Kanheri Caves, Mumbai, Maharashtra

February 10, 2015 - Caves, Maharashtra
Kanheri Caves, Mumbai, Maharashtra

The word Kanheri which means the Black mountain actually originated from Sanskrit Krishnagiri. The Kanheri caves constitute a cluster of rock-cut monuments which manifest the Buddhist influence on art and culture of ancient India as most them have deliberately carved  Buddhist sculpture, pillars and rock-cut Stupas which reflect Buddhist settlement and ideologies during the third century. The one hundred and nine caves dated from 1st century BC to 10th century CE have been carved intricately from Basalt salt and predominantly used as Buddhist Viharas once used for residence, study and meditation. The larger caves are known Chaityas a place meant for congregational worship and Buddhist monastery. The caves’ aesthetic woodwork, superior architecture and delicately built Buddhist sculptures making the location one of the favourite tourist destinations in Mumbai.

The major attraction about Kanheri caves is the one hundred and nine complex rock-cut Buddhist caves consider to be in use during the1st century BC to 9th century AD, bears the focal point of Buddhist settlement during the third century. Unlike other caves kanheri caves is adorned with huge stone pillars stupa also known as Buddhist shrine and a stone plinth for each caves. Apart from Stupas and pillars some canals and cisterns are also available up the hill to drain out the rainwater. Inside the caves, the walls were exquisitely carved with statues of Buddha, incarnation of Avalokiteswara and decorative woodwork which still present on the roof. Most of the Caves are Buddhist Viharas ,  a place used for living and mediating purpose and larger number of Viharas is an testimony of well organized establishment  of Buddhist monk. Chaityas are comparatively larger halls inside the caves containing intricate rock-cut stupas and Buddhist sculpture meant for congregational worship. The viharas was well connected with many major trade centers including ports of Sopara, Kalyan,Nasik and Ujjain. During the period of Maurayan, kanheri was developed as a reputed university and pundit Atisha once visited the university to study Buddhist meditation.  Numerous inscriptions of donor are also found inside wall of the cave and some prominent inscriptions are Gautamiputr Satakarni, Vasisthiputra Sri, Madhariputra Sakasena.

The Kanheri caves are located 40 km from bustling city of Mumbai and 10 km from Borivali railway station and can be accessed amidst of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Maharashtra. The way to the kanheri caves leads through Sanjay Gandhi National Park is vivid with natural surrounding and wildlife. The zigzag concrete road is really enjoyable when one walks through it and observes beautiful natural resources on both sides the road. Tourist can access the location both by rails and roads Borivali is the nearest station to the location and from there one can get in public transport including buses, auto-rickshaw. Taxis are also available and can be hired.

There are few food outlets including local vendors found outside the park where tourist can eat out. Some restaurants and hotels are also available near to the location, which provide accommodations.