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Bhaja Caves

Bhaja Caves is known as one of the earliest Buddhist rock-cut monasteries in Deccan. It dates back to the 2nd Century CE. This group of caves include 22 caves.

 

Districts/Region

Maval Taluka, Pune District, Maharashtra, India.

History

Located in the vicinity of the second major 'IT Hub of India' - Pune, Bhaje caves have a long and rich history behind them. The caves belong to the Theravada (Hinayana) tradition of Buddhism and are amongst the oldest in Western India. They are approx 400 ft above the village of Bhaja, used as an important ancient trading route that ran from the Arabian Sea eastward into the Deccan plateau. This route is the 'Bhor Ghat', a strategic mountain pass that connects the Deccan to the ports of the Konkan coast. 
The sole 'Chaityagriha' (prayer hall) at this site is considered extraordinary in comparison to any site. It is one of the earliest rock-cut chaitya griha in Maharashtra. It has 27 pillars around the hall with wooden beams fixed on its ceiling. The cave had a horseshoe arched entrance with a wooden facade. Apart from this Chaityagriha, the complex of Bhaja caves is full of rock-cut Vihara and Stupas. Viharas (monasteries) here show simplicity at its best. Only one such vihara here has some architectural decoration. Yet, along with this simplicity, there are Viharas which are double storied. 14 rock-cut stupas contain the relics of teachers who lived and died here. They are built as memorials for them. 
A vihara at the other end of the site houses the sculptural masterpieces of the early art of the Deccan. There are two panels carved on the call of the verandah adjacent to a door depicting an elephant rider and a chariot rider with their consorts. These panels have been identified by some of the scholars as Surya (The Sun god) and Indra (The kings of Gods). The verandah is decorated with few other sculptural panels as attendants and few narrative scenes.

Geography

The Bhaja caves are situated almost 59.2 kilometres northwest from Pune on the Mumbai-Pune Highway in the Maval taluka of Pune District. Lonavala, a famous hill-station, is 12 km away from the site. The group of caves are carved in the hill of Visapur fort.

Weather/Climate

Pune has a hot-semi arid climate year-round with an average temperature ranging from 19-33 degrees Celsius. 
April and May are the hottest months in Pune when the temperature reaches up to 42 degrees Celsius.
Winters are extreme, and the temperature can go as low as 10 degrees Celsius at night, but the average daytime temperature is around 26 degrees Celsius.
The annual rainfall in the Pune region is around 763 mm.

Things to do

The entire complex of Bhaja caves allows one to experience a walk in the past. 
One must visit: 
Cave 6- Irregular vihara. 
Cave 9- Rail pattern ornaments, broken animal structures, verandah. 
Cave 12 - the Chaityagriha 
Monolithic Stupa gallery 
Cave 19- the Vihara with Indra and Surya

Nearest tourist places

Bhaja caves have several tourist attractions around them. Along with Bhaje caves below tourist places can be visited: 

  • Karla caves - 7.2 KM
  • Narayani Dham Temple - 13.5 KM
  • Lonavala - 12.1 KM
  • Lohagad - 8 KM
  • Visapur Fort - 2 KM

 

Special food speciality and hotel

A variety of cuisines are available in the restaurants nearby. Maharashtrian food is the local speciality.

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

Comfortable, hygienic, and affordable accommodation facilities are available near Bhaja caves. Other basic facilities are also available. 

Visiting Rule and Time, Best month to visit

Tourists should pack necessary things like hats/caps, medications (if any), sunscreen, a water bottle, camera. 
Timing to visit the caves is 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. strictly. 
October to March are the best months to visit the caves. 
Summers should be avoided as the climate is extremely hot and sweaty.

Language spoken in area 

English, Hindi, Marathi