The town of Saquelim in Goa has often been visited by tourists from all over, but a little detour off the approach road and you might find yourself in the midst of the majestic Arvalem Caves also known as the Pandava Caves as they are known to have housed the Pandavas (characters from Hindu Mythology) during their 12 year exile. There’s not much to speak of in terms of architecture and sculpture at these caves which are considerably small.
Their origins can be traced back to as early as the 6th Century and credit for building is still undecided. Some believe the caves owe their origins to Buddhism, but the presence of Lingas on the walls is confusing. Laterite stone and some architecture resembling Buddhist architecture also lead us to believe that the Arvalem caves, are probably Buddhist. Archaeologists have also been exploring some Sanskrit inscriptions found from the 7th century in the caves.
Arvalem caves are often visited by Hindu tourists to marvel at their mythological importance, but apart from that these red bricked caves are awe inspiring even for the average tourist. An ideal picnic spot, one might want to set aside an afternoon for a picnic at these caves and enjoy nature at its best. The best time to visit the Arvalem caves is in the monsoons.
Getting to the Arvalem caves is a little bit of a hike. They’re located close to the town of Sanquelim inland, towards the east, from places like Vasco, Margao and Panjim. Its best to ride down to the caves on a hired two wheeler or your own vehicle, although cabs are available from the city side and north Goa. Beware of the costs though, they might not charge you by the meter.