Living Under A Rock? 5 Caves In Mumbai That Should Be On Your Radar

Mihika posted on 05 June

The city’s madness is interspersed with cultural gems, and in this case, they are literally under a rock. Mumbai, surrounded by ghats, sea, and the plateau on each side, and a national park in the heart of the city, has enough to boast about already. And adding to the list of places to visit in Mumbai are the caves – mostly built by the Buddhists who believably had a proper settlement in the city in the early centuries.

All carved out of basaltic rock (the one majorly formed due to volcanic depositions), each of these has a story to tell. Here are the five caves in Mumbai that should be on your tourist checklist.

Kanheri Caves

Sanjay Gandhi National Park occupies the centre of Mumbai and it’s here that you can come face to face with the Buddhist history that is neatly arranged in the Kanheri caves. Dated between 1st century BCE to 10th century CE, this 109-caves circuit houses relief carving, painting and inscriptions. Most of the caves started as a place for the monks to reside and meditate, but by 3rd century CE, Kanheri caves became a massive Buddhist settlement of the Konkan Coast. And even today, you can tell the rich history these caves have from the bygone era.

Tourist Attractions

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali East, Mumbai

    Mandapeshwar Caves

    Located in Borivali, Mandapeshwar Caves date back to the 8th century and have shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. These caves, believed to be originally built and sculpted by the Buddhists monks, eventually gave shelter to the soldiers of WW-I, and Portuguese armies, followed by a series of invasions where the caves were used for varied purposes; all reasons for the defaced paintings that you see now. Now protected by ASI, these lesser known caves make for a great cultural outing.

    Tourist Attractions

    Laxman Mhatre Road, IC Colony, Marian Colony, Borivali West, Mumbai

      Jogeshwari Caves

      Dating back to 520-550 CE, Jogeshwari caves are inspired by the last leg of the Mahayana architecture (a Buddhist school of thought) and was later taken over by the Hindus. Located off the Western Express Highway in Jogeshwari, the locals here worship the idol of goddess Jogeshwari (after whom the locality is named too) and her footprints that can be seen inside the caves.

      Tourist Attractions

      Patel Industrial Premises, Opp. T-Series, Near Citi Mall, Veera Desai Industrial Estate, Andheri West, Mumbai

      ic_star_full_black_48px copy

        Mahakali Caves

        A group of 19 basalt-rock cut caves are believed were constructed between 1st-6th century CE, and are a fair reflection of Buddhist style of living. Cave 9, the Chaitya which is a praying hall, is the largest of the lot and has seven depictions of Buddha and other accompanying sculptures from the Buddhist mythology. Located between JVLR and SEEPZ, you will need to cut the urban clutter to make your way to this piece of heritage.

        Tourist Attractions

        Mahakali Caves Road, Sunder Nagar, Andheri East, Mumbai

        Elephanta Caves

        Though not located in the city boundaries of Mumbai, the only way to reach Elephanta Caves is through Mumbai’s Gateway Of India via an hour-long ferry ride. A UNESCO heritage site, the Elephanta caves consists of a series of 16 caves all depicting various stages and forms of Lord Shiva. Speculated to be placed between the 5th and the 7th century, the caves are managed by ASI. You can visit the caves on all days barring Mondays.

        Tourist Attractions

        Elephanta Island, Gharapuri, Maharashtra

        ic_star_full_black_48px copy