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Old 30th September 2013, 19:50   #1
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Default Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway

The title kind of sums up the state of mind as I sat down to pen down this thread. Well, I couldn't call this a 'travelogue', not even by a long stretch of the imagination. Not after having read so many great travelogues on this forum! Neither was I one of the 4 'average' Joes to travel 16000 kms to Mongolia in a small Micra like one of our members, nor had I made an adventurous/patriotic trip to Ladakh or to 'the middle of nowhere' like some other notable members. I couldn't even call this a photologue, because these were pics clicked by a layman on the modest camera of a Nexus 4 and not on a DSLR! So they weren't gorgeous like those in the photologues of laluks or SDP.

So why did I want to share about this trip then? Well, just as SDP and Jinesh's threads on the Shilonda nature trail and Ovalekar butterfly park has made me wake up to their presence and made me want to go there, I hope reading about this green, and historical getaway right inside the city of Mumbai, might lead some of our members to explore it.

And then, the purpose of this thread would be served.

So with all the disclaimers in place, I can begin this short writeup.

Last edited by Top-Gear : 3rd October 2013 at 18:27.
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Old 30th September 2013, 20:03   #2
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Default Re: Kanheri Caves-Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No, no! A short writeup on a quick get

One of the many ailments that residents of this concrete jungle called Mumbai get sometimes afflicted with, is the deficiency of Vitamin 'G'.

What!?! Don't you know about Vitamin 'G' deficiency? It is the same deficiency that induces crankiness and irritability in couch potatoes and armchair travellers like me, but prods more evolved members of our forum such as laluks and SDP, to explore verdant locales and come back refreshed and energised.

But you have to go looking for greenery to far-off destinations in your SUV, right?

Not necessarily. There are these oases of green right inside our city. One such spot even has a generous dose of history as an icing on the cake!

Interested? Read on...

Last edited by Top-Gear : 3rd October 2013 at 18:28.
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Old 30th September 2013, 21:02   #3
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Default Re: Kanheri Caves-Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No, no! A short writeup on a quick get

Kanheri Caves are the set of 110 caves excavated out of basalt, somewhere between the 3rd century B.C. to 11th century A.D. To quote from the Archaeological Society of India's site [http://asi.nic.in/asi_monu_tktd_maha_kanhericaves.asp],

"Kanheri (19°13’ N; 72°55’ E), the Kanhasela, Krishnagiri, Kanhagiri of ancient inscriptions, is located north of Mumbai, was a major Buddhist centre. Kanheri is located in the island of Salsette and 6 miles from Thana. The caves are excavated in volcanic breccia, the hills rising at places to 1550’ above mean sea level. Kanheri is credited with the largest number of cave excavations in a single hill. To the west is the Borivili railway station and across the creek is the Arabian Sea.

Kanheri thrived due to its proximity to ancient sea port towns like Sopara (Surparaka, the Supara of Greek; Subara of Arab writers; the ancient capital of northern Konkan), Kalyan a thriving port; Chemula, the Samylla of Greek geographers, Chemula of Silaharas, on the island of Trombay; the other ancient localities nearby were Vasya, perhaps Vasai or Bassein; Sri Staanara or Thana; and Ghodabandar. It is generally believed that Buddhism first arrived in Aparantha (Western India) at Sopara which is very close to Kanheri. The caves were excavated as early as mid 3rd century B.C. and were in occupation right up to 11th century A.D. They were mentioned by early visitors like the Portuguese in the 16th century A.D. and other travellers and voyagers of Europe."

Incidentally, I never knew that 'Sopara' (the far off Mumbai suburb of Nalasopara?) was an ancient sea port town of importance! That was a revelation! I guess the nearby Vasai creek also had a role to play in the importance of Sopara as a port.

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Old 1st October 2013, 18:09   #4
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Default Re: Kanheri Caves-Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No, no! A short writeup on a quick get

Getting there:

The caves are right inside Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), about 7 kms from the main gate.

Here's a map for your ready reference:

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-map.jpg

It was a different world inside SGNP. Nice, cool and breezy. The route to Kanheri Caves is scenic, with LOTS of greenery. You also criss cross streams on the way! Would be a good idea to spend some time at the streams before moving on-that's what we did. There are vendors hawking fruits and berries on the 'bridges', which also attracts a lot of monkeys!

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-img_20130928_143641.jpg

My little one was afraid of the monkeys who come looking for food .

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-006.jpg

One such 'distant cousin' was peering at her intently, having taken a position just outside the passenger door. So she chose to look at the stream from the car window rather than getting down!

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-img_20130928_143717.jpg

Talking of cars, I actually felt a little guilty going in a car! I think it is best to walk/cycle. Cycles are available near the main gate on hire.

