Nov 9, 2007

Kanheri Caves

Situated in what is now known as the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the Kanheri caves were abode to the Buddhist monks in the 2nd century. The complex is divided into several caves that are dispersed over a hilly area— the temple and monasteries are situated here as well. These caves are unlike what one would find in the Elephanta caves nearby. Where they were ornamental, these are bare and minimalistic. But the still functional water harvesting systems with its old channels and cisterns carved out in stone are testimony to the intricate and the genius construction. The central area of these caves has the dagoba—a Buddhist shrine, surrounded by mammoth pillars in a huge hall.

The caves are known as "Buddhist." The highest cave is situated at a height of 1500 ft above sea level. The location of the caves is 45 km from main Mumbai city and 10 km from Borivali railway station. The way to the caves leads through the most beautiful and best natural surroundings of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The zigzag concrete road is fascinating and one enjoys walking the road with natural surroundings (7 km from the Park's entrance. The atmosphere and the scenic beauty is simply enchanting and one is tempted to be in a close vicinity of this place forgetting all the hubs of the Mumbai city.

The word Kanheri originates from the Sanskrit word Krishnagiri. Krishna generally stands for black color. The other name in vogue was "Khaneri" which means black mountain. The following three inscriptions in the caves mention "Krishna-saila", "Kanha Shele", & "Krishnagiri" in cave nos. - C. No. 21, 98, & 101 respectively.

These caves are dated from 1st Century B.C. to 9th Century A.D. Most of them are the Buddhist Viharas which was meant for their residence, study, and meditation. A few Chaityas are seen containing rock-cut stupas meant for congregational worship. The large number of Viharas obviously prove a well-organized existence of Buddhist monks' establishment, which was also connected with many trade centers such as the ports of Sopara, Kalyan, Nasik, Paithan and Ujjain. Kanheri was a well-flourished University center at that time.

Address: Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali (East), Mumbai, 400 092
Phone: +91 22 2202 4482
Fax: +91 22 2202 4521
Nearest station: Borivali
Neighbourhood: Western Suburbs