Thursday, 17 April 2014

Quick trip to Karla caves

After casting vote on Election Day, we decided to have a small trip. Due to summer time, we were unable to decide the location. Finally Karla caves came in our mind as
in last monsoon we missed it due to heavy traffic and heavy rain nearby Karla caves.
About Karla Caves: 
                It is a Caves complex of ancient Indian Buddhist rock-cut cave shrines located in Karli near Lonavala. It is developed over two periods – from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD, and from the 5th century AD to the 10th century. There is small temple of Lord Ekvira Devi in Caves premises.
The routes to reach at Karla Cave is Pune -> Chadani Chowk -> Old Mumbai-Pune highway (Do not take left turn to join express way) -> Take right at Karle village(Lonavala is 9km away from Karli junction) -> from this junction, you will climb up a small hill -> Reach at official parking at Karla caves.

Karla Caves and Ekvira Devi Temple

17th April 2014, Pune to Karla caves:
               We (Me and my wife Renuka) started our journey at around 9.45 AM after casting our votes. This location is on old Pune-Mumbai highway but we preferred Express highway to enjoy drive. After taking small fuel stop at expressway, we reached in Lonavala. From Lonavala we joined old highway and headed towards Karli phata. There are 2 routes on highway near Karli village. One which goes towards left for Karla caves and right for Bhaja Caves (Considering that you are traveling from Lonavala to Pune direction). Both are about 4-5km from highway. We took left to visit Karla caves. After climbing small hill by car, we reached to official parking at caves.
               Karla caves and Ekvira temple are on top of hill and it is moderate climb of around 20 min. Because of temple, this place is always crowded on weekends. We were here on odd day hence it was bit less crowd. There are many shops and street food stalls from parking point to temple. Place is not maintained by locals so my advice is if you are looking for caves then better to visit Bhaje caves instated of Karla caves. Karla caves are much bigger than the Bhaje caves but noise, cleanness tampering its beauty.

Entry to Caves and temple

               Our main intention is to visit caves. There is a small entrance fee of Rs.5 for the Bhaje caves, which they utilize in maintaining the caves as it comes under the Archeological Society of India. The most impressive cave is behind temple area and can be seen from Entrance point as well. There is a large prayer hall and several caves that must've served as resting rooms for the monks, complete with a water storage area. The main hall is magnificent and hosts a large stone stupa... as always one wonders how people must have built them in the 2nd Century AD. The best thing is wooden roof which act as support for main vihara (Prayer hall). There are upper levels caves where you can reach using some stairs. The Bhaja caves share the same set of architectural designs as Karla caves. Carving on stones, pillar and at entrance is beautiful. It is good place for photography but if you are coming on monsoon or in winter. Due to harsh light condition, I was unable to click some good photos.

Elephant carving at entrance of Cave

Vihar (Prayer Hall)

Wooden curve from Vihar

Carving on pillar 

Resting Rooms

                As Temple is in caves premises, we decided to take darshan of goddess Ekvira Devi. The temple is worship for the Koli (fisherman) People. But along with the Koli (fisherman) people, goddess Ekvira is worshipped by people especially belonging to the CKP caste as their presiding family deity. This goddess is an avatar of goddess Renuka Devi. This temple was built by Pandavas during their secret exile in the forest (ajñātavāsam). We got to know story related to a temple from Pujari. When Pandavas came to this place goddess Ekvira appeared. She asked then to build temple but on one condition that it must be done overnight. Pandavas built this in one night and got boon from goddess that they will not be discovered by anybody during their secret exile. You can combine Bhaje caves along with Karla caves to make a perfect day trip. Better to visit in monsoon!

Vihar's entrance and temple on right

               After this visit, we left to Lonavala for lunch. To avoid return journey in noon, we spend more time in restaurant. There were hardly any tourists in Lonavala or in any restaurants. For return journey, we preferred another route for Pune which is via Tung-Pawna dam-Paud-Pirangut. Road condition was not up to the mark but route is scenic. We took halt at restaurant name Pawna picnic spot at Hadshi Dam. We witness beautiful sunset and reached home safely by 7 PM.
  • Car Petrol: INR 700-800/- (approx. 10 lit: INR 80/lit)
  • Toll (Express highway): INR 195/- (One Way)
  • Toll (Near Lonavala): INR 30/- (One Way)
  • Car parking at Karla caves: INR 20/-
  • Entry fee by Archeological Society of India: INR 5/- per person
  • Lunch in Lonavala: As per order!

Other places which you can combine with Karla caves for Day picnic:
  • Bhaje Caves (Click here for Bhaje Cave blog)
  • Bedse Caves
  • Sunil Kandalloor Celebrity Wax Museum in Lonavala (entry fee INR 100/- per person)
  • Bushi Dam in lonavala (for monsoon)
  • Tiger point / Lion point at Lonavala (for Monsoon)

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy Traveling.
Pritesh Kulkarni