Deep inside a dark and ancient cavern with water running under my precious boots, I should be feeling eerie. But no, I am amazed—at Nature. I can’t stop admiring the meticulous piece of labour that Mother Nature has crafted over a few million years! The Postojna Cave in Slovenia can easily be ranked as one of Nature’s best known artworks. The precious jewel has been crafted extensively and intricately with nothing else but water! Yes, it’s true. This monumental 20 km stretch that appears so very robust and strong is in fact extremely fragile and has been formed by drops of water. The Postojna Cave witnesses an annual guest list of 5 lac people from around the world.
The underground marvel is a web of passages and chambers. Till date it continues to remain Europe‘s longest cave system. Although Mother Nature has carefully cherished and pampered one of its most precious gems in its bosom through several hundred centuries, the cavern welcomes me in a cold fashion. If you haven’t yet got the drift, it’s really cold inside, almost 5 degrees celsius. The colourful toy train that’s transporting me to the dark world within the cavern is an adventure in itself—negotiating sharp turns and dangerously jutting out stalactites and stalagmites it passes through the narrowest passages ever. The walls are textured with the stalactites and stalagmites having made abstract designs on them.
The cute little station can accommodate almost two soccer fields. And the high ceiling gives the entire place a magnificent ambience. It is in this open space that I realise the gigantic proportions of the stalactites and stalagmites. Stalactites are the big icicle like structures that taper while stalagmites take shape from the ground upwards. They are formed when water seeps in through the earth into the caves. Yes, this monumental piece of marvel takes thousands of years to form. One drop takes 10 years to solidify so you know what I mean? Yes, every drop matters, even here. In many corners that are yet untouched by humans, stalactites and stalagmites have meet midway to form tall and textured rouged pillars that boast a tree-like girth.
Both stalactites and stalagmites are found in limestone caves. As I soak in a panoramic view, I feel it’s an abstract piece of art on a very large canvas. At several spots, the structures adorn different colours like red, brown, white and yellow. This happens because of the consolidation of certain minerals in that area. The Pivka River constantly runs under your feet. It is this ancient river that is credited with the formation of Postojna Cave.
As I saunter through the three levels of the walkway highlighted by lights at strategic points I notice a braided column, a barking dog, a footprint, a shivling and trishul among the many images my art-inclined mind can connect with. But generally, they are just pillars of all sizes—small, big, large, tiny, short and tall—and they all come with different designs.
Although the number of visitors to Postojna Cave is increasing every year, some scribbling and etchings on the walls indicate that it was an attraction even 800 years ago! The train ride that brings me back to civilisation again takes me through narrow serpentine passages, unending halls and pitch dark tunnels. It’s like being transported from one world to another.
Is it a wonder then that the Postojna Cave is called the show cave of Europe? What do you think?
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