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CAVES IN GUJARAT
Caves-in-Gujarat

Khapra Kodia Caves

Situated in Junagadh, Gujarat, these caves are the oldest in the state as they are believed to belong to the period between 3rd and 4th century AD. The structure of these caves is quite plain when compared to other caves. The internal chambers of the wing contain divisions on the east and west which double up as perfect shelters for monks during rainy seasons. These were believed to have been constructed during Emperor Asoka’s rule. However, these caves are now practically unusable as cracks have started to develop on the walls of these caves as time progressed, thereby, causing perennial damage. It is believed that the monks who left from here to Maharashtra designed similar caves there.

 

Baba Pyara Caves

These caves are situated in close vicinity to Modhimath. There are four caves towards the northern group of these caves. Just to the south of this group, we can find one more group of caves. Here, there is a hall that is quite massive and a hall for chaitya. The shape of these caves is apsidal. The work on these caves, the structure of the pillars and jambs of the doors prove to be evidences of the fact that these caves could have beloved to the period of Satavahanas.

 

Pandava Gufa

These caves are found near Saputara Hill. Another name of these caves is Aravalem Caves. It came to be commonly known as Pandava Gufa as legend has it that the Pandava kings from the Mahabharata spent a considerable time in these caves during the period when they were in hiding and prayed with great devotion to Lord Shiva. It is not only the caves that make the tourists awe-struck, even the path leading to the cave is filled with rich tribal culture and forts of Gujarat.

 

Taranga Hills

This is a cave that is found in the Mehsana district of Gujarat. It is predominantly a Buddhist cave as it is believed to have been the abode of several Buddhist monks who lived about thousands of years ago. The sculptures, artwork and the designs on the caves too are strong evidences of the Buddhist nature of these caves. The Bodhi Vriskha, Kapavriksha and other Buddhist motifs are inscribed on these caves. These caves are also homes to some Buddhist temples like Taranmata and Dharanmata dedicated to the Goddess Tara. It was in these caves that an ancient Buddha images made from terracotta and four pictures of stone-plated Dhyani Buddha were excavated.

 

Siyot Caves

These caves found in the Kutch district are very old as they are believed to have been belonged to the first century AD. It is also one of the 80 monastic sites in the country. The sanctum sanctorum of these caves is east facing and there is also an ambulatory inside the cave.

 

Khambalida Caves

Situated in Rajkot, the Khambalida caves are a culmination of three caves. The cave in the middle is a chaitya and has a stupa that is not in use anymore. This chaitya has two majestic sculptures of Bodhisattvas – Padmapani and Vajrapani on the right and left respectively. Limestone rock is the basic ingredient with which these caves are made of. These caves belong to somewhere between the 4th and 5th century AD.

 

Buddhist Caves (Jogida ni Gufa) : North Gujarat

Northeast of the main gate of the fort is a cave where the air is extraordinarily cool. The cave, locally known as Jogida ni Gufa, was found and used by Buddhist monks thousands of years ago. It has Buddhist sculptures carved in stone that resemble the Bodhi Vriksha or Kalpavruksha and other Buddhist motifs. You also come across some beautiful Buddhist sculptures on the mountain on the way to the cave.

 

Buddhist Caves : Junagadh

The so-called “Buddhist Caves” around Uparkot are not actually caves, but three separate sites of rooms carved out of stone to be used as monks’ quarters, hence the name. They are all a little over 2000 years old, give or take a couple of centuries.

The oldest, the Khapara Kodia caves caves belong to 3rd-4th century AD and are plainest of all cave groups. These caves are along the edge of the ancient Sudarshan Lake (which no longer exists) and the northern side of Uparkot. The chambers are separated into an east-west longitudinal crest. The rectangle western wing and the ‘L’ shaped wing used by the Monks as a monsoon shelter, are the important parts of the caves. They were carved into living rock during the reign of Emperor Ashoka and are considered the earliest monastic settlement in the area. After many years of use, they were abandoned because cracks above them allowed water to seep into living quarters, rendering them unusable. Many accounts say that after this, the monks left for Maharashtra, where they went on to carve many similar and more elaborate structures. Khapara Kodia was damaged by later quarrying, and now only the highest story remains.

