There is a secretive lure to ancient caves that eludes the brightness of sunbeams and radiates ancient history. Maharashtra is home to the largest number of caves in India and has an awe-inspiring Sahyadri Range caves of all sizes, shapes and hues.
Ajanta – Aurangabad
A cluster of 32 Buddhist caves not far from a medieval village of the same name, the site is a protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India. Moreover, since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.There are more than 100 inscribed and painted inscriptions narrating stories of these donors that also included monks, kings, ministers, and others. Ajanta is known for its narrative murals based on Buddhist themes like life scenes from the Buddha, Avadana stories of Bodhisattva, Jataka stories and panels based on Mahayana themes from Vipulya Sutras.
Elephanta Cave – Mumbai
The Elephanta Island has a tiny population of just about 1,200 residents who are mainly engaged in growing rice, fishing, and repairing boats. This island was once the capital of a powerful local kingdom and now has three small villages occupied by the ‘kolis’ (fishermen) and the farmers who have, despite the close proximity to the commercial capital of India, carried on with their traditional way of living.These caves along with the unspoiled beauty of the place make for a perfect one-day excursion. This site was included in the list of World Heritage Sites of India in 1987.
Ellora Cave – Aurangabad
One of the most fascinating archaeological sites in Maharashtra, Ellora dates back to about 1,500 years ago, and is the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture.They were given the status of World heritage Site in 1983.These structures consist mostly of ‘viharas’ or monasteries. Some of these monastery caves have shrines including carvings of Gautama Buddha and ‘bodhisattvas’.
Kuda – Raigad
The Kuda caves are among the few Buddhist caves excavated during the 3rd century CE, and make for an interesting study.The caves are quite close to Mandad, which can be identified with ancient ‘Mandagora’ referred to by Roman writers as a port on the west coast. Ancient bricks and pottery have been found at Mandad, indicating its 2,000-year-old antiquity.
Pitalkhora – Aurangabad met, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.
A group of 18 caves located at Pitalkhora just about 80 kilometers from Aurangabad are one of the earliest examples of rock-cut architecture in India. All this indeed makes for a spell-binding architectural arrangement. Four of the caves are ‘chaityas’ and the rest are ‘viharas’. All the caves belong to the Hinayana period, but the paintings are of the Mahayana period (6th century CE). The caves are in two groups, one is a cluster of fourteen caves and the second of four.