Continued from Part 2
Bhaje Caves are a complex of 18 Buddhist rock cut caves clustered on a hill – 2 chaitya, 13 Viharas and some dining halls. These caves are even older than Karla. The oldest cave dates back to 2nd century BC.
From Karla we headed towards the Malavli crossing again and towards the Bhaje caves. During the journey we crossed the Malavli rail station.
After around half an hour, we reached a small village where a small diversion leads to the stairs of the Bhaje village, we were now quite accustomed to the stairs and were somewhat prepared for another daunting climb.
Further down the same diversion, one can go to the base of the famous Lohagad fort.
Again there were 350 stairs through which we started the climb. We were exhausted but full of expectations.
We took several breaks during the upward climb and were surrounded by enthralling beauty of the nature.
At the top, just before the main entrance, a small checkpost is present from where you have to buy a ticket of 5/-.
We entered through the gates and were completely speechless seeing the caves. This was the best of the three in our opinion.
The chaitya in cave number 12 is the biggest of all and undoubtedly the main attraction of the complex. The width of the hall is 8.17 meters while the length is 18 meters. 27 octagonal pillars in the chaitya are architecturally pretty simple though they are a work of sheer beauty. The height of the pillars is around 5.9 meters. There are Buddhist symbols carved beautifully on these pillars. Use of wood can be called one of the distinctive features of these caves. Some of the wooden parts, however, are now in ruins. Just like other other chaityas, there is big stupa inside the chiatya.
There are a cluster of 13-14 stupas carved in a single cave side by side. These stupas used to be constructed in the memory of the Buddhist Acharyas. You can see the names of these Acharyas carved out on these stupas.
There is a small waterfall besides the last cave, which gives the place an additional attraction. It is said that the monks used to take bath in this waterfall and also it was the source of their drinking water. To think of it, any one is bound to go back to the old days imagining how the ambience would have been at that time.
The surrounding does give you a peace of mind. One will just want to seat and relax here which we did.
Here are the snaps.
Coming down we could see another waterfall created by nature's wonder in rainy season, which have now become a place for the tourists to get wet.
In exquisiteness these Caves are no less than the more famous Ajanta and Ellora caves. We were really spellbound and we really thanked ourselves for selecting this place for a visit. But, sadly there are many questions which can be raised as to the quality of the maintenance. One can evidently see the lack of maintenance by the Archeological Survey of India. There is absolutely no preservation of these historical and cutural heritages.
We sat at the top for an hour or so and then climbed down and headed back to the Kamshet station.
And thus ended the trilogy of Karla, Bhaje and Bedse Caves.
Return to Pune
Fortunately, the track was repaired and the trains started running to and fro. We caught a local from Kamshet to Pune and were safely back :)
We had an awesome day of travelling and we were really glad that we managed to cover all three caves in a single day.
Our complete itinerary:
Start from Pune Station: 6.30 am
Reach Vadgaon: 7.15 am
Reach Kamshet: 8.00 am
Reach Bedse Caves base: 8.35 am
Reach Bedse Caves Top: 9.30 am
Leave Bedse Caves: 10.30 am
Reach Karla: 11 am
Reach Karla top: 11.45 am
Reach Karla Base: 1.15 pm
Lunch: 30 mins
Leave Karla: 1.45 pm
Reach Bhaje Base: 2.05 pm
Reach Bhaje Top: 3.00 pm
Leave Bhaje: 4 pm
Train at Kamshet: 4.45 pm
Reach Pune: 6 pm
Some Important Information
How to get there: If you are coming from Mumbai, cross Lonavala and come to Malavli crossing, you can visit Karla at the left and then Bhaje at you right. After that go to Kamshet and take a right turn towards Bedse Caves. If you do not have a vehicle, come to Lonavala by bus/train and take any train/shared auto/bus to Malavli. If you are coming from Pune, you can visit as we did. There are ample public transports (auto) available so absolutely no need to worry if you don't have a car/bike.
Where to Eat: There is no shops/eateries around Bedse, but there are many shops and stalls at the foothills and on the way to Karla. Around Bhaje, there are some small tupris. But do not expect a royal lunch whatsover.
Where to Stay: Accommodations are plenty at Lonavala and also MTDC runs a resort at Karla.