Caves, being ages old, talks to us about the history related to the region. The deposits of minerals made over centuries are a sight to behold. Caves can be found anywhere, that brave through centuries of weather and environmental conditions, still standing tall and calling to be explored.
Caves are the natural beauty that lay veiled under darkness. Holding the pasts reserved confined under that darkness, many historians and explorers venture to a hold of answers that lay within. Here are a few of the caves in India that need to be ventured into atleast once in your lifetime.
One of the hidden treasures of India lay in the undiscovered region of the entire Northeast. The seven states in the northeastern region of India also referred to as Seven Sisters, are an abode to the elemental beauties that adorn them. Among which is Meghalaya which houses more than a few caves, some so remote that they’re yet to be on the tourist radar.
Over the years, due to the eyes on the Living Root Bridges in the Cherrapunji area, the Mawsmai Cave has become known to be a part of nearby attractions. Made out of limestone and at an altitude of 1,430 meters, it’s located in the Mawsmai village in the Cherrapunji town of the East Khasi Hills.
The cave is just 6 km away from Cherrapunji. Mawsmai Cave is well illuminated and is made easily accessible for tourists to visit as a part of the tourism efforts of Meghalaya. The cave is split up into various passages and has chambers. Surrounded by the forests of the hilly region, it’s as if you’re on your way to a discovery expedition.
The cave is divided into old and new parts. The newest part of the cave is yet to be completely unearthed and illuminated. Cherrapunji being a recipient of abundant rainfall, the caves fill with water in the monsoon. Although the areas are only restricted during the rainy season, it’s always best to take precautions.
Located near the city of Jagdalpur, Kotumsar Cave is about 200 meters long, consisting of straight and downward passageways. Previously the cave was referred to as Gopansar Cave, where the term gopan means ‘hidden’. Soon after it was changed to Kotumsar from the nearby village of the same name. Situated in the vicinity of the banks of the Kanger River, the cave is formed from limestone.
From June to mid-October, the monsoon season fills the cave with water, making it inaccessible. That’s why the Kotumsar Cave is closed during those few months. The various formations of minerals deposited inside the cave make it look breathtaking. In Hindu mythology, caves are pious spots for prayers. So every year, devotees come on a pilgrimage to offer prayers at one of the big stalagmites formed inside.
A newly-discovered chamber was found in 2011. Having difficult routes, it’s not accessible for tourists. The biodiversity of the cave is mystical. Kotumsar Cave is regarded as one of the most live caves present in the Kanger Valley National Park. Newly-found species of cricket and blind fish are also found inside the cave.
Located just off the coast of Gujarat, the island of Diu is known for its beaches along with historical forts and estates. Diu has a particularly magnificent fortress that was established by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Right on the outskirts of the Diu Fort, the Naida Caves are situated.
The caves are made out of huge tunnels and squarely chopped steps. The caves were likely used by the Portuguese in order to transport the necessary items for construction. Many claim the caves to be man-made, whereas others believe them to be natural. The elevation of the caves is at a spot that is a lot below ground level. The caves are not leveled on the inside and have numerous tunnels connected with one another.
They can be visited at any time of the year. But as the summers are quite humid and dry, we don’t recommend visiting then. The rocks of the caves at a few spots have eroded along the passages marking the age of the caves. The lights that enter the caves dance along with the shadows inside creating a panorama of rays of lights in a dark backdrop of the ancient caves.
The barren yet picturesque Ladakh is the abode of quite a few caves that are embellished with Buddhist culture. Situated behind the hills of the village of Saspol, the Saspol Caves are locally known as Gon-Nila-Phuk Cave Temples. It’s about 76 km from the capital town of Leh. The route to the caves is only an 800-meter trek on the road from there. But we must warn you that the road is windy and not properly paved.
It’s said that the chambers of these caves in the region were used as a meditation spot in the 4th century BCE. They were for a long time highly unprotected from the cliff slides prone in the region. The Saspol Caves consist of paintings that date back to the 15th Century CE and are maintained by the Lekir Monastery.
The paintings in the cave are Buddhist murals from the 10th to 11th centuries, holding cultural and historical significance. Cave temples that are painted are a rare sight in Ladakh. Out of the 5 existing painted caves, two are severely damaged and so the Saspol Caves are under the care of World Monuments Watch since the year 2016. The cave with a coat of limewash and red exterior is identified as the predominant cave among the Saspol Caves.
