Here is a special guest post about Belum Caves in Kurnool by fellow traveler and photographer Somabrata Pramanik, whom I first met during our trip to Bidar and later again on a bird watching trip with GHAC
Somabrata: I am a regular reader of Desi Traveler since we met on a photography tour to Bidar Fort . This blog provides a lot of information and inspiration to my traveling and photography. I am more of a reader than writer kind of guy. So when I got an invitation from him to write a guest post on our trip to Belum Caves, I was little hesitated. Finally, I am writing my first travel blog and I will be happy if a single person decides to visit Belum Caves after reading this.
Our journey started with seventeen nature enthusiast from Hyderabad Adventure and Trekker’s Club in a minibus (nonAC). After visiting Sri Yaganti Uma Maheswara Temple and Pathapadu Bungalow finally we reached Belum village. It’s February 2! Though they call it winter, everyone was scorched by the hot air coming from the bus window. After having lunch there, when we entered the cave it was awesome. There are three entry points to the cave and this is the one opened for public.
After descending through few staircases you will reach the main chamber. Just look up and there is a half elliptical patch of clear soothing blue sky. But still we didn’t know a monster is waiting for us; they call it humidity. We got a middle-aged man to guide us inside the cave. ‘Lose 2kg in 2 hours!’ yes the best advertisement of the cave came from that man.
This cave is created by the continuous underground flow of water washing the soft limestone away from a comparatively harder layer. There are a number of chambers with various names. Pathways are created, electric light and cold air are arranged in the chambers. Don’t know why they have created an unnecessary artificial fountain inside the cave contrasting with nature.
This is the second largest cave in the Indian subcontinent with a span of 3.5 km. There are more unexplored chambers in this cave. The cave is famous for its stalactite and stalagmite formations.
There are different ornamental formations on the wall of the main chamber, created by deposition of mineralized solution through years. Along with the formations, there are deep scratches and pit holes visible on the cave wall, created by the flow of water. After the main chamber, there is the Dhyan Mandir, a hall with single entrance and exit. The guide told us that the Buddhist monks used to use this place for meditation in 100% humidity. In front of Dhyan Mandir, there is a stalagmite formation, looks like Shiva Linga.
Next, we took a narrow passage towards Patal Ganga, the deepest point in the cave. There is a very high chance of traffic jam if someone coming up from opposite way and that will be horrible considering the humidity and lack of air. So when we heard a group coming from opposite side we took a red signal near a comparatively wide space. And we got this awesome view of this formation there.
In Patal Ganga ( the Ganges of the Underworld), water is still flowing in a depth of 150 feet from main entrance level. Here we got this two spectacular formations and my joy knows no bound.
The famous Banyan Tree formation is shaped like Banyan Tree and a column formation as the trunk and thousands of stalactite formations as branches made this banyan tree formation. We took a rest under the tree and then returned through the same way back.
Traveler Information: Thanks to Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) for maintaining the cave properly. They are charging only Rs 45/- per adult and Rs 25/- per child. There are no decent hotels etc. except for a dormitory run by APTDC near the caves so plan accordingly and make it a day trip from Kurnool
Belum Caves Timings: The cave is open on all days from 10 am to 5 pm. The best part is that they are providing a free guide to each group.
How To reach Belum Caves: The Belum caves are located about 125 km from Kurnool, and 326 KM from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. You can take a bus, car or train from Kurnool to reach there. From Hyderabad take the Bangalore Highway till Kurnool and then follow this Google map link given here to reach Belum Caves.
About Author and Photographer: Somabrata Pramanik has done M.Tech in Computer Science from Indian Statistical Institute, he works with Netelixir as a researcher and software development engineer. He likes visiting historical places, trekking, bouldering and is an avid photographer. Please do check and like his work here on his Facebook page Explore with Somabrata and on Flickr
Guest posts from my other friends can be checked here
1. From Shoaib Mohammad Kirmani about Street Performers in India
2. From Vijay Jata about a visit to Kumbh Mela in Allahabad
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I wanted a guide for belum caves. Can you share the number of a good english speaking guide. Thanks
You will have to hire them at the site, most of them speak decent English
There is a huge parking place just infront of the Cave entrance. But I am not sure about cooking over there. Maybe you can talk to AP Tourism (Toll Free : 1800-42-545454) guys to take permission if at all it is needed.
Hi ,we will be visiting Belum Caves in Jan 2015 .coul u suggest a place where we can park our catering van and cook thnx Uma
1. I can understand the difficulties in understanding the full picture due to lack of scaling factor. Thanks for your valuable remark, I will definitely keep this in mind and will try to add some possible scaling factor in these kind of scenarios.
2. Inside the cave, the temperature is always lower than the outside but you should not consider that it will be more comfortable inside. I have never felt that kind of harassing humidity before, but depending on the situation you can always take rest where cool air is available. This cave is not very popular yet and therefore not so highly congested.
Wish you and your family a great experience.
One comment, One question:
1. Brilliant pictures. But one remark though. You have not provided anything in the visuals to indicate the scale. It would have been informative I think. From what I believe, some of these could be very large but in the absence of scale, we can’t figure out that. But overall, brilliant pictures, and you have taken lot of care to show them well despite low light. I am sure your tech savvy on photography.
2. I am inspired, and want to visit the place. But I have a phobia for congested places. I will go with family, but nevertheless I was overall concerned and more so the patal ganga path you mentioned. What do you think? Is it bad enough that I better avoid given my phobia or not necessarily? Also, I have planned vacation in first week of May. Is that a totally no-no given the humidity situation or being a cave will it be better off inside than outside?
Hope you don’t mind a response!
Your shared images are amazing. It really brought out the epic beauty of the Belum Caves. Thanks for sharing. Much Appreciated!
Thanks Manish… glad you liked it…
This was amazing !!! Some of those formations and designs created by Nature look so beautiful, aided by wonderful photography. I was not aware of these caves and thank you so much for introducing me to this wonder 🙂
Great shots, thanks for sharing, truly must ve been an adventure…
what a shot . nicely captured
Stunning captures, a natural marvel brought to life! Many thanks, I’m very much inspired to visit this place.
Thank you Arti, goal completed
A classic Wonder and ultimate place Somabrata. Thanks for sharing this wonderful place . Clicks are just amazing.
Cool pics , this place have been in my list for long now .
Thank you Desi Traveler for visiting my blog. I looked through some of your recent posts and enjoyed your photographs. I also enjoyed the guest post by your friend Somabrata Pramanik. The cave looks wonderful but too far from my home in Tulsa Oklahoma I’m sorry to say. I think you are a good writer as well as a reader. I posted some photographs of a nice cave near Springfield Missouri not long ago. It is not as large as your cave but is very nice. It has a sort of road built in it so the visitor can ride through it. That is nice for an old man like me. You can see it here: http://tulsagentleman.blogspot.com/2012/07/road-trip-day-8-fantastic-caverns.html
Thanks a lot sir for your kind words.. I will go through the post you have shared with me.
Formations in your cave are so gorgeous.
Brilliant low light shots inside the cave. The formations are brilliant, and makes me wonder how beautiful and wild the nature is.
Thanks Anu, and its very tiny what we can see in our lifetime.
Wow!! This is a natural wonder. The pictures are brilliant; each and every shot for that matter.
Thank you for this post and the images, Somabrata Pramanik, Prasad.
Thanks Divya from both me and Somabrata. I also need to go and see them.