18 April 2010

Kanheri Caves

It has been a long time since I last posted in this blog. Partly due to lack of time and also due to the fact that I had not really known what to post. Today I shall post something about Kanheri caves where I had been in January 2009. Kanheri is located in the island of Salsette and 6 miles from Thana. These caves date from 1st century BCE to 9th century CE. The earliest are 109 tiny rock-cut cells, carved into the side of a hill. Kanheri is credited with the largest number of cave excavations in a single hill. Unlike the elegant splendor of Elephanta Caves nearby, these are spartan and unadorned. Each cave has a stone plinth for a bed. A congregation hall with huge stone pillars contains the stupa, a Buddhist shrine. Farther up the hill are the remains of an ancient water system, canals and cisterns that collected and channeled the rainwater into huge tanks. The caves are excavated in volcanic breccia, the hills rising at places to 1550’ above mean sea level. Majority of the caves are monasteries, intended for living, study and meditation. The unique figure of Avalokiteshwara captures the attention of everyone. No less than a hundred inscriptions have been found here, in Brahmi, Devanagari and Pallavi scripts. One Chaitya cave has some defaced woodwork on its roof. To the west is the Borivili railway station and across the creek is the Arabian Sea. You can go there by taking a bus from Thane (a station on the Mumbai-Howrah line). Take a bus to Borivli...the bus goes past the gateway to Sanjay Gandhi National park. You can get down right in front of the gate. you can also take your own vehicle right upto the caves if you live nearby . If you do not have your own vehicle, wait for the park’s vehicle, which will take you to the caves. I am posting herewith some snaps I had taken there. You get a beautiful view of the hills and forest of Sanjay Gandhi National Park from here.