India - About the Country

India is a subcontinent of Asia, looking like a big triangle pointing to the south. The south-eastern and south-western borders are the coasts to the Indian Sea, the northern border is the Himalaya mountains. Neighbor countries are Pakistan, Tibet, China and Malaysia.

India is a huge country with several limestone areas and the promise of many future discoveries. But at the moment, there are not many known caves. Especially the Meghalaya area in northern India was for the last 25 years a research area of International caving expeditions. A yearly three-week expedition normally surveys 25 km of new discovered caves. This established a small speleological movement in India for the first time ever in the early 2000s. The very first actual speleological publication from India was published in the year 2022. The country has almost 1.5 Billion inhabitants and only a few dozen cavers.

Despite numerous caves, the country lacks show caves, the few which exist are disappointing, small, and poorly developed. It seems they actually have no idea what a show cave is and how to do it. They even have the fear that people suffocate in caves, and they actually installed air conditioning in ShowcaveBelum Caves to make sure visitors will not suffocate. On the other hand, during religious festivals, thousands of people enter pretty small holy caves in search of nirwana. There are no concerns in this case, obviously faith replaces oxygene quite well, and some actually find nirwana. As a non-believer you should definitely avoid such festivals.

Virtually any cave in India is the longest cave in India, Asia or the world, even if it is ony 200 m long. This is a standard statement, and it is common to all of Asia, not only India.

A cave is only worth showing it to visitors if it has a Shiva lingam, which is a stalagmite or other rock formation which looks like the penis of God Shiva. If it does not exist, it somehow materializes. And it is used as an altar, milk is poured on top, but we definitely have no idea why. Sometimes this is forbidden, probably because of the smell of sour milk.

Indians have no idea of the actual age of natural caves, their caves are artificial and 2,000 years old, so much they understand. But a natural cave which is millions of years old, they cannot understand. If a vessel is found inside, which is 4,500 years old, they understand it is more ancient than normal caves. If cave paintings are found which are from the Stone Age and 15,000 years old, they omit a 0 before publishing it, because they cannot believe such weird numbers. Such weird "common sense knowledge" successfully prevents the development of speleology or show caves in Inda.

Even worse is the relation with mining and mines. The huge country has numerous important mines. India also has some of the worst working conditions in mining and the poorest nature protection laws. They have not yet understood the concept of show mines or even of a mining museum. But they now started to create "show mines", which they found to be quite profitable, but what they call a show mine is building a theme park on the site of an abandoned open cast. It has nothing to do with mining, and does not recreate the former conditions, it's not recultivating nature, it's simply a theme park. That's why they call it Eco Park and offer Eco-Mine Tours, which are actually amusement rides. It seems they also have no idea what the term eco means.

In other words, we have a country which completely lacks show caves and show mines. The few we listed are so disappointing, we probably would not have listed them in any other country. But they have a lot of world-famous "caves", like Ajanta and Elephanta, which are actually artificial cave temples and monasteries which were built either by Jaina monks BC or by Buddhist monks in the first centuries AD. They have sculptures on the walls, facades chiseled into massive granite, pillars and windows. There are even several monolithic churches, which are really rare. Several sites are on the UNESCO World Heritage List, many are quite popular tourist sites.

We always try to list caves with their "original" name, which means the name in the local language. But India has officially 447 languages, and it is difficult to find out the local names. English is a sort of official language and allows Indians to communicate even if they originally speak different languages. This is why typically the English version of the name is given.