Are you running out of locations to explore near Mumbai or Pune? No worries! We have found this imaginary and exceptional place for you. Situated just 2.5 hours from Mumbai and 3 hours from Pune, the Kondana Caves (also known as Kondhane Buddhist Caves) is by far the most beautiful place with the serene and intricate architecture we know.
Apart from the architecture, these caves are also worth visiting if you want to hit the road for a long ride, hike a bit, and explore some hidden waterfalls. Sounds interesting? Continue reading because we will be talking about everything that the Kondana Caves Trek has to offer you. Because why not experience something heavenly when it’s situated just at the heart of Karjat?
Kondana Caves: A Meditation Spot of Monks from Ancient Times
The Kondana caves are settled in the dense forest of Karjat’s small village, Kondana. The best part is that they’re just 14km away from the Karjat railway station and easy to locate. The cascading waterfalls curl up the caves in their sublime white mist during monsoons and make them look incredible.
Also, the set of 16 cells that were carved in the first century B.C show that the Kondana cave was a divine location for monks’ meditation in ancient times. And it’s no wonder because the rushing sound of a waterfall in the blanket of lush green scenery makes up all that you need for peaceful vibes.
The history behind Kondana Caves:
Kondana caves were found in the 1st century B.C during an excavation. They are known as one of the three sister caves, along with Karla and Bhaja Caves. Majorly, the Buddhist Monks used these caves for meditation in ancient times, especially during monsoons. You will find a set of 16 caves that contain Chaitya with intricately carved ancient sculptures and Vihara with Stupas and meditation pods that represent Buddhist history. These rock-cut structures carved meticulously with symmetry and artistic nature represent the religious importance of the Buddhist community.
Serene Architecture of Kondana Caves:
Facing the northwest, the Kondana Caves are divided into four groups. Hidden beautifully in the dense forests, each of these caves has a remarkable presence that depicts ancient architecture.
The first one is an arch-shaped structure called Chaitya cave that extends over 65 feet, measures a height of 28 feet and width of 25 feet. This cave falls into the southwest region of the caves group. It houses a dome-shaped shrine named Dagoba which extends to 9 feet in diameter and is believed to host relics of Buddhist Saints. The nave in front of Dagoba stands 49 feet long and around 14 feet wide. Earlier, thirty columns surrounded it, but they are now in ruins and visible if seen carefully.
The second cave is Vihara which is situated northeast of the cave group. Its front portion is ruined entirely, but the left part is still intact. Extended over 23 feet wide and 29 feet long, the Vihara cave hosts fifteen pillars, a small Dagoba, and a raised alcove. Additionally, it has six cells that seem like beds of monks.
The third cave is also named Vihara that houses nine cells that are in ruins today.
The fourth cave is a group of 9 cells that appear to be hollow space under the cliff.
Intricate Carvings That Show Ancient Artistry:
The intricate carvings and sculptures at Kondana caves show how exceptional ancient craftsmanship was! You will see carvings of men and women in various dance postures where massive octagonal pillars hold the beautifications. No matter which corner of Kondana cave you visit, you will see them glorifying with detailed craftsmanship. Plus, the meditation pods represent unique features as they were built for monks to meditate and introspect in ancient times.
Kondana Caves Trek:
With easy-to-ascend routes, the trail of Kondana Caves Trek is a gradual one. For the starting point, you will find a board with “Kondane Caves” in Marathi, where you can park the vehicles and hit the trail. The diversions are clearly marked on the route, so it’s easy to stay on the track.
On your way, you will witness the beauty of hidden waterfalls, muddy patches, green terrains, and scary little insects of different kinds. After a decent climb of 1-1.5 hours, you will feel as if you have come to a kingdom with well-built stairs exuding royal imagery.
After ascending the stairs, you will witness a huge waterfall covering the intricate caves in its white tint. This waterfall is also visible at the base end of the stairs. You can explore the four groups of caves as we mentioned earlier and spend a peaceful time here.
Remember to see the meditation pods, stupas, and intricate carvings of sculptures as they depict the subtle skills of ancient craftsmanship.
Best Time to Visit Kondana Caves:
September to February seems the best time to visit Kondana Caves as the atmosphere is pleasant. Moreover, it makes trekking easier with walkable patches. However, if you wish to see rushing waterfalls and enjoy monsoon treks, June to September is also a good time.
How to Reach Kondana Caves:
By public transport: Reach Karjat railway station and take a bus/rickshaw till Kondivade village. From here, you will need to reach Kondane village or Kharvandi village. The Kondana caves are situated equally from both these villages. It will take around 40 mins to reach the base village of the caves.
By private transport: You will easily find the route on Google map, so make sure to put the destination name correctly. Just make sure to drive your vehicle until you find the board named “Kondane Caves” in Marathi, as it’s the starting point of the trek.
Although the Kondana Caves Trek is easy, it is advisable to be mindful of your steps as it gets slippery in monsoons. Plus, make sure to visit the spot during the daytime for a safer side. You can visit this place on your own with friends/family or join trekking groups. No matter what your choice is, we recommend visiting them at least once. You will be pleased to witness the immense beauty of ancient carvings. So, when are you planning to add this to your list?