KANHERI CAVES – A TRANQUIL ZONE IN THE MIDST OF MUMBAI CITY

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KANHERI CAVES – A TRANQUIL ZONE IN THE MIDST OF MUMBAI CITY

KANHERI CAVES blogaberry travel

I’ve been to Bombay (Mumbai) several times but never did I ever think of visiting the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Due to the pandemic, when I hadn’t gone to Bombay for 3 years, I came across a few places (on Instagram) that could be visited with kids. One of them was the huge National Park, established in 1969, in the middle of the metropolis. I wasn’t sure then if it would be like the Bandipur Tiger Reserve or the Bannerghatta Biological Park.

Nevertheless, we decided to book the Lion & Tiger Safari and visit the Kanheri Caves. Nothing else seemed to interest us. It was quite a walk from the main entrance to the counter to book the safari tickets. We could’ve hired a bicycle if we didn’t have kids with us. We could’ve also booked a van but it would cost us Rs. 700/- per hour. We did not think it was worth it as the van couldn’t take us to the safari area. So, we decided to call him after the safari tour. We took his mobile number and walked for a few minutes until we found the safari counter.

SAD SGNP SAFARI

SGNP is spread over 87 sq kms; a great place for brisk walking. I believe that this place can attract a crowd like crazy only if it was well taken care of. Obtaining more and more land for this place without proper maintenance ideas is a pure waste of time and energy.

The safari counter was in the middle of a grassy area where no one, even in their dreams, would ever look for an office. They only accepted CASH. They did not have a jeep or a guide. They only had a bus and a driver who drearily announced when we spotted 1 sleeping lion and 2 tigers. He was perhaps hungry. FYI – 12.30pm to 2pm is their lunch time: not the animals’ but the caretakers’.

Perhaps next time I’ll check out the film city which is spread across 520 acres of land near SGNP.

THE WAY TO KANHERI CAVES ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE

KANHERI CAVES blogaberry travel
Map to Kanheri Caves

After the safari, when the van guy did not answer his phone and bicycles weren’t an option with kids, we waited for another bus to take us to the Kanheri Caves. We were ready to walk it, but then realized that the map was not accurately displayed. The caves were 6 kms away from the safari counter, ie. 7 kms from the main gate. They were at the Northern most point of the National Park.

You can wait anywhere along the route and the bus will pick you up. It moves every 15 minutes, and there is no way you can contact it, so, you have to wait until it arrives. We had the kids, so, we decided to save their energy for the caves instead of tiring them on the tedious journey to it. They sat on a short wall until the bus arrived to pick us up.

Timings for cave viewing: 9 am to 5pm

Private vehicles are prohibited to enter the National Park as they disturb wildlife and cause pollution. There is ample parking space at the entrance.

KANHERI CAVES blogaberry travel
Old map of Kanheri Caves

MAINTENANCE & TICKET PRICE

KANHERI CAVES blogaberry travel
Stupa

Trust me, in the end, the Kanheri Caves were totally worth the wait at the bus-stop and the bumpy bus ride. It was overwhelming to see such a serene place exist within the boundaries of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, which was in the midst of a bustling city. The caves were very well maintained. There were no cobwebs anywhere, even in the dark areas untouched by sunlight. In the spaces behind the stupas, it was clean. Not an insect in sight. For me, that was remarkable, especially when the price to enter was a mere Rs. 25/- for Indians and Rs. 300/- for foreigners.

THE CAVES COMPLEX

KANHERI CAVES blogaberry travel
A big hall with carvings on every wall

These caves were normally meant for studying, living and meditating. I loved the beautifully done sculptures and artwork that had such intricate detailing that I was in awe of the whole village. Yes, it was a village once upon a time when people lived in caves around 2000 years ago. Kanheri Caves are a group of around 109 caves and other monuments cut out of rock. They are mostly filled with Buddhist paintings, carvings and inscriptions. One of the big halls (Cave 90) was adorned with carvings on every wall. Some of the larger caves, also known as chaitya halls, were closed and inaccessible. The only one that was kept open, to the public, was Cave 3 – The Great Chaitya Cave. This prayer hall was magnificent with more than 30 huge stone pillars on the sides and a stupa at the far end of the hall. Read more here.

