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in Maharashtra

* 24 Oct 2022
Kondana Caves, Maharashtra - india-info Pinterest collection
Kondana Caves
Kondana Caves are located in the midst of a dense forest near Kondana Village, 33 kilometres north of Lonavala and about 15 kilometres from Karjat, Maharashtra. These caves consist of intricate and delicate carvings of Buddhist architecture. Although an earthquake in 1900 damaged some parts of the caves, the existing structures are worth seeing. A waterfall flows from above the caves.

The Kondana Caves were discovered during an excavation in the 1st century BC. The cave group is one of the three sister caves along with Bhaje Caves and Karla Caves. They were majorly used by the Buddhist monks for meditation purposes, especially during the monsoons. It's a set of 16 caves that house the Chaitya, some intricately designed ancient sculptures, serene Viharas with meditation pods and Stupas that depict Buddhist history and are a perfect illustration of the old methods of Buddhist architecture. The rock-cut structures carved with immense finesse and symmetry are of religious significance to the Buddhist community and also one of the few still existing in Maharashtra.
The ancient carvings and sculptures feature men and women in elegant dance postures. The embellishments are held together by massive octagonal pillars. Each and every corner of these caves is graced with amazingly detailed craftsmanship. The meditation pods are a unique feature of these caves and provide the perfect place to meditate and introspect.

The Kondana Caves face north-west and are hidden behind the dense forest. The entire complex is divided into four caves. The first cave is the arch-shaped Chaitya cave which extends over 65 feet and stands 28 feet tall & 25 feet wide. The Chaitya cave lies to the south-west of the cave group. The cave houses a Dagoba, which is a dome-shaped shrine with a diameter of over 9 feet and is believed to contain relics of Buddhist Saints. The nave in front of the Dagoba is about 14 feet wide and 49 feet long. The nave was surrounded by thirty columns which are now in ruins, but their positions can be determined if seen carefully.

To the north-east of the cave group is the Vihara. Although the front portion of the porch is completely ruined, the portion at the left end is quite intact. About 29 feet long and over 23 feet wide, the cave houses fifteen pillars, a raised alcove and a small Dagoba under a Chaitya arch. Each side of the Vihara hall has six cells with beds for the monks.
The third cave is also a Vihara with nine cells which are completely in ruins today.

The fourth cave is a set of another 9 cells, which now look like a hollow under the cliff. Beyond this cave lies a reservoir which is now filled with mud. The rest of the ruins consist of two more cells under an over-hanging rock and another small reservoir.