Maharashtra is a state in India which is filled with history and heritage. It is one of the best tourist attractions in India. The western state is filled with caves, forts, temples and various sightseeing attractions.
The best caves in Maharashtra are the Karla Caves, Bhaja and Bedse Caves. It is located near Lonavala, one of the best hill stations in Maharashtra. These Buddhist caves have a long history behind them, let us explore them!
Karla Caves are ancient rock-cut Buddhist caves located around 11 kilometres away from Lonavala. The other caves around the area are Bhaja Bedse Caves and Nasik Caves. The caves are said to have been constructed between the 2nd Century BCE to 5th Century CE. The oldest of the caves is said to be constructed around 160 BCE.
The Karla group of caves near Lonavala are among the smaller and older caves out of the entire group of caves. However, it is famous because of the Grand Chaitya, which is cave no 8. The caves were located near the major trading routes since the monastic establishments acted as lodging for the traders.
The Karla Caves are under the protection of the Archeological Survey Of India. Cave No 8, or the Great Chaitya Caves, consists of a Large Chaitya, or a praying hall. It dates back to 120 CE. All 16 caves, other than Cave No 8, are Lenas.
Bhaja Caves are a group of 22 rock-cut caves located 400 feet above Bhaja Village in Pune. It is located on one of the most important ancient trading routes stretching from the Arabian Sea to the Deccan Plateau. The caves belong to the Hinayana sect of Buddhism. It has been declared a Monument of National Importance by the Archeological Survey Of India.
The caves are similar to Karla Caves in structure and design. The caves have several carvings, the most famous being a woman playing the tabla and another woman dancing. In the caves, there are a group of 14 stupas, the relics of the resident monks who died in Bhaja. The stupas have been carved elaborately.
The famous caves in Bhaja Caves are Cave XII which is the Chaitya or the praying hall. It is said to be constructed during the 2nd century BCE. The walls are polished in Mauryan style. Cave XVIII consists of the vihara or the dwelling area. The other caves around the area are Bedse Caves, Karla Caves, Nasik Caves and Patan Buddhist Caves.
Bedse Caves are a group of rock-cut caves, which belong to the Buddhist faith. The history of the caves can be traced back to Satavahana Period around the 1st Century BCE. The caves are located in the Pune District of Maharashtra and are among the group of caves which include Karla Caves, Bhaja Caves, Patan Buddhist Caves and Nashik Caves.
There are two caves in the structure, one is the Chaitya, (Cave no. 7) or the main praying hall and the other is the Vihara, or the monastery (Cave 11). Cave 7 can be reached through the narrow passage into the rock.
The front verandah has 4 elaborately decorated columns. In contrast, the Chaitya itself isn’t much decorated. Cave No. 11, or the Vihara’s main chamber is shaped like a Chaitya, with a rectangular plan and rounded apsidal far end.
With these beautiful caves in Maharashtra, you will surely love your weekend getaway in Lonavala and Pune. These caves are considered to be the best caves in India as well. To know about many such destinations like these, you should check out our blogs to know more!