Andhra Pradesh

Billasurgam caves expected to get facelift

An arch formation at the entrance to the Billasurgam caves.

An arch formation at the entrance to the Billasurgam caves.  

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District tourism authorities draw up plans for its restoration, estimate cost of project at ₹5 crore

Located an hour’s drive from Kurnool is a small village called K.K. Kottala which houses the Billasurgam caves, where geologists have discovered cave art more than 5,000 years old.

Despite their stunning beauty, the Billasurgam caves in Betamcherla mandal of Kurnool district have remained an untapped tourist destination — something that the district tourism authorities are now planning to address in a bid to preserve history.

The caves were first discovered by famous British geologist Robert Bruce Foote in 1884. Foote was the same geologist who discovered paleolithic stone tools at Pallavaram in Chennai.

Prehistoric artefacts

During decades of archaeological excavations at the site since its discovery, numerous stone tools, animal remains, and fragments of pottery were found at the caves, proving the existence of prehistoric human activity at the caves.

However, the caves are now long overdue for a facelift. Surrounded by quarries and mines, the Billasurgam caves have been left mostly untouched ever since independence, with the exception of the odd visits of scholars and locals.

District tourism authorities are now planning to propose to the State Government to revive the caves and turn them into a tourist attraction. Officials have conducted initial surveys and are expected to produce a first-visit report to the government.

Speaking to The Hindu, District Tourism Officer, B. Venkateswarlu said that preserving the Billsurgam caves is high on their agenda. “We will also ask the archaeology department to look into the matter, and list the caves as a protected monument,” he said.

Lack of access

Currently, the authorities are planning to clean the caves and make it more accessible for visitors.

While it is a popular attraction among the local youth, the caves require development, cleaning and pathways for it to become a primary attraction in the district.

There are two roads leading to the caves – one from Betamcharla mandal headquarters and the other from Palkuru. Both the roads are kutcha roads which cannot accommodate auto-rickshaws and four-wheelers.

Mr. Venkateswarlu said that the development of the caves could cost at least ₹5 crore. “However, we need only ₹5 lakh right now to start the process of cleaning the caves. Moreover, this money, if sanctioned, could also be used to renovate the kutcha road,” he said.

Development plans

Talking about the development plans, the DTO said that roads need to be laid by the Panchayati Raj department, while avenue plantations must be taken up by the district water management agency. “Apart from that, the Revenue Department must also demarcate the land available, and raise fences,” Mr. Venkateswarlu said.

“As it is the constituency of Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy, we also plan on sending the proposal to him directly. With a push from Mr. Reddy, the caves could become a major tourist attraction,” Mr. Venkateswarlu said.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 5:27:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/billasurgam-caves-expected-to-get-facelift/article29790566.ece

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