History

Historical Importance

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


Development of Caves

The caves was being used to dump wastes of nearby places till 1988. The local people of nearby areas, notably Retired Additional Superintendent of Police M. Narayana Reddy, residents of Belum Village like B. Chalapathi Reddy,B.Maheswara Reddy and others followed up Government of Andhra Pradesh to develop the caves as tourist attraction. Finally their almost two decade long efforts resulted in when Government of Andhra Pradesh declaring entire area to be protected zone. Finally in the year 1999, Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation took over the task of beautifying and maintaining the caves.

APTDC sanctioned Rs.75,00,000.00 to develop the caves.[4] The caves are now managed by Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC). Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) has developed the pathways in around 2 km of the length of the caves, provided soft illumination and has created fresh-air-shafts in the caves. At many places inside the cave, APTDC has installed bridges, staircase, etc. for easy movement inside the cave. It has also created a canteen, washroom and toilet facilities near the entry point.

There is a giant Buddha Statue near a hillock near the Belum Caves. The area of cave known as "Meditation hall" was used by Buddhist Monks. The relics of Buddhist period were found here. These relics are now housed in museum at Ananthapur.


Main Sections of Belum Caves

pillidwaram ó pillidwaram means cats gate. It is a natural arch of stalactites formed in the shape of a lionís 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 Caves Dhyan 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 used to live here. This section was used by Buddhist Monks. Many relics of Buddhist period were found here which are now housed in museum atAnanthapur.

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.

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