Ancient Caves of India – Explained In Detail

What is the cave?

Ancient caves of India – A cave is a hollow place in the ground, specifically a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. Caves form naturally by the weathering of rock and often extend deep underground. Most of the Indian caves are now sheltered and maintained by the Archeological Society of India, and thus one needs permissions and registrations. We list here the top 10 places for caving in India. Explore away!

Caving in India

Caving in India is very popular considering the number of caves one can find here. Every state has a number of caves worth exploring. There is the right mix of history, spirituality, mystery, meditation, and adventure in cave explorations.

List of top 10 Ancient Caves of India

1. Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

The Ajanta and Ellora caves are the most famous caves of India. They are carved into the hillside rocks and are located in the north of Maharashtra. One needs to see these caves to truly understand the magnificence of their beauty and form. There are in all 34 caves at the Ellora. This date back to the 6th and 11th centuries AD. There are 29 caves at Ajanta. This date back to the 2nd century BC and 6th century AD. The caves at the Ajanta are all Buddhist caves. However, the caves at Ellora are a mix of Buddhism, Hinduism as well as Jainism

2.  Elephanta Island Caves, Maharashtra

The Elephanta caves are located on an Island just off the coast of Mumbai. There are in all seven ancient caves, which are hand carved out of a single rock. These caves date back to 450 and 750 AD and are very ancient. Out of all the caves, there is one main cave, which has many stunning large sculptured panels. These panels depict the Hindu god, Lord Shiva. One has to take a ferry from the Gateway of India to reach these island caves

3.  Badami, Karnataka

In this list of the top 10 caves of India, the caves of Badami couldn’t have been skipped. Badami is very attractive due to the presence of the many beautiful cave temples. The four temples are open daily for a specific time period. The four caves are dedicated to individual deities like Lord Shiva (one), Lord Vishnu (two), and the Jains (one). These caves overlook the 5th-century Agastyatirtha Tank and also the beautiful waterside Bhutanatha Temples. A perfect caving location, one might say!

4.Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, Orissa

The Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves are located on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, Orissa. The landscape is dotted with many ancient caves, but Udayagiri, also known as the Sunrise Hills, have the most interesting caves. There are many ornately carved caves, which are believed to be once occupied by Jain aesthetics. There is the mysterious Tiger Cave, which has an entrance shaped like a tiger’s mouth, and the Queen’s Palace Cave, which has the remains of the Jain symbols. Khandagiri is another cave collection, with many beautiful caves.

5.  Tabo, Himachal Pradesh

One can find spiritually vibrant caves in Tabo, which offers the visitors a chance to meditate and go into a trance. Situated in the Spiti Valley, the rugged and rocky ridge is located at a high altitude. The town is dotted with many caves that aid the local Buddhist lamas in meditating peacefully, by offering such calm serene place. One can explore a lot of small and big caves here as the mountains house many of them resulting in many visitors annually.

6.  The Many Caves of Meghalaya

Meghalaya is one state of India, where the caving exploration expeditions actually started! The place has many caves, in almost all the nooks and corners of its landscape. Scores of cavers visit Meghalaya annually to undertake caving expeditions. These caves are simply beautiful and awe-inspiring. Words fail to describe how magnificent these caves actually are during sunrise and sunsets. One should definitely visit Meghalaya, the land of beautiful caves!

7. The Caves of Jammu & Kashmir

There are many caves in Jammu and Kashmir, but two important caves include those dedicated to Lord Shiva. Thus, these are very popular with pilgrims from all over India. Shiv Khori is placed near Ransoo, deep in the Siwalik Hills. It is a kilometre long cave and has a natural Shiva lingam made out of a nice stalagmite. Then there are the famous Amaranth caves on Mount Amaranth. There is also a temple and a famous Hindu shrine in those caves, made of ice. The ideal time to visit these caves is in the months of July and August.

8.  Undavalli and Mogalarajapuram Caves, Andhra Pradesh

In the famous city of Vijayawada, one can find the well preserved 7th century dated Undavalli cave temples. There is a quiet tranquillity to the place that is really unmatched elsewhere. In the caves, one can find many shrines that are dedicated to the powerful Hindu deities like Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Brahma.  The Mogalarajapuram caves are an interesting find but they are in the ruins nowadays but still worth a visit. However, these caves are very famous for exploration and getting to know about their make and architecture is very interesting.

9.  Trichy Rock Fort Temple and Pallava Caves, Tamil Nadu

The Rock Fort Temple is the main point of Trichy, and one of the major attractions of south India. It was constructed by the Nayaks of Madurai, many ages ago. The temples are built on a rocky outcrop, almost 237 feet above the city. The view from the top is really very awesome and the sunsets are just very glorious.  There are many awesome caves that are cut into the rocks but navigation into those takes some time and energy. But make sure not to miss any of those. There are many captivatingly beautiful and ancient sculptures carved inside the caves.

10.  Dungeshwari Cave Temples, Bihar

The famous Dungeshwari caves house the Buddhist temples that are very artistically structured. The Dungeshwari cave temples are also popularly known as the Mahakala Caves. These are the caves where it is believed the Buddha spent a lot of years meditating, before going to Bodhgaya and attaining enlightenment. The place is a tourist hub, especially for those who follow Buddhism. Meditation and spiritual time can be spent in these caves, which offer optimum peace and serenity to the souls.

Facts about Ancient Caves in India

  1. Krem Liat Prah in Jaintia Hills is the longest cave in Meghalaya, as well as India, and is listed among the longest caves in the world. Krem Liat Prah contains a huge passage called the “Aircraft Hangar.”
  2. Ajanta Caves are one of the most impressive Buddhist monuments in India. Its famous for, this painting and structure. On 28 April 1819, a British officer named John K Smith, of the 28th Cavalry, while hunting tiger, “discovered” the entrance to Cave No. 10 when a local shepherd boy guided him to the location and the door.
  3. The Tiruchirapalli Fort has been deemed as one of the oldest architectures in the world. As history speaks, it took 300 men a course of eleven years to carve out the huge rock. The fort was also used in the Carnatic wars which led to the establishment of the British Empire in the Southern Part of India.
  4. The Amarnath Cave is a popular pilgrimage in Jammu and Kashmir Founded by Buta Malik, a Muslim shepherd, whose family is offered donations even today Amarnath as its name came later after the name Amareshwara was used for many years.
  5. Tabo monastery is in Tabo village about 48 km from Kaza, Spiti valley on the bank of river Spiti. The monastery was established in 996 AD, famous for Thangka Scroll Painting. Also known as ‘Ajanta Of Himalaya’, Monastery is protected by Archaeological Survey Of India.


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