Cave research in India

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Cave research, encompassing the study of speleology and biospeleology, is still in its infancy in India. 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 in the early 20th century. The Kotumsar Cave of Central India is one of the most explored caves of India,[1] and biologists have classified many types of cavernicoles, i.e. trogloxenes, troglophiles and troglobites, from this cave.[2]

Researcher in search of Biodiversity inside the Kotumsar Cave

The two Indian institutions are mainly engaged in this particular field; the Raipur-based National Cave Research and Protection Organisation[3] (founded and headed by Dr Jayant Biswas)[4] which focuses on the research and conservation of Indian caves, and the Meghalaya Adventurer Association (founded and managed by Brian Dermot Kharpran Daly)[5] which covers caving and cave explorations.[6]

Caving regions[edit]

Andhra Pradesh[edit]

Meditation Hall inside Belum Caves



None of these have been studied scientifically yet.

Madhya Pradesh[edit]

Dandak Cave, Chhattisgarh


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]

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

Jaintia hills[edit]

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

Garo Hills[edit]

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


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 Amarnath

The stalagmite formations present in most natural limestone caves resemble Shiva Linga, a representation of Hindu God Shiva, due to which some of the caves in India are considered of 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 some of the caves with religious importance.

Current research[edit]

Jayant Biswas and his contemporaries continue to research the biospeleology of Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Western Ghats 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 of 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; Dr. Syed Masood Ahmad & Mahjoor A. Lone, CSIR - National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad; and Dr. Jayant Biswas, National Cave Research and Protection Organization, India, also initiated some research in this direction.

Besides Dr. Biswas, Prof. G. Marimuthu of Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai (Chiropterology - study of Bats); Prof. Y. Ranga Reddy of Nagarjuna University (Small Crustacean: Taxonomy); Dr. Daniel Harries of Edinburgh (Cave Biodiversity) and Dr. Adora Thabah of Bristol University (Chiropterology - study of Bats); Prof. R. K. Pradhan Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University of Raipur (Chronobiology); Prof. Ramanathan Baskar Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, Haryana (Cave Geomicrobiology) are some of the known researchers who have tried to shed some light on the Biospeleology (study of organisms that live in caves) of Indian caves.


Unscientific quarrying of limestone led to the collapse of the Mawmluh cave of Meghalaya,[7] and the caves of Jantia Hills are also in danger due to excessive quarrying of coal.[8]

The 'National Cave Research and Protection Organization, India' has been formed to help protect the caves of India.[9] 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]

The longest caves in India that are listed in World's Longest Cave Map[10] are:

  • 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kotumsar Cave is biologically best known cave in India The Hitavada
  2. ^ "Kotumsar Cave biodiversity: a review of cavernicoles and their troglobiotic traits". 
  3. ^ "National Cave Research and Protection Organization". 
  4. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Jobs & Careers". 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Caving". Adventure Nation. 
  7. ^ Limestone mining causes part of India’s seventh longest cave to collapse The Telegraph
  8. ^ Coal mining threatens Meghalaya caves Down to Earth
  9. ^ "Ramesh petitioned against Lafarge plant in Meghalaya". Times of India. 16 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  10. ^

External links[edit]