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One of the earliest and yet still intact rock-cut caves in India is the Barabar Hill caves in Bihar. The caves date back to the Maurya dynasty as evidence of Ashokan engravings is found here. In the Makhdumpur region, the caves are situated in the district of Jehanabad. It is only 24 km away from Gaya, Bihar’s second-largest city, and is renowned to be a tourist attraction itself.
The identical-looking hills of Barabar and Nagarjuni have in total of seven caves, out of which four are found in the Barabar Hills which are referred to as the Barabar Hill Caves. From the inscriptions on the caves, it’s believed that they were made during the period of 322 BCE to 185 BCE. The architectural motifs used in these rock-cut caves inspired other establishments for centuries.
It’s said that the caves were utilized by ascetics of the Ajivika sect. Since the Ajivika had many resemblances to Jainism and Buddhism, there are also numerous Hindu and Buddhist engravings that were derived later on.
A majority of the caves are carved out of granite on the Barabar Hills and they contain two chambers. Every surface in the cave including the sculptures is very carefully polished, which was later on recognized as the architectural signature of the Maurya Empire, known as the Mauryan polish.
Amidst the backdrop of the tropical paradise of an ecosystem with various flora and fauna, the Northeast is full of surprises. Spread across the Khasi, Jaintia, and Garo Hills of Meghalaya, as of the year 2015, over 1500 caves have been spotted, out of which only 980 caves have been either completely or to a certain extent examined.
Located in the village of Mawmluh, Krem Mawkhyrdop is also known by the name of the village as Krem Mawmluh. The term krem translates to ‘cave’. Around the 18th century, the cave was first reported by the locals of the region. The Mawmluh village is situated in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. It is only about 55 km away from Meghalaya’s capital city, Shillong.
Although it is made out of pure limestone called Cherra limestone, the inside of the natural cave is filled with various elements like rock fossils, stalagmites, and stalactites, because of which the rocks look scintillating. This natural cave is paved with surfaces that are slimy, piercing edges of rocks, narrow passageways, and puddles of water. All hidden deep inside and untarnished, waiting for someone valiant to discover it.
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On the serene banks of the river Spiti lies the town of Tabo at an altitude of 3,280 meters. The legend tied to the town claims that it’s more than a thousand years old. The Tabo Monastery is surrounded by the town of Tabo and is regarded as a national historic treasure of India. Above this archaic gem lay the Tabo Caves. It’s believed that these caves protected and sheltered monks during the grinding weather conditions in the Himalayas.
Few of the caves are properly carved and excavated, making the inside surfaces of the caves even. The narrow openings of the caves lead to further smaller chambers inside. You could see the sky from within the caves. These helped in ventilation when fire was built inside the caves to keep warm.
Having various rooms connected to one another, historians come to explore these caves in order to make sense of their history and utilization. These two-storeyed caves are visible from the outskirts of the village. The rocks surrounding the caves, which are amazingly preserved by the locals, are carved and inscribed.
How Many Caves Are There In India?
If you’re into spelunking or simply want to enjoy the beauty of caves, India is a great place as there are over 25 caves here!
Which Is The Largest Cave In India?
The Liat Prah Caves in Meghalaya are known to be the largest cave system in India.
Who Built Ajanta And Ellora Caves?
Easily one of the most popular caves in India, the Ajanta Caves are believed to have been built under the patronage of the Satavahana Dynasty. The Ellora Caves were built by the Rashtrakuta King Krishna I.
How Many Caves Are In Ellora Caves?
Ellora has 34 caves in its complex, depicting Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist philosophies.
Is The Longest Natural Cave In India?
The longest natural cave in India is Liat Prah. This limestone cave system in Meghalaya is about 31 km long.
Which Is The Second Largest Cave In India?
The Belum Caves in Andhra Pradesh are known to be the second-largest cave system in India.
Who Destroyed Ellora Caves?
The Ajanta and Ellora caves were destroyed by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s orders in 1682.
Which Day Ellora Caves Closed?
The Ellora Caves are closed on Tuesdays. On the other days, the complex is open from 9 am to 5:30 pm.
Who Made Elephanta Caves?
While there’s no conclusive answer on who built the Elephanta Caves, it’s believed that they were built around the 6th century CE under the patronage of King Krishnaraja of the Kalchuri Dynasty.
How Long Does It Take To See Ellora Caves?
You should keep aside at least 3-4 hours to properly explore the Ellora Caves.