A natural wonder beholds your soul as soon as you step down through the stairs of Belum Caves. Tucked in the interiors of Kunoor district of Andhra Pradesh, Belum caves is the second largest cave system in Indian Subcontinent. These natural caves are millions of years old and had been known to locals for ages. You will not believe that these caves were used to dump waste of nearby places. Thanks to the decade long efforts of few local residents of Belum village, state government declared the site as protected in 1988 and caves were developed as tourist attraction to be opened for public visit from 2002 onwards.
After exploring Gandikota Fort, we boarded a bus to Belum caves. After about an hour and half, it was in the mid of nowhere when our bus conductor signaled us to get down on the highway. Bewildered, we got down to find an entrance with Belum Caves board. We confirmed with locals at the gate and they pointed to the paved road going inside. As we walked in, we were welcomed by huge Buddha statue smiling at us.
We had reached well in time and bought tickets (Rs 50 for India citizens and Rs 300 for foreigners) as soon as ticket counter opened at 10 AM (Cave timings: 10 AM to 5 PM). Crossing the groups of school children lined up near entry gate for their weekend trip, we quickly walked down the stairs to enter the caves. A mystical open chamber welcomed us with creepers on the walls as we stood right in the center looking up at sky through the top circle.
Inside Belum Caves
Though ticket claims free guide service but no guides were available due to weekend rush. Thanks to Mr. Nagaraju, ticket checker who gave us a quick download about the caves. Belum Caves have been formed by underground flow of Chitravati river millions of years ago with water cutting through the black limestone (knows as Kadappa Stone). Caves have not yet been fully explored and only 3.225 KMs of the length has been mapped till date out of which 1.5 KMs has been cleared.
Entrance of the caves is huge and you feel as if walking inside a hall but path shrinks as you reach towards the end and have to walk one after another. With huge weekend rush, at some points, it also became like a traffic jam situation :). A concrete pavement has been constructed inside the cave which makes it easy to walk. It is believed that Buddhist monks used to meditate inside the caves and some sections look like mediation chambers. There are many other points named after their resemblance contributed by beautiful stalactite and stalagmite structures – Dhyan Mandir , Thousand Hoods, Mandapam, Banyan Tree Hall, Koti Lingalu, Pathala Ganga. Here is an introduction of Belum Caves through the pictures that we clicked inside. –
Whole cave path is well lit and ducts are installed at regular distance inside the cave for air flow. It took us around 2.5 hours to cover the caves both ways (~3 KMs). We had entered the caves at around 10 AM and came out by 12:30 PM. We had ample time to explore different sections of the caves as walked with leisure clicking pictures.
How to reach Belum Caves
As Gandikota Fort and Belum Caves are nearby ( ~60 kilometers), so people usually prefer to club both the places in one visit. Belum Caves is half a day affair (and there is nothing more around) and one day is enough to explore Gandikota Fort and Canyon.
We went to Gandikota on first day and took a bus from Jammalamadugu to Tadipatri (enough of them, every half an hour) on next morning which dropped us at Kolimigundala in an hour (5 KMs from Belum Caves). We got another bus from Kolimigundala for Belum Caves and reached the entrance in 10 minutes. You can also take an auto from Kolimigundala to Belum Caves. We left from the cave around 1 PM for Tadipatri from where had to board our bus for Bangalore at 3 PM (APSRTC)
In case, you plan to visit Belum Caves on first day and Gandikota Fort next day, you can stay at Tadipatri and can reach caves via state transport bus (~1.5 hour). There is only one Andhra Tourism hotel at Belum caves (Haritha hotel) with dormitory option and you will find it difficult to book online. You may inquire on the spot and can stay here before heading to Gandikota on next day.