Visakhapatnam

When Railways tracked down Borra caves

Tourists at the million-year-old Borra Caves at Araku in Visakhpatnam district on the eve of World Tourism day September 26, 2015. Visakhapatnam is being projected as the Tourism capital of Andhra Pradesh. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Tourists at the million-year-old Borra Caves at Araku in Visakhpatnam district on the eve of World Tourism day September 26, 2015. Visakhapatnam is being projected as the Tourism capital of Andhra Pradesh. Photo: K.R. Deepak  

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Thousands of tourists, who visit Araku every day by train during the peak season (October to January) have remained oblivious to the ‘geological marvel.’

If the Survey and Construction (S&C) team of the Dandakaranya Balangir Kiriburu (DBK) Railway had not stumbled upon them, the Borra caves would not have become a major tourist attraction over the last four decades.

Thousands of tourists, who visit Araku every day by train during the peak season (October to January) have remained oblivious to the ‘geological marvel.’

Though the caves, believed to be 150 million years old, were discovered by the British geologist William King in 1887, it was only after the construction of the DBK railway line, which then had its headquarters at Visakhapatnam, and the Borra railway station, that they gained immense popularity.

The 450 km-long K-K (Kothavalasa-Kirandul) line was constructed between 1960 and 1968 with Japanese financial aid mainly for transportation of iron ore from the Bailadila mines to the Visakhapatnam Port for export to Japan.

“One day when we were engaged in the work between Tyda and Chimidapalli, there was a heavy downpour and we were worried as there seemed to be no end in sight to the rain. Some local tribals told us: “Don’t worry sir, there is a ‘ raathi godugu’ (stone umbrella) under which you can take shelter,” recalls a retired chief engineer in the Railways J. Rajulu Reddy, who was associated with the survey, construction and maintenance of the K-K line for a decade.

“Although we did not believe them, we followed them and within a short time, they led us to a place full of bushes. They cleared the bushes and we found an opening leading to a cave like structure underground. Fresh water and fruits, available in the cave, came to our rescue as we had to wait for a few hours to escape the downpour.”

“The tribals used to say that the caves led to the Bhadrachalam temple. They, however, cautioned against venturing too deep into the darkness as there were serpents, birds and wild animals,” Mr Reddy recalls.

“It struck me that the caves could draw tourists. Later, I reported the matter to the then Collector of Visakahaptnam. On seeing the caves, he exclaimed, “This is amazing,” and envisioned the caves could become a major tourist attraction.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 12:53:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/when-railways-tracked-down-borra-caves/article8001751.ece

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