India is the most ancient civilization in the world. Being the oldest civilization, it nurtures many old-age wonders than most other countries. There are many traveller places in India which signify about the ancient culture. So some essential caves destination, that tourists can explore while visiting the country.
Most of the natural caverns in India are Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist cavern sanctuaries. Aside from strict significance, these caverns are known for their exceptional models and carvings going back to pre-notable occasions.
List of the Important caves in India
Ajanta Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
- Ajanta Caves are one of the most profound Buddhist monuments in India.
- They are stationed just outside the village of Ajantha in Aurangabad district of the state of Maharashtra.
- These caves are rock-cut and date back to 2nd century B.C.
- UNESCO listed Ajanta caves amongst the World Heritage Sites in 1983.
- An Army Officer discovered Ajanta caves in the Madras Regiment of the British Army in 1819.
- Ajanta caves are excavated in a horseshoe-shaped rock surface.
- Ajanta caves date back to the pre-Christian era, with Cave 10 being the earliest, dating from the second century B.C.
- The colours and shades used were red and yellow ochre, terra vertex, lime, kaolin, gypsum, lamp black, and lapis lazuli.
- The primary binding material used in the paintings was glue. Thus, the paintings at Ajanta are not frescoes because of the binding agent used in painting.
- The central theme of paintings in the caves is the illustration of various Jataka stories and events from the life of Buddha.
Borra Caves, Ananthagiri Hills, Andhra Pradesh
- The cave is named after Borra Guhalu in the Telugu language.
- ‘Borra‘ indicates something which had been bored within the ground while ‘guhalu‘ signify caves.
- William King George discovered in the Ananthagiri hills of Araku valley in Visakhapatnam district in the state Andhra Pradesh.
- In the year 1807, William King George from the Geological Survey of India has found the cave.
- The average temperature of the Araku hills covering up is about 25°C (77°F) annually.
- The fauna found in these caves are predominantly bats and the golden gecko.
Bhimbetka Caves, Madhya Pradesh
- Bhimbetka caves are in the Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh.
- These Rock Shelters are in the foothills of the Vindhyan Mountains on the southern edge of the central Indian plateau. Dr V. S. Wakankar (one of the most renowned archaeologists), discovered these caves in 1958.
- The word ‘Bhimbetka‘ derives its name from ‘BhimBaitka’. These caves derive their name after ‘Bhima’, one of the five Pandavas of Mahabharata. Bhimbetika means “sitting place of Bhima”.
- These rock shelters are located in the Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh, near Abdullaganj town and inside the Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary.
- The Bhimbetka rock shelters are an archaeological site of the Paleolithic age.
- The name Bhimbetka is associated with Bhima, a hero-deity of the epic Mahabharata. The word Bhimbetka is said to derive from Bhimbaithka meaning “sitting place of Bhima”.
- Dr V. S. Wakankar, a most renowned archaeologist, discovered these caves in 1958.
- These rock shelters are declared a World Heritage Site in 2003.
- The entire region comprises more than 600 caves.
- These cave paintings show tremendous similarity to the aboriginal rock paintings of the Savannah regions of Australia, the paintings done by pygmies of the Kalahari Desert and the Palaeolithic Lascaux cave paintings of France.
- These paintings demonstrate the lifestyle and everyday activities of our ancestors.
- Various community activities, like birth, burial, dancing, religious rites, hunting scenes, animal fighting and merrymaking, also pictured in these paintings.
- Pictures of animals like rhinoceros, tigers, wild buffalo, bears, antelopes, boars, lions, elephants, lizards etc. also described.
- It is quite remarkable that the colours of the murals at Bhimbetka have skillfully dodged the vagaries of time.
- Natural red and white pigments are standard colours used in these paintings. Green and yellow colours are also used.
Amarnath Cave of Baltal, Jammu, and Kashmir
- This is a place for Hindu pilgrimage where there is worship before the ice stalagmite, and it represents Shiva Lingam.
- In other words, it is a form of god Shiva. This has been respected in Hindu shrines.
- There are many Hindu devotees, who had gone to this place at sub-zero temperature and they show a lot of respect to this cave.
- Rough mountains of Himalaya surround the cave shrouded with snow in a significant part of the year. Other than the brief period in summer, and at this time, the pilgrims visit this fantastic place.
- The Shiva Linga is a stalagmite, and the reason behind the formation is freezing of the drops of water falling fall from the cave’s roof over the floor, and they are growing in the vertical direction from the bottom of the cave.
- Amarnath is a holy shrine for many. Amarnath cave is the site where Lord Shiva revealed the secret of mortality to the goddess Parvathi.
- There was no one in the cave when the secret was being told except for a pair of pigeons. It is said that the pigeons are immortal.
Undavalli Caves, Andhra Pradesh
- The caves are the best testimonial for the ‘vishwakarmasthapathis’ which is quite ancient, and they are found 6KM away from Vijayawada of Andhra Pradesh.
- The caves are created from solid sandstone in the hills around the 4th to 5th centuries A.D.
- Undavalli caves have been the instance of the nature of Buddhist artifacts along with stupas in that particular state.
- They have turned into the deities and temples of Hinduism.
- This became the Jain cave looking like the architecture of the Khandgiri and Udayagiri.
- The primary cave has become the first example of Gupta architecture, basically ancient rock-cut cells of monastery carved into hills of sandstone.
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Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, Orissa
- The Khandagiri and Udayagiri Caves are partially natural and partially artificial caves of the historical, archaeological, and religious priority close to Bhubaneswar.
- They possess ornamentally carved caves.
- There is a belief that there has been carving like residential blocks for the monks of Jainism at the time of King named Kharavela.
- Udayagiri indicates ‘sunrise hill‘, and there are 18 caves.
- On the other hand, Khandagiri indicates ‘broken hill’, there are 15 caves. Jain caves have been the earliest in our country, India.
Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra
- The reef on which Elephanta Caves are sited was initially called Gharapuri. It was the Portuguese who renamed it as Elephanta after they noticed a large stone elephant near their landing place.
- There are seven cave excavations, dating back to the 6th-7th centuries A.D. that constitute a part of the Elephanta Cave complex.
- Elephanta Caves are considered to date back to the time of the Silhara Kings.
- Some legends suggest that the great warrior Prince of Chalukya Dynasty – Pulkesinll built the Lord Shiva shrine, to celebrate his victory.
- The rock-cut temple complex covers an area of 60,000 sq ft (5,600 m2), comprising of the main chamber, two lateral sections, courtyards, and subsidiary shrines.
- Elephanta Caves are made from solid rock.
- Trimurti Sadasiva is the central sculpture inside the Elephanta Caves. The image, 20 ft in height, is that of the three headed-Lord, representing Panchamukha (five headed) Shiva.
- The central Shiva relief Trimurti is located on the south wall. It is flanked by Ardhanarisvara (a half-man, half-woman representation of Shiva) on its left and Gangadhara to its right, which denotes the River Ganges’ descent from Shiva’s matted locks.
- At Elephanta Caves, Lord Shiva is also depicted as Yogisvara – Lord of Yogis, seated on a lotus, and as Shiva Nataraja, the many-armed cosmic dancer.
- Cave 1, representing the evolved Brahmanical rock-cut architecture, is the most impressive cave on Elephanta Island.
- In 1987, Elephanta Caves were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Currently, these caves are under the observation of the Archaeological Survey of India.
- Most of the sculptures inside the caves were defaced by the Portuguese, who used them for target practice, in the 17th century.
- A fantastic dance festival is held at Elephanta Island every February, hosted by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
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