To continue from where I last left, our next point of stay was Nandyal from where all the places we had to visit viz… Mahanandi, Yaganti, Belum Caves and Ahobilam were easily accessible. We reached Nandyal at around 8:00 p.m or so and checked into the hotel room, freshened up, had dinner and were off to bed.
On the way to Nandyal
The plan was to start at around 6:00 a.m the next day and cover Yaganti and Belum Caves.
On the way ; hare bhare kheth
Kai kesaradhare bai mosaru
[A Kannada proverb to say if ur hands get muddy, then does ur mouth get to taste curd]
Yaganti caves are splendid structures which u just cannot give a miss. The tranquility around , the mighty caves, the sanctity of the place, all beckon you to come and lie in its lap. Yaganti is around 53 kms from Nandyal.
Welcome to Yaganti
Each of the caves here also speaks volumes of the adorable history of the place.
To start with , you find the cave which housed Pothuluri Veera Brahmendra Swami who wrote a part of his famous work “Kala Gyaanam” here.
The next cave has a statue of Lord Venkateswara, which has one of its toe nails broken; and history has it that this fell at the feet of the Lord at Tirupathi and the people here believe that this place would have been equally popular otherwise and it is this incident which has given Tirupathi its share of popularity.
Also, another awe-inspiring thing the priest told us is that it was a belief that a broken idol cannot be worshipped and by chance or God’s will or whatever you term it, there is a structure in the top portions of the cave which resembles Lord Narsimha and the practice now is that Lord Narsimha is worshipped first and then this idol, which is allowed according to the scriptures.
There is another cave where Agasthya Maharshi did penance. The steps to this cave are really really steep.
After visiting these holy caves, you come to main temple. The first attraction you find here is the Nandiswara. According to Potuluri Veera Brahmam, the Basavanna(stone nandi) of Yaganti will come alive and shout when kaliyuga ends. People believe that this stone Nandiswara (Basavanna) is increasing in its size.
The main deity of the temple is Umamaheswara Swami and the idol in the sanctum sanctorum is unique in that a single stone has both Uma and Maheswara embedded in it; a nice indication that both husband and wife form an integral part of each other’s life and represent one entity:two-in-one. 🙂
The temple also has a Pushkarni known as the Agasthya Pushkarni.
Yaganti had a lot to offer and marvelling at its beauty, we proceeded towards Belum Caves which is about 60 kms from Nandyal. We had to return from Yaganti to Alampur and then take a deviation to the right where there is a post indicating the same and travel 30 kms further.
On the way to Belum
Belum Caves is the second largest cave in Indian sub-continent and the longest caves in plains of Indian Subcontinent. They are known to be the longest in South India.
Its very interesting to how these caves came into being. Its said that the when the local people could not find enough water in the well, they used to climb down the steps and get water from below. It was at this point that someone found the existence of these caves inside the well, and an expedition team came here and the rest is history.
We need to climb down a flight of stairs to get to the caves. The entrance fee is very nominal(some 25 or 30 per head)
As you enter, you will be dumbstruck and will really take time to realize where you really are; simply inexplicable. The stalaclite and stalagmite formations here will leave you simply spellbound and take u away from this realm of existence into a world far away.
Some important things to see in these caves have been put up right at the entrance:
The attractions include :
1) Simhadwaram (A natural arch of stalactites formed in the shape of a lion’s head)
2) Dhyan Mandir or Meditation Hall :Near to the entrance; an interesting formation at Meditation hall looks like a bed with pillow to recline (Snap below: saint bed) The local legend has it that in ancient times many sages use 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 Ananthpur.
3) 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.
4) 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.
5) 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.
6) 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. The caves reach its deepest point (120 feet from entrance level) at this point.
Belum caves – First view
Pictures speak better than words
Saint bed (thats what the display on this formation says)
Belum Route Map at the Exit
All I can say is we really need to treasure each thing Mother Nature has bestowed upon us and enjoy every bit of it and yes, my heartfelt gratitude to Mother Nature for manifesting her in so many different forms, each of them, when I see, I feel that they are the best. Hats Off!
P.S: On the way back, Su, being his usual self, was looking for any other interesting shot he can get and he was not disappointed.