When you are done with visiting the many charms of Mumbai, the famous Marine Drive or Juhu or Bandra or the Museums or the world class malls and boutiques, you have already unwinded yourself, made friends with the city and its glittering nights; do take a day to plan a trip to Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Because this is where the astounding beauty lies. Amidst the lush greens; inhabitated in parts, in deep tranquil setting lays the breathtaking view of a sprawling group of 109 caves, the Kanheri Caves.
All cut in black basaltic rocks with steep stairs to reach (somewhat not so recommendable for aged people with knee issues), the blazing sun, the fearless monkeys lunging at your bags and belongings (or at you at times), it’s a sight to behold, a memoir to keep, a photographers’ delight, a nature lovers dream, a history buffs satisfaction and well a paradise to me. You talk about heaven, let me talk about the Kanheri caves.
Either you trek your way to the Kanheri caves or cycle along (cycles available at rent) or bring your own vehicles(allowed at a cost) or take the bus services or cab services available inside, the greenery will call you out to take a while from your smart phones and cameras and admire mother nature instead, the fresh air will add zeal to the soul and the dazing sun won’t burn but soothe you. Well, at least that’s what I felt.
A stunning heritage of architectural and engineering genius of our forefathers, the rock structure stands tall unaffected by time and external elements in its original glory.
A LIITLE HISTORY
The Kanheri Caves are based among the deep and tranquil surroundings of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali in Mumbai. There are more than 100 Buddhist caves.
The caves date back to 1st to 11th century BC and are believed to be one of the oldest cave formations of the country. The word Kanheri originates from the Sanskrit term ‘Krishnagiri’ literally meaning black mountain (Krishna means black and giri means mountain) and is named after its black basaltic stone. These caves present an insight into the evolution of Buddhism in the Western India in the ancient time. Apart from being a storehouse of history and culture, the Kanheri Caves also serves as a delightful experience to nature lovers and trekkers.
INSIDE THE KANHERI CAVES
Kanheri Caves is a fascinating collection of rock – cut caves. The caves houses about 51 legible inscriptions and 26 epigraphs including inscriptions in Brahmi, Devanagari and 3 Pahlavi (source Wikipedia).
The sculptures are mostly of Budhhas and Boddhisattas and beautiful stupas.
Most of the caves here were used as Buddhist Viharas, which are meant for studying, meditation and accommodation, and had stone platforms in place of beds. They provide an insight into the life and history of the Buddist monks of ancient India.
The larger caves among the Kanheri Caves called the Chaityagrahas were used as halls of worship and religious congregations during the olden times. These halls are rectangular in shape and are adorned with stone pillars, each of which has their own unique construction style and no similarity to another.
- HOW TO REACH
Catch a local train from Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus (cheaper) or book a cab (costlier).
7.30 am to 5.30 pm except Mondays
There are two entry fees, for Sanjay Gandhi National park (Rs. 48 per person of Indian nationality) and for The Kanheri caves(Rs.15per person) respectively, both of which are minimal.
If you have a DSLR and you want to click pictures inside the National Park it would cost you an additional 3000 Indian Rupee which is an exorbitant amount to pay.
What I would suggest is take your DSLR along but don’t buy the photography pass. Buy the Photography pass at the entrance to Kanheri caves instead which is just 25 Rupees.
- FOOD AND BEVERAGE
The facilities are still not good enough for the tourists inside. Take your own water bottle. However eatables are not allowed. You can buy fresh fruits being sold at the gate to the caves. The never ending lines of flies hovering over the fruits make it a serious issue of hygiene though! Personally, I didn’t.
- INSIDE STORY
Once inside the park, you have many options
- Walk through the nature up to the caves and soak yourself into the tranquility. It comes with the fact that the caves are a good 6/7 kms from the gate. Hmmm and the same distance back. Makes a curious case of breathlessness for me. But there are always people who are fitter and better than me.
- Rent a bicycle at about 200/300 bucks and paddle through the greenery which is the coolest option to do if you know how to ride and is enthu cutlet like me!
- Take a bus ride which plies on certain hours at a minimal fee. They will drop you at the cave entrance and you can one while returning too.
- Take a shared cab similar to the bus service, just that a cab is filled quicker than a bus.
- Rent a cab for 3/4 hours and take it along to the caves, the jungle safari and drop back at the gate or the boating centre near a manmade lake. It’s the costliest option and least recommended unless you have kids or elderly people with you.
A shared cab is definitely the best option to consider.
- TIME TO VISIT
Well, Kanheri caves are a place which is better when explored at length and breadth. I would personally suggest starting early morning from Mumbai to reach the National Park by 9 am which is when the ticket counter opens.
Wear sports shoes and sunglasses.
Plastics and wrappers are not allowed inside.
Beware of monkeys.
Take time to observe the stupas and the sculptures and read the inscriptions as it is once in a lifetime experience and you never know if you are going back.
If you have any queries realted to Kanheri caves then do write in the comment section.
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Read my last post on Shillong diary at https://kashyapeesays.com/2017/12/16/shilong-in-a-day/
You may also like my travelogue to Abode of Shaniniketan here
or to The Iconic Taj Mahal here
or if you wanna see the Blissful Kanyakumari here