After spending some time there looking at the stream and hearing the calming sound of water, we moved on towards the caves.

Last edited by Top-Gear : 4th October 2013 at 16:08.
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Old 1st October 2013, 21:04   #5
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Default Re: Kanheri Caves-Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No, no! A short writeup on a quick get

Kanheri Caves, are a 'ticketed monument' in ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) lingo. Tickets are nominally priced for Indian nationals. Interestingly enough, the tickets list out the other such monuments and some of them could go straight into your 'To See' list!

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Here are some pictures of the caves. The following extract from the ASI website would be useful in helping us appreciate the caves:

"The excavations at Kanheri are of the following types: (i) chaityagrhas, the place of worship of the Buddhist community, (ii) viharas or monasteries, they consist of single and multiple celled where the Buddhist monks resided, (iii) podhis or water cisterns, which were excavated ingeniously to trap the rain water and store them for use during summer periods and (iv) rock-cut benches and seats.

At Kanheri, the beginning of excavation of rock-cut caves coincides with the introduction of Buddhism in Aparantha. The caves are generally small consisting of a single cell with a front pillared verandah approached by a flight of steps. The caves invariably contain a cistern for storing water. The initial excavations were very small and plain, devoid of any decorative motifs. The pillars were plain squares or octagons and did not have the pot base which was introduced later."


Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-img_20130928_153619.jpg

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-img_20130928_153634.jpg

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-img_20130928_153227.jpg

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-img_20130928_153829.jpg

Now coming to one of the most significant caves - Cave No. 3. To quote from the ASI website, " The most prominent among the excavations at Kanheri is the Cave 3, which is a chaityagriha which was excavated during the period of Yajna Satakarni (c. 172-201 A.D.) This chaityagrha is one of the largest in India second only to the one at Karle, district Pune. The chaityagrha closely resembles the one at Karle. On plan it consists of a large rectangular hall with an apsidal back, a verandah and a spacious court in front, the dimensions of the hall being 26.36 X 13.66 X 12.9 m (l x b x h). A row of 34 pillars divide the hall into a central nave and flanking aisles. The roof of the nave is barrel vaulted while of the aisles are flat. There are evidences of provision of wooden rafters to the vaulted ceiling of nave which are gone now. The pillars of the hall are not uniform and of different styles and shapes and devoid of symmetry. A stupa is provided at the apse of the hall which measures 4.9 m in diameter and 6.7 m in height. The façade of the hall is pierced by three doors with two groups of two couples, each group carved in the oblong recesses between the doors. A huge chaitya window bereft of any ornamentation was provided for the passage of light. The side walls are sculpted extensively with two massive images of standing Buddha in varada mudra and other Bodhisattva images. These sculptures are of later additions and are datable to around 5th – 6th centuries A.D.

Near the chaityagrha once existed two structural stupas. One of thestupas, in stone, yielded two copper urns, containing ashes, a small gold box containing a piece of cloth, a silver box, a ruby, a pearl, pieces of gold and two copper plates one of them dated in A.D. 324. Another stupa was of brick which yielded an inscribed stone with characters datable to 5th – 6th centuries A.D."

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-img_20130928_153849.jpg

Two large statues of the Buddha on either side of the entrance.

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-img_20130928_153956.jpg

Notice the headgear of the people depicted in this panel. Interesting!

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-img_20130928_154101.jpg

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-img_20130928_154046.jpg

An inscription (in Pali?) near the entrance. Any T-BHPians who can translate?

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-img_20130928_154828.jpg

Now pictures of the inside of the chaityagraha:

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-img_20130928_154426.jpg

Here's a photosphere of the inside. Incidentally, the first one on my N4. I'm sorry, I didn't take the photosphere the way it is supposed to be taken!

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-pano_20130928_154248.jpg

Last edited by Top-Gear : 3rd October 2013 at 19:08.
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Old 3rd October 2013, 18:18   #6
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Default Re: Kanheri Caves-Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No, no! A short writeup on a quick get

The caves are on a hill, and so provide a good view from the top. I didn't go all the way up since the rest of the family weren't accompanying me, but here are a few shots from there. You basically get a good view of the tree cover in National Park.

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-img_20130928_155906.jpg

And here's a panorama.

Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick getaway-pano_20130928_155918.jpg

So, that's how it went. A short, refreshing getaway. Of course, you can't entirely get away from the Mumbai crowd. For instance, there was this crowd of teenagers - boys and girls making a lot of noise. One of the girls all throughout was pouting and posing for the camera as if there was a Kingfisher calendar photo shoot going on, and a chimp, I mean a boy from that group was dutifully clicking pics continuously. He must not have clicked even one pic of the caves or the landscape!

