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Pandav Leni Caves near Nasik Flyover in Nasik

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pandav Leni Caves aka Trirashmi Buddhist Caves are located on a hillock very close to the Nasik fly over.
Pandav Leni Caves

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Directions to it are easily available on google maps. Just that one has to skip the fly over to reach the caves foothill.

After visiting Chambhar Leni caves we headed to see Pandav Leni, the last installment of our Nasik trip.
Carvings at Pandav Leni Caves
Carvings at Pandav Leni Caves
These caves were carved out somewhere between 2nd century BC till 5th century BC. The caves were carved and donated by v arious kings that ruled Nasik. 
Vihara at Pandav Leni Caves
Pandav Leni Caves
The caves, known as Trirashmi Buddhist Caves (also known as Pandav Caves) were carved out from the 2nd century BC till the 5th century BC as a part of donation by the Kings.
Pandav Leni Caves

We parked the car near the foothills of the caves and then started our climb to reach the caves. There are steps built to reach the entrance of the caves. The climb via the steps is not as tiring like the one we had at Chambhar Leni Caves. You will find elderly crowd too at the caves. There is also a trekking route to reach the caves, but it quite steep and straight up. 
Pandav Leni Caves
The stairs are surrounded by a thick green cover, due to which one will not sweat while climbing up. The sound of the birds chirping on the trees is music to the ears. It took us 20 minutes to reach the entrance. There is a fee to view the caves. It is Rs.15 for locals, Rs.200 for foreigners and the timings are from 8:30 AM to 5:30M everyday. The ticket checker will scan the bar code on the ticket with is phone. Technology put to use I should say. 
That's me
The caves are numbered. On the way up, there are signboards informing about the caves. How stupid to place the information on the way up but not next to the caves. Not sure whose idea it was.
The caves are beautifully carved. The art work is just amazing. The cravings are in the league of Ajanta and Ellora Caves near Aurangabad
Pandav Leni Caves

There are 24 caves in all to explore here. Most of the caves are beautifully carved. It was rather difficult for me to photograph some of the cravings as it was so close that it hardly fit my phone screen. Hence I shot videos. 
Pandav Leni Caves
Statue of Buddha at Pandav Leni Caves
Some of the caves was Vihara (a large hall), with rooms next to it. In it were three huge statues of Buddha. It was pitch black in there. I wouldn't have known about them, if Thomas had not told me about it. Clicking a photo of the Buddha was a task, as the phone flash was not strong enough.I got some blurry photos. A tip. One has to remove shoes to see this cave. One has to remove footwear to visit the best among st the caves. 
Stupa at Pandav Leni Caves
Stupa at Pandav Leni Caves
Carvings at Pandav Leni Caves

Bed like structures were built in the rocks for the monks to meditate. There was one high up. a staircase was needed to board it. Something very unusual in our trip to caves.
Carvings at Pandav Leni Caves

It makes we wonder as to how these caves were constructed. ' Reverse Engineering' said Manohar. To know more about it , you need to chat with Manohar. He is a great source of information.
Some of the cave have graffiti on them, so I know some idiots were here. 
Pandav Leni Caves
View of Nasik from Pandav Leni Caves
The Stupa, reminded me of the Stupa at Karla and Bhaje Caves, in Lonavala. 

As the caves are on a height it offer a fantastic view of Nasik city. Something similar to the view from Chambhar Leni Caves. 
Pandav Leni Caves
It took us around an hour's  time to see the caves. We then headed back to Mumbai.
Carvings at Pandav Leni Caves
We stopped for some hot vada and pav vada on our way back as we had a long journey to cover.
Carvings at Pandav Leni Caves
Carvings at Pandav Leni Caves
I got to visit three places, Ramshej fort, Chambhar Leni Caves had finally Pandav Leni Caves. Expenses inclusive of all cost us just Rs.630 per head. Now that is reasonable for four.
Pav Vada
People staying at Nasik these are very close. If we can travel all the way from Mumbai to visit these so can you. 

Keep reading my blog for more explorations.

Chambhar Leni Caves near Ramshej Fort near Nasik off the Nasik Gujarat Highway

Friday, October 28, 2016

After visiting Ramshej fort, we traveled by the Peth Road, towards Nasik city to visit the Chamber Leni Caves. The Caves are around 7 KM away from Ramshej Fort. The caves are located off the Nasik Gujarat highway. One can locate the Caves from a distance. The Cave is actually a temple. It is painted white and can be seen from a distance.
Chambhar Leni Caves midway on the hill

There are signboards on the way and we followed them to reach the car parking. Now starts the climb till to the temple. The temple is located somewhere in the middle of the hill.  A series of steps leads to the temple.

The climb looked simple but was tiring. It will test your leg muscles. It took us around 30 minutes to reach the top after taking a lot of breaks. The steps are uniform in size. There is also a railing on either side when the climb is steep. Thanks to the green cover. It protected us from the sun's rays at regular intervals and also saved us from getting dehydrated. The climb reminded me of my trip to Mumbra Devi temple in Mumbra. 

