The caves of Karla and Bhaja situated near
Lonavala in Maharashtra are one of the oldest rock-cut caves in the country
which were built during the 160 BC. Both the caves belong to a different sect
of Buddhism and are of immense importance to Buddhist culture. The Bhaja Caves
comprise of 22 caves sculpted out of a massive rock and belongs to Hinayana
phase of Buddhism which lasted from 2nd to 1st century
BC. On the other hand, Karla Caves constitutes the largest chaitya temple that
represents a perfect architecture and culture of the Hinayana period. Karla
Caves were built during the reign of Satavahana dynasty. The caves are now
declared as a monument of national importance by Archaeological Survey of
The Bhaja Caves lie very close to the main
road that connects Lonavala to other major cities. The caves are situated
amidst the lush greenery and peaceful ambience. You will be mesmerized by the
picturesque waterfall that is situated next to the caves. The sound of water
gushing from the waterfall and cool breeze will rejuvenate your mind and soul.
If you want, you can even take a dip in the waterfall.
There are other interesting places to visit
near Bhaja Caves including Visapur and Lohagad forts. In addition to the
ancient Buddhist caves, there is also a small cave that houses 14 stupas, of
which five are located inside and nine are outside the cave. If you are curious
to learn more about Buddhism then these caves are a perfect place to visit.
More on Bhaja Caves
Architecture of Bhaja Caves
Both the caves of Bhaja and Karla share
similar architectural style and are a perfect illustration of wooden
architecture of ancient India. Chaityagriha is the most important part of the
caves which has a beautiful horseshoe-shaped gateway and houses splendid images
and sculptures of Lord Buddha. The caves are also a rich source of knowledge
about the lifestyle of the people belonging to ancient times. A carving of a woman playing a table, a
musical instrument, on the wall of this cave showcases the prominent use of tabla
in India two thousand years ago.
Various sculptures in the Bhaja Caves are
adorned with ornaments, garland and striking headdress which showcases the
extensive use of jewelleries by both men and women. The last cave in the series
has an elegant waterfall which swells up during the monsoons thereby enhancing
the beauty of the place.
Stupas in Bhaja Caves
There are also 14 stupas located in the Bhaja
Caves which houses the treasure and other possessions of the monks who resided
there in the past. Of the 14 stupas, five are positioned inside the cave while
nine are situated outside. The stupas located outside also has an inscription
that elucidates information about three monks namely Dhammagiri, Ampinika and
Sanghdina. The shrines are known for their intricate carvings and beautiful
Important Caves in Bhaja Caves
Cave VI- This cave constitutes two-chamber on the
sides and three on the back portion. The name of ploughman’s wife, Bodhi, is
carved on the cell door which implies that this vihara was gifted by her.
Cave IX- The structure of this cave is similar to the
Cave VIII situated at Pandavleni. The walls of the cave are embellished with
broken figures of animals and rail pattern. There is also a verandah in this
Cave XII- One of the oldest Chaityagriha in the country
is located within this cave. The architecture of the cave is inspired from
Mauryan architectural style with polished walls and horseshoe-shaped window
fixed above the arched door. The portico comprises of several windows and balconies.
Cave XIII- This cave is 30 feet long and 14.5 feet deep
which houses remains of wooden architecture that seems to have been destroyed
due to fire.
Best Time to Visit
The most suitable time to visit Bhaja and
Karla Caves is during the winter and spring months which last from October to
March. The weather during the summer season is hot and unbearable with day
temperature soaring up to 40 degree Celsius. The weather gets very humid in the
monsoon season. Pune receives a lot of rain and it becomes quite difficult to
explore the place even with appropriate rainfall protection gear.
Travelling Around Bhaja
Transportation system is well developed in the
city and you can hire a taxi or an auto-rickshaw to reach several tourist
spots. If you want, you can also hire a private guide while exploring the
Stay near Bhaja Caves
There aren’t many options to stay near Bhaja
Caves, however, the best place to make arrangements for your accommodation is
the MTDC. MTDC has a luxurious resort at Karla and in addition to this; you can
also arrange your stay in various affordable hotels in Lonavala city.