Last edited by Top-Gear : 4th October 2013 at 16:19.
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Old 5th October 2013, 12:08   #7
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Default Re: Kanheri Caves-Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No, no! A short writeup on a quick get

Note from Mod : Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing
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Old 6th October 2013, 20:07   #8
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Default Re: Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick get

Good one there Top-Gear! Been there a couple of times during monsoons, but that was ages back. Must visit soon, its a beautiful place.

Once I had walked from the SGNP gate to the Kanheri caves and back. Early morning scene is SGNP is fantastic for birding as well.

Thanks for sharing (and the kind mention in the opening post)!
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Old 6th October 2013, 20:18   #9
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Default Re: Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick get

I remember visiting Kanheri caves (used to call them 'Canary' caves) quite frequently during school days; 4-5 times a year.
Earlier it was quite safe to venture even in the remote places, so I and two of my brothers used to do some hiking to spots ahead of the caves which were free from human presence.

Last I visited them was during last year's monsoon and it is a very changed place from what I knew about it.

-Bhargav
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Old 6th October 2013, 21:45   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SDP View Post
Good one there Top-Gear! Been there a couple of times during monsoons, but that was ages back. Must visit soon, its a beautiful place.

Once I had walked from the SGNP gate to the Kanheri caves and back. Early morning scene is SGNP is fantastic for birding as well.

Thanks for sharing (and the kind mention in the opening post)!
Thanks, SDP, means a lot coming from you! Wow, walking to Kanheri would be serene. A car or any polluting vehicle seems so out of place inside SGNP!
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Old 6th October 2013, 22:03   #11
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Default Re: Kanheri Caves-Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No, no! A short writeup on a quick get

Quote:
Originally Posted by Top-Gear View Post
Incidentally, I never knew that 'Sopara' (the far off Mumbai suburb of Nalasopara?) was an ancient sea port town of importance! That was a revelation! I guess the nearby Vasai creek also had a role to play in the importance of Sopara as a port.
Thank you TopGear for this wonderful photologue. I lived all my life in Mumbai and never explored these wonderful sites. These little tidbits about Mumbai that emerge ever so often remind us of its rich history. Thank you for sharing. Will definitely visit Kanheri when I'm in Mumbai next.
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Old 7th October 2013, 06:59   #12
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Default Re: Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick get

Thanks, a good refresher for those of us in Mumbai who tend to not bother with whats next door. You should look up chinchoti falls as well, I am sure you will enjoy the place.
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Old 7th October 2013, 14:43   #13
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Default Re: Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick get

Hello Top-Gear,

You have shared good information about Kanheri caves. Also thank you for my reference in the opening post.

By the way, if you would have walked a little up the Kanheri caves, there is a point from where you can literally see entire landscape of western Mumbai right from Versova to Gorai islands. Also on the other side you can see high rises of Powai & Vihar & Powai lakes.

Regarding your note of presence of on crowd, on an average there are approx 8,000 to 10,000 visitors per day at Kanheri caves and this number increases dramatically during festivals such as Mahashivarati.

Thanks,

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Old 7th October 2013, 17:38   #14
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Default Re: Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick get

Quote:
Originally Posted by Octane_Power View Post
I remember visiting Kanheri caves (used to call them 'Canary' caves) quite frequently during school days; 4-5 times a year.
Earlier it was quite safe to venture even in the remote places, so I and two of my brothers used to do some hiking to spots ahead of the caves which were free from human presence.

Last I visited them was during last year's monsoon and it is a very changed place from what I knew about it.

-Bhargav
I also used to call it something similar .

Nowadays, I am not sure if kids get taken to such historical places for school trips any more! I guess they get taken to more 'upmarket' places, if you know what I mean!
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Old 7th October 2013, 17:54   #15
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Default Re: Kanheri Caves. Travelogue? Nah! Photologue? No,no! A short writeup on a quick get

Quote:
Originally Posted by Top-Gear View Post
Nowadays, I am not sure if kids get taken to such historical places for school trips any more! I guess they get taken to more 'upmarket' places, if you know what I mean!
Hello,

That is very true, the "field trips" in school have really gone to "Upmarket" places.

Infact tomorrow my daughter (who is studying in First std / Form 1 in ICSE) is scheduled to go to a field trip. On hearing this I was really very happy for her but after reading the school circular, I was surprised. The field trip is organized to a movie in Oberoi Mall & post movie they will be taken to McDonalds kitchen.

Surprising, what would 6 year old learn / observe in McDonalds kitchen? Instead a trip to SGNP would have been a better learning / enjoyable experience for the kids.

Thanks,
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