KANHERI CAVES blogaberry travel
The Great Chaitya Cave

The college students quietly sketching all of this was impressive. I only wanted to tick every cave number I saw there but with two kids, aged 9 and 5 years, even that seemed impossible.

BEST SEASON TO VISIT

KANHERI CAVES blogaberry travel
Small cistern

There were rock-cut waterways that led rainwater into the cisterns. So, the right time to visit this place would be towards the end of the monsoon season. You can enjoy how the water streams through the smartly built drains and fills up the cisterns. Also, during that time, the weather would be cooler. Not to mention, the National park itself may be a little greener and more inviting. In some of the drains, we found accumulated water that was surprisingly quite clear and clean.

THE WAY UPWARD

KANHERI CAVES blogaberry travel
Beginning to climb upwards
KANHERI CAVES blogaberry travel
In one of the verandas

Climbing up is quite easy. Some of the ancient pathways made of stone steps have withered but the new ones (made of bricks and cement) are quite visible and easy to climb. But, if you have unpredictable naughty kids, it is better to leave them at home/hotel and come here as there are some paths without handrails.

KANHERI CAVES blogaberry travel
One of the caves on our way out

There are multiple ways to exit if you are not up to viewing all the 109 caves present there. It was hot and we exhausted our water halfway, so, we managed to reach Cave 70 before we decided to descend.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND BEFORE VISITING THE KANHERI CAVES

You must be at least averagely fit to complete walking through the whole caves complex.

Avoid taking small kids.

It is advisable to wear good walking shoes or comfortable sneakers so that you are able to explore as much as possible. Wear light and comfortable clothing, too. A cap would keep your head less heated if you’re visiting during a hot day!

Carry a good amount of drinking water. You can also buy fruits available within the park, before climbing the bus, so that you are refreshed along the way.

Mondays, the whole park and the caves are closed for maintenance.

KANHERI CAVES blogaberry travel
Pin it for a tranquil time!

AFTERTHOUGHTS

The caves were quite marvellous. We were awed by them. Even my kids were quite excited to see what people built and how they lived 2000+ years ago. They had no soft beds, no security cameras, no IKEA sofas or air conditioners.

If people in Cave 1 wanted to speak to people in Cave 100, they had to walk. They couldn’t give any heads up by calling them to check their availability during that time. Life was hard.

We cannot even imagine sleeping on a stone plinth. But maybe, if all the materialistic things were taken away from us, we would learn to adjust eventually? Life is simple after all; it is we who complicate it.

A lot of thoughts cross my mind while I visit ancient relics and monuments. Is it the same with everyone?

I hope you enjoyed this piece by a first-time cave visitor as much as I had writing it! Let me know what you think of this informative article on Kanheri Caves and my afterthoughts!

KANHERI CAVES blogaberry travel
Buddha statue in one of the verandas

This blog post is part of the blog challenge
‘Blogaberry Dazzle’
hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla 
in collaboration with RRE Studios.

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Cindy D'Silva
Cindy D'Silva
Cindy D'Silva, besides being a mother of two angels, is a belly dancer, writer and photographer. She loves partying, bowling and eating sushi. There is a detailed biography about her on the ABOUT ME page in case you would like to know more. :) You can like and follow her Facebook page to get all updates on the latest blogs and more: https://www.facebook.com/blogaberry/

42 Comments

  1. Noor Anand Chawla says:

    Wow is this really in the middle of Mumbai?! I’ve never heard of it! Would love to visit!