Stairs leading to Chambhar Leni Caves

Chambhar Leni Caves are Jain caves that were built in the 4th century. Chambhar Leni is the portion of the Teerthraj Gajpantha, which is a holy place of the Jains. It is believed that Chambhar Leni was built by the King of Mysore, Chamraj, in the 600 BC, the name of the caves is derived from the name of the King. The temple is painted white. It is newly constructed but not very new also. It has a huge statue of Mahavir in it. The steps near the temple are steep and it is a 85 degree climb. One can enter the temple premises. Food cannot be consumed in the temple premises. The extension of the temple is still ongoing.
Huge Statue of  Mahavir at Chambhar Leni Caves
The temple offers a breath taking view of the city of Nasik in a distance. The panoramic view is just amazing. Thanks to the sun once again for shining brightly.

Panoramic vie of Nasik City from Chambhar Leni Caves

The temple can be seen in 10 minutes. For the religious it might take longer. We then braked outside the temple premises for a short nap. Total piece of mind can be attained here as there is nothing to disturb. 

Chambhar Leni Caves

We started our descent downhill. Getting down the stairs was equally painful on the leg muscles. In 30 minutes we were down at the base. 

That's us
What a climb it was. The panoramic photos paid off for the climb.
We then headed to see the
Pandav Leni Caves in Nasik.

Ramshej fort near Nasik on Nasik Gujarat Highway

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ramsej or Ramshej Fort is located around 10 KM away from the city of Nasik, in Maharashtra. One has to travel on the Peth road, which is the Nasik Gujarat Highway. From the Aashewadi Phata there is a road that leads to Aashewadi village, which is the base village to Ramshej fort.

Ramshej fort

Manohar, Vineet and Thomas joined me in exploring Ramshej Fort, Chambhar Leni Caves and Pandav Leni Caves, all in the Nasik belt.
Foggy roads

We met at Ghatkopar in the east at 5:20 AM. The route is tagged on Google Maps. Ramshej Fort is around 180 KM away. We then headed via the Eastern Express Highway to Kalyan, for the final pit stop to refill on CNG. By 6 AM we were at the CNG pumping station. As there is was no crowd we filled the car with gas and headed over the Mumbai  Nasik Highway. As there was less crowd on the road, we picked up on speed. We were greeted by foggy roads. The fog was so intense that we could hardly see the vehicles a couple of feet away. It was fun travelling in the fog.  Finally the fog gave way to bright sunlight.

Watchout for this signboard near Aashewadi Phata

Kanda Bhajiya at Hotel Shri Krushna near Aashewadi Phata

Due to a small accident on the highway, we were stuck for almost 45 minutes. Somehow the roads cleared out and we started on our journey. 

Manohar picked up speed and we kept moving on the highway. As the route was tagged on  google maps, we didn't have to ask people around for directions. 

Ram Mandir next to Ramshej Fort

Fortification of Ramshej Fort

We traveled by the Nasik Flyover as we wanted to skip the signals and finally on the Peth Road. We stopped at Aashewadi Phata. 

There are a two hotels here, on either side of the road. We decided to try the food at Shri Krushna Hotel. It serves Jain Food and along with Veg Food. I ordered the Kanda Bhajiya. Doesn't the photo look yummy. The Kanda Bhajiya was spicy, it bought tears down by cheeks, but that didn't stop me from eating them all. The food is costly. Don't recollect the price. Manohar any inputs on the cost?
Another hill in a distance

We met Prakash at the hotel reception. He spoke English fluently. I was surprised to hear him speak. After enjoying the kanda bhajiya we asked him for directions. He asked us to travel on the road, till we reach a temple in Aashewadi village. Park the car near the temple and then walk it out to the fort. 

We drove the car to the Aashewadi village. Aashewadi village is a cluster of around 15 to 20 houses. We parked the car  near the temple premises. We then started our trek to Ramshej Fort. 
Stairs leading to the fort

We exited the village and then took a right and saw a track, crossed the barb wire and walked on the cemented road. The cemented road, then turned to stairs and finally we were climbing rocks to reach the top. It was ziz zag way till the top. 

View from Ramshej Fort

Ramshej means Lord Rams bedstead. During exile he had made this fort his residence for sometime. That's how the fort got its name. During the reign of Sambhaji, Aurangzeb tried to conquer this fort. Sambhaji and his men resisted the attacks for around 6 years.

The view of the hill near the fort is amazing. Greenery all around us. We kept climbing and finally in 45 minutes we were atop the fort. At the entrance of the fort is the Ram Mandir. There is a cave below the temple, it provides fresh drinking water.
That's us

Atop the fort there is very little fortification left. On the left hand side is a plateau. It offers a wonderful view for of the land around.
There are a couple of caves on the Fort premises. They are not in use. They must have been used for storing and boarding purposes. They were not Buddhist nor Jain nor Hindu Caves.

