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Ajanta and Ellora, MaharashtraTop 10 caves

India's most popular and widely recognized caves, the Ajanta Ellora caves are carved into hillside rock quite in the middle of nowhere, in northern Maharastra. These caves are simply awe inspiring. There are 34 caves at Ellora dating from between the 6th and 11th centuries AD, and 29 caves at Ajanta dating back to between the 2nd century BC and 6th century AD. The caves at Ajanta are all Buddhist, while the caves at Ellora are a mixture of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain. One needs to see these caves to truly understand the magnificence of their beauty and form. Ajanta Caves are a resplendent example of Indian rock-cut architecture. An exotic setting, impressive architecture, historic artwork helped tag it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the paintings and sculptures are considered to be masterpieces of Buddhist religious art which also depict the Jataka tales. One expert says Emperor Harishena of the Vakataka Dynasty, a great patron of Buddhist architecture, art and culture commissioned most of the work. Ellora caves start from the point from where the Ajanta caves ends. Ajanta caves are older than the Ellora caves. Each cave at Ajanta and Ellora has the different story to tell. The caves also find mention in the writings of the Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim, who visited India between the 629 and 645 AD. The caves provide the finest example from the Chalukya, Kalachuri, and Rashtrakuta periods.
These caves are located near the ancient trade route between Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh and the west coast. Tourists can make a visit to this place at any time during the year. The drive from Aurangabad can take two or three hours. As the Ajanta caves faces eastwards so the best time to take pictures is the morning time. The caves of Ellora faces westward so its good to capture the pictures in the noon time.

Elephanta Island, MaharashtraTop 10 caves


The Elephanta caves are located on an Island just off the coast of Mumbai. The Elephanta caves are the architecturally rich. The beautiful sculptures as well as the art and craft of these caves are the archaeological treasure. There are in all seven ancient caves, which are hand carved out of a single rock. These caves date back to 450 and 750 AD and are very ancient. The Elephanta caves have already been listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1987. Out of all the caves, there is one main cave, which has many stunning large sculptured panels. These panels depict the Hindu god, Lord Shiva. The whole complex of these caves consists of inner cells, grand halls, portico, shrines and courtyards. It has a huge collection of exquisite stone sculptures of Hindu God and Goddess. The most interesting part of these caves is the 40 metre square main hall with two wide columns. The region was known as the Gharapuri or the Places of caves in the ancient times. These caves were termed as the Elephanta caves by the Portuguese, who found here the large elephant stone.
One has to take a ferry from the Gateway of India to reach these island caves. They're one of the most popular tourist attractions in Mumbai. The caves are closed Mondays. Tourists can also be a part of the spectacular dance festival held in the month of February every year on the Elephanta Islands. The festival hosts many colourful dance program mes, performed by the renowned artists. The festival is conducted by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Cooperation.

Badami, KarnatakaTop 10 caves


In this list of the top 10 caves of India, the caves of Badami couldn’t have been skipped. Badami is very attractive due to the presence of the many beautiful cave temples. The four temples are open daily for a specific time period. One cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva, two to Lord Vishnu, and the remaining smaller one is a Jain cave temple. They overlook the 5th century Agastyatirtha Tank and the waterside Bhutanatha Temples, which add to their appeal. It's a postcard view! If you venture around the town and its laneways, you might come across some ruins of the Chalukya empire. One of the best examples of Indian rock-cut architecture, the caves are cut into red sandstone on the precipice of a hill. Dating back to around 570 AD, the first three of four caves are devoted to the Vedic faith and the fourth is a Jaina from possibly the 8th century. Along with these cave temples you may find here number of monuments belonging to the ancient times. These caves presents the perfect blend of the architectural design of the north India and the south India
The temple complex of Aihole is just 44 Kilometres away. Badami is 110 Kilometres from Hubli and 22 Kilometres from Pattadakalu. The best time to visit these caves lies between the months of October to February.