In addition to the historic caves of Karla and
Bhaja, you can also visit many other interesting places around these
caves. Elephanta Caves, Kanheri Caves,
Hindu Temple, Visapur Fort and Lohagad Fort are few of the places you can visit
while your excursion to Bhaja Caves.
Shopping at Bhaja Caves
Pune presents to its travellers a wide variety
of market places ranging from street shops to the fancy malls with
international brands. It is indeed a paradise for those who love and love for
shopping! Amanora Town Centre and Phoenix Market City are two major shopping
destinations in Pune.
If you want to shop for some saris and
jewelleries then you should head to the Laxmi Road which is one of the oldest
shopping places in the city. The bakeries and restaurants of M.G. are
must-visit places while in Pune. You can also visit the Fashion Street which is
packed with inexpensive fashionable items and leather goods.
around Bhaja Caves
Being one of the growing cosmopolitan cities
in India, Pune displays a mixture of different cultures. People of different
castes, states, creed, religion and economic background reside in the city. The
locals here are amiable, welcoming and are full of spirit. In addition to their
usual work life, the majority of the people here are interested in music,
spirituality and various forms of arts and crafts.
Nightlife at Bhaja
Kalyani Nagar and Koregaon are the two most
happening places in Pune, mostly frequented by the youngsters. These places are
situated very close to Hyatt Regency and can be reached within 10 minutes of
drive. Known for the nightlife, there are many bars, pubs, fast-food chains,
and restaurants located at this place.
Also known as Greenwich Village of Pune,
Koregaon Park has beautiful and green gardens, old bungalows and low rise
buildings. The area is popular for its organic food cafes and juice bars along
with inexpensive, ethnic restaurants.
Food at Bhaja Caves
The city is flooded with restaurants and food
joints that serve mouth-watering local cuisines. The dominant flavour of Pune
comprises of lots of garlic, chillies and coconut. The majority of traditional
delicacies are made of bajra and jowar. Of all the specialities of Pune, do not
miss out on pedas, chewda and bhakerwadi.
Restaurants near Bhaja Caves
Restaurants in Pune offer a wide spectrum of
cuisines ranging from Indian to Chinese, Italian and Continental. Few of the
popular restaurants in the city are Shravan Restaurant (F.C. Road, Shivaji
Nagar), The Viceroy & Tuan, The Blue Diamond (Koregaon Road), The Bullocks
Restaurant cum Pub, Chung Fa Chinese Restaurant, etc.
If you want to try some delicious fast food
then you should explore a few of the restaurants in the city including Get
Together Pizza Hot, Shree Chinese Fast Food, Sheen Chinese Fast Food, Hot
Travel Itinerary for
An excursion to Bhaja Caves forms a major
component of the travel packages to Lonavala, Pune and Khandala. You can hire a
taxi and start early from any cities aforementioned to reach the place. For a
major part of the day, you can explore the caves and enrich your understanding
of Buddhism. On the next day, you can
head to Lohagad Fort and Visapur Fort. These regions are known for trekking
Tips for Visiting Bhaja
Hire a private guide while visiting the caves.
long and steep staircase needs to be climbed in order to reach the caves which
in turn might be problematic for older people.
How to Reach Bhaja
The nearest railway station to Bhaja Caves is
the Malavali Railway station. From here the caves are situated at a distance of
5 km and the same can be covered on foot. It takes around 2 hours to explore
the entire 22 caves, including the 5 km small trek.
The nearest airports are located at Pune and
Mumbai at a distance of about 64 km and 110 km respectively. You can hire a
private taxis to reach the caves from the airport.
Pune is well connected to all the main cities
of Maharashtra as well as the rest of the country by road. There are regular
bus services available to Pune from cities including Mumbai, Nasik,