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  Caves
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  Karla, Bhaja & Bedse
 
 
 

KARLA CAVES

 

Karle Caves is a complex of ancient Buddhist Indian rock-cut architecture cave shrines developed over two periods - from 2nd century B.C to 2nd century C.E. and in 5th - 10th century. Even though the caves were constructed over a period of time and the oldest one is believed to date back to 160 BC.[1] Located in Karli near Lonavala, Maharashtra, the caves are on a major ancient trade route, running eastward from the Arabian Seainto the Deccan. Karli's location in Maharashtra places it in a region that is the division between North India and South India.[2] Buddhism, having become identified with commerce and manufacturing through their early association with traders, tended to locate their monastic establishes in natural areas close to major trade routes so as to provide lodging houses for travelling traders.

 
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This complex of well-preserved Buddhist caves is built on the difficult terrain of a rocky hillside. The complex also happens to be one of the finest examples of the ancient rock-cut caves found in India. The large Karla caves were excavated by hewing out the rock. Great windows light the interiors.

 

The main cave has a magnificent Chaitya with huge pillars and intricately carved relief's dating back to the 1st century B.C.There are well carved sculptures of both males and females (see picture), as well as animals, including lions and elephants (see picture), a testimony to the skill of the artisan builders. Within the complex are a great many other magnificently carved prayer halls or chaityas as well as viharas or dwelling places for the monks. A feature of these caves is their arched entrances and vaulted interiors. The outside facade has intricate details carved to imitate finished wood. The central motif is a large horseshoe arch. There is a lion column in front, with a closed stone facade and torana in between.[2] During this period it is likely that thousands of caves like Karla were excavated in the Sahyadri Hills.

 

BHAJA CAVES

 
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Are a group of 22 rock-cut caves dating back to 200 BC located at Karli, near Lonavala, Maharashtra. The location of Bhaja caves is not far from location of Karla Caves and these are stylistically similar to the Karla Caves. These caves are on a major trade route of the past that ran from the Arabian Sea eastward into the Deccan region, the division between North India and South India.

 

The Bhaja caves share the same set of architectural designs as Karla caves. Visually most impressive monument is large shrine - chaityagriha - with open, horseshoe-arched entrance part. The chaitrya has unique reliefs of Indian mythology. Other caves have a nave and aisle, with an apse containing a solid stupa and the aisle circling round the apse, providing the circumambulation path.

 

Notable part of monument is a group of 14 stupas, five inside and nine outside an irregular excavation. One of the caves has some fine sculptures. Near the last cave is a waterfall which, during the monsoon season, has water that falls into a small pool at the bottom.

 

BEDSE CAVES

 
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Also known as Bedsa Caves are situated in Maval taluka, Pune District, Maharashtra, India.

 

The history of caves can be traced back up to 1st century B.C. There are two main caves. The best known cave is the chaitya (prayer hall) with comparatively large stupa, the other cave is monastery - vihara. Both the caves contain some carvings although are less ornate than later caves. Both caves are facing eastwards so it is recommended to visit the caves early morning, as in sunlight the beauty of carvings is enhanced.

 

Until around 1861 the caves were regularly maintained - even painted. These works were ordered by local authorities in order to please British officers who often visited caves. This has caused loss of the remnants of plaster with murals on it.

 

Bedse Caves are comparatively less known and less visited. People know about the nearby Karla Caves and Bhaja Caves but have hardly heard of Bedse Caves. The trilogy of the caves (Karla - Bhaje - Bedse) in Mawal Region can't be completed without Bedse. An easy hike through steps leads to the caves. Also close to the Bedse caves are the famous foursome of Lohagad, Visapur, Tung and Tikona forts adjoining the Pawana Dam. Bedse Caves can be reached from Pune via Kamshet. They can also be reached via Paud - Tikona Peth - Pawananagar. Alternate route is from Somatne-Phata on the Pune-Mumbai NH4 Highway.

 
 
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