Belum Caves, Anantapur
About Belum Caves
The Belum Caves is the largest and longest cave system open to the public on the Indian subcontinent, known for its speleothems, such as stalactite and stalagmite formations. The Belum Caves have long passages, galleries, spacious caverns with fresh water and siphons. This cave system was formed over the course of tens of thousands of years by the constant flow of underground water from the now-disappeared river Chitravathi. The cave system reaches its deepest point ( 46 m (151 ft) from entrance level) at the point known as Pataalaganga. In Telugu language, it is called Belum Guhalu. Belum Caves have a length of 3,229 m (10,593.8 ft), making them the second largest caves on the Indian Subcontinent after the Krem Liat Prah caves in Meghalaya. It is one of the centrally protected Monuments of National Importance.Belum came to scientific attention in 1884 by a British surveyor, Robert Bruce Foote and from 1982 to 1984, a team of German speleologists headed by H. Daniel Gebauer conducted a detailed exploration of the caves. Thereafter in 1988, the state government declared the site protected, and Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) developed the caves as a tourist attraction in February 2002. Today, 3.5 km (2.2 mi) of the caves have been successfully explored, though only 1.5 km (0.9 mi) is accessible to visitors. There are 16 different pathways, including the main entrance and there are deposits of quartz in the caves. The caves consist of black limestone.