The ancient caves of Maharasthra, which dates back to 2nd BC were
the home to monks of different religions. Nestled in the formidable
Sahayadri Mountain Range, these magnificent cave architecture are the
marvels of bygone era and are among the most famous and visited sites
by the tourist.
Caves of Maharashtra are a creation that will leave an everlasting impression on your memory. The beauty of these rock cut caves is in the fact that these were built in an era when there were no advanced tools for digging and carving. But still, in these difficult terrain, stand the splendid caves, so beautifully carved, that probably even with today's technology, man cannot create anything as gorgeous as the caves of Maharashtra. Ajanta Ellora Caves - The World Heritage Site and Caves like Elephant Caves, and Karla, Junnar, Kanheri are the other most exquisite heritage sites in India.
World Heritage Cave Site
Other Famous Caves
The Elephanta caves are one of the most famous and visited Caves in Maharashtra. These caves got the names from the Portuguese who came across a 13 foot elephant statue at the entrance. The cave was a home to rock cut cave temples that were dedicated to Lord Shiva. These caves have been Recogonized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Situated on Elaphanta island, the entire cave complex covers around 60000 square feet. These temples were created by carving out rock and through the process of rock removal. The main cave holds the Maheshamurti, a three headed sculpture of Lord Shiva in all his forms, the creator, the preserver and the destroyer. The best time to visit these caves is during the Elephanta festival where there are light and dance programmes organized by MTDC. One can reach the Elephanta Caves only by a boat. Boats are available at the Gateway of India and leave for this island every half an hour. MTDC also conducts daily tour to the island.
Located at a distance of 11 km from Lonavala station and 114 km from
Mumbai are the Karla caves which date back to the 2nd Century BC. The
magnificent Chaityas(halls) at Karla were built by Buddhist monks and
are the largest and greatest example of rock cut caves in India. The
caves resonate the high degree of craftmanship gone into its making.
The most important features in the interior of the halls are the
pillars, the roof vault and the magnificient sun windows. The whole
system of lighting depends on the enormous sun windows through which
light diffuses into the halls and gives a great feeling of calmness.
There are pillars that have the paintings of men and women embeded on
them . This is the only place in India where 2000 year old wood work
can be seen without much harm done to them.
Karla caves is situated between Mumbai and Pune and can be reached from both the locations with equal ease. The nearest airport is in Pune and the nearest railhead is in Bhaja Town around 5 km from Karla Town. The caves are located in the north of Karla Town and can be reached after a steep climb of around 20 min.
Set in the heart of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Kanheri Caves are located around 42 km north of Mumbai near Borivili. There is a cluster of 109 caves that date back to 1st century to 9th century. These caves signifies the grand beginning and end of Buddhism in northern India. Most of the caves are always worth a look, but these caves are something more than just beautiful caves, these are an example of exemplary artistic works and hardships. There are many statues of Buddha on the outer walls and magnificient statues of Goddess Tara and Goddess Bhrukti on the top. The art work on the walls actually give you an insight into the lives and practices of Buddhist monks. Getting to Kanheri caves is not a problem as it is well connected to Mumbai through trains and busses. It takes around 2 hours by bus and around an hour by a fast train to reach the Sanjay Gandhi National Park from south Mumbai.
Junnar Caves is considered to be an important Buddhist pilgrimage site. Situated in the Aurangabad district, it lies 177 kms from Mumbai on the Mumbai-Aurangabad route. The hills surrounding the plains of Junnar are symmetrically decorated with a cluster of Buddhist caves, which are divided into three distinct groups. Of which Ganesh lena and Tulija lena are the major one. These caves belongs to the period 2nd Century BC to 3rd Century AD. The Tulija Lena Group, which is situated 5 km to the west, has a circular dome shaped covering in the Chaitya Hall. The second group of caves are located 1.5 kms south of the town, in the direction of Manmodi Hills. The third group, Ganesh Lena Group is located 4 kms to south of Junnar. Reaching these caves by road is not a problem as it lies on the main Mumbai-Aurangabad route. The nearest airport and railway station are in Mumbai around 177 km away.
Bhaja Caves are situated some 12 km away from Lonavala in the Aurangabad district and can be reached by an uphill climb of half hour from the Malavali railway station. It consists of 18 caves belonging to the 2nd Century BC. The ultimate cave to the south has breathtaking sculptures including that of the renowned `Dancing Couple`. These enchanting caves also have the sculptures of Buddha in different postures. Bhaja caves can be reached by Malavali railway station which is around 3 km away. The nearest airport is in Pune some 60 km away.