A cave near Lonavla that will make you skip a heartbeat

India is a country of unique traditions, places, people and history all merged into one. But it is always in the hills that you can expect to find some of the richest cultural and architectural marvels that the country has restored from its ancient past.

Temples, shrines, monuments built centuries and centuries ago reveal such marvellous mysteries about that period and how the architecture and carvings were different from what we know today.

One such ancient architecture is in Lonavla-The Karla Caves.

Karla Caves are in Lonavla, which is just 64 kms from Pune and 96 kms from Mumbai. The best time to visit Lonavla is during October to May, but you can also try your luck during the monsoons (roads mostly remain closed) as the hilly region turns into a green carpet with waterfalls at regular intervals.

Reaching Lonavla by car is also no less than a serene ride as the view is beautiful and you see only greenery all round.

But, this time I took a local train from Pune to Lonavla, which is just a one-hour journey, and hired a cab for the last stretch.

Reaching the parking spot for the caves is easy, but the challenge begins after that. The stairs, created by cutting into the hilly rocks, that take you to Karla Caves are big and if you haven’t tried trekking as yet, this can be one of those experiences you are unlikely to forget anytime soon.

Though the stairs are less but they are slippery as it is moist and gathers moss during rains.

But once you reach Karla Caves, you will be spellbound as the caves are intriguing and take you to 2nd Century BC.

The Caves are an exact depiction from our history books that often talk about excavation and discovering caves from underneath.

The Karla Caves are Indian Buddhist rock-cut caves shrines and were developed over a period of time from 2nd Century B.C to 5th Century AD.

Here are the other details about the Caves that make it worth-visiting

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A must visit

A must visit
Karla Caves are ancient Buddhist shrines and have inscriptions from that period. The Caves are widespread and has one floor too. There is a waterfall from above the caves, which makes it more intriguing

The horse-shoe shaped window

The horse-shoe shaped window
The facade is made of teak wood and has a Ashoka Pillar as well. The monastery was once home to two 15-meter grand pillars. Now only one of these remains.

The entrance

The entrance
The early Buddhist school, Mahasamghika, is associated with these caves and you have to take off your shoes while entering the caves. Outside the caves, there are elephants on the either side and the carvings are interesting. As you enter, there is a huge stupa in the chaitya hall and has 37 carved pillars and a base of water jar.

Men and women dominate the design

Men and women dominate the design
The carvings on these pillars are beautiful with men, women and animals on them

With chisel and hammer

With chisel and hammer
The ASI has done a good job in restoring them. The facade is made of teak wood and there is a Ashoka pillar in the front. The main hall is 37 metre deep.

Carvings that behold

Carvings that behold
It seems that the entire monastic complex at Karla was conceived as a single design. The seven pillars behind the stupa do not have any carving

The roof

The roof
There is a roof above the stupa and locals believe that if you throw a coin and it rests on the roof, your wish will come true.

The upper floor

The upper floor
As you go on the first floor, the staircase if very dark and you need to use torch to carefully climb them. There are viharas or smaller caves where monks must have prayed or stayed
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