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Belum Caves
Andhra Pradesh, India
Earth's Natural Wonders in Asia
Length of Cases:10,580 ft. (3,226m)
Depth of Cases: 30 to 95 ft. (10 to 29 m)
 
 
Belum Caves are geologically and historically important caves. There are indications that Jains and Buddhists monks were occupying these caves centuries ago. Many Buddhists relics were found inside the caves.
 
Inside Belum Cave[1]

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.

Belum Caves is located at Belum Village in Kolimigundla Mandal of Kurnool District in State of Andhra Pradesh, India. Kolimigundla is situated 3 km from Belum Caves.

Discovery

Even though the Belum Caves were known to the locals, the first records of Caves were mentioned in expedition report of Robert Bruce Foote, in 1884. Thereafter, Belum Caves remained unnoticed for almost a century till a German team headed by Herbert Daniel Gebauer conducted detailed exploration of the caves in 1982 and 1983. The German expedition was assisted by the locals Mr B. Chalapathi Reddy, Mr Ramaswami Reddy, Mr Boyu Madduleti, Mr K. Padmanabhaiah, Mr K. Chinnaiah and Mr A. Sunkanna

Historical Performance

Belum Caves are geologically and historically important caves. There are indications that Jains and Buddhists monks were occupying 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

Main Sections of Belum Caves

Meditation Hall inside Belum CavesSimhadwaram — 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.

Banyan Tree formation inside Belum CavesDhyan 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. [2]

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References
 
1. Wikimedia Commons-Belum Caves- Creative Commons Attribution License-retrieved 8/11/2009
 2. Wikipedia-Belum Caves-retrieved 8/11/2009
 
 
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