Located within the Sanjay Gandhi National park, Kanheri Caves are a group of caves made out of a huge basalt rock formation and date back to the first century BCE. The caves are 6 km within the park and approximately 7 km from Borivali station. They are also known as “lungs of the city” since the caves are located away from the hustle and bustle of the city of Mumbai (one of the metropolitan cities of India and is overly crowded) and offers a pleasant and quite time, perfect for breathing in some fresh air and relaxing your senses.
The caves are famous for their unique basalt formations and 109 intriguing entrances. The term ‘Kanheri”‘is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Krishnagiri’ meaning ‘Black Mountain’. Unlike any other cave formations in the country, each cave here has a ‘splinth’ or rock bed. The caves were of high importance to the Buddhist settlements during the third century CE. One of the congregation hall adorned with high rise stone pillar holds the stupa – the Buddhist shrine. Other caves were mostly used as Buddhist shelters (viharas) meant for living, sleeping, meditation, and studying. The caves have approximately 34 unfinished Buddha paintings.
Apart from the paintings and the unique basalt formations, the caves have a lot of attractions to offer to the visitors. There are approximately 51 legible inscriptions and 26 epigraphs to be found in the caves. The caves which are now a popular tourist spot was once a very important center and also a well known Buddhist university. Now, majority of the caves are monasteries for practitioners of Buddhism. Among the many other significant points of interest within the caves lies the most magnificent piece of artistic brilliance – sculptures of Goddess Tara and Goddess Bhrukti along with the distinctive structure of Avalokiteswara in the center.
Another attractive point of interest in the caves is the Chaitya Cave made during the 4th and 5th century which still displays hints of wood work on the roof from the era.
Being strategically located inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a visit to the caves gives tourists a definite excuse to explore the flora and fauna of the national park. If you want to take a break from the cave explorations, you can head over to the National Park and spend the rest of your day exploring the diversities at the park. Travel and tour agencies can also help in arranging trekking and rappelling activities around the park. The park also has a handful of natural river streams which are particularly a hit amongst families who wish to spend a day together enjoying a relaxed picnic time.
Kanheri Caves is located within the main city of Mumbai, at its core. You can hire a taxi, auto rickshaw, or hop on a local bus to get to the Sanjay Gandhi National and then choose to take the paid shuttle transport to the caves. Alternatively, you can trek to the caves.
If you wish to take the train, Borivali and Malad are the nearest stations. Once you disembark at the station, take any of the local transports mentioned above (bus or auto rickshaw)