When you drive through the old Mumbai – Pune Highway (NH4), you can see a group of stairs on your left (when driving towards Mumbai) near the Somatane village.
I really wondered what the stairs are for and where they lead to. I surfed over internet and found out that these steps lead to some ancient Buddhist caves on the top of the hillock. Being curious, I was wondering when to go there but it did not take me long to visit these caves.
One Saturday afternoon while returning from the Wadeshwar waterfalls, we immediately planned to have a small halt there. It was almost 5.30 pm when we reached there and it was drizzling. But we were enthusiastic enough to reach to the top so we started climbing then and there. There is a parking fee of 10/- for four wheelers.
How to go:
I have visited these caves on my way back from Wadeshwar waterfalls. From Pune, these caves are no more than 40 Kms. You have to take the NH4 towards Mumbai. Once you cross the Dehuroad Police station, you have to go straight for around 14 kms when you can easily see the stairs on your left. Take this left and park your car. Here is the map.
What should have been a small stop soon turned out to be an arduous trek. We soon found ourselves gasping for breadth, the stairs were really difficult to climb. We did not count the numbers but it seemed there were almost 250-300 stairs.
We took too many breaks in between and gave ourselves time to be amazed by the view from top. Everything looked tiny from the top giving a feeling that we are in the land of the dwarves.
After the stairs are ended we came across a small valley, but there was no sign of the caves. We were wondering where to go when we saw people coming towards us from the valley. We learnt that we needed to cross the valley and again there was a trek upwards with no stairs. Our morals became weakened but we managed to encourage ourselves and drew out new breath and started the climb again.
After around 20 mins or so we reached another valley from where we could see the rock cut caves.
There is a small fork – one road goes towards the right and another goes to the left. Through both these roads you can see some caves. We decided try out the right one first.
Across this road you can see 8-9 caves. The main one is now housing a shrine of ‘Lord Ghorwadeshwar’ and is converted to a temple. This used to be the ‘Chaitya’ (7.7 meters long, 6 meters wide and and 2.5 meters in height). All the other rooms are actually adjoining this Chaitya from both sides of it.
We came back to the fork and went towards the other lane. This lane only houses a single cave which is now inhabited by a person who seemed to be the priest of the temple.
In total there are around 10-11 caves which date back to the 3rd-4th Century AD, as per the Archeologists.
I also climbed through the rocks just to get an idea how it looks from the top. The place is very serene and magnificent from the top.
Coming down from the caves, we sat on a rock in the same valley (where the stairs ended while going up) to enjoy the cool breeze and view from the top.
One can see the Tung fort (this is what I guess) from here on. Also the gigantic Ganpati statue of Shirgaon is visible from here (see the picture above - left side)..
This is a bigger picture of the Ganpati statue taken from a closer distance (when we were returning from the Wadeshwar waterfalls) – this will give you an idea how big this actually is (54 feet in height). This is on my list as another destination to be covered for a break for couple of hours.
Overall a good experience.