The caves of Tuljalena in Junnar region, Maharashtra
, are a group of 11 artificially made rock cut temples of the Buddhist religion that were made during the 1st - 3rd century AD. The Tuljalena Caves are located in the west of the Junnar region, where almost 200 rock-cut temples from the ancient period are found. The Lenyadri Caves
, Manmod Caves
and Shivneri Caves
are also in here. In Cave 2, of the Tuljalena Caves, remnants of stunning ancient paintings are found on the ceilings and pillars in a dome shaped shrine. The Junnar region served as a vital trade centre in 1st century AD. The traders and merchants spread Buddhism in the region and the earliest Buddhist monasteries were made in the trade routes of Junnar. 11 artificially created caves are located in the east side of the Tuljabai Hills.
The caves were mainly Buddhist temples that served as dwellings, known as Viharas, for the monks and contain dome shaped shrines known as Chaitya. The caves, created during the 1st - 3rd century AD, are around 2000 years old. There are remains of valuable ancient Buddhist paintings in the shrine of Cave 2, which are well preserved. In Cave 3, there is a figurine of Tulja, a Hindu goddess that was created in the recent era. The caves, situated on the eastern part of the hillock, face towards the east-north-east and the caves are counted from the south to north.
Details of Tuljalena Caves
The 11 caves in the group contain various artworks and shrines of the Buddhist religion. Cave 1 is a vihara and contains a hallway and around 5 cells. Two of the cells are located in the back, while one is in the right side and two more in the left part of the hallway. The fa‡ade is partly damaged. Cave 2 contains a dome shaped chapel. There is a dagoba
, shrine in heart of the round shaped room. The cave is almost 3 m high and more that 7 m wide; and the shrine is supported by a dozen pillars. The pillars are adorned with remnants of ancient paintings, which were once vividly coloured. Traces of paintings are also present in the passageway to the roof. Cave 3 is also a vihara and contains a verandah and cells. The cave has been converted into a Hindu shrine of goddess Tulja. Two of the cells in the back wall, have been merged to form a single room which consists of an eight handed statuette of the goddess Tulja, on the back of a lion. Cave 4 also contains cells. Further more, the cave has been partly damaged by use of explosives. Cave 5 and Cave 6 also contains cells. Cave 7 is joined with the previous cave. Doorway is embellished with ornamented arch. The front and left portion of the cave is partially ruined. There are also many sculptures and statues of mythological characters and the devotees to the shrine. Cave 8 boasts two cells segregated by a wall. Cave 9 is a vihara and the entrance is decorated with an arch. There are two cells in here. Cave 10 is a bhojanamandapa or a dining area and does not consist of a fascia. There are also cells and cisterns in the cave. Cave 11 is almost 15 m away from the rest of the caves in the group and contains a cell in the left side.