Caves in Meghalaya
Meghalaya is famously known as nature's unexplored paradise for caves. Some of the longest, biggest and deepest caves in South Asia are sited here. There are more than 500 caves identified in the state till the date, of which around 147 have been partially or fully explored and mapped.
The mountain ridge of Meghalaya is mainly formed of limestone. The caves in Meghalaya are formed in limestone by dissolution. Mineral calcite (calcium carbonate) is the main component of limestone. Limestone is highly soluble. Normally, carbon dioxide in the air is hoisted by rain water resulting in formation of carbonic acid. The water can dissolve limestone over a long period of time, forming a natural cave. The same water deposits mineral calcite in some other parts of the cave, forming speleothems like stalactites, stalagmites etc.
Some of the important caves in Meghalaya -
This famous tourist delight is the only fully lighted cave of Meghalaya. Structurally, the cave (with a length of 250 meters) is separated in two parts - old part is entirely lighted while the new part is yet to install such lighting facilities. The cave possesses attractive lime formation of large passages and chambers crafted over years by the slow dripping of water which allows proper space for the tourists to explore around.
Studded with stalagmite and stalactite formations, Dobakhol or bat-cave is one of the longest cave in India with a length of 4772 meters. Famously known as Siju Cave, it was first explored and surveyed during the 1920's by the British geologic survey. It serves as a habitat to a large population of bats. A rare species of cave fish named Menon (Schisture Sijuensis) and a river fish has been found surviving in this cave.
Kotsati-Umlawan cave is the longest cave in India with a surveyed length of 21,600 meters. It has 22 cave entrances with both horizontal and vertical openings.
Synrang Paming is the second longest cave in entire India. The cave is 14,200 meters long. It is also the deepest cave in the state of Meghalaya with a vertical range of 313 meters.
It is a resurgence cave located at the head of a 50 meter high waterfall. Krem Chympe cave is claimed to be third longest cave in Indian sub-continent with a length of 9,700 meters.
Situated in Mawsynram, Krem Dam cave is the biggest cave made of sandstone in entire India. The cave is 1,297 meters long. A lively stream present near the primary entrance creates a spectacular view of Krem Dam cave to the visitors.
Krem Phyllut cave is located at Mawsmai village in the southern part of Cherrapunjee. The cave is 1003 meters long. It has a large section of fossil passage, two stream ways and three entrances. Yet Krem Phyllut cave has not received much attention of the geo-microbiologists till today.
Prominently known as Krem Mawkhyrdop, Krem Mawmluh cave is situated at the bottom of the western side of Lum Lawbah at a distance of half a kilometer from Cherrapunjee. The cave is 4,503 meters long with five river passages. It is considered as the fourth longest cave in India till date.
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Other prominent caves
Krem Shrieh, Krem Lympat, Krem Lamet Latang, Krem Lashing, Krem Syndai, Kut Sutiang, Siju Dobbakil, Dobhakol Chibe Nala, Tetengkol-Balwakol etc.