Across Uparkot from Khapara Kodia are the caves of Baba Pyara. Baba Pyara caves are lying close to the Modhimath, which has four caves in its northern group. The next set of south group caves has a unified plan with a spacious court and a chaitya hall. The art tradition of Satavahanas period has influence over these cave pillars and door jambs of the caves. It is believed that they belong to 1st – 2nd century AD. These have 13 rooms in three stories, cut into the rock 45 m. (150 ft.) high and adorned with carvings of Buddhist symbology. These are much more intact than the Khapara Kodia caves. The last (and most recent, being only 1900 years old) caves are next to the Adi-Kadi Vav.

 

Entry Rs.5/- for Indians & Rs.100/- for Foreigners.

 

Uperkot, cave : Junagadh

These caves are located at Uperkot, carved in 2nd–3rd century A.D. These caves have influence of Satvahana architecture with combination of Graeco- Scythian style. According to ASI “The cave group is in three tiers, with all members of each galleries shown in semi-relief, but only two storeys having regular floors. The upper floor has a deep tank, covered on three sides with verandahs and Kakshasana on west and north- west side. Lower floor has with corridor and pillars. The lower floor has exquisitely carved pillars whose base, shaft and capital carry unique decorative design.” These caves have alluring columns, entry gates, and water tanks. Moreover, the chatiya and its horseshoe shaped windows and meditation cell. It has 300 ft deep canal which has crocodiles.

 

Talaja Caves

Talaja Caves are located in Bhavnagar district of the Indian state of Gujarat at Talaja. The rock cuts are carved out into deserted conical rocks. The rock cut group include 30 caves among which about 15 are water tanks. The cave has unique architecture known as Ebhal Mandapa. The halls are plain. “On the facade there are chaitya windows with a broad bank of vedika below them.” Thechaitya and cells were carved during Buddhism influence in 2nd century BC. During the Kshatrapa’s regime in 2nd-3rd AD Jainism memblems were carved on the cells and the halls.

The cave contains figures of Bodhisattva. The caves were carved out before rock cut architecture begins in the Maharashtra. According to few Historians the date of caves cannot be traced out however some believe that carving started by the end of 1st century CE.

 

Tadhavaj Hill : Talaja

On the confluence of the rivers Shatrunai and Talaji on the hill top the town of Talaja is located. Carved out in the hills are Buddhist caves or monasteries which were built thousand of years ago. A pleasant climb up the hill brings one to magnificently built Jain temples.

 

Tadhavaj Hill of Bhavnagar, Gujarat are a home to caves that were carved into hillside. These caves house Buddhist monasteries and temples dedicated to Lord Buddha. These caves are a national treasure. Carved thousands of years ago, they are exquisite samples of the architecture of those times. The delicate carvings have withstood the onslaught of time admirably and present art form that is engaging and liberating as well. Obviously, the science and art were very highly developed in those times. This is brought out by the fact that such magnificence could be created by tools of those times.

 

The depictions in the caves are an inspiration to the devout and a delight to the art lovers. It would not be a lie to say these glorious carvings speak out to us the modern day skeptics. They tell us that the indomitable spirit of humans should be used to make the world a better place. The uplifting experience of the eternal teachings of Lord Buddha, the sheer spirituality of the cave temples and the monasteries are awe-inspiring. Even the most hardened cynic will wonder what went into the making of these. The saying “Nothing is impossible”, comes out very strongly here.

 

On the top of the hill lies the tranquil town of Talaja. Revered as a holy place by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists, it is an important place of pilgrimage of the pious. Of late, there has been a remarkable development as it takes on the mantel of a tourist destination. The atmosphere here is stimulating as it is relaxing.  The impressive Ebhala Mandapa is not to be missed as is the temple of Khodiad Mata. There is a multitude of Jain temples dedicated to Tirthankaras, each a poem in creation.

 

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