(Last Updated on : 18/03/2011)
Karla Caves are another section of caves that are located in the mountain ranges of Lonavala hills near Mumbai
. These are popularly known for rock- cut architecture and temples which are located at the centre of the mountain range. Karla caves are the oldest and well maintained caves of Buddhist tradition which have been one of the important tourist spots of Mumbai located in between Mumbai and Pune
. It is 120kms from Mumbai and 55kms from Pune and is easily accessible by train. The ancient Karla caves are one of the popular tourist sites of Mumbai which is closely situated with three hill stations of Mumbai namely Lonavala, Khandal and Matheran.
Karla Caves as mentioned earlier are one of the oldest caves of Buddhist period. The Karla Caves had been one of the important centers of spiritual growth and education. These caves include one principle cave that is 15 km wide and 16km high. Decorated with well carved sculptures of male and females these caves define Buddhist art in India. Along with this it also includes the sculptures of some animals as well. These are among the oldest caves of India which are saved from weather erosion. This maintains the sculptures of the cave in a better condition. Apart from other features these caves are also popular for the arched roof which is supported by the wooden beams which has survived for last 2000 years. The entrance of the cave is well decorated with choicest pillars with sculptures along with lion capitals which is similar to the lions of Ashokan pillars of Sarnath. At the entrance of the cave there is the temple of Goddess Ekveera which is considered to be a popular local pilgrimage. Karla caves also include a wooden umbrella which has been unique in these caves.
Thus the Karla Caves have been one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in India. With its unique features these caves include a prayer hall which is common in all the Buddhist monasteries of India. As one of oldest historical sites in India it attracts a number of tourists every year.