Gandharpale Caves is a Buddhist cave complex near Mahad, popularly known as Pandavleni. It is a unique site that marks the various phases of development in Buddhism.
Raigad District, Maharashtra, India.
The site is located on the outskirts of the historic city of Mahad, on Mumbai Goa highway. There are 30 caves carved out in three different layers of volcanic rock. These structures include Chaityas (Buddhist prayer halls) and Viharas (assembly halls) carved out in the rock. Many of these caves are dated back to the early centuries of the Common Era. The archaeological evidence suggests Buddhist monks lived at this site till the 7th-8th century CE. Typical of any Buddhist cave site, there are numerous water cisterns excavated in rock to store the rainwater.
An inscription in the cave here mentions the name of regional prince Vishnupalita as a donor. Most of the other caves are given in donations by merchants. This site is located on the trade route linking coastal ports of the historical city of Mahad (which was also known as riverine port) with the commercial centres on the Deccan Plateau. The site gives us a scenic view of the river Gandhari which is one of the major rivers in Konkan. This river was navigable for small vessels till the British Period. Today the segment of the river near Gandharpale is known for the number of crocodiles. It is not safe to go around the river.
In the vicinity of caves, at the foot of the hill, one can observe the remains of an ancient Buddhist monastery. The several evidence indicates this site must have witnessed all the phases in the development of Buddhism such as Theravada (Hinayana), Mahayana and Esoteric Buddhism.
Gandharpale Caves are located in the village of Gandharpale near Mahad and is approx 105 km south of Mumbai on the Mumbai-Goa Highway. The caves are easily approachable from the highway.
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
Visiting all caves at the site requires 2-3 hours. One can have a long walk and enjoy watching and reading the sculptures and inscriptions of the caves. The staircase carved in stone takes to the top of the hill. This quick climb of fifteen minutes gives a beautiful panoramic view. The ambience of these caves is soothing, especially in the rains, when the entire hillock gets wrapped by a green blanket and adorned by several rivulets and water cascades.
Nearest tourist places
- Mahad City- 3 KM
- Chavdar Lake - 2.4 KM
- Fort Mahendragad (Chambhargad) - 5 KM
- Fort Raigad - 25.7 KM
- Kol Caves- 5.5 KM
Special food speciality and hotel
Various types of Fish preparations is the local speciality for non-vegetarian. Maharashtrian food is available here.
Accommodation facilities nearby & Hotel/ Hospital/Post Office/Police station
Mahad is a growing town, and many hotels, primary health care centres, post office and Police station are located in Mahad City.
Visiting Rule and Time, Best month to visit
The caves are open from Sunrise to Sunset.
Language spoken in area
English, Hindi, Marathi