Weather :

Timings : Bhaja Caves: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM,
Karla Caves: 5:00 AM - 7:00 PM

Time Required : 2-3 hrs

Entry Fee : Indians: INR 15,
Foreigners: INR 200

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Bhaja Caves, Lonavala Overview

The Bhaja caves are a group of 22 rock-cut Buddhist caves, located near Pune. Visited mostly along with the Karla Caves, these caves are believed to have existed since 2nd century BC. Travel back in time on this trip to ancient Indian rock-cut caves with the best rock-cut architecture of all times. The ancient caves are protected as Monument of National Importance by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The Bhaja Caves houses a group of 14 majestic stupas which are the heirloom of the resident monks who died at Bhaja. Five of these stupas can be seen outside the ancient cave while nine are outside displaying an inscription with the name of three monks - Ampinika, Dhammagiri and Sanghdina. These stupas have been sculpted very intricately showing the name of the monks along with their titles.

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Architecture of Bhaja Caves

Bhaja Caves are a notable example of the development of wooden architecture in India sharing its architectural design with the Karla Caves. The most prominent structure of the caves is the chaityagriha which has an open, horse-shoe shaped entrance. The Chaityagrihas are known for the Buddha images.

These caves are also famous for the carving of a woman playing the tabla (percussion instrument) which proves that tabla is being used in India for two thousand years. The sculptures in the Bhaja caves feature grand headdress, jewellery and garlands which might have been painted in bright colours originally but later got covered by plaster. A waterfall can be seen in the last cave which brims with water during the monsoon, cascading into a small pond at the bottom.

Important Caves in Bhaja Caves

Cave VI- This 14 feet square, irregular vihara houses two cells on two sides and three on back. The name of Bodhi (ploughman's wife) is inscribed on the cell door indicating that this vihara was gifted by her.

Cave IX- Identical to Cave VIII at Pandavleni Caves, this cave features broken animal figures, rail pattern embellishments and a verandah.

Cave XII- This cave houses the chaitya which is the earliest surviving chaitya hall in the country. The walls of these viharas are polished in the Mauryan style and have a horse-shoe shaped window set above the arched doorway. The portico-area seems to be carved in the fashion of a multi-storeyed building replete with balconies and windows. 

Cave XIII- This 30 feet long and 14.5 feet deep cave seems to have been destroyed by fire housing the charred remains of what appears to be wooden architecture. 

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