Maharashtra is home to several beautiful ancient rock-cut caves that never fail to attract travelers, whether they are into history, culture, architecture, photography, adventure, or spirituality. Owing to their immense significance in relation to the heritage of Bharat, many caves in Maharashtra have also been recognized as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Here are 5 famous caves you must check out!
Ajanta Caves don’t quite need any introduction. Situated about 100 km from Aurangabad, the group of 30 Buddhist caves shaped like a horseshoe are popular throughout the country and attract visitors in hordes. During your exploration of the Buddhist art on these rock-cut caves, you’ll come across depictions from Jataka tales and the life of Lord Buddha. The group of caves comprises Chaitya-Grihas or monument halls and Sangharamas and Viharas or monasteries. Some of them even date back to the 2nd century.
Distance from Mumbai: 430 km approximately
Timings: 9 am to 5 pm, Tuesday through Sunday
Together with Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves are the most-visited caves in Maharashtra. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a collection of 17 Hindu, 12 Buddhist, and 5 Jain caves carved out of basalt rock. Known for their grand architecture, these caves feature elaborate sculptures and paintings. The 16th cave, Kailasa Temple, in particular, has sparked the imagination of everyone who set their eyes on it, right from historians to architecture lovers. The exquisite craftsmanship and fine details of this monolith Shiva temple simply blow you away.
Distance from Mumbai: 350 km approximately
Timings: 6 am to 6 pm, Wednesday through Monday
Set on an isolated island called Gharapuri (which can be reached by means of a boat ride from the Gateway of India), the beautifully crafted caves are named after the elephant carvings found on most of the two cave groups. Listed among UNESCO world heritage sites, Elephanta caves are predominantly dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the massive monolith sculpture of Trimurti Sadashiva, Nataraja, and Yogishvara are its major highlights. These ancient caves in Maharashtra are a major attraction for culture buffs traveling to the city on cheap flights to Mumbai from Philadelphia and other foreign cities.
Distance from Mumbai: 25 km approximately
Timings: 9 am to 5.30 pm
Karla & Bhaja Caves:
These ancient caves in Maharashtra date back to the 2nd century and are considered some of the best examples of early rock-cut cave architecture in India. Karla Caves are a set of 16 caves and Bhaja Caves consist of a total of 22 caves. Karla Caves are popular for the well-preserved chaitya (prayer hall) with vaulted ceilings, intricately carved pillars, and a stupa at the end. On the other hand, Bhaja caves boast beautiful chaitya grihas, viharas, and awe-inspiring architecture. Both the caves in Lonavala are located only 10 km apart, so you could combine your visit to these places and make the most of your trip.
Distance from Mumbai: 110 km approximately
Timings: Karla Caves – 7 am to 7 pm; Bhaja Caves – 8 am to 6 pm
A cluster of 12 Buddhist caves carved into a soft basalt rock in the Sihaychal ranges, Aurangabad caves are very popular among Buddhist devotees. These caves feature several sculptures of Buddhist Gods and Goddesses like Tara and Avalokitesvara besides a spectacular statue of Buddha which depicts him in the state of Nirvana. Although caves 3 to 7 are the most fascinating, all the 12 caves are worth exploring. The caves are classified into 3 groups based on their location and the caves 1 to 5 fall in the Western Group, 6 to 9 in the Eastern Group, and 10 to 12 in the Northern Cluster. These caves are located close to Bibi Ka Maqbara, a popular tourist attraction in Aurangabad.
Distance from Mumbai: 330 km approximately
Timings: 9 am to 5 pm
Planning a trip to Maharashtra soon? Make sure that your itinerary includes these ancient caves that have you bowled over by their splendid beauty as they reveal to you the artistic glory of Bharat.