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Kanheri Caves

Kanheri Caves
The Vihara in the cave
Location Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Geology Basalt
Entrances 109
Difficulty easy

The Kanheri Caves (Sanskrit: कान्हेरीगुहाः Kānherī-guhāḥ) constitute a group of rock-cut monuments that are located to the north of Borivali on the western outskirts of Mumbai, the capital city of Indian State of Maharashtra. Located within the forests of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the caves are 6 km from the main gate and 7 km from Borivali Station. Tourists can enter after 7:30 a.m. The Kanheri Caves demonstrate the Buddhist influence on the art and culture of India. Kanheri comes from the Sanskrit Krishnagiri, which means black mountain.[1] They were chiseled out of a massive basaltic rock outcropping.[2]


  • Description 1
  • Inscriptions at Kanheri 2
  • Paintings in the caves 3
  • Location 4
  • Around the caves 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


A Brāhmī stone inscription at Kanheri

These caves date from the first century BCE to the 10th century CE. One hundred and nine caves have been carved from the basalt. Unlike the elegant splendor of the adjacent Elephanta Caves, the earlier cells are spartan and unadorned. Each cave has a stone plinth for a bed. A congregation hall with huge stone pillars contains the stupa, a Buddhist shrine. Farther up the hill are canals and cisterns, the remains of an ancient system that channeled rainwater into huge tanks.[3] Once the caves were converted to permanent monasteries, the rock was carved with intricate reliefs of Buddha and the Bodhisattvas. Kanheri had become an important Buddhist settlement on the Konkan coast by the 3rd century CE.[4]

Map (1881)

Most of the caves are used as the Buddhist Sopara, Kalyan, Nasik, Paithan and Ujjain. Kanheri was a University center by the time the area was under the rule of the Maurayan and Kushan empires.[5] In the late 10th century, the Buddhist teacher Atisha (980–1054) came to the Krishnagiri Vihara to study Buddhist meditation under Rahulagupta.[6]

Inscriptions at Kanheri

Nearly 51 legible inscriptions and 26 epigraphs are found at Kanheri, which include the inscriptions in Brahmi, Devanagari and 3 Pahlavi[7] epigraphs found in Cave 90.[1][8] One of the significant inscriptions mentions about the marriage of Satavahana ruler Vashishtiputra Satakarni with the daughter of Rudradaman I.[9]

Paintings in the caves

Cave number 34 has unfinished paintings of Buddha on the ceiling of the cave.

Unfinished painting on ceiling of cave 34.


The caves are located deep inside Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Bus transport is available every hour. Visitors must pay entry fees at the park gate and at the cave entrance.

Around the caves

Kanheri caves offer picnickers a getaway, especially during the rainy season. The hilly terrain of the caves creates several large and small waterfalls. The road from the entry point of Sanjay Gandhi National Park to Kanheri caves is bisected by streams where families can enjoy lazy weekend gatherings.


  1. ^ a b "Kanheri Caves". Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  2. ^ "Mumbai's Ancient Kanheri Caves". Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Mumbai attractions". Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  4. ^ "Kanheri Caves Mumbai". Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  5. ^ "Kanheri Caves". Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  6. ^ Ray, Niharranjan (1993). Bangalir Itihas: Adiparba in Bengali, Calcutta: Dey's Publishing, ISBN 81-7079-270-3, p.595
  7. ^ West, E.W. (1880). "The Pahlavi Inscriptions at Kaṇheri".  
  8. ^ Ray, H.P. (2006). Inscribed Pots, Emerging Identities in P. Olivelle ed. Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-568935-6, p.127
  9. ^ "A Note on Inscriptions in Bombay". Maharashtra State Gazetteers-Greater Bombay District. Government of Maharashtra. 1986. Retrieved 2012-11-23. 

Further reading

  • Nagaraju, S. (1981). Buddhist Architecture of Western India, Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan.

External links

  • Kanheri Caves - rock cut early Buddhist temples by Wondermondo
  • 10 Minute Video in and around the caves
  • Kanheri Caves Photos from Himanshu Sarpotdar
  • Pay dirt: Treasure amidst Mumbai’s trash
  • Kanheri Caves Mumbai
  • Kanheri Caves
  • Map of cave locations
  • Mumbai's Ancient Kanheri Caves
  • Cave biology (biospeleology) in India.
  • Threat to caves of Bombay
  • Kanheri Caves Decoded is an online documentary video
  • Walking Tour to Kanheri caves
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