Belum Caves – just whoa !

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When you see the area from outside, you can’t believe there are deep caves right below you ! Everything seems quite and dry until you purchase your entry tickets and proceed to the mouth of the caves. it was simply awesome. There are three entry points to the cave and this is the one opened for public.

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After descending through few staircases you will reach the main chamber. Just look up and there is a half elliptical patch of clear soothing blue sky. But still we didn’t know a monster is waiting for us; they call it humidity.   ‘Lose 2kg in 2 hours!’ yes the best advertisement of the cave came from a fellow mate .

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There are different ornamental formations on the wall of main chamber, created by deposition of mineralized solution through years. Along with the formations there are deep scratches and pit holes visible on the cave wall, created by the flow of water. After the main chamber there is the Dhyan Mandir, a hall with single entrance and exit.

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.

Places In Belum Caves

  • pillidwaram — pillidwaram means cats gate. It is a natural arch of stalactites formed in the shape of a lion’s 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.

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  • 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. 
  • 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 at Ananthapur.

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  • 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.

None of the pictures in google nor did the blogs i read on the net seemed to have captured their real beauty .

Photos

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References

http://desitraveler.com/

http://highwayonlyway.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org

Ahobilam – Where Adventure Meets Mythology

The idea behind a trip to Ahobilam came up just like that .  Until then, Ahobilam only meant a famous pilgrim centre, we had no idea that Ahobilam was also a trekker’s paradise. This is the place where Lord Narasimha blessed Prahlada and killed the demon Hiranyakashipu.

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Ahobilam

Ahobilam is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. It can be reached at a distance of 68 kms from Nandial and about 100kms from Cuddapah. This place is known by many names – Ahobalam, Ahobilam, Nava Narasimha Kshetra, Singavel Kundram, Pancha krosa Kshetra, Garudachala and Vedachala.

It is very popularly known about Sri Vaishnavas that the Nallamalai range of mountain in Andhrapradesh is manifestation of Adisesha himself  and that at the tail end is Sri Sailam, the middle part is Ahobilam and the head is Tirupati.  Mention of  Legends connected with Ahobilam can be found in Brahmanda puranam, Kurma Puranam, Padma Puranam & Vishnu Puranam.

 When Lord emerged out of pillar in his fierce and effulgent form, all the devatas (demigods) exclaimed “Aho Balam (what great strength!)”.Sthala purana speaks this wonderful pastimeas an additional note to Lord Narasimha Lila mentioned in 7th canto of Srimad Bhagavtam.

“Ahoveeryam! ahoshouryam! ahobaahuparakrama!

Naarasimhamparamdaivamahobhilam! ahobalam!”

It adds that on the plea of Prahlada, Lord Narasimha continues to reside at Ahobalam on the peak “Garudachala”. Since this place was contaminated by blood of Hiranyakashipu and his army, Lord invoked River Mandakini to clean it. Since the river cleansed the dirt (sins) that causes birth (bhava), she came to be called as River “Bhavanashini”. Laxmi Devi appeared and sat on the folded leg of the lord. The forest grove thus got their name as Laxmivan. Seeing this beautiful sight of Lord and her consort, all great sages assembled and sang praises and hymns from Vedas. The mountain from where they chanted came to be called as “Vedadri”.

The Nava Narashimhas 

 Ahobilam has two main areas – Diguva (Lower) Ahobilam and Eguva (Upper Ahobilam). Diguva Ahobilam is located at the foothills of the Nallamala range. The main temple of Ahobilam called the Prahalada Varadha Temple is located at Lower Ahobilam. Eguva Ahobilam is located in the hills on an 8 km ghat road and houses the Ahobila Narasimha temple. In addition to these two primary temples, there are 8 other temples for Lord Narasimha and two other spots associated with the Hindu Mythology – the entire set forms part of the Ahobilam trek.

Eguva Ahobilam 

1.Ahobila Narashimhar (Ugra Narashimhar)

The temple,situated on the upper Ahobilam, at a distance of eight kilometersfrom the Lower Ahobilam, is the main temple and the earliest of all the nine shrines. The lord in the main altar here appears in his fierce aspect.Hence he is called Ugra Narasimha. He is the presiding deity of the temple and is also known as Ahobilam Narsimha. This  Narsimha deity manifested‘svayambhu’ (self-manifest) here.

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The other treks start here . there’s a pathway over the left . which leads to other deities of upper ahobilam .

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2. Varaha(Kroda) Narashimha

The shrine of Varaha Narasimha is one km away the main temple of Ahobila Narasimha of the upper Ahobilam.Walking along side the Bhavanasini river east-wards and Kalakshepa Mandapa,we arrive at the cave shrine of Krodha(Varaha).Surrounded by attractive natural scenery all around, The lofty mountains over-grown with tall trees are awe inspiring.In the narrow valley between Vedari and Garudadadri,the silver stream of Bhavanasini glides on beautifully.

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Jwala Narashimha

The temple of Jwala Nrisimha Swamy, lies higher up the above temple, on a hill called, ‘Achalachaya Meru’. This is about 4km from the Upper Ahobilam temple. This place is said to be the actual spot, where the fierce anger of the Lord reached its culmination when he tore Hiranyakasipu.

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The route :

the Rocky path surrounded by greenery will surely not make you tired . it motivates you to walk further .

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The 30 minute trek will leave you a little tired, especially if it is a hot day but the silence of the forest and the greenery of the hills somehow seem to give you all the energy. Half way up the trek, we will spotted the Ugra Sthambham.

Akasha Ganga

A waterfall cascades down the hill forming curtain over the narrow pathway leading to the temple and you actually walk behind this waterfall. We were told this waterfall is called the “Akasha Ganga”, the waterfall is believed to have been sent down from Heaven to cool down Lord Narasimha’s anger after killing the demon Hiranyakasipu.

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Ugrastambam

At a distance of 8km from the Upper Ahobilam temple, we can see a cleft of the mountain dividing it into two visible parts. It is a long-held view that from the cleft, the Lord appeared in the form of Narasimha and this cleft is known as ‘Ugra Sthambham’.

we heard the treks were little risky, the forests were full of wild animals and the grace of Lord Narasimha alone would get us back safely ! Hope we had his blessings .

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However you should be much careful while returning .

4.Karanja Narashimha 

This shrine is situated at a distance of 1km from the Upper Ahobilam and one furlong from the road leading to Lower Ahobilam. The image of the deity is installed under a tree, called ‘Karanja Vruksham’. Hence this Lord is called Karanja Narasimha Swamy.

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we completed our journey of Four Narashimas in upper ahobilam & Ugrastambam in half a day . this was one of our most blissful trek ever . We will go there another time again . this trek taught us life .

Its Not about Your Destiny . Its About your Journey .

Photos 

On the way to kroda Narashimha

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On the way to jwala narashimha

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On the way to ugra Stambam

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