Mumbai is well known for it's caves like the Elephanta caves and Kanheri caves. But there is a lot more to Mumbai if the architectural marvels, marvellous paintings and majestic sculptures are your cup of tea! Let's take a tour through some of the lesser known or Hidden Buddhist caves in and around Mumbai.
Pitalkhora Caves - PC : Official Website of Maharashtra Tourism
Pitalkhora Caves are an early Buddhist site consisting of 14 rock-cut cave monuments which date back to the third century BCE. This place is an example for one of the earliest rock-cut architecture in India. They are cut in a variety of basalt rock which weathers faster in contrast to other parts in Maharashtra.The caves are in two groups; the first group consists of 10 caves and second consists of 4 caves. The Chaitya and Monastery Caves in this group have traces of very beautiful paintings of which some are surviving in the former.
A group of viharas, a chaitya hall, and two smaller caves across the gorge with stupas consist the complex.Animal motifs, miniature chaitya windows, elephants, guardians, and yaksa figures can be seen as sculptures in this cave which are appealing. Magnificient 5th century paintings can be seen on the surviving pillars.
How to reach : Tourists can get down at Aurangabad and take a taxi to Pitalkhora, as it is the nearest place from these caves, which has got an airport and a railway station.
These 29 rock-cut caves are situated on the river Kotjai, in Dapoli. Nestled inside a forest, these are a combination of Hindu and Buddhist caves, believed to be 1,000 years old. The stupas are placed outside here, rather than inside, which is very rare!
Caves are spread around the area and only a few are adjacent to each other which adds to the individualistic beauty of the caves. Some caves are minimalistic while others have elaborate carvings. This caves are a delight for the historically inclined ones.
How to reach : Panhalekaji is located at a distance of 20 km from Dapoli. The nearest Railway Station is Khed Railway Station.
Across the Mumbai- Goa highway, Gandharpale Caves is a cluster of 30 Buddhist caves resting on the banks of Savitri - Gandhari rivers. Excavated in 150AD to 300 AD, these caves have inscriptions in the rare Brahmi script. The hillock will get wrapped in lush greenery adorned with rivulets during the monsoon. The place is an abode of nature!
The caves are beautifully carved out of stony mountains. The unusual carvings are spectacular here.
How to reach : Reach Gandharpale village on the Mumbai - Goa NH which is about 6 hours from Mumbai.