- 61 Kms
- 3 / 5
Location: Near Pune
Situated near Lonavala, Bhaja Caves are a series of 22 rock-cut ancient Buddhist built in 2nd century BC, during the Hinayana phase of Buddhism.
Bhaja Caves or Bhaje Caves are a series of 22 rock-cut ancient Buddhist caves located near the city of Lonavala. Built during the Hinayana phase of Buddhism, the caves date back to the 2nd century. The cave complex is a protected monument under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India. These caves were developed along a major ancient route that connected the Arabian Sea and the Deccan plateau and were utilized as lodgings by travelling traders.
Bhaja Caves are set on a height of about 400 feet above the base village of Bhaja. The ascent to reach the top of these caves is quite steep, but the views along the way are enjoyable. The architectural style of these caves in very similar to the neighbouring Karla Caves, and all the caves are adorned with beautiful carvings depicting Buddha, humans and animals.
The most prominent feature of this complex is the large Chaityagriha or Cave 12, which has an open horseshoe-shaped entrance and a vaulted wooden ceiling. It is the earliest surviving Chaitya in India. Inside the prayer hall are octagonal columns separating the nave and the aisles with a hemispherical stupa at the end.
Another interesting cave is Cave 14, which is embellished with stunning carvings and reliefs and has a pillared verandah in the front. The architecture at Bhaja Caves suggests the early development of wooden architecture in India. One of the carvings, which depicts a woman playing a ‘Tabla’ is an indicator of the fact that the percussion instrument has existed in India since 200 BCE.
In addition, the cave complex houses 14 stupas that are dedicated to the memories of resident monks who died at Bhaja. A few of them are covered with relic boxes. All of these stupas are elaborately carved and bear inscriptions stating the names of the monks.
During monsoon, a small waterfall occurs near the last cave. From the top of the cave complex one can enjoy a beautiful view of the neighbouring forts of Lohagad and Visapur
- Carry your own food and sufficient water, as there are very few food stalls near the cave complex. You will find several good restaurants in the city of Lonavala, which is about 12 km away.
- Mode of Transport : Best way to reach Bhaja Caves from Pune is by car.
Things to do
- Visit the ancient and impressive Bhaja Caves, which are a series 22 rock-cut Buddhist caves.
- Explore the beautiful Cave 12 or the Chaityagriha with its horseshoe-shaped entrance and wooden vaulted ceiling. And, visit Cave 14 for its intricate rock carvings and stunning reliefs.
- Photograph the unique and elaborately carved 14 stupas that are dedicated to the memories of monks who once resided at Bhaja.
- Enjoy the spectacular view of the nearby fort of Lohapur and Visapur from the top of the cave complex.