Kanheri Caves

About Kanheri Caves
Vital Information for Visitors
Address:

Kanheri Caves, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali East, Mumbai, Maharashtra

Open & Close:

Everyday-08:00 AM – 05:00 PM

Entry Fees:

For Indians - INR 15 pp

For Foreigners - INR 200 pp

Duration:

Approx 2-3 hrs

Significance:

Buddhist chaityas & viharas (chapels)

The Kanheri caves are located within the lush forests of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park at Borivali. In the year 1882 AD, an ancient Buddhist stupa was found in this area and from that time a large stone coffer was excavated having eight bronze images of the Maitreya Bodhisattva.Being situated in the hills of the vast land of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the Kanheri caves are an amazing work of engravinving, embossing and architecture. These have around 109 Buddha Viharas, specially designed for the Bhikshuks (Buddhist monks). It simply proves that the Kanheri was a large monastic settlement of the Buddhist. All these beautiful caves, chaityas & viharas of the Buddhist monks, are carved out of basalt rock, dating from 1st to 11th century. The name Kanheri is said to be derived from a Sanskrit term ‘Krishna- giri’, where ‘Krishna’ denotes black and ‘giri’ means mountain, hence, the black mountain - perhaps for the basalt rock. The cells in Kanheri caves are equipped with stone beds, cisterns for storing water and walkways and famous for their beautiful exterior and interior carvings. Mumbaikars keep visiting Kanheri caves and surrounding garden to find peace and solace away from maddening crowd, noise and hectic routine of Mumbai. An ancient Buddhist chaitya & vihara system, atop the hills, offers much-needed quietude. Locally they are also called the ‘lungs of the city’, for the fresh air around, and for being far away from the city noise, surrounded by greenery.

Kanheri caves are must-visit and well-famous monuments of India, particularly Mumbai. The flights of steps in the rocky mountainside which connect one with the other are the most interesting part of the excursion. Cave 3, known as the Great Chaitya Cave, is the most outstanding of the lot. The chaityas of Kanheri are famous as the latest chaitya of Hinayana branch of Buddhism as well. The Great Chaitya Cave has been embellished with two giant 7 meter high figures of standing Buddha on each side of the entrance porch. The main hall of it is 28 meter long and 13 meter wide and embellished with 34 columns with 5 meter high stupa at the far end.

Kanheri, thrived for long, for its close proximity with the port towns of Sopara, Kalyan, Thane and Vasai. The caves, although have no date, but inscriptions with the mention of donors and the names of the kinds, that helped in identification. There are many sculptured statues of Buddha, on the outer sides of the wall, mainly in the Avalokiteswara incarnation. There are, nevertheless, difference in the artistic representation, when contrasted with one another, may be due to the difference of time when they were built. The large halls and stupas indicate that the caves were Buddhist shrines and a focal point of the settlement centuries ago. Probably, a distinctive institution for the Buddhist monks’ study and meditation, there is a lot to see here, about 34 unfinished paintings of Buddha within the caves, the vihara (prayer hall) and different monasteries around the cave for a glimpse of the Buddhist way of life. Unlike other caves in the country, the ones here have a plinth, or a rock bed inside each.

One finds nearly 51 legible inscriptions and epigraphs in Cave 90 at Kanheri. These inscriptions are in Brahmi, Devanagari and Pahlavi scripts. One such inscription is significant as it mentions the marriage of Satavahana ruler with the daughter of Rudradaman. Cave 81, with a very narrow porch but without any pillars, has an inscription of Yajni Sri Satakarni of the Satavahanas and, probably, is said to be from the 2nd -4th century, for its plain style.

The highest Kanheri caves are located at 460 meter above the sea level. It offers a panoramic view over the forest as well as blocks of apartments in Mumbai city. The most parts of 109 caves of Kanheri are simple cells cut in basalt and some for monks where they resided, studied, and meditated. It has fewer large cells which still include defaced woodwork on its roofs.

Being crowded with ancient forest and rich history of preservation, the forest hosts many rare species including leopards. Apart from this, it has covered with eye-grabbing and vibrant purple flowers and some colourful butterflies as well. During the monsoons, this area in Kanheri hills offers many beautiful waterfall forms. Moreover, the nearest rim of this forest is around 2 kilometers from the Kanheri caves and path to where there will not be more than 5 km long. However, this distance is covered with the great walk as tourists get a chance to explore the beauty of the forest.

Hence, Kanheri caves are one of the best places to visit in Mumbai, city as it has its own charm and beauty. While visiting there, one has to get influenced to explore the art of Asia in a very systematic manner at the nominal cost. A visit of Kanheri will let to know about the immensely rich history embedded in the cliffs. In brief, Kanheri caves are the well-recommended places to explore, capture, and spend time as well.

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