There are no rocks, no hills, no greenery, no nothing! Absolute barren stretches all along. All of the long road, for the next 3 kms is visible right from here, and there is no sign of life. As the cab travels along the totally nondescript, long and straight road, bordered with nothing, you can’t help but doze off into dreams of wandering in lonely deserts in search of food and water, with strange lizards and cruel cacti looking on. The sun glares at your face, and you wonder what brought you here, of all places.
That will be how you can describe the journey in most parts of the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh. The journey to Belum caves was nothing different either. Approximately 275 kms from Bangalore, in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh lie the longest caves in the plains of India – the Belum caves.
In no man’s land, these caves pop up suddenly out of nowhere. Actually, they don’t even pop up. They are completely underground. Even when you purchase the entry ticket for this natural wonder, you would just be wondering where the caves are. Then as you enter the caves and move further, you realize slowly, they were right beneath your feet!
The caves are a natural formation of limestone deposits that cause interesting structures over the passage of time – a process that takes millions of years. Stalactite and Stalagmite formations can be found here. A completely underground passage way, large chambers and wonderful rock formations have been formed here, which is the reason for the tourist attraction.
These caves are the second longest in India (the longest ones measuring about 22 kms are Krem Liat Prah in the Jaintia hills of Meghalaya). As there is a lot of information about these caves on the net, I will just give you some travel tips.
- The caves are totally worth the visit. If you are somewhere around the region in Andhra, definitely make it a point to visit here.
- The total walk inside the caves is around 2 kms. It is hot (Outside air is pumped inside using compressors. Still you feel the heat). You will sweat like hell. Carry a towel to wipe yourself out. It is absolutely necessary.
- It is not advisable to drive here. Because, you might doze off as I had already mentioned. There is absolutely nothing scenic on the highway. You can see the road as far as your eyes can reach, and you can see nothing! Take a cab!
- Guides are available at the entrance. They take Rs.10. Hire one of them. One, they carry a torch to show you the way. Two, they tell you a lot of stories about the caves.
- Some places in the caves need some acrobatics to reach. Sometime you might have to crawl. Not too frightening. It might be difficult for the aged.
- There is no accommodation near the caves. You have to stay at Anantapur or Kurnool. Nandyal is also a nice place to stay. The caves are about 75 kms from Nandyal. Food is served in a small restaurant near the caves. Don’t expect too much – simple, tasty Andhra meals are served.
Now, over to the pics…