Pandavleni Caves, Nashik, Maharashtra

Pandavleni Caves are a cluster of twenty four Buddhist caves, date back to 3rd century BC and 2nd AD. The complex rock-cut Pandavleni caves representing the Hinayana Buddhist and are located at a distance of 8 km from Nashik, Maharashtra state, India. The caves were predominantly used as Buddhist Vihara i.e. a place used as permanent residence, study room and Buddhist monastery. The larger caves known as Chaitya are the places where congregational worships and meditation took place. The caves’ astounding artifacts, mind boggling structural design and marvelous Buddha’s sculptures inside the Vihara making the location one of the decorated tourist spots in the heart of Maharashtra.
Various inscriptions suggested that the caves are almost 2000 years old date back to 3rd century BC and during that period Nashik was ruled by three kings namely the Kshatrapas, the Satavahanas and the Abhirs. It is believed by many art historians that there was always a conflict among them however all the three kings were fully supported Buddhism and its ideologies. The inscriptions found on cave no.10 unveiled the fact that during 105-106 BC, Ksatrapas defeated the Satavahanas and denoted 3000 gold coins for the construction of these caves. Inscriptions are also suggesting that not only these three kings but also various local landlords, merchants had contributed huge sums for the development of the caves. The caves were also used to be known as Pundru which means ‘yellow ochre color’ in pali language. Amongst all twenty-four caves, cave no.3 and 10 are major in attraction. The main cave or cave no.3 is known as Chaitya (a congregational prayer hall) and decorated with massive stone pillars or stupas and stone plinth. Cave no.10 is also a Vihara and is complete in all structural as well as inscriptions. Both caves were adorned with exquisite images of Buddha, sculptures, artifacts and cave paintings.
Apart from the main caves (cave no .3 and 10), other caves lodge idols of Buddha and Bodhisattva. The caves are located high in the mountains of Trirashmi. Some caves are intricately connected by stone-cut stepladder and steps lead to the caves from the bottom of the hill reflecting the testimony of well-organized establishment of Buddhist monk during the third century in India. Some of the caves are large in size and contain numerous chambers including Viharas, Chaityas and Buddhist monasteries. The viharas were well connected with many major trade centers and has an excellent ancient water management system accompanied by massive water tanks. Tanks are skillfully chiseled out of huge solid rock. Canals and cisterns were also available to drain out excessive rainwater.
Tourists can access the place through the Roads and Rails. Since the caves are nearer to Nashik, one may reach to nashik by taking available Buses and Taxis. From Nashik visitors will have plenty of public transports that go to Pandavleni caves. On other hand, Nashik is well connected by train to the many major cities in Maharashtra. So visitors may opt for a train and disembark at Nashik Railway station. And from there as mentioned earlier plenty of buses, auto rickshaws are available which drop people to the caves. In addition, Gandhinagar Airport is the nearest airport to the location. Tourists may catch the flight that goes to the airport and from there hire taxi, auto to reach the Pandavleni caves.