From Kanyakumari to Kashmir, India has got some beautiful temples, landscapes, and breathtaking snowcapped mountains. But very few people have the idea of the beauty of the mighty ancient caves of this country. The rock cut caves, most of which are considered as temples, are enriched with many historical aspects and not only do they showcase the enriched architectural qualities of Mother Nature, but they also represent the artistic qualities of the ancient human civilizations that used the caves as their home and decorated the interiors with many paintings. These cave paintings are an intricate part of the human civilization and are also jotted down in the Indian history.
India has got some caves, besides the popular Ajanta Caves, as well as the Elephanta Caves. From the states of Orissa to Andhra Pradesh; from Madhya Pradesh to Kashmir and Jammu, there are so many beautiful caves that are waiting to be explored by people. Some caves have stunning carvings and sculptures, whereas, others have beautiful natural creations in the form of stalagmites and stalactites formations. There are also other caves which still hold the ancient Buddhist depictions in the form of Lord Buddha’s teachings and motifs. Visiting these caves will not be a treat to the travelers’ eyes, but these will also give the people an experience of a lifetime. Below are certain caves of India along with their detailed facts which will boggle your mind for sure. So dig in to know more:
Photo by Nagarjun
Borra Caves of Andhra Pradesh, India
Situated in Vishakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, Borra Caves, popular also as the Borra Guhalu, is considered as one of the largest caves in India. The caves stand at an elevation of 705 meters and beautifully display speleothem formation, a type of limestone structure. It is said that Sir William King, who was an esteemed geographer of the erstwhile Geological Survey of India found the very existence of the caves. Borra Caves is the house of a giant Shiva Lingam, which, according to the local folklore is related to an incident where a cow was said to have reached the top of the caves and fell into the deep hole. But, the cow was found safely, and people say that it was Lord Shiva who protected her. It is fascinating how these coincidental accidents build up the faith of the people. The story did not take much time to spread around the village where the locals built a small temple around the caves. From that time onwards, the people from all over the area came to worship Lord Shiva at that place. These caves are located around the famous Araku Valley, on the hills of Ananthagiri. These caves caves look stunning when they are lit up with many lights. This addition is done by the Government of India.
The Bhimbetka Rock Caves of Madhya Pradesh
The Bhimbetka Rock caves have been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site which showcases one of the earliest traces of the human civilization in the sub-continent of India. The rock caves are said to have marked the beginning of the South Asian Stone Age. Bhimbetka Rock Caves are situated in the Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh, inside the wildlife sanctuary of Ratapani. These caves are also considered to have been depicting the earliest signs of the human art form of dance. The name Bhimbetka comes from the name of the Mythological heroic character of Mahabharata, Bheema. This place translates the sitting posture of Bheema. The very first mention of the Bhimbetka Rocks was first seen in the archaeological records as a site of Buddhist inscriptions in the year 1888. It was V. Wakankar who has been associated with the discovery of these caves, who is said to have witnessed the cave formations on his way to Bhopal. After exploring these caves with a team of other archaeological experts, Wakakankar found some rock shelters of the pre-historic era. The rock paintings of Bhimbetka are speculated to be 30,000 years old. The paintings were done from the colors extracted from pure vegetables. If you are traveling to the caves, then you must look out for two particular images, one is the mural of the Dancing Nataraj holding a Trishul, and the other a man being hunted by a wild boar.
Photo by Christian Haugen
The Undavalli Caves of Andhra Pradesh
The Undavalli Caves are situated roughly six kilometers away from the district of Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh. This is one of the finest examples of the rock cut cave structures of India. It was originally a Jain cave which represented the architecture styles of Udaygiri and Khandagiri. The caves are also popular for being the ancient testimonials of the Vishwakarma sthapatis which were wooden structures. Inside the caves, one can find a magnificent statue of Vishnu in a reclining position. Undavalli showcases how the Buddhist style of architecture led to the making of these stupas as well as the artifacts which were later included in the Hindu temples by the people. The main cave speaks of the Gupta period’s architecture, which depicted the rock-cut cells that were made into sandstone hills. The very first floor of the caves is made in the Jain style which has a Buddhist Vihara or a monastery. The caves are surrounded by greenery which offers a splendid sight. The caves overlook the Krishna River.
The Badami Caves of Karnataka
The Badami Caves of Karnataka are situated at the place of the same name in the district of Bagalkot. It has a huge compound where there are so many cave temples which are constructed from the Badami stones on the hill during the 6th and the 7th centuries. There are four caves to be precise which represent the great architectural styles of the great Chalukyas. Even the Badami caves fall under the list of the UNESCO’S world heritage site. The caves are situated by the Malaprabha River Valley.
Featured Photo by Nagarjun