Roadtrip to Karla Caves, Lonavla

During our recent stay at Hilton Shillim Resort near Lonavla, we visited the ancient Buddhist Karla caves. It is located on top of a hill in Karli, which is about 15 minutes drive from Lonavla town.

Karla Caves

Karla CavesAlthough the hill was easy to find (thanks to Google Maps), our heart was in our mouth as we drove up the steep narrow road leading to the hill. It was then followed by climbing up about 400 steps to reach the hilltop. As we reached the top we were huffing and puffing but the first glimpse of the magnificent caves made us completely forget about our troubles.

The balcony like structures on the cave wall
The balcony like structures on the cave wall
Stone carving outside the viharas
Stone carving outside the viharas

The Karla caves are ancient stone cut caves, considered to be one of the oldest in India dating back to 2nd century BC. The cave exterior has a number of small balconies like structures, which are the viharas, designed for the Buddhist monks to reside and meditate. The small caves of the viharas have multiple pillars and one can walk around the open space to have a closer look at the carvings. However, it was disappointing to see that the stairs leading to the balcony was closed for public viewing.

Outer facade of the Chaityagruha
Outer facade of the Chaityagruha
Pillars inside the prayer hall
Pillars inside the prayer hall

Karla Caves

Karla Caves

The Chaityagruha
The Chaityagruha
Wooden ribs on the ceiling of the prayer hall
Wooden ribs on the ceiling of the prayer hall
The Stupa
The Stupa
The main arch
The main arch

Karla Caves

Ancient inscriptions
Ancient inscriptions

The other part of the cave comprises of Chaithyagruha, which is large prayer hall with a Stupa located in the centre surrounded by carved pillars forming an apse. The hall is one of the largest Chaithyas in India and gives a clear picture of the remarkable designs of the ancient Indian architecture. The ceiling of the hall has natural curved wooden ribs forming a beautiful sight alongside with the semicircular room. The external façade has a large pillar with lion carving on one side and a Hindu Ekavira Temple on other.Karla Caves

Carving on the outer wall of the Chaityagruha
Carving on the outer wall of the Chaityagruha

Karla Caves

Karla Caves

Karla Caves

Karla Caves

View from the Top
View from the Top

Karla CavesWith not many visitors to the caves, we were able to walk around the cave premises in a leisure pace and experience tranquil atmosphere of the place.

Entry to the cave costs INR 5/person for Indians and INR 100/person for foreigners.

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