Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Lonavala's Karla Caves – A 'Rock-Carved' Architectural Wonder

Nestled in the arms of Sahayadri Hills, Lonavala is surely a place to be for many ancient works and scenic escapes. It is also a very famous one-day picnic spot to be reached generally from nearby metro cities like Mumbai and Pune. As far as the place's name goes, it is derived from a Sanskrit word 'Lonavali' that means group of caves formed under hilly peaks.

True by its name, this place is seen as an escape to natural wonders of India and this can be seen in its distinct single-rock-carved structures that are primitive forms of Indian architecture found in many places across the country. Karla caves, located just 12 kms from Lonavala railway station are a remarkable piece of work excavated by Buddhist monks, combining both elementary and spiritual aspects of life. A visit to the 2000-year-old caves is one of the important things to do in Lonavala.

The mind behind the unique design of the Karla caves was to situate monks in livable conditions at a difficult terrain, not far, not near to the city, and also a place that would be suitable for their congregational gatherings. The main cave-hall is magnificently adorned with ancient carvings coming from the 2nd century B.C. reflecting the high degree of architectural work done by the select artisans.

As it is well said, to achieve something there is hard-work involved, but here it is just 100 steps to climb that will also keep in good shape. The steps take around 20 minutes to reach to the top at the Karla caves. There is a 45 mtrs (148-foot) long Chaitya (Praying hall), possibly the finest tribute to faith in the country.

The best way to reach this extraordinary place is by road as it is 120 kms away (1.5-hour drive) from Mumbai and just 55 kms from Pune, enjoying the green scenery especially during the monsoon season when nature's colors are best revealed. Nearest airport is at Pune, while nearest railway station is Malavli. Lonavala station, just 10 kms from the caves, is the most convenient base for visiting Karla and Bhaja caves. Also for your comfortable stay, there are many resorts in near the caves, providing excellent services and facilities all year round.