Mayavi caves is a beautiful technical cave situated in South India and is filled with stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, shining mineral flows etc. It is just 6 hours drive from Bangalore. It is pretty close to Ballari district which is in North Karnataka. It was originally explored and mapped by German speleologist Herbert D Gabeaur in the early 1980s. On March 12th, 2019, the caving team of Bangalore Adventure School (BASCOOL) rediscovered this. We got the co-ordinates from one of the scientific journal published by H D Gabeaur. With those co-ordinates, we went and explored the cave on our own.
|Gokul is the Founder and Lead Instructor at Bangalore Adventure School. Click here to see Gokul’s Instructor Profile|
|Vijay is an explorer and assistant Instructor at BASCOOL. He is also a Graduate of BASCOOL in various courses. Click here to see Vijay’s Instructor Profile|
|Sudeep is a Graduate of Canyoneering Course ( Level 1, 2 & 3) offered by Bangalore Adventure School.|
|Mahesh is a Graduate of Canyoneering Course ( Level 1 & 2) offered by Bangalore Adventure School.|
All we had about this cave was a journal entry. But, as explorers, this was more than enough for us. For us, technicality of travelling through a cave is not a problem; for we are trained in technical caving. The journal entry mentions a lot of stalactites, stalagmites, rim stones, speleothem boss etc. That was enough for us to make the decision – “Yes, we are going!”.
On March 11th morning 4 AM, we started driving from Bangalore. On the first day we took it easy. We reached the basecamp, the temple at around 7 PM. There were 4-5 other pilgrims as well planning to sleep in the temple premises itself. We had our own tents, sleeping bags etc with us but, since it was a little warmer, we decided to sleep on the terrace of one of the temple structures without a tent.
Finding Entrance: The plan was to wake up at 4:30 AM and start the trek at 5 AM. Everybody woke up at 4:30 AM. We did our morning rituals, did some stretchings and promptly started the trek at 5:15 AM. After walking for few kilometers, at around 7 AM, we reached the co-ordinates. The place was all covered with thorny bushes and initially we thought, its going to be very hard to find the entrance to the cave. Four of us got spread out in search of the entrance. Within some 15 minutes, Vijay screamed “Found it! Here is the entrance!”. We all joined him there and we were all happy to see the entrance. We quickly geared up with helmet, headlamp, spare batteries, gloves, boots, drinking water, oxygen in a portable can etc.
The Descent: The entrance is about roughly 30 ft vertical descent. No ropes were required here as there were broken slates on all sides and they gave us good hand and foot holds. Helmet is a must though because there are a lot of slabs here which might get dislodged anytime.
Inside the Cave: Once you reach the cave floor, you can walk standing up straight; Just remember to look around the walls and ceiling for shining mineral flows and beautiful formations.
Somewhere in the beginning of the cave is where some digging had happened for research. Please be careful to not fall down this vertical 8 feet dug up pit. There is a small ladder left behind to cross over that dugged up section. At around 50 meters into the cave, the cave takes a right turn. Walk another 30 meters and you encounter a speleothem boss right in the middle of the cave passage. Climbing over the speleothem is the way forward. Continue walking enjoying all the variety of formations throughout the cave.
First Barrier: At around 150 meters in, you will reach the first obstacle – A sparkling rimstone barrier which is about 15 ft tall and spans the entire width of the cave passage. Only way forward is to ascend this up with the help of ropes. On top of this barrier are couple of rimstone pools which will have water throughout the year – a good respite from the heat.
Also, on top of the barrier, on the left side is a narrow passage with shining mineral flow on the floor. You may crawl through that for a few meters. There is an optional tight squeeze at the end which will take you to a fridge sized compartment. This is a very tricky squeeze though. There is only one configuration to squeeze through – that is head first face up. We had to remove our helmets to squeeze through. Yes, it is that tight! After this playing around, we need to come back to the top of the barrier. The cave continues with a 15 feet drop to the other side of barrier. We can easily chimney and climb down but climbing this back up is very difficult. Mainly because, there is lot of mud on the cave floor. While climbing this back up, you will have a lot of slippery mud on your boots. So, make sure you leave some anchored rope here to ascend back. Otherwise, your team is risking getting stuck here, dehydration and possibly death as well.
Second Barrier: At around 340 meters into the cave is the second barrier. When compared to the first barrier, this is fairly easy to scale. A decent climber can easily stem and climb this. There are anchor possibilities at the top for the rest of the team to climb up. Remember, the cave temparature is slightly elevated here and everybody will feel lack of breeze or reduced air here. In our team, everybody reported slow response, slow actions, more time for decision etc. after descending behind the first barrier. Your team might even need portable oxygen cylinders here. If your team complains of breathlessness, head back immediately!!
The Mineral Pool: On top of the second barrier, the cave makes another abrupt turn to the right. From here, it is an easy downclimb over a shining flowstone. You climb down into a dry pool whose all four walls are made of shining minerals. The feeling while sitting inside that pool is indescribable. Please watch the video for a glimpse of it.
We’ve rated this cave as C3 which means, some rappelling and ascending is required in this cave. Please refer this page to see the cave rating system that we follow.
As of now, we have no plans to take general public with us for caving. Only those who taken courses with us will get invitation to go with us for caving.
BASCOOL conducts technical training for caving. In order to get invitation for our caving trips, you should have some caving training either from BASCOOL or from one of the international organisation that we recognise.
To become part of our caving team and to get notification about BASCOOL’s caving events, please join our WhatsApp group: https://tinyurl.com/BAS-Caving-Int