Karla Caves in Maharashtra
Karla - Buddhist Caves near Pune
Karla Caves in Maharashtra is renowned for its Indian rock-cut architecture and rock-cut temple is situated amidst a range of hills near Lonavala, a hill station near Pune. Karla caves can be easily accessed from Mumbai and Pune. Karla Caves is about 120 km from Mumbai and about 55 km from Pune. The nearest airports for Karla are located in Mumbai and Pune. Both Mumbai and Pune are important rail heads near Karla, but the local Malavli rail station is in Bhaja village, which is located about 5 km south of Karla town is the nearest. Tourists can also take buses and taxis from Mumbai and Pune to reach Karla caves.
The Karla caves located north of the small town of Karla can be reached after a steep climb of around 20 minutes. The three hill stations in Maharashtra of Lonavala ,Khandala are Matheran are located close to these ancient caves. One may also visit the Bhaja Caves which is less than 10 km from Karla.
History of Karla Caves
Karla Caves is one of the best-preserved and oldest Buddhist Caves in India and date back to 160 BC. This Great Chaitya of Karla was once a popular tourist location in India for Buddhists from all over the world. The visitor would find the Caves are Cool in summer and cozy in winter. Apart from the climatic suitability, the concept of the cave strikes one of the fundamental chords of Indian spirituality-of being one with nature. The principal cave of Karla being 15meters wide and 16 meters high, is the largest Chaitya (Prayer Hall) among all Buddhist caves in the India. There are well carved sculptures of males and females, as well as animals, including lions and elephants, a testimony to the skill of the artisan builder’s. The most remarkable feature of the cave is its arched roof supported by wooden beams which have astonishingly survived for more than 2,000 years.
Magnificent pillars adorn the entrances to a cave with lion capitals as in the Ashoka pillar at Sarnath. At the entrance of the principal cave is the temple to Goddess Ekveera , which attracts local pilgrims. The Wooden Umbrella above the Chaitya is unique in the Buddhist caves around the world and has no sign of any corrosion.
© 2008 Anamika S Jain