The natural and unexplored caves of Adivasis’ faith

Under the Telangana-Maharashtra border hills in Kumram Bheem (KB) Asifabad district, they are protected by the tribals who detest any intrusion in the name of exploration

December 13, 2019 08:09 pm | Updated 08:09 pm IST - KERAMERI (KUMRAM BHEEM ASIFABAD DISTRICT)

Kolams waiting for their turn to enter the Kaplai cave for a holy dip, in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.

Kolams waiting for their turn to enter the Kaplai cave for a holy dip, in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.

The rocky hills of the desolate inter-State border that Kerameri mandal in Kumram Bheem (KB) Asifabad district shares with Jivti taluk in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra are home to a few natural caves. They look quite mysterious as little is known about the centuries-old hollow structures.

The natural wonders known to the aboriginal people — like the Jangubai Cave Temple and the Kaplai Caves — are their pilgrim centres which have remained hidden from the outside world. Reason? Difficulty in accessing the places, and more importantly, because the Adivasis do not like ‘interference’ of outsiders in the name of exploration.

Adivasis’ ancient antres

Among the caves of faith is the Jangubai Cave Temple, a popular pilgrim centre for the Raj Gond, Pardhan and Kolam tribes of former composite Adilabad district. It is located in Kota-Parandoli gram panchayat, and is the smaller one running to a length of just about 75 ft. It is the Kaplai Caves which are said to be much longer, even running into a few kilometres, according to Kolam tribe elders.

“I have visited Kaplai almost every year since I remember,” asserted Sidam Mutha, a leader of the tribe from Jaduguda in Jainoor mandal of KB Asifabad district. “The cavity formed in the sedimentary rock is about 5 km long with passages branching out at intervals leading to different places,” he explained.

Kaplai can be accessed from Parandoli village or Anarpalli in Kerameri mandal. But both the routes are unmotorable. The latter involves a foot journey of about 3 km on the hillocks, made more difficult near the cave owing to the mandatory barefoot walk on the loose pieces of sharp-edged rock.

Under cavern stream

A stream runs under the rocky roof inside the cave which is where the Adivasis take the holy dip. The water now found is at a distance of about 70 metres from the steeply inclined mouth. Kolam pilgrims from Jaduguda and Gundala in Narnoor mandal of Adilabad district recently visited the place for giving the wooden ‘ayyak’ (traditional totem) or Bheem god the annual ritualistic bath in the cave stream.

The pilgrims perform puja, and visit the temple of Lord Shiva located about 300 metres from Kaplai in another green valley. This temple is on a large piece of rock at a higher place and can be accessed through a staircase. However, it got damaged due to the heavy monsoon rains.

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