Since time immemorial caves have been a part of the landscape of our country. There are many natural and man-made caves hidden across the country which reflect the rich culture and ancient history. These caves near Mumbai date back to several centuries and are a real architectural masterpiece. Most of the man-made caves are carved out of a single stone and were used by ancient Buddhists as a place of worship and shelter.
Discover some of the most stunning caves of Maharashtra and explore the beautiful painting and sculptures. Here we have compiled a list of caves that can be easily reached from Mumbai city.
1) Mahakali Caves
A group of 19 rock-cut monuments constructed between the 1st -6th century BC. Among these 9 caves are chaitya which displays Buddhist mythological figures. These caves are located in a serene landscape and are a must visit places from Mumbai.
Location in Mumbai: Andheri East
2) Elephanta Caves
The Elephanta caves, a 10 km drive away from Mumbai is an eye-catching rock cut monument. These Hindu and Buddhist caves are nearly 1200 years old. They house seven ancient caves which are hand carved out of a single rock. One of the main caves is the abode of the Hindu God Lord Shiva. This statue of Lord Shiva has three faces and is six meters high.
Distance from Mumbai: Boats from Gateway of India, take about 1 hour to reach the island.
3) Kanheri Caves
Located within the forests of Sanjay Gandhi national park, Kanheri caves are a huge group of 109 Hindu and Buddhist caves. Built during the first century BC these are some of the oldest caves in India. The name is derived from the Sanskrit word Krishnagiri, meaning black mountain as the cave was carved out of massive Basalt rocks. On the inside, we can find some interesting painting, sculptures, and carvings.
Location in Mumbai: Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali
4) Karla Caves
Popularly known as the Karla cells these alluring Buddhist rock-cut caves were constructed during the period of the 2nd-5th century. The highlight of this place is the prayer hall which is about 45 meters long and 14 meter high.
Distance from Mumbai: 94 Kms
5) Bhaja Caves
Located in Lonavala Maharashtra near Mumbai, Bhaja caves which are a group of 22 caves dating back to the 2 century BC. These caves houses a number of stupas and the main highlights are the wooden architectures. Some of these carvings in Bhaja Cave prove that tabla was used in India more than 2000 years ago and also women were well versed in playing tabla and performing a dance.
Distance from Mumbai: 95 Kms (Near Karla Caves)
6) Bedse Caves
Located at a distance of 9 km away from Bhaja caves is the Bedse caves, one of the three Buddhist rock-cut monuments in Kamshet. The unhindered view from the top of the cave is the main highlight of this place. Among the many no of caves, they have 2 main caves called chaitya and vihara. One of the must-visit places in Lonavala and the best time to visit is during the monsoons.
Distance from Mumbai: 110 Kms
7) Pataleshwar Caves
Carved out of a single rock Pataleshwar caves are located in the heart of the city of Pune. The temple inside the cave was constructed during the 8th century. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The architecture of this cave looks quite similar to the Elephanta caves.
Distance from Mumbai: 140 Kms (in Pune)
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8) Ajanta Caves
Ajanta caves which remained undiscovered for 1000 years are one of the oldest surviving examples of Indian art and architecture. These Buddhist caves situated in the Aurangabad district consists of 30 caves, 5 temples, and 25 monasteries. It was also declared as the world heritage site by UNESCO.
Distance from Mumbai: 430 Kms
9) Ellora Caves
The Kailasanatha temple is one of the largest rock-cut ancient Hindu temples located in Ellora. It is one among the 32 caves and monasteries in Ellora caves. The temple is dotted with secret passageways, state-of-the-art drainage system. It also has connecting bridges and complicated designs, all carved out of a single rock!
Distance from Mumbai: 330 Kms (100 Kms from Ajanta Caves)
10) Aurangabad Caves
Tucked between the Satara and Vindhyachal hill ranges in Aurangabad are these amazing twelve rock-cut Buddhist shrines known as Aurangabad Caves. Each of these caves has carvings which include Hinayana style stupa, Mahayana artwork and Vajrayana goddess.
Distance from Mumbai: 340 Kms
These rock-cut marvels are a must visit when you are looking for different places to visit. Explore and wonder at the mind-blowing craftsmanship of some of these stunning caves.