India is a vibrant Asian country, which is known for its culture, history, cuisine, wildlife, natural beauty and various other aspects. It is a frequented tourist destination across the globe and receives a great footfall of international travelers throughout the year. As this city has a chronicled history of several millennia along with deep religious roots, it is regarded as a historic destination and a venerated site for various religions. Every part of the country has plenty of ancient, medieval and modern sites and buildings, which speak of its past glory. Holidays in India are mostly focused on its culture and heritage, which are preserved in the form of remarkable architectural landmarks and edifices.
When talked about historical and religious sites, a place that earns a notable mention is Maharashtra – the western state. Revered places of pilgrimage for various religions and archaeological sites of immense significance are dotted across the entire landscape of this beautiful coastal state. From modern structures like Gateway of India to medieval-era Maratha forts, there are many famous places to explore in the state. Another fascinating aspect of Maharashtra is the presence of caved structures and rock-cut temples, which have a deep-root association with three important religions of India – Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.
Discover the Ancient Caves
The ancient caves of Maharashtra are significant archaeological sites, which have prominent international recognition. Amongst the various such formations in the state, Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta Caves are the most popular ones. The Ajanta Caves situated in Aurangabad comprise a total of about 30 rock-cut structures, which are primarily related to Buddhism. Paintings and sculptures depicting traditional Jataka tales are present at this highly-regarded site. This place earns a mention in the list of protected monuments by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as well as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Another World Heritage Site and ASI-protected monument is the group of rock-cut monuments, collectively known as Ellora. Caved in the Chanderi Hills, this site has several temples, mathas and viharas, which are associated with Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The Elephanta Caves near Mumbai are also under the auspices of ASI and UNESCO. Primarily belonging to the Shaivite sect of Hinduism, these are fine examples of traditional Indian rock-cut architecture
A prominent Buddhist site amongst these protected national monuments is the one of Bhaja Caves. Having a significant relation with the Hinayana sect of Buddhism, this place is known for its elaborately-carved stupas and beautiful wooden architecture. Their design is similar to Karla Caves, which comprise ancient Buddhist shrines carved out of hilly rocks. Old prayer halls and monastic complexes have been discovered at this site, which is also protected under ASI. They are regarded as important holiday destinations in India in terms of architecture, history, religion and heritage.
Apart from the aforementioned structures, there are various other caved formations in Maharashtra that belong to various periods of its timeline. Bahrot, Bedse, Kanheri, Jogeshwari and Tulja are some other similar sites in the state that are known for their distinctive rock-cut architecture and religious significance.