For millennia people have been drawn to the dark, silent and often mysterious spaces under the earth. Caves offer all sorts of natural beauty, exotic man-made carvings and well preserved historical artefacts. Thanks to excavations and explorers there are several caves in India open for visitors to explore. Escape the hustle and bustle of the surface for a while and add one of these quiet and remarkable spots to your sightseeing itinerary. Here are our top five cave locations in India.
1. Ajanta & Ellora Caves
One of the most popular destinations for exotic carvings and a easy weekend access, the Ajanta and Ellora Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are situated a distance of 350 kms from Mumbai in Aurangabad. Dated between a span of 2nd century BC and 11th Century AD, they are a mix of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist carvings. There are about 34 caves at Ellora and 20 at Ajanta.
If you cannot take out time for these, make a day trip from Mumbai to the Elephanta Caves. The magnificent sculptures from 450 and 750 AD are worth a trip.
Opening times for Ajanta & Ellora: 9.00 a.m to 5.30 p.m (Ajanta Caves are closed on Monday & Ellora on Tuesday)
Entry Fees: Rs 5/- for Indian Nations and $5 for Foreign Nationals.
Opening times for Elephanta Caves: 9.00 a.m to 5.30 p.m (Closed on Mondays)
Entry Fee: Rs 5/- for Indian Nationals and $5 for Foreign Nationals. (Free for children under 15 years of age)
2. Badami Caves of Karnataka
There are very few temples or religious destinations in India where you will find patronage to both Lord Shiva and Vishnu. Badami caves in North Karnataka are a pantheon dedicated to both these Hindu Gods. While the large part of these caves is dedicated to Hindu Gods, there is one small Jain temple as well. The caves are located on a hill top with 200 steps – Be prepared to be enthralled after the short climb.
Opening times: Dawn to Dusk
Entry Fee: Rs 5/- for Indian & SAARC Country Nationals and $5 for Foreign Nationals. (Free for children under 15 years of age)
3. Tabo in Spiti
Meditation caves, quite appropriately tucked away on rocky ridges, still exist in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh. These are hand dug caves, where Buddhist Lamas still go and sit in solitude. You can explore and walk in (if caves are not occupied) to get a feel of austere living.
4. Meghalaya Caves
The lush North eastern state of Meghalaya is also known for many caves in the region. It is said that there are over 1200 caves in the state which are suited for adventure activities. While these are breathtaking, they are also very wet inside and should only be visited with guides. The major caves are found in the Khasi Hills including the famous Krem Mawkhyrdop. Mawsmai Cave in the village of Mawsmai has impressive formations of large passages and chambers with amphitheatre-like halls and endless galleys with plenty of stunning stalagmite and stalactite formations.
5. Pallava Caves
Heading south to Tamil Nadu, the Pallava Caves are a famous sight-seeing spot in the town of Trichy. These small rock cut caves were made next to the Rock Fort Temple and house beautiful sculptures. These are said to be built in 6th and 7th Centuries.
Opening times: 6.00 a.m to 8.00 p.m
Entry Fee: Rs. 0.50 (Rs 10/- is charged for cameras)
For all of the caves listed above, it is suggested to check timings and entry fee as they are subject to change.
If you are interested in unusual sights in India then get in touch with our reservations team who can help you plan a fantastic itinerary full of sightseeing options with a difference. Or leave us a comment here on the blog and we will do our best to give you advice on planning your trip.