>Travel Pictures


Sanjay Gandhi National Park

September 2007

National Park home - train and boat - caves
We drove the 5 km or so up the road to the Khaneri caves (yes, pronounced canary). These are mostly Buddhist viharas meant for study and meditation, and were built over a thousand year period (from the first century BCE to the 900s). We weren't expecting much, as we hadn't read about them to any great extent, so we paid our entrance fee and went in.

Boy, were we surprised. There are over a hundred caves dotting the hills in the area, and while they are not quite as grandiose as the Karla or Bahja caves near Lonavala (or anywhere close to those at Ajanta and Ellora, which we have yet to visit), they were still beautiful. 

The first cave had a beautiful facade, and the kids had a great time making their voices echo. It was only as we continued to wander and came across a whole collection of smaller stupas backed with carvings that we started to figure out that this could become a pretty neat place.

We hadn't seen anything like this before, and the number of figures carved into the walls was also unusual.

When we hit the second set of caves, we found an even more impressive sight. Reminiscent of the Karla caves, there was an enormous front opening. Just inside, however, we were in for an even more incredible treat.
Flanking the main door were two carved statues of the Buddha towering over the entrance. They are the largest statues we've seen yet (I call them statues even though they're not really free standing). 
The walls were covered with carvings - according to our information, the faces of important donors. This cave dates from the late first century CE - more than 1800 years ago!
Inside was another large stupa, built along the exact same pattern as the others we'd seen. It was interesting to note that some of the columns had bases and capitols carved into them, while others didn't. We never figured out if that meant some deeper significance or just that they were unfinished.

As we wandered out and around the corner, we started to get a glimpse of the extent of the caves. Paths led up the hill, around to the back, and across a small ravine. It seemed like every turn brought us to a new opening. 

Many were rather plain, weathered, or even incomplete, but a number had fantastic Buddhist carvings in the walls.

It seemed that, just as we were getting ready to turn around, we'd find something else that was just really cool to look at!

 The colors in the different caves gave rocks very different looks as we progressed through.

Unfortunately, the kids were hot and hungry, and not really in the mood to appreciate all the fun we were having.

So we headed back to Bombay- after catching some monkey antics on the trail back - promising to return and more fully explore the site, but next time with a lunch packed!!
National Park home - train and boat - caves

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