Borra Caves, The Caves With A Hole At Araku Valley

The Borra Caves, Araku Valley, Visakhapatnam
The Borra Caves, Araku Valley, Visakhapatnam

Borra Caves is located in Eastern Ghats of India, in Ananthagiri Hills of Araku Valley, about 90 km’s from the coastal city of Visakhapatnam. Borra Guhalu as it is called in the local language is one of its kind natural wonders of India. It is the biggest natural stalagmite and stalactite cave in the country. These caves are found in various parts of the world and their ages are always stated in hundreds of millions of years. A number that you and I cannot even comprehend.

I have seen similar caves in Texas, USA, Slovakia and in our own Meghalaya. They are very similar to natural growths from the ceiling and the floor. Sometimes they come together to form pillar-like formations, and otherwise, the random formations can make your imagination run wild. These caves usually come in the path of a river and you can see the flow of water through them. These caves are the origin of Gosthani River that flows from here to Visakhapatnam.

Natural Wonder of India – Borra Caves – Places to visit in Araku Valley

Borra Caves, biggest natural stalagmite and stalactite cave in India
Biggest natural stalagmite and stalactite cave in India
Natural Brain look-alike formations at the Borra Caves
Natural Brain look-alike formations in the caves

In India, of course, the caves are not as well maintained. Because of human touch, most growths have stopped, and there is no restriction on touching. Having said that they are a part of the culture here and not just another scientific or archaeological discovery. They are living caves in a sense. Since we have a way of finding divine everywhere, so the growths from the floor often get treated as Shivalingas. And other formations can resemble other incarnations of Gods, their vehicles & auspicious signs. Sometimes even the legends from the historical texts. In these caves, you can see many Shiva Lingas. One of them is converted into a small temple and can be approached by a steep narrow staircase only.

Formations by falling water

Formations formed through the water falling are called Jalashilas or water rocks locally. There is Sai Baba, there are temples. There are Sita’s bedroom and bathroom, from where comes the yellow water that is supposed to be the Haldi or Turmeric water from her bath. Scientifically, it is just the Sulfur giving color to the water. There is a formation of a human brain, a corncob, monkeys, sitting elephant, running horse, Hanuman’s feet and his Gada or mace. At places, the walls shine because of the presence of minerals like Magnesium and Silica.

What is worth noting is a huge end-to-end joint in the rock, which is amazing. Locals call two sides divided by the joints as Luv and Kusha, Sita’s two sons. Light falling out of the hole above illuminates the caves beautifully and in many ways depending on where you are standing in the cave. Human brain formation is also curious as it not like a traditional stalactite or stalagmite formation. Towards the end of the cave, you can see the reflection of the cave in water. Suddenly doubling the size of the cave with interesting illumination.

Gosthani river flowing near the Borra Caves
The Gosthani river flowing near the caves

Three Levels of Caves

These caves are spread across three levels and only the middle level is open for public. The level below and above is not so safe for general travelers. The bottom level also connects to the river below and hence can be dangerous. Do stop by to have a top view of the river that flows between white marble rocks that are common in the area. Our guide told us that the cave has a free entry on Shivaratri when all the tribal communities of the region come here to worship. At the entrance of the cave, the opening is huge and you can see the expanse of the cave with people looking like tiny dwarfs. Two Nandis have been placed at the entrance giving the impression of the whole cave being a Shiva temple. And is he not actually known to be cave dweller!

Inside view of the caves
Inside view of the caves
Entrance, look at the people to get a perspective of the size
Entrance, look at the people to get a perspective of the size

Meaning of Borra

Borra means the hole in the local language. This cave has a hole right on top and that is how it gets its name. Legend is that a cow fell through this hole and that is how the local tribal population discovered the cave and the source of the river. And named the river after the cow’s udder. At a point, you can see an udder like formation with water dropping from it directly over a Shivalinga. Modern history traces the discovery of these caves to the British Era. When King William George of Geological Survey of India discovered some 200+ years ago. Anthropologists have discovered stone tools from the caves indicating that these caves were inhabited probably 30,000-50,000 years ago.

Reflections from the stagnant water inside
Reflections from the stagnant water inside the caves

Train to Borra Caves

If you travel by East Coast Railway’s train to Borra Guhalu, the guide will tell you that just before hitting the station, the train track is actually going above the caves. And sure inside the caves, you can see a railway signboard telling you the same thing along with all the numbers. AP tourism has done a decent job of putting a paved path in the caves. Some lamps that make it possible for the visitors to move around in the cave.

I would put these caves on the list of must-visit places, both for the caves and train journey that takes you there through many tunnels.

Kartiki Waterfall

Kartiki Waterfall nearby
Kartiki Waterfall nearby

If you are adventurous and young, explore the seasonal Kartiki Waterfall near the caves. Take care and be in groups while venturing to such waterfalls.

Recommend you to read the following Places to visit in Araku Valley.

Train Ride to Araku Valley

Araku Valley Bamboo Chicken

Araku Tribal Museum

Coffee Chocolates at Araku Valley

Honey-Making at Araku Valley


  1. Nice post and Pictures.
    I had never been to Caves but after reading your post I definitely want to get cave experience.

  2. Krishna, The distance is about a km. There are local jeeps that take you around but they ask for atrocious rates. Take the APTDC rail and road package it takes care of everything from food to transport.

  3. Krishna, The distance is about a km. There are local jeeps that take you around but they ask for atrocious rates. Take the APTDC rail and road package it takes care of everything from food to transport.

  4. Anuradha,

    I’ve been to India many times before, but never have I been to the Bora Caves. I love how you have given background on the cave as well as provided your own experience. Not only is your writing descriptive, but the images themselves are incredible and help awake my own passion for photography. I’ve never actually been to any caves in India and it’s refreshing to see and read about something I have not experienced. It makes me appreciate things like this in my own home town.

  5. Borra Guhalu also known as Borra Caves is are located around 92 Kms near Araku Valley in Visakhapatnam. It is really a very nice place to visit as a tourist attraction.


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