Karla caves


Karla Caves is an complex of ancient Buddhist Indian rock-cut architecture cave shrines built over the period of 3rd to 2nd century B.C. Even though the caves were constructed over a period of time and the oldest one is believed to date back to 160 BC. Located in Karli near Lonavala, Maharashtra, the caves are on an major ancient trade route, running eastward from the Arabian Sea into the Deccan. Karli's location in Maharashtra places it in a region that is the division between North India and South India.Buddhism, having become identified with commerce and manufacturing through their early association with traders, tended to locate their monastic establishes in natural areas close to major trade routes so as to provide lodging houses for travelling traders.

The Caves are high on the surrounding hills. A narrow winding path leads up. Built centuries ago by Buddhist monks, the caves are in keeping with the Buddhist ideas of simplicity. One wonders why this isolated spot was chosen as the site for the caves. After all, a rock-cut structure high in the remote hills is not something immediately associated with a place of worship. Until the arrival of the Buddhists, there had been little building activity of any consequence in this difficult terrain. During their very first season in the hills in thatched huts, the monks must have had to face the fury of the rains. Rains, which lashed down the hillside non-stop for half the year. Rains that could wash away an entire village without leaving a sign and rains that could make worship around a stupa in the open an unpleasant task indeed. Under the circumstances, they could have built prayer halls of timber. Wood was at hand from the forest. Bricks baked in the plains could be hoisted up. However, even such a hall would have been difficult to maintain and preserve under the unrelenting fury of the monsoon. Only the hills seemed to withstand the ravages. With their great desire to make the Good Law of the Buddha outlast time itself, the Buddhist monks decided to carve their sanctuaries out of the living rock of the immovable mountains.

Location info:

District: Pune District
Nearest City: Lonavala
Best time to visit: Oct to May.


Pleasant climate all round the year.


The caves were carved somewhere around the 2nd century BC, the time when Buddhist was at its peak in India i.e. the Golden Age of Buddhism. One of the main structures situated inside Karla Caves is that of a Chaitya Hall (prayer hall of the Buddhists), which has been adorned with exquisitely carved sculptures.Karla Caves are the largest cave temple (chaitya) in India and is located in Lonavala. These rock cut caves are assumed to be built around 100 AD by Buddhist nuns. The marvelous ancient Karla Caves are presently a popular tourist destination to have a close look at the ancient Buddhist architecture and culture. These caves exhibit Buddhist ideologies through inscriptions and stupas.

The interiors of the caves have been ornamented with sculptures cut out of rocks, which have been carved to represent the shapes of animals and various other forms of human life. The stone stupa situated inside the Karla Caves is also counted amongst one of its major draws. Carved on the stupa are the figures of men, women and elephants. It has been placed under a stone umbrella. The caves have 37 pillars inside their complex that serve as the perfect decoration for the stone surroundings.

Chiseled on these pillars are figures of prosperous men and women, who are seated on elephants and are bowing before Lord Buddha. Since Karla Caves also used to serve as the residence of the monks, a number of viharas (dwelling places) with arched entrances and vaulted interiors can be seen inside them. Lord Buddha has been shown inside the caves only in symbolical forms and not in the form of images. The doorway of Karla Caves has been chiseled in such a way that it looks as if it has been made of wood. Whenever you visit Pune, make sure to see the Karla Caves and appreciate their magnificent architecture.

Interesting things to do:

Attractions in Lonavala:
Lonavala is well known for its ancient rock cut caves of Karla and Bhaja. The presense of these caves tell us about the prominence of Hinayana Buddhism in this region in the 2nd century B.C. Areas around the caves are dotted with several rocky hills that are best suited for Rock climbing. The Duke’s Nose peak located in the Karla hills near Lonavala is the moist famous among them.

Interesting things to Visit:

Rajmachi Point:
Rajmachi Point is situated approximately 6.5 km from Lonavala, on the way from Mumbai to the hill station. Lying just before the point from where the Ghat starts, this spot offers visitors amazing views of the Rajmachi Fort, situated in the valley below. The famous Vaghjai Dari is located here only.

Ryewood Park and Shivaji Udyan:
Ryewood Park and Shivaji Udyan are splendid gardens, which boast of lush greenery. The majestic tall trees and wide open spaces provided by this park make it the perfect picnic spot. Kids love to come here, to run around, enjoy swings and have fun. Situated inside the park is an ancient Shiva Temple, revered by the local people.

Tungarli Lake:
Tungarli Lake provides the combination of magnificent surroundings and peaceful ambience to its visitors. It serves as the main source of water to the Lonavala hill station and is also a very popular picnic spot.

Valvan Dam:
Valvan Dam is situated near Lonavala, at a distance of approximately 2 km from the town. One of the major attractions of the dam is a beautiful garden, located at its foot. It is the main source of water for the Khopoli power station.

Lonavla Lake:
Lonavla Lake lies on the outskirts of Lonavala, about 1.6 km from the town. The natural scenery and enchanting environment of the lake draw a large number of visitors here.

Mohatta's Zoo:
7 km from Lonavala,It has rare collection of birds and monkeys from Africa and South America.

Mobile range info:

How to reach?

Nearest Railway Station:Karla railway station,situated around 3 km from the caves.
Nearest Airport: Pune,56 kms.
Road Transport: Karla caves are located between the important cities of Mumbai and Pune, and can be easily accessed from Road.

Nearest Visiting places:

1.Karla caves.
2.Elephanta caves.
3.Ellora caves.
4.Ajanta caves.
5.Pithalkhora caves.
6.Kanheri caves.
7.Aurangabad Buddhist Caves .

Nearest Petrol Pump:

HPCL Petrol Bunk,Lonavala.


Accommodation is available in Lonavala Town.

Things to carry:

Tips & Suggestions:

Help Line/Phone Number:

Police Station:100
Nearest Hospital: Kaivalyadhama Yoga Hospital is 2 km from Lonavala on the road to Karla and Bhaja caves,
Society/Community Phone Number