The outskirts of Bhubaneshwar, one of the top tourist destinations in Odisha, is an excellent place to explore caves dotted all over the landscape. Udayagiri (Sunrise Hill) has the most interesting caves, and if you don't mind getting up early it's worthwhile to arrive there at dawn for an almost spiritual experience. Wander around and you'll discover many ornately carved caves, thought to be occupied by Jain asthetics. They include the Tiger Cave (with an entrance carved like a tiger's mouth) and the large and revealing Queen's Palace Cave (with remains of Jain symbols and battle scenes). Khandagiri is across the road and its worth a visit for its superb vistas over the city, as well as its few caves. Khandagiri houses the total of 15 caves. Each cave of Khandagiri is beautifully designed with the paintings and motifs. The caves of Khandagiri can be reached either by climbing the flight of steps leading from the road, up from the main entrance of the Udayagiri caves or by cutting directly across from the Hathi Gumpha, via the steps that drop down from the cave 17. Akshya Ganga, Gupta Ganga, Shyam Kund and Radha kund are some of the most famous caves of the Khandagiri. The most interesting among them all is the 24 Tirthankaras Cave, which contains the carvings of the twenty four Apostles of Jainism on the monolithic stones. Udayagiri Caves were made during the reign of Kharavela of the Maha-Meghavahana Dynasty. These are finely and ornately carved rock cut caves meant as residential blocks for Jain monks. Sacred texts of the Jain religion have been inscribed into the rock. The majestic appeal of the caves attracts many tourists. The caves are just 8 kilometres from Bhubaneswar. The best time to visit these caves is after the month of March.

Bora, Andhra PradeshTop 10 caves

The Bora caves are natural caves located in Ananthagiri Hills of the Araku valley, which is situated 92 kilometers north from Vishakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. The caves open with about 75 meters on vertical plane and 100 meters on horizontal plane. Bora Caves are spread over an area of one square kilometer and is also the point of origin for the river Gosthani. These are said to have originated from the Gosthani river, which flows through these caves. The caves were created due to the flow of river over the limestone area. The cave is filled with stalagmite and stalactite formations. Visitors have given different names to the different shapes of these stalagmite and stalactite formations such as Shiv Parvathi, Mother & Child, Human brain, crocodile, Rushis Beard etc. This caves is a must see if you're visiting Vishakhapatnam. This cave is at a height of 800 to 1300 meters from Mean Sea Level (MSL). In the year 1807, William King, the British Geologist discovered this million years old cave. One must visit this cave for an exotic breath taking hilly terrain, semi-evergreen moist deciduous forests, wild fauna and beautiful landscape. This cave is said to be the biggest in India considering the area it has spread geographically.
These caves are just 15 kms from beautiful Araku Valley. There is even a railway station Bora Guhalu on the famous ghat section. Months of November and December are considered as the best time to visit these caves.

Krem Liat Prah, MeghalayaTop 10 caves


Imagine a cave 31 kilometre long. It might well be distance between two cities. The longest natural cave in India, Krem Liat Prah is one of 150 known caves in the Shnongrim Ridge of the Jaintia Hills. According to the survey, its current length is about 25 kilometers and will be increased as nearby caves continue to be linked. Aircraft Hangar- an enormous trunk passage is the main attraction. Meghalaya has numerous caves and many believe that they should be a part of the national and archeological heritage sites. Many of the caves explored till date contain impressive river passages, deep shafts large and ancient relic passage. Together these features create cave systems equal in size and beauty to those found anywhere else in the world and put Meghalaya firmly on the world-caving map as a significant Cave and Karst Region. Among all the explored caves, the most prominent one is Krem Liat Prah caverine system. This is not only the longest cave of Indian subcontinent, but has also secured its position in the world's map of longest caves.
Krem (cave) Liat Prah was explored as a part of an ongoing project, “Caving in the Abode of the Clouds Project”. In 2006, the Krem Liat Prah/Um Im cave system was further linked with a newly explored Krem Labbit (Khaidong) to create a single cave system of 22,202.65m in length and at that point Krem Liat Prah became longest known cave at that time in the Indian Sub-continent. Year 2007 saw further exploration and linking of several other new caves (sinks) to the Krem Liat Prah Cave System extending it from 22,202m to 25,225 in length.In 2008 the linking of the Liat Prah Cave System to Krem Labbit (Moolesgni) via a 3m sump free dive and the connection of two other potholes into the system along with the exploration and mapping of new side passages characterized a cave system of 30.397km in length and the first cave in Indian Subcontinent to exceed 30kms in length. One has to reach Shillong from Guwahati and then move to Jaintia Hills to go to these caves.