Caves atop Ramshej Fort

There are a couple of water tanks cut out in the rock. Not sure how deep they are. It still has water filled in them. But the water is not suitable for drinking purposes as the water color has turned green. 

We walked a little ahead, we saw a temple, painted white. There were people sitting in it discussing some issue . We didn't want to bother them , so we decided to move ahead and view the fort.

Fortification of Ramshej Fort
Fortification of Ramshej Fort

Nothing much to see on the Fort premises. Have to admit, the view it offers of the surrounding  is just amazing . Thanks to the sun , once again, I got to click some wonderful photos. It took us around 45 minutes to see the fort. We then decided to head back to base as we had Chamber Leni and Pandav Leni Caves to be explored.

There is no provision of food on the fort. Food is available at Aashewadi Phata. Also ST buses ply on this route, you can board one from Nasik. 

Water tank atop Ramshej Fort

Temple atop  atop Ramshej Fort

It took us 30 minutes to reach Aashewadi village. We then boarded the car and headed to Aashewadi Phata to have lunch, we had lunch at Hotel Dhanashri as they serve Non Veg Food. LOL. Lunch for us comprised of chicken rice plate and Dal Fry. Doesn't the food look yummy. It was a little expensive but the food was finger licking good. We paid around Rs.530 for a wholesome meal for four.

Hills in a distance

That's us
Lunch at Hotel Dhanashri

If you have noticed the signboards of both hotels are in Gujarati, as we were not far from the Gujarat border. Buses playing to Gujarat and Rajasthan ply from this road. 

We then traveled by the Peth Road to visit Chamber Leni Caves.

Junnar Caves : Lenyadri Caves aka Ganesh Caves in Junnar in Maharashtra

Monday, October 24, 2016

Junnar Caves

There are around 200 Buddhist caves in the hills of Junnar. The largest collection of caves at a single place in the whole of India. These caves belong to the Hinayana (Theravada) phase of Buddhism. They were built between 3rd century BC to 3rd century AD. The Junnar Caves are further divided on the hill ranges. The  Tulja Caves, The Shivneri Caves near the Shivneri Fort, The Manmodi Hills (comprising of Amba Ambika Caves, Bhimashankar Caves and Bhutalinga Caves) and Lenyadri Caves aka Ganesh Caves. 

Lenyadri Caves aka Ganesh Caves

 As we didn't explore Shivneri Caves at Shivneri Fort, we headed out to see Lenyadri Caves. 

The directions to the caves are tagged on google maps. Plus you can ask the locals for directions.

History of Lenyadri Caves aka Ganesh Caves
The are plenty of options to eat and stay at the base of the Lenyadri Caves. Car park option is also available.

As there is a Ganesh temple in the caves,  there are shops at  the base selling articles of worship, sweets and cold drinks. 

Lenyadri Caves aka Ganesh Caves in the hills

A series of zig zag steps leads to the top of the caves, something similar to Bedse and Karla Caves in Lonavala. 

But climbing the steps will test your leg muscles. LOL. 

Lenyadri Caves aka Ganesh Caves

There is an entry fee to visit the caves. i.e. Rs.15 per person. The cave is open from 6 AM to 9 PM. Entry fee is applicable from 8AM to 6 PM. 

There are plenty of devotees who flock  the Ganesh Temple. 

Lenyadri Caves offers a wonderful view of the surroundings. 

Lenyadri Caves aka Ganesh Caves

The best among st the caves is converted into a temple. Ganesh Temple. One has to park footwear outside to visit the caves. As we were not in favor of removing our footwear, we didn't visit the temple.

As we were exploring the caves we were confronted by a troop of monkeys. We decided to stand still. Manohar asked me not to make any eye contact with the monkeys. Finally after they left we went ahead to see the remaining caves. 

View from Lenyadri Caves aka Ganesh Caves

There are plenty of other caves around. But they are not in very good condition. But they can be accessed. The access to the caves on the far end is difficult, but don't be disheartened, work is being carried out so that all the caves can be easily accessed. the laborers informed us that they are going to built a stone pathway and a stoned wall as a boundary. Not sure how much time it will take.

Stupa at Lenyadri Caves aka Ganesh Caves

We started our return journey at 5:50 PM in the evening. Thanks to Manohar for driving on the highway in the night to reach us safe and sound at 11:15 PM at Ghatkopar. Ashish and me were right in time to board the last metro train to Versova. 
Lenyadri Caves aka Ganesh Caves

This trip was initially supposed to be a 2 day trip. As we had the car and the caves were close by we managed to wind up in a day's time. Had we gone by public transport, it would have taken us around 2 to 3 days to cover all the caves.
Lenyadri Caves aka Ganesh Caves

The total cost inclusive of (fuel and refreshments) was Rs.630 per head.

Keep reading my blogs for more travel offbeat travel destinations. 
That's Me at Lenyadri Caves aka Ganesh Caves

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