Hillside boulders

Lonavala: City of Caves

Lonavala is a popular hill station that is spread over an area of 38 sq. km. It is the highlight of the Sahyadri Range on the Western Ghats in Maharashtra along with its sister hill station, Khandala. With an altitude of more than 2041 ft. above sea level, the hills of Lonavala and Khandala make a division between the Deccan Plateau regions which run along the Konkan coast. Apart from scenic views and a healthy climate, Lonavala also offers many tourist attractions. Lonavala is also known as the ‘City of Caves’, owing to several beautiful ancient caves built centuries ago. There are many still points and caves in Lonavala that can be explored on a tour of this gorgeous hill station.

Here is a list of some famous caves in Lonavala.

Karla Caves

Karla caves, also known as Karle caves or Karli caves, are a famous tourist attraction situated near Lonavala, Maharashtra. These are a complex of Buddhist rock-cut cave temples found at Karli dating back to ancient times. Karla caves near Lonavala houses beautiful shrines which were developed during the period between the 2nd-century BC to 5th-century CE. The oldest cave shrine is believed to be discovered somewhere around 160 BC. It is one of the most famous shrines because it arose adjacent to a major ancient trade route. The Karla Caves comprises 16 rock-cut excavations, out of which cave 8 is Chaitya Griha.

Chaitya Griha is one of the largest rock-cut Chaityas in India that features a large, intricately carved prayer hall. There is a wide and flat open area in front of the chaitya, which was an ideal place for large gatherings of the followers of Buddhism. It consists of an apsidal hall which is divided into a nave and two aisles, with 37 octagonal pillars and a water jar base along with a front verandah. The hall houses sculptures of males, females as well as animals such as elephants and lions, which are carved out of teak wood. There is a stupa at the rear end of the hall, which was the object of worship. The access to Chaitya Griha is adorned with a horseshoe-shaped arch.

The complex of Karla Caves houses many other carved chaitya and viharas for the monks. These complexes have their interiors lit by windows and have arched entrances. A temple dedicated to the goddess Ekveera is found inside the caves. This goddess is highly revered by the Koli community of Mumbai. It is believed that these caves have been carved from living roots. If you wish to take a walk back to ancient times, take a walking tour of Karla Caves.

Rock caves

Bhaja Caves

Bhaja caves are a group of 22 rock-cut caves dating back to the 2nd-century BC located at Lonavala, Maharashtra. These caves are some of the more popular Buddhist caves at historical and exciting locations for tourists to visit in Lonavala. Situated 400 ft. above the Bhaja village, these Lonavala caves were developed during Satayahana’s rule. Bhaja Caves houses the biggest Hinayana Buddhist temple in India. The architecture of these caves depicts the actual traditions and culture of ancient India. The most popular attraction of Bhaja Caves is the stupas which are within the caves carved fully, inside and outside.

The Bhaja Caves are surrounded by lush greenery, which creates a striking aura for visitors. The biggest highlight is the Chaitya Griha Cave 12. It consists of a large apsidal hall that represents Indian Mythology with a horseshoe-shaped entrance. Bhaja cave offers an unusual cluster of 14 stupas. The stupas depict the story of resident monks and exhibit a carving with the names of monks Sanghdina, Ampinika, and Dhammagiri carved on it. Cave 18 is a monastery consisting of a rectangular hall and a front pillared verandah. This cave is depicted to Lord Indra and Sun God Surya. Close to the last cave, there is a magnificent waterfall that presents you with a chance to take a dip in it. The cave also provides important proof regarding the history of an Indian percussion instrument, the Tabla.

The caves in Lonavala are the go-to destinations for history enthusiasts. A trip to Lonavala will prove to be an amazing trip to witness the past glory of ancient India.

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