Explore Mumbai: Ancient Buddhist Caves – Kanheri Caves

I’ve been in Mumbai for a little less than two years. Having explored most of the popular tourist spots, I really wanted to visit the Kanheri Caves located in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali.

We didn’t take a guide and there wasn’t much information available at the caves but here is some information I found on Culturetrip –

Deeply nestled among the tranquil surroundings of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali in Mumbai, are more than 100 Buddhist caves popularly known as the Kanheri Caves. Kanheri, known as Krishnagiri or Kanhagiri in ancient inscription, literally means black mountain (Krishna means black and giri is mountain) and is mostly named after its black basaltic stone. Spanning from the 1st century BC to 11th century AD, an era that saw the rise and decline of Buddhism, these caves present an insight into its evolution and also have the distinction of having the largest number of cave excavations from a single hill.

Photo Gallery:

Some tips:

1. Try to visit the caves in the monsoon months to beat the extreme Mumbai heat and enjoy the greenery of the National Park with its beautiful waterfall and streams.

2. If visiting in non-monsoon months – late December/early January would be ideal when the weather is a little cooler in Mumbai.

3. Try to visit the park as early as possible especially if you are visiting on a weekend to beat the crowds.

4. There is an entry fee to the park (Rs.58) and an entry fee to the caves (Rs.25 as far as I remember). One needs to buy an extra ticket for using a camera.

5. From the entrance of the park, the caves are 5-7kms. There are multiple options to travel to them. Walking would be an amazing experience if the weather is good and you are up for it. Hire a cycle: Cycling is the best and most preferred mode – but know that the caves are at a height and cycling up hill gets very tiring. Hire a bike/scooty: if you are short on time, this is a great option. Hire a cab with a driver: this is an expensive mode and I’d suggest this the least. Government bus: this is the cheapest mode of transport available and a great option if you have time at hand.

6. Wear walking shoes to comfortably walk around the caves.

7. Some caves out of the 110 caves are more elaborate than the others. Probably best to read up about the caves worth seeing before hand.

8. There is a zoo-ish experience available too. The park boasts of having two lions and three tigers. A government bus takes people to the “cages” where these animals are kept. (As someone who is opposed to caging of animals – this was just painful.)

9. These caves are far better kept than Elephanta, so you may want to keep these caves on your must see places in Mumbai.

10. There are other things to enjoy such as boating, smaller Jain temple ruins, Gandhi memorial, botanical garden etc. Definitely not big attractions but if you have the time – why not see them too!

Do let me know if you’ve visited the caves and your experience.

Keep exploring!

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