These Karla caves, often referred to as Karla Cells, are a collection of alluring Buddhist rock-cut caves located in Karli, near Lonavala, in the state of Maharashtra. Between the second and fifth centuries saw the construction of these shrines. 160 BC is when one of the earliest cave shrines was built.
The monasteries of the Budhists, who were linked to trade, industry, and commerce, were located close to the commercial routes in order to provide lodging for passing traders.
These caves have a prayer hall that is around 45 metres long and 14 metres high, and it dates back to the first century. There are sculptures of lions, elephants, and both male and female figures throughout the hallways. The monks’ living quarters, or viharas, were located within the Karla complex, which was cut out of a steep slope.
The arched entrances and domed interiors of these caves are beautifully sculpted. It has a torana situated between an Ashokan pillar with a stone façade and a sizable horseshoe-shaped arch as the dominant element.
History of Karla Caves
These Karla Caves are significant historically and have connections to the Mahasmghika Buddhist school as well as later Hinduism. The architecture of these caves is a hybrid of Indian and Buddhist rock-cut designs. These shrines were constructed across two eras. First, there is the second century B.C.–second century A.D. The second era spans from the fifth to the tenth century AD.
How to Reach
You may travel by vehicle, rail, or aeroplane to get to Karla Caves. The closest city to Lonavala is Pune, which visitors may go to by plane. From Lonavala, travellers may take buses to Karla. Mumbai has the nearest international airport to the Karla Caves.
Travellers may go to Karla Caves and Lonavala by using private taxis. Lonavala is the closest train station for access to Karla Caves. Travellers from Mumbat or Pune may take the rail to Lonavala, from which they can take a car to the Karla Caves.
Buses go 12 kilometres to get to these caves from Lonavala. The latest bus from Lonavala to Karla leaves at 7 p.m., with the earliest departure time being at 6 a.m.
Timings of Caves
These caves are accessible every day; however, it is best to visit between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Activities to do in and around
One of the best examples of Buddhist rock-cut cave buildings is Karla Cave. Out of all the monuments in India, the Chaityagriha of the Karla Caves is the finest example of architecture. These caves are said to have been created out of live rocks. These Karla caves are climbable by tourists, and the trip takes around 20 minutes. Notable sites close to the Karla Caves include Pavana Lake, Bhaja Caves, Lohagad Fort, Lion’s Pont, Narayani Dham Temple, Shri Durga Paraneshwari Temple, Rajmachi Fort, Lonavala Lake, and Tiger’s Leap.
A ticket for entry costs Rs. 5 (per person).
The best time to visit Karla Caves
The months of June through January are the ideal times of year to explore the magnificent Karla caves.