7 Outstanding Caves in India


India is dotted with many splendid and striking cave sites. From the aesthetically pleasing cave sites in Ajanta to the spiritually soothing caves of Tabo to the historically invigorating caves of Bhimbetka or the natural splendor of the Borra caves, the vision they provide is enticing and beguiling. The many beautiful cave sites of India bear a witness to its diversity.

Ajanta and Ellora

Kailash Temple, Ellora, Photo by Kunal Mukherjee, CC BY-SA 2.0

Around 5th century BCE Buddhism was gaining importance as a faith in the Indian subcontinent. During that period of time, many wandering monks found residence in the caves of Ajanta and Ellora. These caves bear a testimony of their teachings through the many exalted and illustrious sculptures and paintings. These caves were used as assembly or prayer halls and called ‘chaitya-griha’. Despite being famous for the Buddhist caves, this site also has Jain caves and Hindu temples like the Kailasanatha temple. The Kailasanath temple is a monolithic rock-cut temple meant to house the great lord Shiva. This marker of religious and aesthetic beauty lies in the district of Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra. To know more about these caves and it’s nearby attraction read this article for tourist places to visit in Aurangabad.

Elephanta Caves

Photo by Ashwin Kumar, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Elephanta island is a short ferry ride away from the bustling city of Mumbai. In this serene and aloof setting, we find a network of caves dedicated to the Shiva cult. The cave showcases three aspects of Shiva that are the essence of the Hindu mythology: creator, destroyer and preserver. He is shown in his many avatars, like that of the nimble Nataraja or the ferocious Mahadeva. The island has a network of caves with the most important one being the grand cave 1. This is a site that can and should be frequented by the many residents of the city when in need of a break from the hectic city life. To know more tourist places in and around Mumbai, check this article.

Tabo Caves

Photo by Parth.rkt, CC BY-SA 3.0

The experience of caving would be amiss if there is no camping near the wilderness and treks on the mountain side. Tabo caves lie in the Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. The cave lies near the Tabo monastery and is still used by Buddhist monks to meditate. These well-built cave structures are said to be erected by a Tibetan king after renouncing the throne to attain enlightenment. The monastery provides residence to the many visitors to the area. Thus, one gets to understand the simplistic life in a Buddhist sangha, firsthand. The best time to visit the cave sites is during the festival of Gutor when the Tabo monastery organises dances and prayer meets.


Photo by Dinesh Valke, CC BY-SA 2.0

These rock shelters show the magnificence of the rich history of the subcontinent. This site has about 800 rock shelters many of which have lithic rock art. The paintings portray hunting scenes and animals. Mesolithic rock art provides us with an insight into the mind of the ancient man. The cave paintings apart from being important historical sources are also beautiful testaments of the change we have undergone from our ancient ancestors. This cave sites lie in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves

Photo by Steve Browne & John Verkleir, CC BY 2.0

Udaygiri and Khandagiri caves are the first rock-cut Jain shelters, 6 kilometers away from Bhubaneswar. These rock shelters have seen the austere meditation of many Jain monks and have many cells with minimal scope of facilities in the vicinity. Many caves have a symbolic representation of elephant and Bodhi tree. Atop the Khandagiri mountain stands the Jain temple in all its luster and brilliance. The mountain tops provide an awe-inspiring view of the city stretch below.

Borra Caves

Photo by Robbygrine, Public Domain

These are naturally forming limestone caves 90 kilometers from Visakhapatnam. The journey to the caves is a treat itself. It is a three-hour train journey, from the city, meandering through mountain passes, tunnels and bridges. The visit to the site is filled with the thrill and adventure of going through narrow lanes, seeing roofs filled with bats and spotting fictitious images in the natural rock shelters. Read this article to plan your trip to Vishakhapatnam.

Tiruchirapalli Rock Cut Cave Temples

The Pallavas and Pandyas promoted art and architecture in the region now known as Tamil Nadu. A reminder of this is seen in the caves temples in Tiruchirappalli. The area is divided into two complexes: upper and lower. The cave site has many sculptures devoted to lord Shiva. The south facing temple has a cubical inner shrine with a striking image of the lord. The complex has many mini shrines of equal magnificence. The temple is not only visited by the devotees of lord Shiva but also zealots of art and architecture.

The allure of these caves has only increased with time, entrapping all those who gaze upon its serenity and beauty. Among all the beautiful sites that the Indian landscape has to offer its caves are certainly among the most marvelous ones.

About the Author: They say that the beauty lies in the journey and not the destination. Rohit has been on the move for almost four years now. A travel blogger and photographer, he has seen almost all what ‘Incredible India’ has to offer. But as they say that, when wanderlust takes flights of fancy, it never ceases. He is a traveler with no fixed plan and no destination. He does not want to arrive at a harbor for it would forgo the beauty of the journey. He takes the road less travelled and arrives on all those uncharted and exiled places of wonder that one seldom goes to see. His travel has given him stories to tell that he now shares on http://www.transindiatravels.com/

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