The hilly terrain and forests of the virgin state house a number of ancient caves. Exploring them can make you feel quite like Christopher Columbus!!
Sita Bengra Caves
The most mythological and historically important tourist destination of Ramgarh is the Sita Bengra Cave, or the residence of Goddess Sita. Located on a north-eastern slope of the hillock, the Sita Bengra Cave is 14m long, 4.2m bread with a height of 2m in the front which lessens on the back side. Outside the cave there are many circular mates and benches carved out of ancient stone. Human footprints in the right comer add to the mystical aura and stand testimony to the fact that Sitaji lived in the cave during her forest stay.
As you enter, you realize what the phrase “pitch-dark” means. As your guide holds up a lamp, the stalactites and stalagmites come alive as mystic creations of a master sculptor. Bastar are sure to mesmerize you with their charisma. Kutumsar Caves situated in the Kanger Valley National Park, stand at 38 km from Jagdalpur. The Kutumsar Caves display magnificent formations of stalactites and stalagmites and are probably the darkest of their sort, 35 meters below the ground level. The mineral rich rocks of this area have, over time, added bands of brilliant color to these rock formations. This is possibly the world’s second largest caves formed naturally and house five natural chambers and quite a few blind wells. Kutumsar caves are also home to a particular species of genetically blind fish.
Buried deep in the forest close to the Tirathgarh waterfalls, this underground cave, about 40 km from Jagdalpur, has the most spectacular formations of stalactites (limestone pillars hanging down from the roof) and stalagmites (pillars rising from the ground). Millions of years old, it is deep in a hill, 200 meters long, 35 meters wide and 55 meters deep. If you remember that stalactites and stalagmites are formed drop by drop, and that an inch takes about 6,000 years to form, the huge pillars of the Kanger Caves will leave you speechless. Some of the stalagmites have markings, indicating that they have been worshipped as Shivalingams. The reverberations caused here are strangely musical. With torch lights and a guide along with you on your expedition, experience all the thrill of exploring these amazing caves. It is possible to drive right up to these caves.
Sita Bengra & Hathi pol caves
It is believed that lord Rama and Sita had stayed in the Sita Bengra Caves near Sarguja during their 14 years of exile. Sitabengra Cave is the earliest cave situated on Ramgarh hills near Ambikapur in Surguja district, Chhattisgarh. There are in fact two caves, Sitabengra Cave and Jogimara Cave. They are reached through a natural tunnel, 60 m long but large enough for an elephant to pass through. Because of this reason it is named as Hatipol or ‘elephant cave’.
In the lower part on the northern side of Ramgarh is a big cave, which is almost 39 meter long, 17 meter high at the starting point and 17 meter broad. This is called Hathi (Elephant) Pol or Hath Pol. As the name suggests, an elephant can walk easily through the cave. In the rainy season, a gurgling spring flows from it. Inside, there is a water source which is known as the Sita Kund and its water is crystal clear.
Dandak Cave is located in Kanger Valley National Park. It was discovered in 1995.
The cave is about 200 m long and is divided into two compartments. To go from the first compartment to the second, you need to go on your knees. The main attraction of the cave is the stalagmite and stalactite formations. Solar lamps are used to light the cave.
Things to Remember
The Caves are closed during the monsoons and for some time thereafter. They normally open around the time of Bastar Lokotsav. Guides take tourists in and out safely. However, it is advised that children below 8 years, those above 60 years, and those suffering from claustrophobia avoid the Caves. Wear walking shoes with a sturdy grip as the floor is often uneven and occasionally slippery.
A nominal entrance fee is charged. This covers the cost of the guide who takes you in and out of the Caves and also provides a torch.