Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kanheri caves - Buddhist Viharas and Architectural Marvel

Kanheri caves - Buddhist Viharas and Architectural Marvel

In Mumbai suburb called Borivali lies the magnificent and lush green Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Its a breathing space for all Mumbaikars away from concrete jungle and pollution in the air. Its a ideal place for anyone who would like to go for birding between August to March or for those who just wants to go for a walk or a small picnic in the middle of forest. Its in full glory during monsoon season when the forest turns lush green. The National park is the single largest concentration of flora and fauna in metropolitan city of Mumbai.Amidst this magnificent patch of forest land in the heart of Mumbai lies the heritage site of Kanheri caves also called Krishnagiri caves.

National park becomes home to migratory birds from August to March.

My best shot

My best shot

Wintery mist in the air

Road towards Kanheri caves

The caves of Kanheri dates back to 11 century AD and beyond. The construction of the caves started in 1st century BC and went right upto 11century AD. Most of the caves are Buddhist Viharas meant for living, study and meditation of Buddhist monks.The history also proves that Kanheri was a University center for Buddhist during the rule of Mauryan and Kushan empires. The caves are so articulately carved with idols of Lord Buddha, stupas, place of worship and meditation, caves carved with stone bed and rain water storing facility outside each cave. The complex has total of 105 caves with meticulously carved steps on the basalt rock mountain to reach at the top.

History of the caves

The entrance to the caves complex has the above stone sculpture giving the insight about the history of the caves.

Above cave dates back to 5th and 6th century AD. The double storied carved from the rocks clearly makes us wonder how the artisans of that era would have planned and executed the work.
The above cave also reminds us of world famous heritage site of "Petra in Jordan". Could this be the smaller version of India's answer to Petra ??????

During my trip as we climbed to the top of the mountain, I was able to capture some of the caves on the way in my lens. Noticeable thing about these caves was the caves at the top were smaller ones with door, air circulating vent, and rock cut bed which typically meant it was for staying purpose but the caves which were at the entrance of the caves complex were bigger and more prominent were chaityagrhas meant for meditation and teaching as they had huge pillars and stupas, congressional halls.

The highest cave in the complex is situated at the height of 1500 ft from sea level.

Some the caves had carvings of Lord buddha in different mudra and also the caves which were used for meditation, teachings had pillars and stupas as can be seen in the pics. Some the carvings on the walls of the caves captured in the lens below.

The road leading to the caves complex passes through the National park and gives Mumbaikars a quick gateway away from hustle and bustle of daily life amidst amazing natural surroundings.

The best time to visit is during winter months from October to March or during monsoon season from June to August when the hilly terrain of the caves creates small and large waterfalls. The caves are located at approx 6kms from the National park gates and buses are available every one hour. Tourist are allowed in the National park from 07.30 am to 05.00pm

Tribal ladies selling star fruit, cucumber and guava

Tribal huts inside national park

Some Monkey stunts at National park. Njoy

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kelwe beach - Palghar


Kelve beach also called Kelwa beach is one of the most beautiful vacation spots near Palghar in Thane district. Its located at a distance of approx 140kms North of Mumbai, 5kms from kelwa station on western line or 25minutes auto ride from Palghar station. The beach is a pristine stretch of seashore along Arabian sea, 8kms long but not very popular as its only crowded during weekends or during school vacations.

Kelwe beach 

Kelwe beach

The best part about of this beach is its lined with Suru trees near the shore, These trees found in abundance could grow as high as 50feet. There are two forts, one which is located on the northern tip is hidden among the trees and smaller one on the south which is also sometimes referred as Kelwe janjira fort is only accessible during low tide as it gets submerged in sea water during high tide.

The fun activities on this beach includes horse cart ride which would take you for a ride on seashore and cost Rs 10/- per person, best time to take this ride would be in the evening during sunset. One can also take a camel ride and do parasailing on the beach. The beach is lined with locals selling fresh coconuts, tad golas (palm tree fruit) and dried fish.
Horse cart ride on the beach
There is huge Shitladevi temple near the beach, Legend says that Sons of Lord Rama, luv and Kush grew here when Sita was in exile second time. A small lake opposite the temple is called Ramkund.

How to go: Kelwe beach can be reached from Mumbai - Ahmedabad highway, take a left from Manor - Mastan naka which will pass through Palghar. approx 35kms from highway. Its also close to Kelwe station at 5kms or one can reach from Palghar Station by taking a 8 seater rickshaw which takes approx 25minutes. Beach is also connected with ST buses plying frequently to nearby stations like Palghar, Safhale, or Vasai, Virar and also Borivali.
Manor road

Staying facility: There are quite a few resorts like kelwe beach resort, MTDC, Shantashil etc which offers good overnight staying facility. There are quite a few restaurants which serves good variety of Veg and non veg food close to the beach.

Resort close to the beach

Here are some the pics from my clicks.

Winter sunset on the beach