Monday, July 22, 2024

Tourism      Monuments      Rock - cut Caves      Maharashtra     Nashik    

Pandu Lena Caves




Nasik, Mahrashtra



It is a 2000 year old Hinayana Buddhist Caves

Best Season


July to March

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The Buddhist monuments Pandavleni Caves also known by the names Pandu Lena caves and Trirashmi caves are a group of 24 rock cut caves. It is located high up on the north face of Trivashmi hill 8 km south of the Nasik city, just off NH3. The donative inscriptions indicates that these excavations are belonging to the Satavahana and Kshatrapa periods, spanning 2 C BC tot he 3C AD. Buddha images were added to many of the caves in 5C-6C.

These 2000 years old caves were believed to be built by the Jain rulers of that time as homes for the Jain saints. The Pandavas are supposed to have spent some time here and hence it is also known as Pandavas caves. The uniqueness of the Pandavleni caves is its brilliant sculptures and remarkably carved doorways. The caves can be reached by way of steps from the bottom of the hill to the middle of the line of excavations.

It will take 20 - 25 mintutes trek to reach its peak. Some of the caves here are intricately connected by stone-cut ladders that join them to the other caves.

These caves houses shrines, cisterns, rare inscription, carved figures of Buddha and Bodhisattva, along with icons of some of the Jain Teerthankaras like Vrishabhdeo, Ambikadevi, Veer Manibhadraji etc.

Most of the Pandavleni caves are viharas (monasteries) except for the 18th cave which is a chaitya. Caves 3, 10, 18 and 20 are the most significant and fascinating caves among the 24 caves which are noted for their magnificent sculptures. The chaitya cave (cave 18- the hall of congregation) is well sculptured with an elaborate facade. The caves also had an excellent arrangement for water, with skillfully chiseled water tanks, exquisitely carved into the rocks.

Cave 3, the largest and most elaborate of the monasteries is situated towards the right end of the group. The octagonal columns of the verandah have bell shaped capitals which has images of seated elephants, bulls and fantastic animals with riders. The balcony walls have dwarfs to support railing reliefs, now worn. The ceiling inside the caves has Imitation rafters and railings. The doorway to the hall is framed by a relief representation of a decorated wooden gateway with rolled ends. The sides are positioned by guardian figures and panels inscribed above. Small cells, each with rock cut bed, open off the large hall. The hall's rear wall has a stupa in relief, flanked by female worshippers.

Similar to Cave 3, Cave 10 is a Vihara much older and finer than Cave 3. This cave is a gift of Saka Ushabhadata and his wife Dakshamitra. There is no balcony, the verandah columns being fully exposed, revealing their pot shaped bases. An inscription with large letters can be seen on the walls of the verandah and on the porch wall. The pillars of the verandah are highly decorated. A Buddha figure is cut into the supa panel into the real wall of the hall.

Cave 18, towards the left end of the group, is the only chaitya hall at Pandu Lena. Thought to be as old as the Karla Cave, Cave 18 is one of the most impressive one with an ornamented portico and beautiful carvings of Buddhist and Jain statues. Its facade has finely carved details. The entrance is framed by a horseshoe shaped arch containing ribs interspersed with asupicious emblems and animals. A single guardian stands on the left. The interior is plain except for octagonal columns with pot shaped bases. The focal stupa has a high drum crowned with a railing.

The chaitya hall is flanked by two monasteries, Cave 17 and 20, linked to it by access staircases, preserved on the left. Cave 20 was enlarged in later times when images of teaching Buddha and Bodhisattvas were added in the rear shrine during 6th - 7th centuries A.D. The pot like bases and capitals of the porch columns, however, are original features.

Cave 19, immediately near Cave 20, is a small monastic exvacation, with pierced windows in the porch and decorated railing and arches over the cell doorways.