Belum Village, Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh - 518 123.
At Kolimigundla Mandal (Kolimigundla village) near Belum village. 110 km from Kurnool via Banaganapalle on the state highway.
All year daily 10-17.
Adults INR 65, Children INR 45.
Foreigners INR 300.
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Dimension:||L=3,225 m, VR=29 m.|
self guided, L=1,500 m, D=60 min.
Herbert Daniel Gebauer (1985):
Kurnool 1984: Report of the speleological expedition to the district of Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India
Abhandlungen zur Karst und Höhlenkunde, Heft 21, 77 S, € 2.
A. C. Narayana, M. G. Yadava, Farooq A. Dar, R. Ramesh (): The Spectacular Belum and Borra Caves of Eastern India in: V. S. Kale (ed.), Landscapes and Landforms of India, World Geomorphological Landscapes, pp 189-. DOI pdf
|Address:||Belum Caves, Belum Village, Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh - 518 123, Tel: +91-, Fax: +91-,|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in
brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|4500 BC||remnants of vessels of that age were found in the caves.|
|????||visited by Jain and Buddhist monks.|
|1884||existence of the caves recorded by Mr Robert Bruce Foote.|
|1982||explored by the German speleologist Daniel Gebauer.|
|1983||explored by the German speleologist Daniel Gebauer.|
|1988||the entire area was declared protected by the Andhra Pradesh Government.|
|1989||excavation by the Andhra Pradesh Archaeological department.|
|1999||development of the cave by Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) started.|
|FEB-2002||cave opened to the public.|
|JUL-2002||Saptasvarala Guha (Musical Chamber) discovered.|
|2006||Saptasvarala Guha (Musical Chamber) added to the tour.|
Belum Caves are named after the old Sanskrit word for cave, Bilum. It seems the nearby village Belum was also named after the caves. In the local Telugu language it is called Belum Guhalu. The cave was known for a very long time, but as the three entrances are all some 20 m deep shafts it was not easy to actually enter the cave. Nevertheless, it seems man managed this feat since the Neolithic, the oldest remains excavated by the Archaeological survey of India (ASI) in the cave were dated 4,500 BC. But most remains were from Jain and Buddhist monks, the Jainism was popular in the 6th century BC, and the Buddhism during the 4th and 5th century AD. The artificial caves in India originate from those centuries, so most likely the remains in the cave are from the same time. The findings are now in the Anantapur Museum. As the remains were found close to the entrance, but not at the bottom of the shafts, they were not simply thrown in. It seems the monks actually entered the cave and spent time there, probably for meditation. How they entered is unclear, they most likely either used ropes or ladders.
In recent years, the shafts were used as convenient dumps, garbage was thrown in, and the piles of garbage blocked the entrance section. One of the shafts was widened to allow the construction of a staircase down into the cave. Nevertheless, the shaft is quite deep, and so the ceiling is quite close at the lower end, but that's actually the only point of the cave which requires stooping. The cave has only this entrance, so the tour is in and out. To create the show cave, it was necessary to first remove the garbage and clean the entrance section. The cave tickets have a barcode, and there is an automatic gate at the staircase which opens when the ticket is scanned. The lower end of the staircase is about 20 m below ground. Most of the cave system is developed at this level, and the tour path is rather level from now on, following the main passage. There is a second sinkhole after only a few meters, which is almost circular and quite spectacular. The limestone layers are almost horizontal, and such a layer forms the ceiling of the passage which is mostly flat. The main passage has an almost rectangular profile. The cave is generally devoid of speleothems, except for some spots like the Saptasvarala Guha.
Belum caves were developed in 1999 by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC). The state spent 10 Million Rupia to develop the cave with a staircase and three ventilation shafts. India has still numerous prejudices and disinformation concerning caves. One of the main fears is to suffocate inside caves, which is actually pretty weird. Karst caves generally have perfect air, which is even used for health treatment of respiratory diseases. Carbon dioxide accumulation or bad air is extremely rare. But it seems the management either does not know this, or they installed the ventilation simply for psychological reasons. Unfortunately, if they really replace huge amounts of cave air with outside air, the cave environment will be heavily damaged. Many caves install airtight doors to minimize exchange, in order to protect temperature and humidity inside the cave.
But the weirdest story is probably the one about the cave trapping hot air during summer. They actually state that the cave should be visited during winter, when it is cooler inside, which is utter nonsense as all caves of the world have the same temperature all year. Even if they have an air current going through, the temperature changes only slightly between summer and winter. But here they explain the high summer temperature with hot summer air being trapped inside the cave because it has no air current. That's absolute nonsense, hot air is light and goes up, not down. That's why cold traps exist, hot traps don't, it's a physical law. We guess the guides tell those stories, otherwise they would not be so widespread.
Another nonsense which is told about the cave is that it is the second-longest cave of India. In this case this is probably just outdated, when Daniel Gebauer first surveyed the cave in 1983, there were so few known caves in India, that it probably wasthe longest. However, today there are dozens of longer caves known, and the general statement that there is one longer cave in Meghalaya was never true. Another publication states that it is the second-longest cave in the black Narji Limestone of the Cuddapah Basin of the Kurnool District. So probably it was this statement which was repeated incompletely. However, such a statement is, even if its true, nonsensical.
Saptasvarala Guha or Musical chamber was discovered in 2002, after the opening of the show cave. It was added to the tour in 2006. Its peculiarity is apparently the metallic sounds of the stalactites, at least that's what the cave management tells. It is actually not really special, as all stalactites on earth sound like this when hit with a wooden stick or the finger knuckles. Many show caves make this a tourist attraction, and tour guides play a melody on the stalactites. Luray Caverns in the U.S.A. even has a Stalacpipe Organ, a mechanic organ for playing on stalactites. However, responsible cave management would avoid damaging speleothems and would discourage it. But while show caves around the world are finally recognizing and abandoning this nonsense as such, here it is being reintroduced and acclaimed.
The novelty of the cave and the immense advertisement resulted in a real rush to the cave. In the first six months the cave was visited by more than 60,000 people, and each Sunday 3,000 people visited the cave.
As it is uncommon for foreign tourists to visit the caves on their own, the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) offers package tours for Ahobilam, Alampur, Mahanandi, Srisailam, Mantralayam and other places. The one-day trips by coach include the coach ride, the cave visit and other sights.