Kotumsar, ChattisgarhTop 10 caves


Kotumsar Caves are situated at a distance of about 40 km from Jagdalpur. Kotumsar Caves are about 35 meters below ground level and around 1371 meters long. Kotumsar Cave is a subterranean limestone cave located near the banks of Kanger River in the western portion of National park. It was discovered by the local people around year 1900 and explored by a renowned Geographar Shri Sankar Tiwari in the year 1951 and it is one of the best known caves in Chhattisgarh as well as in India. The floor of the cave consists of soil/clay, pebbles, rocks and water pools with several lateral and downward passages. Perpetual darkness and constant temperature (28°C + 1°C) prevails inside the cave. For entry into the cave, Cement concrete steps, Steel steps and railings are available near the entrance side. These caves have got the distinction of being India's first most biologically explored cave. As they are underground, there is pitch-darkness inside. It features Stalactites and Stalagmites formations. Entry to the caves is through the narrow stairs and visitors have to pass through tall, narrow chambers for gaining access to the main hall that features superb acoustics. The caves feature five chambers having several blind wells. Lots of tribal tales are also associated with it and are also known as Gupanpal or Kutamsar Caves. The Stalactites found inside the cave have been an interesting research topic for scientists and even arouse the curiosity among the visitors. Kotumsar cave harbours a variety of fauna like bats, frogs, snakes, crickets, spiders, fishes, millipedes etc. Fishes and frogs are found in the ditches of the cave where as bats, spiders, crickets are found on the ceilings and walls of the cave. There is lack of oxygen when going deep into the caves. In view of which, for safety reasons, entry beyond certain points has been restricted. The cave is closed from June 15 to October 31 during rainy season. The cave needs removal of debris before tourist season.

Belum, Andhra PradeshTop 10 caves


Belum Caves is the second largest cave in Indian subcontinent and the longest caves in plains of Indian Subcontinent, known for its stalactite and stalagmite formations. Belum Caves have long passages, spacious chambers, fresh water galleries and siphons. It is a natural underground cave formed by the constant flow of underground water. The caves reach its deepest point (150 feet from entrance level) at the point known as Pataalaganga. Belum Caves derive their name from "Bilum" Sanskrit word for caves. In Telugu language, it is called Belum Guhalu. Belum Caves has a length of 3229 metres, making it the second largest natural caves in Indian Subcontinent. It was brought to scientific attention in 1884 by a British surveyor Robert Bruce Foote, later in 1982-84 a team of German speleologists headed by H Daniel Gebauer conducted a detailed exploration of the caves. Thereafter in 1988, the state government declared them protected, and Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) developed the caves as a tourist attraction in February 2002. Today, 3.5 km of the cave has been successfully explored, though only 1.5 km is open to tourists. There are 16 different pathways, including the main entrance and there are deposits of Quartz in the caves. There is soft illumination and fresh-air-shafts in the caves. The caves are formed in Black Limestone. As per different stalactite formations, caves has been divided into different sections.
There are indications that Jains and Buddhists monks occupied these caves centuries ago. Many Buddhists relics were found inside the caves. These relics are now housed in Museum at Ananthapur. There is a giant Buddha Statue near a hillock near the Belum Caves. The area of cave known as "Meditation hall" was used by Buddhist Monks. The relics of Buddhist period were found here. Belum Caves is located at Belum Village in Kolimigundla Mandal of Kurnool District in State of Andhra Pradesh. Kurnool is 106 kms and Guntakal is 92 kms from Belum.

Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh Top 10 caves


Bhimbetka is a huge archaeological treasure, that boosts of ancient paintings. More than 600 rock shelters, belonging to the Neolithic age were recently discovered in the rocky terrain of the Vindhyan range. The paintings of the caves show that the same canvas was used by the different people at different times. And on that basis these paintings can be classified into seven major periods. Period I Upper Paleolithic, Period II Mesolithic, Period III Chaleolithic, Period IV and V Early historic, Period VI and VII Medieval. The caves are mainly executed in red and white with the little bite use of green and yellow. The themes used in these caves include the scenes from the everyday life, depicting household scenes, haunting, dancing, animal fighting, elephant riders, honey collections, body tattooing, and playing music. In some of the caves you may also find images of some of the animals such as bison's, tigers, wild boar, lions, crocodiles, lizards, dogs and antelope. According to the sources and as the paintings depict, these caves must have been used as shelter by the large number of people in the pre historic times around 300 BC. The oldest painting in the Bhimbetka cave is more than 12,000 years old.
The Bhimbetka Caves are located about 45 km from Bhopal, in the state of Madhya Pradesh. They are beautifully surrounded by the forests of Sal and teak. The caves of Bhimbetka have gained popularity in the very span of time. There are 838 caves, which are spread in the total area of 1850 hectares. Out of these, 15 most exotic caves have been opened for the tourists. Bhimbetka caves are oldest one among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The name Bhimbetka caves is on the name of Bhima, the hero of great Hindu epic called Mahabharata. The name Bhim-bet-ka means Bheem sat down. These caves were found by the famous Indian archaeologist, Dr. V.S. Wakankar of the Vikram University, Ujjain, in the year 1958. It took more the 17 years to fully excavate these caves.

Barabar, BiharTop 10 caves

Dating back to the Mauryan period, Barabar Caves are the oldest rock-cut caves in India. Located in Jehanabad district in Bihar, about 31 north of Gaya, some of the caves have inscriptions that date back to the Ashokan period. The caves are situated in the Barabar Hills. There are similar caves in the Nagarjuni Hills which are located less than two km away which are also considered as part of the Barabar Caves. There are many Hindu and Jain sculptures in the caves that are believed to have been carved out of huge boulders from 273 BC to 232 BC. The caves were used extensively by monks belonging to the Ajivika sect. The caves have huge arches and all the caves have two chambers that have been carved completely out of granite. They have an echo effect that is unique to these caves because of the way they have polished interiors. Of the two chambers, the first is designated for masses to assemble for worshipping shrines known as stupas that were placed in the inner chamber. The inner chambers are now vacant.
There are four caves that form the Barabar caves – Lomas Rishi, Sudama, Karan Chaupar and Vishwa Zopri. Lomas Rishi caves are the most fascinating caves here which has been cut out of a huge mound of granite in such a way that it resembles the wooden huts that the Buddhist monks used to live in. There is a row of elephants that leads towards the stupas in the Lomas Rishi cave. The Sudama cave has arches similar to a bow and has a circular chamber with a mandap. The Karan Chaupar cave is a single room with exquisitely polished inner walls with inscriptions that date back to 245 BC. The Vishwa Zopri cave has two rooms of rectangle shape that can be reached by the rock cut stairs. Of these, Lomas Rishi and Sudama are the oldest examples of rock-cut architecture in the country with the architectural designs from the Mauryan period and they went to influence most rock sculptures in the next few centuries. Similar architectural detailing has been found in Ajanta caves and Karla caves along with many other caves in South Asia.

 
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