  2. woow would love to visit here once. It’s been a while I went here

  3. Neelam says:

    They hold so much much memory for me. As a child I use to go with my parents. My father especially is as fond as me about such places

  4. Saisudha says:

    I had never heard of Kanheri Caves. This is definitely on my places to see list when I visit Mumbai next.

  5. Bhawna Shah says:

    Amazing description of your experience. I appreciate that you wrote about the essential things to be kept while visiting this place. If I get a chance to visit Mumbai then I will sure come here.

  6. I’ve never gone cave-exploring and considering I visit Mumbai often, I would love to take a trip to Kanheri Caves now!

  7. I went to Kanheri last in 2020 with my cousins. It is a good place. I enjoyed your pictures and detailed description which will help people.

  8. Wow in love with teh write up. I haven’t gone to this place but would love to visit after reading this

  9. Vasumathi says:

    The pics of the caves look amazing. I haven’t been to Bombay many times. Will keep this in mind during any future visits. The last time we took a ferry to Elephanta Caves. That was amazing too. Sadly many of the Government run locations are not maintained very well. Even we are to blame as so many of us litter and damage such places.

  10. Abha Singh says:

    Loved reading your experience of visiting this beautiful place. These caves looks amazing. Can’t imagine this kind of place in Mumbai. Would love to visit someday.

  11. Ritu Bindra says:

    That seems like a must-visit, Cindy. There are quite a few hidden gems we rarely know about. Thank you for sharing this. Will check it out next time I am in Mumbai.

  12. I love visiting kanheri caves. Living in Mumbai my husband and I often go there just for walks or for some time in nature. We walk from the entrance till the caves. I am a archeologist buff I did not become one but I love visiting such sites and kanheri being the closest I have been there so many times. It’s nice to read a post about it.

  13. Oh I had been to Sanjay Gandhi National park, but missed going to the Kanheri caves. I am planning to visit there with my daughter after reading this post.

  14. I love how detailed and honest this post is. Like you’ve covered it in so much minute detail. I’ve never been to the SGNP or the Kanheri caves, and I am definitely bookmarking your post for a guide. I love it!

  15. this is amazing. I loved the detailed description. pictures are amazing. I would love to visit them once.

  16. Flavia Cutinho says:

    I like the way you keep the readers glued with a small laughter added. Enjoy the place tru ur description. Realized one thing therez too much to walk 😂.

  17. Pooja Jha says:

    I loved your detailed review with all the things to keep in mind before visiting and even things which kids enjoyed, I usually look for the same so that We can make our travel a bit easier bbeing with kids. Shall surely Visit as soon we can

  18. Swati Mathur says:

    This post is a visual treat. Never been to this place but love to visit soon. loved your detailing with all the possible do’s and don’ts.

  19. Jasmine says:

    Added to the list Mumbai the city of fast life in which this place will be a good short break. Nice detailed post

  20. Varsh says:

    I’ve heard so much about Kanheri caves but sadly haven’t visited them yet. I’m sure you had an amazing time. Will plan a visit soon now!

  21. Had never heard of these caves until now but they look quite interesting! The climb also seems to be a fun one- def thinking of having a look on my next visit to Mumbai

  22. Madhu Bindra says:

    I haven’t heard of the Kanheri caves. It is sure a rarity to find such tranquil places within the city. I will check them out the next time I visit my sister in Mumbai. Thank you for sharing about them.

  23. I have been there a few times and it really is a treat. The walk up to the caves is also great amongst the trees and a nice workout also

  24. Sonia dogra says:

    You made the caves come alive. I enjoyed this tour with you.

  25. Harjeet Kaur says:

    Amazing write up, Cindy. Loved the way you made the caves feel exciting and vintage at the same time. I have never heard of these caves. Thanks for sharing.And your pictures are just awesome. Especially the one with your kids. God Bless!

  26. Loved the info about the caves and the garden. So in-depth and the pics added more credibility. Would definitely visit the caves on my next visit to Mumbai.

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