Saturday, 2 May 2015

A Beautiful Cave With A Peaceful Heart - Kanheri Caves 2015

It’s good at times to just pack your bags call a few people you love and head out exploring and visiting new or long lost places. Kicking back your feet, doing things spontaneously not having a schedule, and just having places in mind that you want to catch glimpses off. So this was one of my first of such kind of trips, backpacking to the Kanheri Caves in Borivali, a place I had visited at an early age as a child (And, I really did not remember much off.) with a few good friends that made the trip even more memorable. A short yet memorable trip was about to get underway.

It started off with me calling Sheldon, and saying “You’re free, I’m free, lets do this.” We soon spoke to Dua and Jean, and gradually the next morning we were catching a train from Bandra station and heading out to Borivali. Me and Dua enjoyed some cold lassi, idli’s and morning vada's at a few stalls close to the station as we waited for Jean. As soon as she arrived we, caught a rickshaw and head towards the park. (You can usually take a bus too, it’s pretty close to the Borivali East station, and right on the highway if you're travelling by road.). We reached the park and soon began our long walk towards the caves. The weather was pleasant, you can see others walking, jogging and reminiscing the beautiful morning and nature too. Cycling around (Renting them) is a good option too, unless you have people who do not cycle, or wish to learn to cycle in your group then you will need to walk.

So after a long walk of conversations, jokes and enjoying cold cucumbers we had finally reached the base point of the caves. I have been to a few Buddhist caves in the recent times, and they all have this beautiful feeling of peace, harmony and beauty in them. You’d feel like you’ve finally gotten home after all these years. There are numerous amount of small caves you can explore there once you enter. You’ll see a lot of trees, monkeys and remains from the olden days. We saw two snake too! (If you’re lucky/ during the monsoons) The caves are quite well maintained and taken care off. These caves are as old as from the first century BCE to the 10th century CE. Around a 109 caves are carved here out of basalt. All caves have a stone plinth for a surface. A huge congregation hall with huge stone pillars contains the well crafted and beautiful statue, the Buddhist shrine. Some of the caves were use for living, studying and meditating (Vihara’s). The larger caves are the ones we're halls used for congregational worship (Chaitya’s). Avalokiteshwara are the most different figure. The large number of viharas demonstrates the well organized establishment of Buddhist monks.

This Cave was also connected with many trade centers, such as the ports of Sopara, Kalyan, Nasik, Paithan and Ujjain. Kanheri was a University center by the time the area was under the rule of the Maurayan and Kushan empires. There are about 34 unfinished paintings of Buddha within the Caves. Nearly 51 legible inscriptions and 26 epigraphs (Cave 90) are found at Kanheri, which is very beautiful to see. I was really put to ease by the architecture and work put into it by the monks, surely historical. Dua was mentioning how it is a bliss to visit these caves during the monsoons, as there a lot of waterfalls and small streams that flow across the park, and the weather also is bliss. (Must go again!). There are also various bird and butterfly watching spots (Clubs too) across the park that one can visit or spend time at to enjoy a little bit of nature.

We head back after exploring. We took a bus that dropped us at a central point. We then, by feet climbed up stairs that a lady told us can help us see all of Mumbai, yes just 100 steps and you can see all of Mumbai (Note to self: never believe random stranger aunties, or ask them where steps lead too.). We climbed up to see nothing, then head back and saw Deers (Many kinds), Vulchers and Peacocks. They were beautiful to see, and touch and be with up close. We even fed this really beautiful looking deer a banana that Sheldon was carrying with him. Was really nice to see them all chill at the shade of the tree, trying to enjoy the warm summer. We soon then later grabbed a bite and head back. Cause it was time to goo home.

It was a nice experience this, not going with a group running around having a schedule. It was nice to just spend really long hours talking at a place, fooling around, being at peace and just being together. Its sad to see that even though the cave is so close to the city, and to our lifeline (Unlike the other far off places I usually visit) there is not as much importance given to this place. Yes people do visit now and then, and you’d see it buzzing with locals and nature/history lovers. However, I really feel this place should be adored for how peaceful, beautiful and home like it is. I really hope to do more spontanious trips, and local trips in the future. And learn more about important and significant places right around the corner and backyard. Hope to do more trips and getaways with these guys too. (Hi5! Love you guys.)

Pictures of the Caves (Kanheri Caves  2015) :

This is Mr. Happy (Or you can call me Alvin) signing off, until next time.
Have a great day, and an adventurous weekend! :)                                                                                     
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Alvin Anthony

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