History Of Borra Caves:
- The native name for the caves is Borra Guhalu. Borra means a hole in Odia language and guhalu means caves in the Telugu language)
The caves were discovered in 1807, by William King George of the Geological Survey of India.
- The caves are located in the Araku Valley of the Ananthagiri hill range and are drained by the Gosthani River. At the entry, the cave measures up to 100 m (330 ft) horizontally and 75 m (246 ft) vertically. Stalagmite and stalactite formations are found in the caves.
The average annual temperature of Araku hills, where the caves are situated, is about 25 °C (77 °F). The average annual rainfall reported is 950 mm (3.12 ft) (mostly occurring during the northeast monsoon). The Gosthani river provides water supply to the Visakhapatnam city.
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Formation Of Borra Caves:
- The Gosthani River, which originates from these caves and flows between the solidified stalactites and stalagmites in the karstic limestones formation, is the cause for the development of the odd shapes of structures. Water percolating from the roof of the caves dissolve limestone and trickle drop by drop to form stalactites at the roof of the cave and then dripping down to the ground form stalagmites.
- These deposits have developed into interesting forms and structures inside the caves such as Shiva–Parvati, Mother-Child, Rishi’s beard, the human brain, mushrooms, crocodile, temple, church, etc.
- These shapes have captured the imagination of tourists, while some have been given religious interpretations
Formations in the caves:
- The caves are deep and totally aphotic. There is an area in the caves with limited light penetration. The stalactites seen in the caves are about 0.1 to 3.5 m (0.3 to 11.5 ft) in length while the stalagmites are 1.2 m (3.9 ft) long and columns are 6 m (20 ft) in height and 0.75 m (2.5 ft) in width. The height of the cave is 12 m (39 ft) and the length is about 200 m (660 ft). The average temperature of the inner cave wall is reported to be about 16 °C (61 °F). Sulfur springs discharge into the cave passages causing corrosion of limestone. The spring waters display floating mucus-like biofilms.
- These are thick orange microbial mats (2.5 to 3 cm [1.0 to 1.2 in] thick) with patches of yellow biofilms extending 3 m (9.8 ft) from the aphotic deep cave orifice.
- While the caves are basically limestone formations, the area surrounding these are of mica formations which are prospected for precious stones like rubies.
- Archaeological artefacts (Paleolithic implements) have been found in the caves. The excavations carried out in the caves by the archaeologists of the Andhra University have unearthed stone tools of middle Paleolithic culture dating back 30,000 to 50,000 years, which confirm human habitation.
The Legend Of Borra Caves:
- On the discovery of the caves, there are several legends, which the tribals (Jatapu, Porja, Kondadora, Nookadora, valmiki etc.) who inhabit the villages around the caves narrate. The popular legend is that a cow, grazing on the top of the caves, dropped 60 m (200 ft) through a hole in the roof. The cowherd while searching for the cow came across the caves. He found a stone inside the cave that resembled a Lingam, which he interpreted as Lord Shiva who protected the cow. The village folk who heard the story believed it and since then they have built a small temple for Lord Shiva outside the cave. People flock to the temple for worship and the cave to get a glimpse of the Lingam.
- Another lyrical legend is that the Shiva Lingam representing the Hindu God Lord Shiva, is found deep in the caves and above which is a stone formation of a cow (Sanskrit: Kamadhenu). It is surmised that the udder of this cow is the source of the Gosthani (Sanskrit: Cow's udder) River which originates from here, flows through Vizianagram and Visakhapatnam districts before emptying into the Bay of Bengal near Bheemunipatnam.
How To Reach Borra Caves:
- The caves are located in the Ananthagiri hills range of the Araku valley of the Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh.
- The caves are 448 kilometres (278 mi) from Bhubaneshwar in Odisha and 656 kilometres (408 mi) from Hyderabad, both via National Highway 5.
- The caves are well connected by road, rail and air services. The nearest international airport is Visakhapatnam Airport, 76 km (47 mi) from Borra Caves, which is 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) from the Visakhapatnam city centre.
- Vishakapatnam is 90 km (56 mi) away by road. It is mostly a hill road and the journey takes about three hours.
- Train services operate on the Kothavalasa-Kirandul railway line in East Coast Railway, Indian Railways. The train journey over a distance of 100 km (62 mi) from the Vishkapatanam railway station passes through Eastern Ghats (hill) section), which has 30 tunnels en route. The journey by train takes about five hours to the Railway Station near the caves called the Borra Guhalu Railway station.
Borra Caves Travel Guide:
- Guided tours for a day trip to the Borra Caves cover interesting attractions like the Tyada Railway Tunnel, Damuku View Point, Ananthagiri Coffee Plantation, Padmapuram Gardens and the Araku Valley.
- For the benefit of the visitors, and information board at the entry point to the caves gives some details of the caves and its surroundings (pictured).
- An Arraku and Borra rail-cum-road package tour organized by the Andhra Pradesh State Tourism Department is available for visitors keen to see the Borra Caves.
- A walk around the caves provides views of the mountainous area which is rich in flora and fauna.
- The Andhra Pradesh State Tourism Department has installed 26 mercury, sodium vapour and halogen electric lamps, which provide views of the formations. The Araku valley, a hill station about 29 km (18 mi) from the Borra Caves, is also a tourist attraction for people visiting the caves.
Best Time To Visit Araku and Borra Caves
- November and December are ideal months to visit the caves.