Asia: Rocky villages / Karla Caves

PHOTO: Abhay Gadkari 1847'1.86" 7328'10.98"

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Karla Caves are situated in the state of Maharashtra, near the Pune-Mumbai Road. They lie at a distance of approximately 20 km from Lonavla and 40 km from Pune. The caves of Karla date back to the 2nd century BC and are known for their Chaitya Hall, intricate sculptures and pillars with ingenious architecture. Chaitya hall boasts of its amazing structural design. The rooftop is built of teakwood and even the pillars have been beautifully carved. One of the pillars of Karla Caves, with four lions at the top, now forms the national emblem of India. A number of sculptures cut out of rock, based on numerous animals as well as different forms of human life, adorn the caves of Karla. The other attractions include a stone stupa and 37 pillars, chiseled with the figures of prosperous men and women on elephants, prostrating before Lord Buddha. The bouncing sunshine falling inside the shrine further lends it a mystic as well as a tranquil aura. The people have to climb 350 stairs in order to reach to the caves. At the entrance is located a temple which has been constructed very recently. The outer surface of the temple is full of sculptures of humans in various poses. There is a 45 meter Chaitya, which is known to be the most exquisite of all Chaityas in the country. The pillars of the beautiful caves have motifs of humans and animals such as elephants and lions. There are a wide variety of sculptures especially at the entrance door, which is located centrally within the caves. These are Buddhist sculptures in various poses. One of the most outstanding sculptures is that of the Buddha imparting knowledge to his followers while sitting on a throne backed by a lion. All the three Karla Caves houses superbly crafted Chaityas and Viharas.

- Karla Caves


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