizing.
- Yaganti Temple –
Located 45 kilometres from Belum Caves, Yaganti Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh. The temple was constructed by King Harihara Bukka Raya. As per a tale, Sage Agastya wanted to construct a temple for Lord Venkateswara on this site. However, the statue could not be installed as the toenail of the idol broke. The sage was upset and performed a penance to please Lord Shiva. Pleased with the devotion, Lord Shiva chose Yaganti Temple location for his temple as it resembled Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva.
- Lepakshi Temple –
This temple is located 200 km from Belum Caves. This is quite a popular destination and can be covered if you are exploring popular tourist spots in Andhra Pradesh. The Veerabhadra Temple in Lepakshi is located in Ananthapur district. It was constructed in the 16th century. Its architectural style resembles the Vijayanagara style of architecture and has intricate carvings and paintings throughout. The walls have paintings of Ramayana and Mahabharata and also from the Puranas. There is a large Nandi (the mount of Lord Shiva) idol 200 meters away from the temple and it has been carved from a single block of stone.
Tips for Travellers
- Follow the guide who is assigned to you. He/she will share the history and interesting facts about Belum Caves
- Carry water. All the humidity and walking would leave you exhausted. There aren’t any snack shops or water taps inside the cave.
- Carry a hand towel if you tend to sweat a lot
- There are no washrooms within the cave. Make sure to finish your business before entering.
- Wear comfortable shoes as you would have to do a lot of walking
- Stop at the shafts and try to breathe in fresh air if you do not want to feel suffocated throughout