If you are looking for a place to experience the beauty and mystery of ancient India, you should visit the Bhaja Caves. The Bhaja Caves are a group of 22 rock-cut Buddhist monuments located in the Maval taluka of Pune district in Maharashtra. They date back to the 2nd century BC and are among the oldest and most well-preserved examples of Indian rock-cut architecture. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about the Bhaja Caves, including their location, timing and entry fees, how to reach them, things to do and see, their significance, and some frequently asked questions. Visit during Mumbai to Lonavala One day Trip By cab
Bhaja Caves Location Timing and Entry Fees
The Bhaja Caves are situated about 10 km from Lonavala, a popular hill station in Maharashtra. They are easily accessible by road and rail from Mumbai and Pune. The caves are open to visitors from 9 am to 5 pm every day except Mondays. The entry fee is Rs. 15 for Indian citizens and Rs. 200 for foreign nationals. There is also a parking fee of Rs. 10 for two-wheelers and Rs. 50 for four-wheelers.
How to Reach Bhaja Caves
The best way to reach the Bhaja Caves is by car or taxi from Lonavala or Pune. You can also take a local bus from Lonavala or Pune that stops near the caves. Alternatively, you can take a train from Mumbai or Pune to Malavli station, which is about 2 km from the caves. From there, you can hire an auto-rickshaw or walk to the caves.
Things to Do / Must See Bhaja Caves
The main attraction of the Bhaja Caves is the Chaityagriha, which is the largest and most impressive cave in the complex. It is a hall with a vaulted roof that houses a stupa (a dome-shaped structure that contains relics of Buddha or other saints). The hall is decorated with carved pillars, sculptures, and paintings that depict scenes from the life of Buddha and his teachings. The hall also has a large horseshoe-shaped window that allows natural light to enter.
Another must-see cave is Cave 12, which is also known as the Vihara Cave or the Cave of the Monks. It is a rectangular chamber with 12 cells that were used by monks as living quarters. The cave has a carved facade that resembles a wooden structure with beams and rafters. The cave also has a small shrine with a stupa and an image of Buddha.
Other caves in the complex include Cave 18, which has a circular chamber with a stupa and sculptures of elephants; Cave 19, which has a small hall with a stupa and sculptures of lions; and Cave 22, which has a shrine dedicated to the goddess Saptamatrika (the seven mothers).
Apart from exploring the caves, you can also enjoy the scenic views of the surrounding hills and valleys from the top of the hill. You can also visit the nearby Karla Caves and Bedse Caves, which are similar in style and age to the Bhaja Caves.
Significance of Bhaja Caves
The Bhaja Caves are not only a marvel of art and architecture but also a testimony of the rich history and culture of India. They reflect the religious diversity and tolerance of ancient India, as they were built by different sects of Buddhism over centuries. They also showcase the influence of trade and commerce on Indian art and culture, as they were located along an ancient trade route that connected India with Central Asia and Europe. The Bhaja Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national monument of India.
- How old are the Bhaja Caves?
The Bhaja Caves are estimated to be around 2200 years old. They were built between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD by various dynasties such as the Satavahanas, the Kshaharatas, and the Guptas.
- Who built the Bhaja Caves?
The Bhaja Caves were built by different groups of people who followed different sects of Buddhism such as Hinayana (the lesser vehicle) and Mahayana (the greater vehicle). Some of the caves were built by monks and nuns who lived in them as places of worship and meditation.