The stunning Bhaja Caves
A series of twenty-two rock cut caves, dating twenty-two hundred years back, lined up in the middle of a sun-kissed lush green surrounding, doesn’t that sound interesting? In reality Bhaja caves offer you even more. Situated near Lonavala and Bhaja village, Maharashtra, it is around 60 km away from Pune City. Bhaja caves carries the Hinayana faith of Buddhism prevailed in Maharashtra thousands of years back.
After having the morning tea, we started around 7 am and it took around two hours to reach. It was a beautiful drive, which gets enriched during monsoon season, as mentioned by our driver Rajesh.
From the base after climbing up around one fifty beautifully landscaped steps (didn’t count exactly) we reached the site.
I was spellbound by the architecture and the carvings. Immediately without wasting any time, we started exploring the caves one by one. One of the caves, I got really curious about, was having a door surrounded by beautiful architectural sculpture. One of them was a royal personal driving a chariot and other one was riding an elephant and carrying an elephant goad. According to archaeological survey of India the first sculpture is of God Surya, the later one is of God Indra and this cave was the monastery. Wow! I was already thrilled.
Apart from the extravagant one, there were other comparatively simpler monasteries, termed as Vihara in Sanskrit and Pali.
The majestic part of the excavation, having horse shoe shaped entrance, is called Chaityagrha. A long prayer hall is adorned by twenty-seven pillars and the ceiling is beautifully supported by semi-circular wooden beams. A stupa is placed in front of the semi-circular end of the hall. It would have been wonderful if there were some professional guides who could walk us through that era.
On the left of the Chaityagrha an irregular excavation having fourteen rock cut stupas, is an indication of the Buddhist cemetery.
We were surprised on the fact of creating such a brilliant piece of architecture without any modern technology at that period. Mesmerized by the beauty of Bhaja we spent almost two hours there, wondering about how the life was in 2nd century BC!
On our way back, we picked up some lip smacking chikkies and fudges. Rajesh drove us to a Village themed dhaba for lunch. The delicious food left us wanting more until we were full.
We returned home with a lasting memory of the beautiful one-day trip.
Things to remember before visiting Bhaja Caves:
- carry water.
- not advisable for very elderly people.
- wear a pair of comfortable shoes.
- eat light as you have to climb up steps.
Here comes the Bhaja Caves Map:
Have you been to Bhaja Caves? Please share your story with us.