Ancient Caves in Andhra Pradesh
India has many Ancient Temples,Mosques,Churches,Gurudwaras,Palaces,Museums,Rivers and other Monuments in its accord. Here are some of the Ancient Caves present in Andhrapradesh which are also a popular tourist destinations and marks history.
1)Undavalli Caves in Undavalli(Guntur):
These Caves represent a fine model of Indian rock cut architecture,located in the Undavalli village of Guntur district,as one of the popular tourist destination of Southern India in Andhra Pradesh situated 8 kms from Vijayawada and 280 kms from Hyd Airport.
These are ancient rock cut caves of four stories giving a glimpse of 4th or 5th century. There is a massive statue of Lord Vishnu inside these caves seen in a reclining position. This statue was sculpted from a single block of granite and has other shrines also dedicated as Trimurti,Brahma and Shiva in these caves.
Undavalli Cave Temple in Guntur
These caves are associated with Vishnukundin Kings who ruled this place around 420 and 620 AD. These caves are also dedicated to dieties like Lord Anantapadmanabha Swamy and Lord Narasimha Swamy. They present a panaromic view of Krishna River and the beautiful landscapes around it.
2)Guthikonda Caves in Guthikonda(Guntur):
These caves are also known as "Guthikonda Bilam" as there is a nearby village named 'Bilam' and these caves are located 3kms south of the Guthikonda village,lying 23kms from Gurazal,in Guntur district. These caves are located amidst of thick forests along the side of Krishna Delta in Guntur about 40 kms from the Bay of Bengal and a popular tourist destination. This place comprises of many small rivers and water channels flowing through it namely: Guntur Channel,Guntur Branch Canal,Chandravanka,and Naagileru.These Caves are one of the prime attractions of Guntur situated near Karampudi 38kms from Narasararaopet.
Guntur has a rich cultural diversity with many beautiful and ancient temples and is also known as the melting pot of religions,cultures and communities. The main festivals celebrated here are Diwali,Ram Navami,Sankranti,Ugadi,Vijaya Dasami,Eid and Christmas.
The "Kalachakra Festival" of Guntur is one of the main attractions held at Amravati,derived from the term used in Tantric Buddhism which means time-wheel.
There are evidents that many Rishis and Saints had meditated in these caves and famously known as Dakshina Kashi. It was a resting place of Sage Muchukunda Maha Muni and has a temple on his name. There are several other shrines inside these caves dedicated to Anjaneya Swamy,Sri Raja Rajeswari Devi,Siddhi Vinayaka Swamy,Bala Malleswara Swamy,Nava Grahalu(Nine planets) and holy snakes. There is an ancient Palanati Nagamma Idol(Snake Hood) at the entrance of this cave. One can even visit the tombs of Yogini Kola Peramambha and other people who served pilgrims at this place and has several Shiva Lingas like Chikati Mallayya. These caves have been home to people of prehistoric age and has one of the ehalcolithic aged copper sword casted in Bilam,thus Guthikonda Bilam are well known part of these caves.
3)Mogalarajapuram Caves in Vijayawada:
These Caves are situated in Vijayawada of Andhrapradesh which is a very popular Tourist Destination of South India and third largest city located on the banks of River Krishna and home to three famous temples,one such is the Holy Shrine of Goddess Durga is situated on Indrakeeladri Hills. It is the major link between the three main regions of Andhra Pradesh.
The history of Vijayawada dates back to prehistoric times as people here are found to be settled from the Stone Age along the banks of the Krishna River. One visited to this place one can see even the Mythological significance attached to this place.
Moghalrajapuram Caves in Vijayawada
These Caves being the prime attraction of Vijayawada consists of three cave temples which give a glimpse of 5th century. Most of the temples of that time have lost their glory and are left only with the architectural beauty. Among these three,One of the temples still lies in a good condition. The Idols of two deities Lord Nataraja and Lord Vinayak could be found in the cave temples of the Mogalarajapuram Caves.
The uniqueness of this Cave lies in the presence of Ardhanareswara Idol found in the caves temple, which is not found in any other part of the South India.
4)Yaganti Caves in Kurnool District:
These are natural caves which are located at 100kms from Kurnool and 14kms west of Banaganapalle which is an Mandal headquarters on the Banaganapalle-Peapully road. It is considered one of the popular tourist sites of Southern India. It is also an pilgrimage site which even offers beautiful scenery and mind blowing landscapes. These Caves are also known as Agasthya Caves as Sage Agasthya did his penance here to seek blessings of Lord Shiva. There is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva as "Sri Yaganti Uma Maheswara Temple" or "Yaganti" a temple in Kurnool District of Andhrapradesh. One can visit this temple by climbing the 120 steep steps present in the caves and have darshan of the dieties Lord Shiva,Parvathi and Nandhi.
The Agastya Cave
Uma Maheshwara Temple in Yaganti Caves
Legend says that when Sage Agasthya was doing his penance crows distrubed him and Agasthya cursed them not to enter this temple. Hence Lord Shani Deva who's Vahana(Transport) is a crow can't enter into the premises of this temple.
Steps leading to Yaganti Caves
The temple has a famous 'Pushkarani" of which water flows from bottom of the hills through the mouth of the Nandhi(Bull) and has a saying that Sage Agasthya bathed in this Pushkarni and did penance for Lord Shiva. The water of Pushkarni is very sweet and meant auspicious to take holy bath and highly beneficial.
