Cave research in India

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Indo-Italian joint venture in cave expedition

Cave research in India, encompassing the study of speleology and biospeleology, is still in its infancy. Although there are thousands of caves in India, research expeditions occur in few states. The Siju Cave of state Meghalaya is the first limelighted natural cave from India. Several studies were carried out in this cave during the beginning of Twentieth Century. The Kotumsar Cave of Central India is one of the most explored caves of India.[1] Biologists have classified many types of cavernicoles, i.e. trogloxenes, troglophiles and troglobites, from this cave. Dr. Jayant Biswas is one notable researcher in this field; Biswas's effort not only explains the subterranean ecosystem properly but also various aspects of science related to cave study.

Caving regions[edit]

Meghalaya[edit]

Expedition is in progress in Meghalayan Caves

The Indian state, Meghalaya is famous for its many caves, which attract tourists not only from India but abroad too. A few of the caves in this region have been listed amongst the longest and deepest in the world.

Khasi hills[edit]

  • Mawsmai Cave (show cave exclusively for tourists)
  • Krem Mawmluh (4th longest in the Indian sub continent)
  • Krem Phyllut, length: 1,003 m (3,291 ft)
  • Krem Soh Shympi (Mawlong, East Khasi Hills), length: 760 m (2,490 ft)
  • Krem Mawsynram
  • Krem Dam, length: 1,297 m (4,255 ft)

Jaintia hills[edit]

  • Krem Liat Prah, length: approx 31 km (Longest in the Indian Subcontinent)
  • Krem Um-Lawan, length: 6,381 m (20,935 ft)
  • Ka Krem Pubon Rupasor or The Rupasor Cave
  • Krem Kotsati, length: 3,650 m (11,980 ft)
  • Krem Umshangktat, length: 955 m (3,133 ft)
  • Krem Lashinng, length: 2,650 m (8,690 ft)
  • Krem Sweep, length: 970 m (3,180 ft)

Garo hill[edit]

  • Siju-Dobkhakol, length: 4,772 m (15,656 ft)
  • Tetengkol-Balwakol, length: 5,334 m (17,500 ft)
  • Dobhakol Chibe Nala, length: 1,978 m (6,490 ft)
  • Bok Bak Dobhakol, length: 1,051 m (3,448 ft)

Most of the caves of these areas were either discovered or surveyed by the Europeans (especially by German, British and Italian cavers). Herbert Daniel Gebauer, Simon Brooks, Thomas Arbenz and Rosario Ruggieri are the most prominent name among them. Brian Khapran-Daly of Meghalaya Adventure association have expedite most of the caves of Meghalaya (stated above). In addition to these, the cavers' associations of Meghalaya have always been found to be active in cave discoveries of that plateau.

Andhra Pradesh[edit]

Meditation Hall inside Belum Caves
  • Belum Caves, length: 3,229 m (10,594 ft)
  • Borra Caves, length: 625 m (2,051 ft)
  • Guthikonda Caves,
  • Guntupalli Caves,
  • Moghalarajapuram Caves,
  • Undavali Caves
  • Yaganti Caves,
  • Akka Mahadevi Cavesetc.

Madhya Pradesh[edit]

Dandak Cave, Chhattisgarh

Few Ancient caves of Madhya Pradesh are well known. Few more caves have also been recently limelighted

Chhattisgarh[edit]

Uttarakhand[edit]

and many more scientifically unexplored caves.

Cultural importance[edit]

Panorama of the Ajanta caves
Ice Shiva Lingam in the Holy Cave

In India, many caves are popular tourist sites. The caves of Ajanta, Udaygiri, Barabar, Sigiriya, Undavalli, Pandavleni, Ellora are famous for archaeological finds and ancient architectural value.

Religious importance[edit]

Cave Temple of Lord Amarnath ji

The stalagmite formations present in most natural limestone caves resemble Shiva Linga (an Indian God), due to which most of the caves in India are considered of great religious import. In addition, several universally known caves related to Buddhism is also exist in India. The same attraction leads local people to visit small caves as it draws tourists to large show caves. In India, Amarnath Temple caves, Vaishno Devi Mandir, Badami Cave Temples, Hulimavu Shiva cave temple, Mahakali Caves, Mandapeshwar Caves, Pandavleni Caves are all well known for their high religious value.

Current research[edit]

Jayant Biswas and his contemporaries continue to research the biospeleology of Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Western Ghats and hope to establish India amongst other notable countries on the cave map of the world.

The blind and albinic cavefish (Nemacheilus evezardi) from Kotumsar Cave, India

Research is also taking place on Indian cave stalagmites, to estimate the past monsoon climate. Dr Ashish Sinha of California State University is taking major steps to understand the past pattern Indian monsoons via cave research, in addition, Prof. Rengaswamy Ramesh, Dr. M. G. Yadava of Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, Prof. Bahadur Kotlia of The Durham, Kumaun University Nainital and Dr. Jayant Biswas, National Cave Research and Protection Organization, India, also initiated some research in this direction.

Besides Dr. Biswas, Dr. Daniel Harries of Edinburgh (cave biodiversity) and Dr. Adora Thabah of Bristol University, UK (chiroptology), Prof. Y. Ranga Reddy of Nagarjuna University (small crustacean: taxonomy) and Prof. G. Marimuthu of Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai (chiroptology), Prof. R. K. Pradhan Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University of Raipur (chronobiology), Prof. R. Baskar [Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, Haryana] are some of the known researchers who have tried to shed some light on the biospeleology of Indian caves.

Conservation[edit]

Unscientific quarrying of limestone led to the collapse of the Mawmluh cave of Meghalaya,[2] and the caves of Jantia Hills are also in danger due to excessive quarrying of coal.[3]

The 'National Cave Research and Protection Organization, India' has been formed to help protect the caves of India.[4] In addition, members of the Meghalaya Adventures Association (principally, Brian Kharpan Dally) work to protect the natural caves of Meghalaya.

Indian Caves listed in the World's Longest Cave Map[edit]

  • Krem Liat Prah/Um IM/Labbit M /RUBONG,Meghalaya (Jaintia Hills) 30397 m
  • Krem KotSati/Um Lawan, Meghalaya (Jaintia Hills) 21530 m
  • Krem Tyngheng/Diengjem, Meghalaya (Jaintia Hills) 21250 m
  • Krem UmTHLOO-SYNRANG Labbit, Meghalaya (Jaintia Hills) 18181 m

== World's Longest Cave List ==

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kotumsar Cave is biologically best known cave in India The Hitavada
  2. ^ Limestone mining causes part of India’s seventh longest cave to collapseThe Telegraph
  3. ^ Coal mining threatens Meghalaya caves Down to Earth
  4. ^ "Ramesh petitioned against Lafarge plant in Meghalaya". Times of India. 16 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 

External links[edit]