Just imagine you are turning over the pages of an exotic novel that plunges you through some of the prehistoric treasure of your ancestors in some fur flung caves. Doesn’t it sound absolutely awe-inspiring? Well, caving is indubitably one of the major tourist pullers in India. When you talk about Indian caverns, the country has no dearth of caves, boasting oodles of small, medium and large caves that are sprawled across different states of the country. All these caves are worth exploring in terms of their eye-catching carvings and historical, cultural and spiritual significances. Hence, be it any avid traveller or a history buff, Indian caves have always amplified the delight of global visitors manifold.
Let’s take you for a ride to some of the popular caves in India that will leave you completely spellbound for sure:
#Ajanta and Ellora Caves
Venue: Aurangabad, Maharashtra
One cannot start reckoning the must visiting caves in India without the exquisite architecture of Ajanta and Ellora caves. Located in the midst of the Sahyadri mountain range in the north of Maharashtra, the rock-cut caves of Ajanta and Ellora carry their centuries old existence. Located in a close proximity to each other, both Ajanta and Ellora are eminent for boasting some breathtaking blocks and spectacular carvings in Aurangabad. Ajanta Caves are nestled nearly 54Kms from Jalgaon and around 104Kms away from Aurangabad. The tempting feature of Ajanta is its 29 caves and 30 blocks, which are expected to be shaped way back in the 2nd century BC and 6th century AD. Out of these 30 blocks at the chain of Ajanta caves, cave number 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29 are chaitya-grihas; while rest are monasteries.
Akin to Ajanta, the caves at Ellora are equally enticing. Here, you get to explore 34 caves that were structured date back to the 6th and 11th centuries AD. The key feature of these caves is that they are a blend of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. The paintings and mud-plaster grounds at Ellora caves are something that a visitor should explore when in Ellora.
During your excursion at Ajanta and Ellora caves, you will find some decent nearby accommodations out of which, Ajanta Travellers Lodge and Hotel Kailas are two commonly visited places that you may refer.
For air traveller, two nearby airports are Pune International Airport and Chhattrapati Shivaji International Airport. From these airports, one can hire a cab or reach Aurangabad by train and road. For railway commuter, the nearest railhead to Aurangabad is Jalgaon Station, which is well-connected to Pune and Mumbai. However, the most convenient way to reach Ajanta and Ellora caves is by road. There are various state transports, taxis and cabs that ply on regular basis from Mumbai to Aurangabad. Besides, the presence of excellent road network conveniently connects these caves with many other leading destinations like Pune, Ahmedabad, Shirdi, Nasik and Jalgaon.
Note: To check the route map between Ajanta and Ellora, please click here.
Located in the Indian state of Karnataka, the caves of Badami are few of those Indian caves that require no figurative introduction. So if you happen to be in Karnataka, make sure you don’t skip exploring this one of the top five and most popular caves in India. Structured in Chalukya architectural style, the caves here are more eminent for hosting four cave temples that are devoted to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and the Jains. Cave 1 is dedicated to Lord Shiva that portrays the carvings of 18-armed dancing Shiva and carved figures of two-handed Ganesha, Shankarnarayana and Mahishasura Mardini. Cave 2, on the other hand, is Vaishnavite, which houses some striking carvings of Trivikrama and Bhuvaraha. The theme of Cave 3 is Shaivite, which also boasts a glimpse of Vaishnavite. Cave 4 is a sheer reflection of Jains.
When in Badami, you may prefer staying in some of the comfy accommodations like Hotel Mayura Chalukya, The Heritage Resort and Rajsangam International Hotel.
Being one of the cave-centric tourist hubs in Karnataka, Badami is well-accessible by air, train and by road. For air travellers, the close by airport is Hubli, which is located nearly 160Kms from Badami. Another nearby airport that you may refer to reach Badami is Belgaum airport, which is situated around 150Kms from the destination. From both of these airports, you can reach Badami either by taxi or by bus. For railway commuters, Badami railway station is nearly 5Kms away from the city bus stand. This railhead is in good connectivity with its neighbouring cities like Bijapur, Bangalore, Hubli and Gadag. In addition, Hubli Junction is also well-accessible by train from various destinations across India. If you are travelling from Yashawantapura junction, a direct train is also there for Badami.
Just like its convenient air and railway connectivity, Badami can also be reached by Govt and Private Buses that run on regular basis from the places like Bijapur, Bangalore, Belgaum and Hubli. Once you reach Badami, you may hire Tonga’s- Horse-Cart to commute within the city.
Venue: Himachal Pradesh
Looking for a blend of spiritually vivacious caves that drives into a trance in the midst of elevated knolls? Look no further than the caves in Tabo, Himachal Pradesh. Despite being one of the most frequented hill stations in India, Himachal also inhabits a variety of caves wherein, the Buddhist lamas/ monks can be noticed meditating in peace. According to local inhabitants, these caves are also used for lodging and abode purposes during frosty winter. The structural presence of these Buddhist caves is quite evolved with a narrow entrance and the sealing inside the caves has a hole that gives you a glimpse of the azure sky. Besides, there are several rooms as well that can be observed inside the caves. If you are also in quest of any witnessing such tranquil ambience amidst the mountainous range, caves of Tabo is the place you should stopover.
