Indian ancient history holds the patronage of numerous mythological tales and facts. Cave rock-cut temples and structures bear testimony of the habitat and religious beliefs of our ancestors. This is fascinating and alluring especially for individuals like me who are passionate about history, myth and architecture. The caves in India educate us about the evolution of mankind, their survival techniques, their belief in eternity and their modes of worship.
The count of such magnificent and historical caves in India are uncountable. Some have been explored and studied by the historians and the archaeologists. Whereas some are still unexplored and concealed in remote locations within the country. The sculptures and images carved with intricate design prove the immense talent and craftsmanship of the ancient artisans. Well without further delay, let me introduce you to the most prominent and interesting caves in India.
Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
A massive amalgamation of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain caves with elaborate paintings and incredible sculptural designs and carvings. The moment you reach Ajanta and Ellora caves, you can relate your experience to my description. It is an astonishing display of architectural and eternal charm belonging to three different religious sects.
Ellora has a total of 34 caves and the caves in Ajanta count up to 29. They are the most popular caves in India, a must-visit if you are touring Maharashtra. The carvings are extraordinary and portray the artistic skills of the curators.
Bhimbetka Rock Shelters, Madhya Pradesh
In the midst of rocky Vindhya mountain terrains, stands the Bhimbetka rock shelters. The paintings and sculptures inside the caves bear resemblance to the life of humans belonging to the Middle Stone Age or the Mesolithic Period. You can notice several artworks and paintings on the cave walls.
The caves are huge and majestic and are concealed inside the dense forests of the mountain ranges. It is believed that the Pandavas of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, had taken shelter inside the caves during their exile period. It is a thrilling and adventurous walk amid the mountain and forest trails towards the cave shelters.
Elephanta Caves in Maharashtra
A scenic ferry ride over the mighty Arabian Sea from the Gateway of India in Mumbai will take you to one of the spectacular caves in India. I am referring to the Elephanta Caves, dedicated to the mighty Lord Shiva of the Hindu mythology. You can find the images of the Lord in his various forms sculptured neatly inside the cave walls.
The caves are total seven in number with each image being carved intricately out of the rock. The key attraction of the caves is the three-headed image of Lord Shiva representing the three deities – Vamadeva, Aghora, and Tatpurusha.
Amarnath Cave, Jammu and Kashmir
A splendid rendezvous of purity and peace, a feeling that is an unparalleled and memorable experience. I feel this is the ideal way to describe the visit to the holy Amarnath cave in Jammu and Kashmir. Dedicated to the protector of the world, Lord Shiva, you will be tranced to an eternal world at the cave premises.
The caves are visited by Hindu devotees and pilgrims to offer their prayers and seek blessings from the mighty Lord. The special attraction is the ice stalagmite resembling Shiva Linga. It is believed that the Linga changes its shape based on the orbital position of the moon.
Bagh Caves, Madhya Pradesh
For art lovers, Bagh caves in Madhya Pradesh are an ideal place to visit and appreciate the finest artworks of the ancient painters. There are about nine caves in total and are quite prominent caves in India. The location is superb, surrounded by the enchanting Vindhyachal mountain ranges. The river Baghani flows alongside the caves, presenting a soothing atmosphere around.
The pillars of the caves still stand strong and sturdy. Inside the caves, you can observe the mural carvings and paintings of the Buddhist religion.
Borra Caves, Andhra Pradesh
Remarkable formations of stalactites and stalagmites adorn the Borra caves in Andhra Pradesh. Climbing down the steps and venturing into the interior of the caves is an intriguing experience. Streams of water in patches inside enhances the beauty furthermore. They are the most visited caves in India.
The location of the caves is noteworthy; situated amid the Anatagiri Hills of the gorgeous Araku valley. The limestone structural formations depict Shiva Linga, and Goddess Parvati. The locals and tribes consider the caves a holy and pious destination. They visit the caves every often to seek the blessings of the Lord and protect them from all evils.
Badami Caves, Karnataka
Gigantic red sandstone structures dedicated to the Hindu Gods Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu and another belonging to the Jain religion constitute the Badami caves. The key attraction is the image of Nataraja, the divine form of Lord Shiva.
The caves belong to the Chalukya dynasty and are four in number. Ffew other interesting sculptures depict Goddess Durga as Mahisashur Mardini, and the various deities of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The Jain rock cut cave temple comprises of beautiful images of Jain Tirthankaras.
Belum Caves, Andhra Pradesh
Belum caves are largest among the caves in India. Their formation is specifically notable being created naturally out of limestone erosion. The erosion and the deposits are attributed to the river Chitravati. As you enter the caves, you will be awestruck to watch the huge spacious siphons and chambers.
Historians and archaeologists believe that the caves belong to the Buddhist religion based on the artefacts discovered here. You can emphasize the grandeur and the charm of the caves once you stand at the centre; the sunlight peeping and casting a golden aura.
While listing the prominent caves in India, it was somewhat tough for me to rank them. There are lots many to mention, maybe I can write a book out of them. The interesting part is each and every cave has a significance of their own. Some are religiously prominent while some are architecturally grand. Still, I had to sort them and present the best ones. Hope you enjoyed reading about them.
A travel enthusiast craving to explore the exotic destinations in the world, deciphering the mysteries and the thrill concealed in them.