Karla Caves


Karla is one of the most famous centres of early rock-cut architecture and has received much attention of scholars and commoners alike. The group of rock excavations is not that elaborate when compared to its counterparts at Ajanta and Ellora. However, the grand Chaitya griha of Karla is the grandest and the largest of all the chaita-grihas of India. The group at Karla consists of 16 rock cut excavations of which cave 8 is the chaityagriha which was caused during Satavahanas.

Karla is situated in Maval Taluka of Pune on the Pune-Mumbai highway, about 60 km northwest of Pune. The location of Karla is also important for its rich embellishments, it is on the ancient highway connecting seaports of Kalyan and Sopara to the cities located inland. The other nearest centre of great Buddhist activity is Bhaja, which is 8 km south of Karla. The caves are excavated nearly 100 metres on a high spur of the chain of hills on the north flank of the Indrayani valley. The chaitya griha is the most prominent and hence it dominates the remaining excavations. A wide and flat open area in front of the chaityagriha could have provided an ideal place for large gatherings of the followers of Buddhism. The wide land narrows down on the south and runs almost as a ledge path, turns east and continues up to the edge of the cliff. A few isolated excavations could also been seen near this ledge path.