Around Lonavala there are so many fascinating spots to enjoy - and each one of them has something unique to offer. If you are a nature lover, you have fabulous hill points,waterfalls and numerous points to quench your thirst. If you are a history freak, there are severals forts and caves to appease you. If you love adventures, there are ample opportunities of trekking and camping, even paragliding.
But I love all of these - so the number of options are always open. Hence we planned to visit these ancient caves on a Saturday. I have read that these 3 places can not be covered in a single day, yet we decided to make the most of the day and try to cover all of these.
The initial plan was to catch an early local train from Pune and get down at Malavali station, then visit the Karla and Bhaje Caves after which we'd go to the Bedse Caves near Kamshet and catch a local from Kamshet to Pune in the evening.
I will write about each of the caves in a separate post.
Start of the Journey
We reached Pune station at 6.15 am in the morning and bought 2 tickets for a Lonavala bound local to Malavali - Lonavala is just the next station to Malavali towards Mumbai. These are the list of the stations in between (it takes about 1.5 hours to reach Lonavala from Pune by one of these locals) :
- Shivaji Nagar
- Dehu Road
We managed to catch the 6.30 am local train. It started right on time, after half an hour we came to know from some of daily passengers that the train was running ahead of the scheduled time!!. It reached Vadgaon around 7.15 am. The scenic beauties were absolutely fabulous. In the monsoon, the whole Maharashtra turns green and it really is a treat to watch.
Because of some unknown reason, the train did not move for 15 minutes and we saw people started leaving the train. We enquired and found out that there were some damages in the tracks which could not be repaired until 3 pm!!! We remembered our Matheran trip and thought 'oh no, not again'!!!
We came outside the station and after some 15 minutes of impatient waiting found a shared auto to Kamshet where we had a small breakfast and hired an auto for the whole day. And the real trip began.
Since our plan was altered due to the train event, our first destination was Bedse Caves. If you are going towards Mumbai, you have to take a right turn from the old Mumbai - Pune Highway (NH4) to Bedse Village. Alternatively you can ask for the 'Leni' (Leni means Caves in Marathi). The auto went through a beautiful ghat section. If you see a board pointing to the direction of 'Tikonagad' immediately after the right turn, you are on the right track.
The auto reached the Bedse village and took a right turn from there. The road was extremely narrow for a car. So if you are going by a car, you have to park before this right turn. After 2-3 kms (which you have to walk if you are going with your own vehicle), the road ended. From here we had to walk for 10 mins to reach the stairs.
The climb was not so easy as the stairs were steep and there are almost 450 of them (we counted). Soon we found ourselves gasping. We took many breaks in between and did not hurry at all. The view of the Bedse village from the midway and top are really nice.
In the above snap, the backdrop is the Tung - Tikona fort.
It took us almost an hour to reach the top from the base. We were about to enter but we came across a bizarre situation. One cow was blocking the entrance violently and it would not let us enter. We tried to move it away but with no effect. One more couple came and they were also in the same position as ours. Four of us tried hard to make it go away but it stood still. Finally that couple had some fruits with them and they threw the same to the animal to lure it away. It worked. The cow went aside and we entered.
Bedese Caves are rock cut caves by the Buddhist monks during 1st century BC.
There are two main caves. The big one at the centre is the chaitya (prayer hall) with a large stupa,
while the other cave is a monastery - vihara.
The carvings in the chaitya are worth seeing and they do make us remind of our ancient glory.
"Until around 1861 he caves were regularly maintained - even painted. These works were ordered by local authorities in order to please British officers who often visited these caves. This has caused loss of the remnants of plaster with murals on it" - from Wikipedia.
There is a small stupa outside the chaitya.
There was nothing more to see around the Bedse Caves, so we had a photosession of our own.
We bade adieu to Bedse Caves and started climbing down.
We came back to our auto and started towards the next destination Karla Caves. (to be continued in Part 2).