Incredible Maharashtra

Karla Caves
Lonavala

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This complex of well-preserved Buddhist caves is built on the difficult terrain of a rocky hillside. The complex is one of the finest examples of the ancient rock-cut caves found in India. Great windows light the interiors. The main cave has a magnificent Chaitya with huge pillars and intricately carved reliefs dating back to the 1st century BC. There are sulptures of both males and females, as well as animals, including lions and elephants. Within the complex are a great many other magnificently carved prayer halls or chaityas as well as viharas or dwelling places for the caves' monks. A notable feature of these caves is their arched entrances and vaulted interiors. The outside facade has intricate details carved into it in an imitation of finished wood. The central motif is a large horseshoe arch. There is a lion column at the front, with a closed stone facade and torana in between. During this period it is likely that thousands of caves like Karla were excavated in the Sahyadri Hills.