India is surely a land of architectural and historical heritage. From the mountains to the gardens; each place has historical significance or contributes to the natural heritage of the region. Each of the geographic structures in any region also originates with the history of the civilization that started in the region.
But what fascinates most travelers in India is the history of the beautiful rock caves in India. Some of the rock caves originated from the pre-historic age. Each of the rock caves in India displays the impact of religious movements on the civilizations. There are many legends and mythological allusions attached to the caves, that even today it draws travelers from all over the world.
We made the list of famous and best caves in India to increase the awareness about this historic beauty of India. Here is a list of the most famous caves in India. All the caves in India have their own interesting facts and stories.
Most Popular Caves in India
Below is the list of most famous caves in India to visit if you are into history and love to explore the historic places of the world.
1. Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra
Also known by the name of Gharapuri caves, it has become one of the most visited tourist spots near the city of Mumbai. These ancient historical caves are divided into seven rock caves. Each of the caves is rock-cut and have beautiful carvings which originate back to 7th century AD. It depicts the idols of Shiva and his different manifestation.
The first cave is the most visited one by tourists. It has the sculpture of the Mahesh, which is Shiva in his 3 manifestations. It shows Shiva in turbulent, fearsome, meditative forms. The caves also have the sculptures of the Nataraja, the Gangadhara idol, etc which are exquisite pieces of heritage.
Situated 7 kms away from the main city of Mumbai, the caves are accessible only through a ferry ride.
2. Badami Caves, Karnataka
In the state of Karnataka, the Badami caves depict the architectural exquisiteness of the Chalukya dynasty. The Badami caves comprise of 4 beautiful rock cave temples dedicating to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and the Jain prophets. These caves originate back to the 7th century AD. The caves are adorned with the magnificent sculpture of Shiva, Vishnu, Mahavira, and the Jain Tirthankaras.
Cave 1 depicts the Shaiva idols of the 18 armed dancing Nataraja, the Ardha Nareshwara, the Mahishasur Mardini. The Cave 2 has a depiction of the Vaishnava sect, while cave 3 mixes the sculptures and motifs of both the themes. The last cave has images of Mahavira and the Tirthankaras. These beautiful rock caves overlook the Agasthyatirtha Tank and the beautiful Bhutanatha Temples near the waters.
3. Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, Bhubaneshwar
These exquisite rock caves are situated outside the city of Bhubaneshwar. The caves aesthetically depict Jain sculptures and themes. Both caves have become an important historical source in the study of the influence of Jainism in India. The Udaygiri caves also referred as the Sunrise Hills. The most magnificent ones are Tiger cave shaped as the tiger’s mouth and the Queen ‘s palace which is adorned with Jain sigils.
The Khandagiri Caves were built under the rule of King Kharavela and were a place of shelter for the traveling Jain hermits. There are 15 rock caves, out of which the most famous one is the Ananta cave which has sculptures of dancing women, aesthetic portrayals of domestic animals, etc. The caves overlook the entire city of Bhubaneshwar.
4. Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
Located in Aurangabad, the Ajanta and the Ellora caves are the most famous rock caves in India built in the hills of the Sahyadri mountain range. These caves show the influence of Buddhist and Jain architectural influence and its beauty draws several tourists from all over the world.
The Ellora caves date back to the 6th century AD and are the confluence of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism themes in the rock sculptures, while the Ajanta caves have a strong depiction of Buddhist themes through paintings and sculptures dating back to 2nd century BC and 6th century AD.
5. Bhimbetka Cave, Madhya Pradesh
These caves originate back to the early stage of human history when humans were hunter-gatherers. It is an enthralling destination for travelers who have a penchant for art history. Located in the Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary in Raisena district in the state of Madhya Pradesh, the caves have gained the status of UNESCO world heritage site. The cave paintings depict the instances of celebrations amidst the early humans.
The myths and the legends associate the caves to the period of the Mahabharata as it became a shelter for the Pandava during the period of exile. The name of the cave is derived from Bhim and called the sitting of Bhim or Bhimetka. The cave paintings are divided into five ages in history- Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Chalcolithic, Early history and Medieval History and showcases images of the bison, flying chariots, figurines of ethereal creatures or Yakshas.
6. Tabo, Himachal Pradesh
One of the caves in Himachal that breathes in the air of spirituality is exquisite caves of Tabo. Situated in the high altitude of the magnificent Spiti Valley, these group of caves were carved out from the hills and are a ground of meditation or assembly for the Buddhist pilgrims and monks and most are adorned with prayer flags to show that they are still used by the monks for meditation.
7. Undavalli and Mogalarajapuram Caves, Andhra Pradesh
Located in the city of Vijayawada, these caves date back to the 7th century. the caves have a vibe of explicit tranquility. The Undavalli caves have beautiful shrines depicting the sculptures of the Tridev- Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva. Though the Mogalarajpuram caves are now in ruins, the remains still hold a rustic beauty and charm which makes it worth a visit.
8. Karla Caves, Lonavala
Another popular ancient Buddhist rock-cut caves located in the touristy hill station of Lonavala. The caves are the earliest influence of Buddhist temple art and are dated back to 2nd century BC. The caves have a standing statue of Buddha surrounded by elephant head pillars. The interesting architectural features of these caves are the arched and vaulted interiors.
9. Bhaja Caves, Khandala
Located in the hill station of Khandala, the Bhaja caves are the most beautiful Buddhist rock caves. Comprising of 18 caves, the Buddhist architecture in the caves depict the Hinayana section of Buddhism. The 12th cave is known for its Chattriya Hall, or the umbrella hall, the other caves have viharas which are the unique features of the caves
10. Kanheri Caves, Mumbai
In the heart of Mumbai city in the Borivali suburbs are the Kanheri Caves. The Kanheri caves are lesser known caves that depict Buddhist cave art and sculptures. The cave is situated inside the Sanjay Gandhi National park. Inside the caves, you will see Tall statues of Buddha, and the walls adorned with idols of Buddhist manifestations. The cave is a popular trekking destination in the monsoons.
Read More, Majestic Palaces and Forts in India
These are the best ad popular caves to visit in India. Explore Indian History and get ancient information about India. Do share your views and experiences of these caves in India.