Pushkarni in one of the Yaganti Caves Temple
There is a huge Nandhi(Bull) infront of this temple which according to 'Archaeological Survey of India' studies increases about to one inch size in every 20 years, and had been predicted by Saint Potuluri Lord Veera Brahmendra Swamy that the Nandhi called as 'Basavanna'(stone nandhi) of Yaganti will come alive and shout at the end of Kali Yuga.
The Yaganti Nandhi Statue believed to be growing in size
"Maha Shivarathri" is the festival celebrated with great fanfare as large number of devotees flaung to this temple from all parts of the Andhrapradesh.
These resemble like the Rokalla Caves, Venkateshwara Caves(There is an ancient damaged idol of "Lord Shri Venkateshwara Swamy" present in this cave,which is said to be present before the "Tirumala Tirupathi Venkateshwara Swamy Temple" was constructed with damaged foot of the Lord and hence not worshipped. The famous Saint "Potuluri Veera Brahmendra Swamy" told in his "Kalagynanam" that this place stands as an alternative to Tirupathi.) ,Sanka Caves and Veera Brahmam Caves which are equally marvelous and adds beauty to this exotic place.
One of the most famous Saints "Potuluri Lord Veera Brahmendra Swamy's" "Kalagynanam" is a colossal piece of work which was written in this Yaganti Caves helps one understand the glorious history of these caves.
5)Belum Caves in Kurnool:
These Caves name is derived from Sanskrit word namely Belum and are situated at Kolimigundla Mandal of Kurnool district 320 kms from Hyderabad and 3kms from Belum Caves. The cave length is around 3kms of which 2kms length is left for public viewing and near the entry a 20 meters descent can be seen which leads to the main passage of the cave. These cave have incredible stalactite and stalagmite formations with Black Limestone and deposits of Quartz in the caves, which highlight the beauty of these caves. These caves are the second largest in Indian Subcontinent after Krem Liat Prah caves of Meghalaya.
Entrance leading to Belum Caves
Recently,the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation has discovered the Saptasvarala Guha or even called as Musical Chamber. The other caves include in this region are Billasurgam caves,Sanyasulacaves,Yaganti caves,
Yerrajari caves and Muchchatla Chintamanu caves which are called as 'Gavi' in Telugu.
Main features of this caves are:
Pillidwaram:It's a natural arch of stalactites formed in the shape of a lion’s head and known as cats gate.
Saptasvaralu Guha:It is even called as Musical Chambers as it produce metallic sound effects from the stalactites,have fresh water galleries,siphons and the light coming from these caves is very soft giving soothing and cooling effect.
Thousand Hoods:It has amazing stalactite formations shaped like hood of Cobra on the ceiling as if thousands of cobras have opened their hoods.
Patalganga:It's a small perennial stream flowing into the depths of the earth from the southeast to northwest. There is a belief that it heads towards a well at the Belum village situated 2kms away from these caves.
Kotilingalu Chamber:This consists of stalactite formations which are akin to Shiva Lingams having thousands of such stalactite formations giving it a surrealistic look with a huge pillar formed by stalactite and stalagmite joining together.
Dhyan Mandir or Meditation Hall:It is near entrance of the cave and the hall looks like a bed with pillow to recline. There are evidences that sages used to live here and it was used by Buddhist Monks of which some are preserved in the museum of Ananthpur.
Mandapam:It is a place inside the cave having magnificent stalactite structures on the its both sides presenting a look of a hall with pillars.
Banyan Tree Hall:Its a huge pillar with stalactites hanging from the ceiling and giving a look of Banyan Tree when seen from below with its aerial roots called as "Voodalamari" since they appear like a Banyan Tree with its aerial roots hanging from the branches.
Evidence of Buddha's statue near Belum Caves
Meditation Hall inside Belum Caves
Structure of Banyan Tree formation inside Belum Caves
6)Borra Caves in Kirinrandal:
These Caves are also known as 'Borra Guhalu' where Guhalu means Caves in Telugu. These Caves are situated in the Ananthagiri hills of the Araku Valley,and the second largest natural caves located 90kms from Vishakhapatnam and drained by the Gosthani River, in the Indian subcontinent which is stretched over the Eastern Ghats occupying an area of two square kms at a height of 1400ft. It being one of the popular tourist destinations takes us back to more than One million years history.
There is a Shiva Lingam inside the caves which has a legend that when a cow grazing on top of the cave fell inside from a hole of the roof and Lord Shiva rescued it and thus locals worship this Lingam as the form of Lord Shiva and constructed a small temple for him outside the cave and come to get a glimpse of this Lingam present inside the cave. There is a famous saying that udder of this cow is the source of the Gosthani River (Sanskrit: Cow’s udder) which was originated from here and flows through Vizianagram and Visakhapatnam districts before debouching into the Bay of Bengal near Bheemunipatnam.
Worship of Stalagmite Shiva Lingam inside the Borra Caves
This cave is also known as Limestone caves formed by the Gosthani River,as this region was full of limestone deposits which were eroded by the river for many years and thus formed the Borra Caves.
The other tourist attractions near this cave are Tyada Railway Tunnel,Damuku View Point,Ananthagiri Coffee Plantation,Padmapuram Gardens and the Araku Valley.