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Pitalkhora (Aurangabad)

Pitalkhora is a group of 18 Buddhist caves located in Gautala Sanctuary near Aurangabad. This group is known for the unique sculptural panels and murals in the caves.

Districts/Region

Aurangabad District, Maharashtra, India  

History

Pitalkhora caves are in the Gautala Sanctuary near the historical city of Aurangabad. The literal meaning of the word Pitalkhora is ‘Valley of Brass’. It probably got this name because of the yellowish sunrise covering the valley every morning. The roaring waterfalls and the valley gives an exceptional experience. The finely carved caves are on a hill called Chandorain in the Sastamala mountain ranges of western Maharashtra. 
Currently, this region is known as Khandesh. It has several scenic places. This area has served as a major pass on an ancient trade route. The 4 of the Pitalkhora caves are 'Chaityas' (Buddhist prayer halls), and the remaining 14 caves are 'Viharas' (residential monasteries). All the caves here belong to the Theravada (Hinayana) period, the paintings in these caves belong to the Mahayana period of Buddhism, which makes it distinct from other Buddhist sites. The unique blend of two artistic features adds to the glory of the caves and thus makes it worth visiting. 
Cave no.3 has the main Chaitya, apsidal in shape with an arched roof. Inside a semi rock-cut and partially constructed stupa in the Chaitya Griha, 5 stupa shaped crystal containers of relics were found.  Though today only the rock-cut base of the stupa has remained here, its pillars have beautiful eye-catching paintings, similar to the Ajanta murals. At the entrance of cave 4 stands stunning sculptures of two Dwarpals (gatekeepers). The carvings of five-headed Naga, nine elephants, the horse with a male figurine strike achievement and advancement of imagination and architectural skills. Apart from these, many sculptural panels depicting life scenes of the Lord Buddha, a panel of Gajalakshmi and an image of a guardian Yaksha were found here. The image of Yaksha is currently placed in the National Museum at Delhi.

Geography

Pitalkhora caves are located on a hill called Chandora in Gautala Sanctuary, approx 80 km from Aurangabad. 

Weather/Climate

The region of Aurangabad has a hot and dry climate. The summers are more extreme than winters and monsoon, with a temperature up to 40.5 degrees Celsius.
Winters are mild, and the average temperature varies from 28-30 degrees Celsius.
Monsoon season has extreme seasonal variations, and the annual rainfall in Aurangabad is around 726 mm. 

Things to do

With so much that the caves exhibit to us, everything is worth seeing, although one must visit caves no.3 and 4, viharas, five headed naga, elephant carvings, stupa gallery and its water management.

Nearest tourist places

  • After spending time at Pitalkhora one can visit  
  • Pitalkhora View Point 
  • Gautala Autramghat Sanctuary (25 KM)
  • Sir Autram Smarak (19.5 KM)
  • Ellora caves (49.2 KM)
  • Chandika Devi Mandir, Paatna (35.4 KM)

Special food speciality and hotel

Traditional and delicious food items of Aurangabad like the Naan Khaliya are a must to try on the visit.
Vegetarian: Hurda, Daal Batti, Vaangi Bharata (a special preparation of Brinjal/Eggplant), Shev Bhaji

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

Accommodation facilities ranging from general to luxurious needs are available at the Aurangabad and vicinity.
Jawalkar Hospital (18.8 KM)
Kannad Police Station (18.7 KM)

Visiting Rule and Time, Best month to visit

The visiting hours are 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. 
August to February is considered the best period to visit the caves. 
One must carry drinking water, a cap/hat, an umbrella (during the rainy season), and some snacks while visiting the caves. 

Language spoken in area 

English, Hindi, Marathi