The Buddhist Karla Caves lie in the western ghats, about 114 kms. away from Mumbai. They are carved out almost 2,000 years ago - and have large collection of Chaityas (halls). Although as exquisite as the more famous Ajanta and Ellora caves, these caves are less crowded and make for an extremely pleasant outing. While at Karla, the Bhaja and Bedsa caves are worth a detour. The beautifully carved Chaityas and Viharas (monasteries) take you on a journey back in time, narrating stories of the past.
The Karla caves are centuries old and probably have the largest collection of Chaityas. The caves with Viharas were excavated for the Buddhist monks, who used to gather here during the monsoons. Built in the time of the Hinayana sect, during the Satavahanas rule, these caves do not actually show the Buddha. A steep 350-step climb leads to the caves. At the entrance is a recently built temple; accompanied by a pillar from the Buddhist period. The facade of the caves is formed by carved temple screens, sculpted with railing ornaments and human couples. Outer and inner screens form an antechamber to the main cave. The panels of the wooden doors and windows are finely decorated with intricate sculptures of couples embracing. You will also come across a 45-meter (148 foot) long Chaitya, possibly the finest of its kind in the country.
By the seventh century AD, the Mahayana sect took over and representations of Buddha became more common. By the central doorway, you'll find sculptures of the Buddha preaching while seated on a lion-supported throne, along with magnificent carvings of three elephants, On each side, fifteen pillars separate the narrow aisles from the central arch. The pillars are adorned with motfs of elephants, men and women riding, etc.
All three caves also abound with finely carved Viharas and Chaityas.
A few kilometers away are two ruined forts. Lohagad - the Iron Fort and Visapur. Both forts are 18th century structures with splendid views. Two popular hill -stations (Khandala & Lonavala) are also located close by.
The Lonavala Lake, Bushi Dam, Tiger's Leap, Barometer Hill are a must - see, if you do make it to Lonavala. The Valvan Dam is lovely for an evening stroll with its picturesque garden and wonderful view. Another beautiful spot is Tungarli Lake, 3 kms. away from the station. On the way out be sure to pick up some of Lonavala's trademark chikki ( a local sweet)
Famous points at Khandala are Rajmachi Point and Duke's Nose (named after the Duke of Willington, for its uncanny resemblance to his nose). Halfway between Khandala and Lonawala, on the highway, is Kune Point. Another breathtaking view on offer. Climate
Karla enjoys a pleasant climate all round the year.Languages Spoken
Marathi, Hindi and English. What to wear
Comfortable casual wear, like loose cottons. Although during winters, warm clothing is preferable. Swimming costumes are recommended for people indulging in water sports.Where to Stay
The MTDC Holiday Resort spreads over 30-35 acres of lush greenery. Besides charming rooms with views, it also houses a water park and a children's park. How to get there
Nearest airport is Pune, 56 Kms.
Nearest railhead is Malavi, 2 Kms. on Central Railway but the more convenient railhead is Lonavala, 10 Kms.
Karla is 114 kms. from Mumbai and 56 Kms from pune on Mumbai - Pune road.
State Transport buses ply from Mumbai, Pune to Lonavala and Lonavala to Karla.To Lonavala and Khandala
Nearest airport in pune, 66 Kms.
Lonavala is on the Mumbai-Pune line of Central Railway.
Mumbai - Lonavala, 118 kms, Pune-Lonavala 64 Kms.
Lonavala is on Mumbai-Pune road, 104 Kms. Pune - Lonavala, 66 Kms. For more information on Lonavala and Khandala please select the city from the List of Cities of Maharashtra.