Undavalli Caves devoid of amenities
A visit to Undavalli Caves in Tadepalli mandal at Guntur gives an impression to history lovers that the tourism potential of the ancient rock-cut structure of the 6th and 7th century AD has been left untapped. The multi-storey structure overlooking the Krishna River has a magnificent frontage, which is 28 metres in length and 15 metres in height. The core part of the caves is called Anantasayana Temple
Tourism potential of rock-cut structure ignored
A visit to Undavalli Caves in Tadepalli mandal at Guntur gives an impression to history lovers that the tourism potential of the ancient rock-cut structure of the 6th and 7th century AD has been left untapped. The multi-storey structure overlooking the Krishna River has a magnificent frontage, which is 28 metres in length and 15 metres in height. The core part of the caves is called Anantasayana Temple as it houses the idol of Lord Vishnu on the second floor of the rock-cut structure.
The idol, in a reclining posture and sculpted from a single block of granite, is a virtual feast for the eyes. But no temple rituals are being performed to the Lord. Visitors place flowers at the feet of the idol and worship the Lord. There is said to be a 9 km tunnel from the Undavalli Caves to Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple at Mangalagiri. But its entry point has been blocked by the authorities to prevent treasure-hunters from vandalising the structure.
The historic caves are devoid of basic amenities to attract more visitors. There are a few washrooms which are ill-maintained. Visitors need to carry water bottles and snacks along with them. The lawn is the only place where visitors feel comfortable. Despite several complaints by visitors, no steps have been taken to provide drinking water facility at the caves. There is also no canteen in the vicinity.
Creation of basic infrastructure at the caves has been completely neglected by the authorities. The ropeway project from Bhavani Island to Undavalli Caves proposed by the erstwhile Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali-Mangalagiri Urban Development Authority (VGTM-UDA) to boost tourism in the region has also failed to take off.
Despite such failings, according to the in-charge of the caves, the number of people visiting the magnificent rock-cut structure is on the rise in recent months. “Earlier, the average number of visitors was 50 a day. Now we are issuing 150 to 200 entry tickets a day. Foreign tourists visit the caves from November to January every year. The caves attracted a record number of 16,000 visitors in November last year.
A good number of people also visit the caves during Karthika Masam,” he said. A Padmaja, who visited the caves along with her family members on their way to Venkatayapalem, said, “It is important to create basic amenities at the historic place to attract tourists. The magnificent monument will be a major tourist attraction in the capital region if the authorities concerned pay a little attention to creation of basic amenities and their maintenance. The surroundings of the caves need to be spruced up.”
K Praveen, a student from Poranki, deplored the laxity of the officials concerned in promoting the historical significance of the caves to attract tourists. They have not even coordinated with the APSRTC to arrange a request stop for buses at the caves for the convenience of visitors. One has to get down from the RTC bus at the entrance of Undavalli village and take an auto to reach the caves or come back after travelling about half kilometer more. “A request stop for RTC buses should be arranged at the caves immediately,'' he said. Another visitor is of the view that Undavalli Caves will be a major tourist destination once the capital region is developed.
By:Ch Sowmya Sruthi