Karla caves are located in Karli near Lonavala of Maharashtra. These caves were created by cutting a mountain by Buddhist monks many years ago. The main attraction of Karla Caves is the large hall patterned cave which is called Grand Chaitya having very beautiful artistic scenes carved on the walls.
The main hall of the cave is large and narrow. There is a stupa at the end of this hall called Septa; this hall is supported by a set of 15 pillars on either side. Karla Cave houses a group of caves but its eighth cave, known as “GrandChaitya” is considered as the best amongst all. Along with the caves, there is a temple of EkveeraMata. The cave also consists of a stunning glittery waterfall located at one of its sides.
History of Karla Cave
Earlier it was believed that these are natural caves but later it was found that their construction was done and they were created by humans. These caves are approximately 2100 to 2200 years old. They were constructed by the Indian Buddhists by cutting a mountain. The series of caves was developed in a period – from the second century BC to fourth century AD during the reign of Satavahana rulers.
These are the caves from the ancient civilization. It is now considered as the largest and oldest Buddhist temple in India. It was first worshipped by a Fisherman. It is believed that these caves tell about the nature of the human being. Many inscriptions written in the caves indicate that this mountain was a part of the Khandala Ghat in the east which was full of greenery once. Hence the Buddhist monks considered it to be a supplement for their residence.
Here the monks built these caves with their group of 83 own workers and carved the ancient art of that time in a very beautiful way that showcases the exceptional talent of the workers. The monks of Buddhist religion lived here and used to perform penance and worship.
These monks were martyrs of Buddhist religion from Ladakh. They first constructed the 30 pillars named cave which is called GrandChaitya, after that, the small caves. In this hall, they built their religion pillar and laid the foundations of Buddhism. In this way, these caves are very ancient and historic which gradually evolved to be a famous Buddha Temple.
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The Architecture of Karla Caves
Karla Caves are a unique piece of architecture containing many types of art exhibits. The group of Karla caves is located at a distance of 58 km from Pune. In this group of caves, there are a total of 16 caves, which are a unique example of art. Among these, the eighth cave (Grand Chaitya) is the most attractive, which glorifies the ancient art.
Grand Chaitya is India’s largest rock-cut structure having a length of 48 meters and a height of 13 meters. The entire hall structure of the cave is supported by 30 pillars consisting of engraved rock cut figures on the walls carved to perfection. The figures carved on the walls of Grand Chaitya represent the statues of men and women and apart from that there are also carved animal figures like the lion and the elephant.
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On the left-hand side wall of GrandChaitya, a statue of Lord Buddha riding on elephants has been carved beautifully. Not only this, the pillars of Grand Chaitya contains vivid attractive shapes carved on them. The main entrance of Grand Chaitya is guarded by two massive pillars which are very artistic and a sight to behold.
On the left-hand side of the main hall, lies the 9th Pillar which has Greek inscriptions carved on its body. Other Chaityas of Karla Caves have also been made according to the Grand Chaitya and following the same architectural pattern. The caves built in the upper part of the mountain appear like small pieces of wood when viewed from outside while the interiors of the cave are very artistic and astonishingly beautiful.
How to Reach Karla Caves
Karla Caves being located in close proximity to Pune and Mumbai can be reached by rail, road, and air.
Karle Caves does not have any particular airport in the area. It has to be reached by traveling to Mumbai or Pune airport and then the tourists need to reach Lonavala. From Lonavala, Karla caves are quite nearby and can be reached by bus or cab.
If you want to travel by road, you can do it with your private car from Mumbai and Pune by taking the Lonavala route, or you can reach Lonavala and grab a bus from there to reach Karla caves.
Karla Caves can be reached by rail by traveling to Lonavala from Mumbai and Pune from all major Indian cities.
Best Time to Visit Karla Caves
By the way, every type of weather and every type of season is suitable for this place, but the time of the rain gives a different kind of experience. Here in the rainy season, the mountain and surrounding environment are enchanted with greenery, which provides peace of mind to the visiting people.
But in the rainy season, the upper part of Karla Caves is closed for the audience, so people who come here cannot take full advantage of this area. Therefore, the proper time to visit this place is during summer or winter.
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Karla Caves Timing
The visiting time of Karla Caves for the tourists is from 8:30 AM in the morning to 5:00 pm in the evening for all days in a week. But sometimes, due to water accumulation in the rainy days or other reasons, its time changes and in the same way during excessive frost in the winter too, the time may be delayed further.
Karla Caves Entry Fees
Entry fees of Karla Caves i.e. entrance fees are very negligible. Here the entrance fee for domestic tourists or Indian citizenship is only 15 rupees. While the entry fees for foreign tourists are 20 rupees. Apart from entry fees, here 25 rupees extra is chargeable for the cameras, irrespective of the tourist’s origin.
Karla Caves Visit Duration
Karla Caves is not such a time-consuming place for tourists, yet it takes approximately 1: 00-1: 15 hours. This is the maximum time starting from buying the tickets to the complete cave tour.
The Grand Chaitya is the maximum time-consuming cave, which takes about 20-25 minutes to travel; the rest of the place is not so long. And with the caves, if you take a glimpse of this temple, then it takes 10-15 minutes time.
Places to Visit Around Karla Caves
Here are some of the wonderful tourist attractions near Karla Caves that are mind-blowing and have amazing scenic beauty.
It is a major tourist attraction located on a high mountain surrounded by greenery in all directions. The spot houses a tiger like structure leaping along the valley due to which the spot gains its name as the Tiger Point. The spot has an amazing beauty during the monsoon season due to the presence of a waterfall having mesmerizing beauty.
This is also a point like the Tiger Point on the hills of Lonavala; the path goes through the middle of the thick trees which are very beautiful. From here even the view of Tiger Point is visible, but the waterfall in this location flows from the opposite mountain.
It is a high mountain cave housing 22 caves inside it. The cave is surrounded by fresh greenery and in the rainy season, there is also a waterfall visible from the top of the cave which helps the tourists to feel relaxed and refreshed, the cave is very similar to the Karla Cave consisting of many stupas in the interiors.
Similarly, in Lonavala, there are many such scenic beauties or visiting sites like Rajmachi Fort, which were constructed on the high hills by the Rajvansh of Satavahan in Rajamchi village of Maharashtra, Ekvira Devi Temple, Sausage Hills, Devi Durga Parameshwari Temple, Wax Museum and many more.