36 km north-west of Pune in Maharashtra.
|Classification:||Cave Church Monolithic Church|
|Guided tours:||self guided|
|Address:||Bhandara Buddhist Caves, Induri, Maharashtra 410507, Tel: +91-, Fax: +91-,|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1958||existence of the site first published in Indian Archaeology 1957-58.|
Bhandara Caves are named after Bhandara Hill near Induri, where they are located. On top of the hill is the Bhandara Dongar Temple where you can park. The trail to the caves starts behind the first building on the left as you reach the temple complex.
Bhandara Caves are a small set of Buddhist caves, the number is somewhat unclear, as there are several collapse caves which are normally not counted. The first is also the largest houses a shrine of Hindu deities Vitthal and Rakhumai. Monks from Varkari Sampradaay stay in the cave and tend to the shrine. If a monk is present it may be entered with the necessary respect. It is the place where Tukaram is said to have lived for some time. There is a monolithic temple, which is in India also considered a cave. It is a circular stupa with a diameter of 3 m and has a half sphere as roof and a band of rail pattern. Then there is another cave which is open. A couple of cisterns in front of the cave have been capped by concrete. It has two chambers, an antechamber and a main chamber separated by a gate which was probably once closed by a wooden door.
The caves were not known to Alexander Cunningham in the 19th century, who explored hundreds of caves and published world famous descriptions. To the locals the site was known as Vithoba-Rakhumaichi Leni, and according to local legend the site was frequented by the saint Tukaram. The first publication of its existence was by Sri R. L. Bhide in Indian Archaeology 1957-58. He recognized four caves, one chaitya (monolithic temple) and three viharas (caves). Based on architectural elements it is believed the caves were excavated from the 2nd century.