After a blissful day out around the caves, there are several budget and deluxe hotels to stay around Tabo caves. Some of these comfy accommodations include Dewachen Retreat, Hotel Tow Dhey, Tabo Millennium Guest House and Hotel Mangtok.
Being nestled in the mountainous ranges of Spiti valley (54Kms away), Tabo doesn’t have any individual airport and railhead. Hence, the most convenient way to reach out there is via Manali or Shimla. For air travellers, the nearby airport is Kullu. From here, one can hire any private vehicle to reach Tabo caves. If you are planning to travel here by train, the approachable one is at Kalka, which is located nearly 450Kms away from Tabo. You may board into any Kullu bound trains from the places like Amritsar, Delhi and Bandra. Travellers who plan to visit Tabo from Delhi, the most convinient way is to travel by road. There are various HRTC buses and Jeeps that can be availed from Delhi to reach till Kaza and Spiti. From these locations, Tabo is not that far, and can be travelled by any private vehicles as well.
#Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves
Venue: Odisha/ Orissa
Situated nearly 10Kms aloof from the capital city Bhubaneswar, Orissa, Udayagiri and Khandagiri are two popular and adjacent cave destinations in India. Plenty of footfall is witnessed here from various parts of the country. Udayagiri is best known for hosting various ancient caves, which are also popular as the Sunrise Hills. According to historic tales, these caves were occupied once by Jain aesthetics. Moving ahead, many Jain monks started using these caves as their dwelling source. Therefore, you can observe various carvings inside these caves depicting the Jain symbols. Besides, there are many other alluring figures as well including flowers, women, athletes, elephants and popular blocks of Ganesh Gumpha and Hathigumpha.
There are total 33 caves in Udayagiri and Khandagiri out of which, the eminent ones are Queen’s Palace Cave, Snake Cave and Ananta cave. One more quill to the list of leading caves in Orissa is the mysterious Tiger Cave, which is popular for its vigorous entrance shaped as tiger’s mouth. Today, plenty of visitors flock here to explore its historical as well as mythological significance.
When in Udayagiri and Khandagiri, plenty of decent and budget accommodations can be availed for a pleasant stay. Few of these are Hotel Airport Inn, Hotel Kharavela and The Idol Paradise located in a close proximity.
The feasible way to reach Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves is via Bhubaneswar. The nearest airport is Biju Patnaik International Airport, which is located around 6Kms away from the destination. For railway commuters, the nearest railhead is Bhubaneswar Railway Station (10Kms from the destination). From airport and railway station, one can easily hire cab or auto to commute further. In addition, Bhubaneswar is also well-connected with many major Indian cities by road. One can easily avail a bus from the places like Konark, Puri, Kolkata and Raipur to reach Bhubaneswar. From Bhubaneswar, Udayagiri and Khandagiri can be reached without a fuss.
#Caves in Meghalaya
Meghalaya literally signifies an abode of clouds, which is located in the north-east states of India. The state is popular for its natural affluence and spectacular landscape. If you want to have awe inspiring caving exploration in India, Meghalaya may be the place for you. The best time when these caves turn more alluring is during sunrise and sunset. Galore of natural caverns title this picturesque state of the north-east India as the land of beautiful caves. Some of the popular caves that one can’t afford to skip in Meghalaya are Mawsmai caves, Mawjymbuin caves, Siju caves, Krem Tyngheng, Krem Kotsati and Krem Liat Prah. All these caves are not that distantly located from each other. One can easily commute there by taxi from nearby places like Shillong, Tura and Cherrapunji. Some of these caves are quite spacious with mammoth entrance, while some are enticing for hosting a blend of fascinating carvings. Besides, few caves are there where one has to kneel down for an entry and exit. During monsoon these caves become more rousing to travel by.
If you want to stay in Meghalaya, the best accommodations can be availed in Shillong. However, few budget hotels can also be availed in the places like Tura and Cherrapunji. Few names in the list of decent accommodations in Meghalaya include Hotel Polo Towers (Shillong), Meghalaya Kongthong Bamboo Hut Accommodation (East Khasi Hills), Polo Orchid Resort (Cherrapunji), R.B. Eden (Tura) etc.
Meghalaya is frequented by plenty of tourists all round the calendar. Hence, getting there is not a matter of concern for visitors. The nearest airport is Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati, which is located around 112Kms away from Shillong. From Guwahati, several state transport and private vehicles can be hired to reach Shillong and commute further to different destinations in Meghalaya. By road Guwahati-Shillong travel time is nearly 3 hours. For railway commuters, the nearest railhead is in Guwahati from where you may hire a taxi or get on bus to enter Meghalaya. Road connectivity from Shillong is quite convenient to its adjoining cities like Guwahati, Silchar, Agartala, Tezpur and Jorhat.
So these are some of the popular cave destinations that one should visit in India. Though, there are many other captivating caves in the country as well, which will be explored in our upcoming posts. Till then keep revealing our incredible nation through Exciting India!
Have a blissful voyage!