CAVES IN INDIA

Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Ajanta caves are located in Aurangabad District of Maharashtra. These caves are astonishingly carved into hillside rocks and are described as “the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting” by Archaeological Survey of India. There are about 30 caves at Ajanta dating back to between the 2nd century BC and 6th century AD.These caves includes paintings and scriptures of Buddhist religious art, with figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales. The most fascinating thing about these caves is that they were crafted by hand, with only a hammer and chisel. These caves are protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India,and were included in UNESCO world heritage site in 1983.Ajanta caves are about 100 km away from equally famous Ellora caves, carved at around the same time.

Ellora Caves, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Ellora caves situated at a distance of 29 Km towards the North -west of Aurangabad city are marvellous archaeological site which represents the magnificence of Indian-rock -cutting architecture. The site consists of 34 caves which belong to 5th to 10 centuries. The caves are in the form of Buddhist, Hindus and Jains rock-cut temples, viharas and mathas. This site is important from Historical, cultural and religious point of view and is protected by Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The caves have been carved under the reign of various dynasties in different timelines. There are 12 Buddhist caves (number 1–12), 17 Hindu caves (number 13–29) and 5 caves (number 30–34) caves. The proximity between this caves is evidence of religious harmony during that era.

Elephanta Caves, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Situated at a distance of 10 Km from Mumbai, Elephanta caves are brilliant piece of architecture carved on rocks. Elephanta caves are located on Elephanta Islands also known as Gharapuri in local language (literally means “the city of caves”) in Mumbai harbor featuring two hillocks separated by a narrow valley. Though the actual dates of the architecture is not known, it is estimated or assumed that that the rock-cut architecture of Elephanta Caves was constructed in the mid-5th to 7th centuries AD. The island, consists of two groups of caves, the first with a large group of five Hindu caves and the second one with a small group of two Buddhist caves. Hence there are seven cave excavations in the Elephanta group. The island was given the name Elephanta due to the huge structure of an Elephant on the entrance. Portuguese invasion brought huge destruction to the caves. After years of neglect the renovation of the caves started in 1970. It was designated UNESCO world Heritage Site in 1987.

BorraGuhalu (Caves) , Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Borra Caves are Located in the Ananthagiri hills of the Araku valley in Visakhapatnam , Andhra Pradesh In Telugu — ‘Borra’ means something that has bored into the ground and ‘guhalu’ means caves. The caves were discovered by William King George of the Geological Survey of India in 1807 . These caves are considered the deepest caves in India , the caves are basically Karstic limestone structures extending to a depth of 80 m. The caves exhibit impressive and irregularly shaped stalactites and stalagmites.

Bhimbetka Rock Shelters,Raisen, Madhya Pradesh
Bhimbetka Rock Shelters caves are located in the Raisen district in Madhya Pradesh, inside the Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary . The site belongs to Paleolithic Ageand exhibits the earliest traces of human life on the Indian subcontinent. The site was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003. The caves were discovered in 1958. Here we can see Stone Agepaintings depicting men and their lifestyles .Some paintings are approximately 30,000 years old. There are over 500 natural caves here

Amarnath Cave, Baltal, Jammu and Kashmir
This is one of the most revered Hindu shrines in the world which is visited by thousands of devotees every year. The caves is situated in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in rugged Himalayan Mountains which remains covered with snow most of the year. The cave forms an ice stalagmite, which is representative of a Shiva Lingam, or the god Shiva. People come here braving sub-zero temperatures, and rugged terrains. The Shiva Linga, is formed due to freezing of water drops that fall from the roof of the cave on to the floor and grows up vertically from the cave floor. The cave remains open for the pilgrims for a short duration in summers.

Vaishno Devi, Katra, Jammu and Kashmir
VaishnoDevi is another revered Hindu Shrine in the State of Jammu and Kashmir . It is one of India’s most popular cave temples, dedicated to Goddess Shakti. Pilgrims have to cover the distance from Katrato theTrikuta Mountains some times on foot to reach the cave temple. The shrine is visited by thousands of devotees every year. br>
Badami Caves, Badami, Karnataka
Badami is a town in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. Badami is famous for its four cave temples – all cut out of a monolithic (single) rock of sand stone on the precipice of a hill. The architecture of the caves are structures built in Nagara Style and Dravidian style. First three of these cave temples are dedicated to Hindu gods and goddesses and the last one is dedicated to Jain Tirthankars. Each cave has a sanctum sanctorum, a mandapa, a verandah and pillars. There are exquisite carvings, sculptures and beautiful murals. The four cave temples represent the secular nature of the then rulers. There is also a fifth natural cave temple in Badami – a Buddhist temple in natural cave which can be entered kneeling on all fours.

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, Orissa
Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves are caves of archaeological, historical and religious importance, they are located near Bhubaneswar. Udayagiri means ‘sunrise hill’ Khandagiri, means ‘broken hill’. Udayagiri has 18 caves while Khandagiri has 15 caves. The caves are partly natural and partly artificial caves. It is believed that most of these caves were carved out as residential blocks for Jain monks during the reign of King Kharavela.

Undavalli Caves, Andhra Pradesh
UndavalliCaves are located at a distance of 6km from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.These caves are one of the finest testimonials to ancient ‘vishwakarmasthapathis’, These caves were carved out of solid sandstone on a hillside in the 4th-5th centuries AD.Undavalli Caves are magnificent example of architecture and engineering. There is a four floors high rock-cut temple with numerous sculptures and murals. There are several smaller rock-cut chambers nearby but the most significant is the large four storied cave. – whole enormous structure is cut in monolithic sandstone cliff.

Kutumsar Caves and KailashGufa, Bastar, Chattisgarh
Kutumsar cave and KailashGufa are one of the most visited tourist destination in Chhattisgarh State. Kutumsar Caves which are 35 meters below the ground level are 1327 meters long display of magnificent formations of stalactites and stalagmites.These are possibly the world’s second largest caves formed naturally and house five natural chambers and quite a few blind wells. The KailashGufa is situated on a small hillock is a 100 meters long cave, it is also pitch dark and has a narrow entrance. There is a special stalagmite formation which can be seen at the end of the cave in the shape of a Shivlinga.

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