Borra Caves are located in the Ananthagiri hills amidst the Araku valley of Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. It is situated 85 km away from its district headquarters. The caves are referred to as “Borra Guhalu” in local language. It is one of the largest caves in term of size and the deepest caves in terms of depth in the whole country. It occupies an area of about 2 square km. The Caves are situated at an elevation of about 705 metres above the sea level and distinctly exhibits a variety of impressive speleothems ranging from very tiny to huge and irregularly shaped stalactites and stalagmites. The Caves are mainly bestowed with Karstic limestone structures extending to a depth of 80 metres.
The natural formations of Borra Caves are solitary and breathtakingly awe-inspiring. These limestone caves were formed as a result of the action of the Gosthani River. It is believed that the river once flowed over this limestone area and then due to the pressure exerted by the river water on the mineral deposits, the limestone got dissolved and gradually the caves were formed. It was an indeed a two-way process. The dissolved limestone drizzled down drop by drop on the floor of the cave and gets thickened to form irregularly shaped stalagmites. Similarly, some of the water drops from the roof congealed to form stalactites. As the time went by, these calcium deposits of stalactites and stalagmites grew downwards and upwards respectively, and at some levels touched each other to form different formation inside the caves. While some of the deposits are formed into fantastic structures, acquiring a religious significance over a period of time among the people and on the other side, some deposits are weird in shape.
According to a legend, there is a Shiva Lingam inside the caves on which one can see a stone formation of a cow. It is said that the udder of this cow is the source of the Gosthani River which originates from here; flourish through Vizianagram and Visakhapatnam districts before draining into the Bay of Bengal near Bheemunipatnam. This river is the source of water supply to Visakhapatnam city.
The Caves came into existence in 1807 and was discovered by William King George from the Geological Survey of India team. The fauna observed in the caves are bats and the golden gecko. The type of bat most found in and around the cave is the fulvous fruit bat which roosts in large caves, old buildings and dark areas of old forts. This species has short and slim musculature with large eyes. They feed on flowers and fruits, particularly jamun, guava and mango. The forests in the area are of semi-evergreen deciduous type. The flora in the cave consists of mosses and brown-to-green algae. There is also mushroom formation inside the cave. Mining operations are considered to be in violation of the Environmental Protection Act so as to protect the endangered species found in this area.
A walk around the caves provides a picturesque view of the mountainous area which is rich in flora and fauna. APTDC has installed 26 mercury, sodium vapour and halogen electric lamps, which provide magnificent views of the formations inside the cave. Geologists and tourists visiting the caves are enthralled by the lighted caves. The famous Araku and Borra rail-cum-road package tour organized by the APTDC is available from Visakhapatnam for tourists who are keen to see the Borra caves.
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