Let’s move on to explore the rock-cut caves of Mumbai,   As the most enduring remnants of India’s treasured past, the caves in Mumbai, otherwise known as the commercial capital of the country, present a rich legacy of spiritual thought, faith and the culture of those times. Be assured, there are many! But it takes the spirit of an explorer to discover them and linger over the years. 

The one basic thing you need to know is the starting point of this cave architecture. And as the historians will tell you, the first of such caves can be traced to Virar.

Location of caves:

Jivadani , Virar

The honor of the oldest caves in Maharashtra goes to Jivdani  Why Jivdhani is first traced cave? The logical answer is, one has to go to the mountain of Jivdani and understand its geographical location. From these caves of life, the Bolinge area can still be seen at a 90 degree angle right in front of it. The ancient Nalasopara port was formally started from this area .The bay used to enter Bolinge from the mouth of the river Vaitarna and then exit the sea to Nalasopara. It was a one-way street for large merchant ships. Moreover, the western part of the land used to act as a breakwater. So the water in the creek inside was relatively slow. 

Moreover, the logically important point is that along with Buddhism, sculpture came to us in India.  Therefore, these sculptors may have gone to unknown Maharashtra from the known Shurparaka.  In that sense if you looked at the caves of life. These are only experimental caves with no ornaments, as can be seen from systematic observation. 

Jivdhani temple and cave , now converted into rope way to travel to temple

Kanheri, Borivali

Kanheri caves are located in Borivali, behind Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Kanheri comes from the Sanskrit Krishnagiri, which means “Black Mountain” They were chiselled out of a massive Basalt rock.

Inscription- nearly 51 legible inscriptions and 26 epigraphs are found at Kanheri, which include the inscriptions in Brahmi, Devanagari and 3 Pahlav epigraphs found in Cave 90 .One of the significant inscriptions mentions about the marriage of Satavahana ruler Vashishtiputra Satakarni with the daughter of Rudradaman ,Cave number 34 has unfinished paintings of Buddha on the ceiling of the cave.

Kanheri Caves

Magathane , Borivali

Magathane caves are hardly 6 kms to the west from Kanheri caves in Borivali.

Magalthane is the name given to this inscription in Kanheri Cave No. 21 . The  neglected Buddhist caves can be seen here. These are not well known to Mumbaikars. Kanheri, Mahakali, Jogeshwari, Gharapuri and Mandapeshwar caves are known however Magathane are just as important.

The caves are in the slums on the left side of the Dattapada road leading from Magathane to the station on the Borivali East Magathane on the Western Expressway.

Linguists think that “Magg” is the way and stopping place “Thane” is Magathane.These caves are also known as Poiser Caves.  Even today, the caves are not visible from the outside because of the slums that stand there. Some of the caves here have been buried under some of these huts.

On the east side of the caves is a veranda with double crescent ornaments on the pillars. This type of decoration can be seen in the early caves of Kuda and Kanheri . The inner chaitya has a conical structure on six to seven pillars with little ornamentation. On one side of the front wall is a large sculpture of Gautama Buddha. The Buddha sitting in the Padmasana is seen here. The middle part of the sculpture is blackened. Archaeological remains in the vicinity of Magathane also indicate that the caves must have been around the 6th century.

Magathane caves

Mahakali , Andheri

Mahakali caves are also known as Kondivate. These caves are in Andheri.

There are a group of 19 rock-cut monuments built between 1st and 6th century.Monument consists of two groups of rock-cut caves – 4 caves more to the north-west and 15 caves more to the south-east. Monument also contains rock-cut cisterns and remnants of other structures.

The most interesting cave is the cave number 9, the chaitya cave. The inner shrine and stupa are enclosed within a carved wall, not typical to most chaitya caves. This 8-inch-thick wall around the stupa has a central door with a latticed with window on either side and over the right window is a two-line Pali inscription. A carved panel of Buddha with the attendants and other figures called Buddhist litany is cut on the right, which is inserted later.

Caves are carved out of a solid black basalt  rock. The largest cave no 9 at Mahakali is one of the seven depictions of the Lord Buddha .

Mahakali Caves

Jogeshvari caves , Jogeshwari

Jogeshwari caves are located in Jogeshwari East, very close from Mahakali caves.The Jogeshwari Caves are some of the earliest Hindus and Buddhist cave temples sculptures located in the Mumbai suburb of Jogeshwari, India.

The caves are nearby the JVLR – Western Express Highway surrounded by encroachments. Mind it, the caves are full of Bats.

It has many pillars and a Lingam at the end. Idols of Dattatreya, Hanuman and Ganesh line the walls. There are also relics of two doormen. The cave also has a murti and footprints of goddess Jogeshwari (Yogeshwari)

Jogeshwari caves

Mandapeshvara ,Borivali

The name of the cave Mandapeshwar means Mandap Pe Eshwar
The Mandapeshwar caves were carved between 6th-8th CE straight out of the basaltic rocks of Salsette or Sashti. Some historians may have interpreted the Nataraja panel to be the wedding of Shiva and Parvati.

Mandapeshwar caves

Cheers , Sheetal (Escaping Soul)

Sheetal Vibhuti

There's much to see here. So, take your time, look around. Then make sure to drop me a line.
I look forward to hearing from you, so let’s grab a coffee soon!

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