Rediscovering heritage in my backyard

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels: , , ,

“To be on a quest is nothing more or less than to become an asker of questions.” - Sam Keen

A last moment change of plans from a friend diverted me to re-discovering a treasure in my own ignored backyard. To confess, I was ashamed of not having visited this place before. Am sure if it was a thousand kilometres away, I would have finished exploring it already. Hence all the credit goes to my friend for giving me TAANG at the last moment ;)

I feel it would be better if I could give a count and details about these invaluable monuments first (all courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India) and my experiences later.

Kanheri the Kanhasela, Krishnagiri, Kanhagiri of ancient inscriptions, is located north of Mumbai, was a major Buddhist centre. The caves are excavated in volcanic breccia, the hills rising at places to 1550’ above mean sea level. Kanheri is credited with the largest number of cave excavations in a single hill. 

 It is generally believed that Buddhism first arrived in Aparantha (Western India) at Sopara which is very close to Kanheri. The caves were excavated as early as mid 3rd century B.C. and were in occupation right up to 11th century A.D. 

The excavations at Kanheri are of the following types: (i) chaityagrhas, the place of worship of the Buddhist community, (ii) viharas or monasteries, they consist of single and multiple celled where the Buddhist monks resided, (iii) podhis or water cisterns, which were excavated ingeniously to trap the rain water and store them for use during summer periods and (iv) rock-cut benches and seats.

The most prominent among the excavations at Kanheri is the Cave 3, which is a chaityagriha which was excavated during the period of Yajna Satakarni (c. 172-201 A.D.) This chaityagrha is one of the largest in India second only to the one at Karle, district Pune.

Cave 1 is an unfinished chaityagrha, originally planned to have a double-storeyed verandah and a porch, apart from the pillared hall. The cave is dated to 5th – 6th centuries A.D. as the pillars with compressed cushion or amalaka top appears generally during this period.

Cave No. 2 with a small Stupa inside.

Cave 11 which is also known as ‘Darbar Hall’ consists of a huge hall with a front verandah. The hall has shrine on its back wall and cells on two sides. The floor of the hall two low stone benches resembling Cave 5 of Ellora. 

The sculptural art here can be seen in Caves like 2, 3, 41, 67, 89, 90, etc. The image of Buddha is generally shown either standing or in seated posture. The latter in some cases are flanked by Bodhisattvas and in rare cases with their consorts. 

The Buddhist establishment at Kanheri has an interesting evidence in the form of small structural stupas built on the floor of some of the caves. 

Rock cut stairs leading to the Viharas.

Spartan Plinth Beds (me in the closet)

All the above info is sourced from Archaeological Survey of India's website.

Wish I could have shared some more info on this place. But I resolve to be a more learned man on these amazing structures when I make my next trip here.

Made new friends with Shivram (Right) and his friend from Rajasthan.

After coming out of premises of these lovely monuments still in aghast of the amount of manpower that would have gone in making them, I took a small ride around the National Park to re-ignite my school memories.

Trying to get hold of the munk's attention who by now have become vary and unfazed by flock of visitors..or maybe somehow stardom has made way into their minds ;)

Or chasing the mini train along the tracks etc.

Or just simply stopping to hear the birds from the thick tree cover.

Rode out of the park and straight onto the Western Express Highway. Keeping in mind the delightful moments that I went through- it was some kind of a funny day. Lot of vehicles were simply stopping right in the middle of the road. I used to honk and get around them and speed away. Again its a repeat of events....somethings wrong with Mumbai traffic today I thought. Getting through the in-between gaps and riding away from the stalled traffic, it struck that I was jumping red signals. Oh Hell! Thankfully no cops around, or I would have been lighter by a few bucks. I was still lost in the thoughts of those caves and the cool climate of the national park. Well on the positive note that shows that I really had a good time :)

The complete set of pics HERE


  1. Pradosh says:

    Dude you were really lucky to have escaped with those red lights !!
    But about the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, I was under the impression that two wheelers arent allowed into the park.

  1. Pulsurge says:

    Two wheelers are allowed, but not free. Entry fee for you is 15 and 20 for your bike :)

  1. I read your account of Kanheri Caves with interest.
    Thanks for bringing forth the authentic information from ASI.
    There are many such ancient monuments in the Sahyadri, which are neglecte and not taken care of. People dont know the historical and cultural importance of these ancient monuments. These monuments are a big cultural treasure and we must maintain them neat and clean.
    I suggest one more spot for a days bike trip. Kondhane caves about 10 km from Karjat. The route is from Mumbai - Panvel - Chauk (NH 4) - Karjat - Dahivli - Kandpe - Kondivde - Kondhane.
    You will have to park your bike at Kondhane and climb up to Kondhane Caves.