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Kanheri Caves

The Kanheri caves are one of the most significant Buddhist heritage sites in the Mumbai region. It is a cave complex with more than a hundred caves excavated over centuries. 
The Buddhist monastery at Kanheri has witnessed multifold power shifts and political tumult during its lifetime of over 1600 years.

Districts/Region

Mumbai suburban, Maharashtra, India. 

History

Founded by monks from Sopara in the 1st century BCE, the monastery flourished till the 10th century CE. Later it continued to exist, albeit on a small scale till the 16th century. It served as a religious center for several centuries surrounded by other monastic settlements.  
Kanheri was surrounded by numerous trade centers and port cities linked to the Silk route in central Asia. The inscriptions at Kanheri provide details of patrons received by the monastery. It mentions names of Kings, their family members, ministers, administrative officers, traders, monks and nuns who have given extensive donations to the monastery at Kanheri. The donations were made to excavate caves, built temples, create reservoirs and water cisterns in the form of money. Some inscriptions indicate the monastery had received land grants and fixed deposits as donations.
Among the significant caves at Kanheri cave number 2, 3, 11, 34, 41, 67, 87, and 90 are considered as must-visits. Cave 3 is the main chaitya (Buddhist Prayer Hall) at the site. Cave 11 is a unique cave used for rituals in Mahayana Buddhism and has no parallel other than cave number 5 at Ellora. Cave 34 displays the 6th-century murals, while cave 67 is a sculpture gallery filled with various sculptural panels of Buddhist deities. Cave 41 has the oldest known image in the world of Bodhisattva Eleven Headed Avalokiteshwara. Cave 87 houses more than 60 brick stupas erected in the memory of various teachers who once lived at Kanheri. Cave 90 has sculptural masterpieces engraved in it. A pair of Japanese inscriptions and three Pahlavi inscriptions of Zoroastrians makes this cave a worth visiting place.
Xuan Zang, the well-known Chinese Buddhist monk, had visited the caves at Kanheri in the seventh century CE. References to Kanheri appear in the various ancient literary traditions from Asian countries like Nepal and Tibet.

Geography

Kanheri is in the heart of Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai. It provides us with glimpses of the ancient environment in which Kanheri flourished.

Weather/Climate

The prominent weather in the Konkan region is rainfall, the Konkan belt experiences High Rainfall (ranges around 2500 mm to 4500 mm), and the climate remains Humid and warm. The temperature reaches up to 30 degrees Celsius during this season.
Summers are hot and humid, and the temperature touches 40 degrees Celsius.
Winters in Konkan is the comparatively milder climate (around 28 degrees Celsius), and the weather remains Cool and Dry

things to do

The area has 109 caves and scenic surroundings of National Park. Visiting the cave also needs some climbing on the hill. The site visit takes around 5 to 6 hours.

Nearest tourist places

  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park (6.3 KM)
  • Global Vipassana Pagoda (31.6 KM)
  • Mandapeshvara (9.4 KM)
  • Jogeshwari (17.4 KM)
  • Mahakali caves (20.7 KM)

Special food specialty and hotel

There are several local eateries outside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Being part of a Metropolitan city, a variety of food items are available, and one can be spoiled with choice. There is a small food outlet at Kanheri Caves that serves simple Indian and packed snacks. 

Accommodation facilities nearby & Hotel/Hospital/Post Office/Police station

There are various accommodation facilities available here.
Borivali Police Station is at a distance of 9.5 KM.
The nearest Hospital is ESIC Hospital at a distance of 10.2 KM.

Visiting Rule and Time, Best month to visit

Caves are open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Separate tickets are to be purchased for Kanheri caves and Sanjay Gandhi National Park at their respective entrances.
Kanheri caves are in National Park, so their rules about eatables and movements within the area should be obliged.

Language spoken in area 

English, Hindi, Marathi