India is the birth place of Gautama Buddha. Buddhism is the brainchild of Buddha. Karla and Bhaja caves are the biggest Bouddha Chaityas in India.
Tourists have to travel on the Mumbai high way for 40kms. From there they have to turn to right. A hill can be seen at a distance of 6kms from here. Karla caves are located in these hills. These were constructed when Buddhism was at its peak. These caves were used as prayer halls and for accommodation by Buddhist saints.
One has to climb nearly 200 steps to reach the caves. While talking towards the caves a big pillar can be seen on the left side. Elephant faces are carved on the pillar. One more pillar was used to be on the right side. But it was destroyed by the Turkish. Many sculptures are also destroyed by them. Beside the caves if a few steps are climbed, one can see a big hall, rooms, cup boards in the rooms to keep things and a stone bench. A small hall is also present which was used as a prayer hall. A sump is also constructed to preserve water. It is also made out of stone. Drainage system also can be seen. The main Chaitya consist cylindrical pillar with wonderful sculptures on it. There is a semi circular construction at the end of the hall. The construction on the tower looks like an upside down pyramid. Stone umbrella was placed on top of it. Pillars and look like disciplined army. There are long corridors outside the pillars. There are around 87 pillars; the sculptures are of elephants, men and women.
There is a temple of Ekaveera outside the cave. Ekaveera is a form of Goddess Parvati. There used to be a temple earlier at this place, when the cave collapsed, a temple was built at the site. The main door of the temple looks like a wooden door. But the stone was carved to look like a wooden door. It is a wonder how stone pillars, doors and sculptures were built at such heights when there was no technical development. These are the most ancient and big bouddha Chaityas in India.
Karla caves are on the right side of the Sholapur main road and Bhaja caves are on the opposite side of the main road at a distance of 4kms. These are also belonging to the time of Karla caves. These were built by the Mouryas. To reach these caves, one has to climb 150 steps. The number of steps is less but the height of each step is more. Tourists have to be careful while climbing these steps. Elephant and lotus forms are more in these caves. Some of the important episodes of Lord Buddha are carved on the walls. The main prayer hall is in the 12th cave. The statue of a dancing couple captivates the tourists. Some caves have rooms which provided accommodation to the Buddhist saints. Number of rooms in Bhaja caves is more than in Karla caves. This place is famous for bouddha stupas. There are 5 stupas inside the caves and 9 outside the caves. There are total 14 stupas.
The skills of the artisan in carving sculptures in the stones mesmerize the tourists. There may be some defects in the nature’s creations of lotuses but there are no defects in the lotuses carved by the sculptures. The stone pillars touch the upper part of the caves. One has to visit this place leisurely otherwise one cannot enjoy the intricate carvings and sculptures. So the trip should be planned meticulously to spend an extra time in these caves.
The national highway is very convenient to travel. Every bit of the tour is enjoyable. The historic remains are being preserved by the archaeology department.
Some more information
- The main Chaitya in the Karla caves is the biggest of all the Buddhist caves. The main attraction of these 15meter width, 16mtr height caves are the wooden beams arranged to the roof. The wooden umbrella on the upper part is the unique attraction.
- The height of Bhaja caves is 250 feet. There is a lake at the last cave. In rainy season rain water flows in to this lake.
- Do not forget to take water with you. One has to climb a hill to reach the caves. And water is not available there.
How to reach Karla and Bhaja caves | Driving directions and road map to Karla caves from Pune
- It is easy to go to these caves from Mumbai or Pune. These are near to Pune than Mumbai. Nearest airport is Pune. Nearest railway station is Malavli. From there one has to travel by road. Karla caves are on the right side of the Pune – Sholapur highway and Bhaja caves are on the left side of the highway. These two caves are at a distance of 5 – 6 kilo meters from the highway.
- The distance to these caves from Mumbai is 114kms. Maharashtra Road Transport is running buses to Karla caves from Mumbai, Pune and Lonawala.
- The tour to the caves can be completed by afternoon if one starts from Pune in the morning.
- Holiday resorts run by Maharashtra Tourism Department are convenient for accommodation.
- The tour cannot be continued in rainy season. There would be no problem in winter.
Driving directions and road map to Karla caves from Pune: