8 km from the hill station of Lonavala in Maharashtra, Karla is home to awe-inspiring Buddhist caves dating back to 2nd century BC. The most striking highlight of these caves is the presence of a deep apsidal chaitya hall cut in solid rock which is hailed as the largest in India. Chaitya is a sacred spot or shrine indigenous to Buddhism. Made in the first century BC, the chaitya of Karla is cut 124 feet deep into the rock. Karla cave is much developed in size and splendour when compared to other caves of that period.
The columns of the chaitya are ornately carved and each of them is set a square stepped plinth. Each of 37 pillars sports a group of horses and elephants with riders to support the roof. The Karla caves have three entrances and splendid relief panels of dampati couples with small carved gable-ends above. The large windows let light into the hall.
How to reach Karla Caves
Rail: Lonavala is the nearest railway station on the Mumbai-Pune section of Central Railway, well connected with other cities and places in India.
Air: nearest airports to Karla Caves are at Pune and Mumbai which are 55km and 80 km away respectively.
Road: Karla caves are situated on the National Highway-4 between Mumbai and Pune.
Best Time to visit Karla Caves
Anytime is good time to visit the Karla Caves.