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Kondana Caves aka Kondivade Caves in Karjat

Monday, April 20, 2015

Kondana Caves aka Kondivade Caves is located at Thakurwadi and not at Kondana or Kondivade in Karjat. They were built by the Buddhist monks.  The caves are located in the same hill range as Rajmachi. They can be accessed both from Karjat and Lonavala.
Hillrange from Kondivade Village

After visiting the Shiva Temple at Ambernath we headed over to Karjat to visit the Kondana Caves.  

The Ambernath railway station was jam packed with people. Though the trains were on time,  the less number of trains led to the crowd ever increasing this time.  
Buffaloes bathing in Ulhas river
We boarded the 10:17 AM train to Karjat.  Note that trains are every 30 minutes from Ambernath to Karjat.  It took us around 40 minutes to reach Karjat railway station.  Also another thing which I noted is that the railway stations between Ambernath and Karjat are far away from each other.  Commuting will always be a problem, while travelling between these stations. 
Kondana Caves
Once we reached Karjat, we decided to have the famous Karjat Vada Pav,  packed vada's, mixed bhajiya for lunch while trekking the Kondana Caves.  We wanted to have some Lassi,  sadly none of the milk dairy stacked Lassi,  so we has to have Gola and lemon juice.  Which was a great refresher on a hot sunny day.  
Another view of Kondana Caves
We then followed the instructions provided by the locals and walked for about 15 minutes to reach Shriram Pool,  the place from where we were to get a Tum Tum to Kondivade Village.  

If you hiring a private tum tum,  it will cost you around 200 bucks,  else shared seat will cost you Rs. 30 only. As it was just the two of us,  we decided to take Rs. 30 option. The tum tum terminates at Kondivade Village.  The private tum tum terminates at Thakurwadi village. 
Main hall at Kondana Caves
 We alighted at Kondivade village and followed the instructions of the locals and started walking on the tar road. Kondivade village -  Kondana village - Thakurwadi village.  The caves are located near Thakurwadi village.    It took us around an hours time to reach Thakurwadi village.  The roads are not very good here.  So if you getting your car along,  see to it,  that it has a high ground clearance.
The one hour walk in the hot sun was exhaustive. But it offered a beautiful view of the hill ranges around,  Rajmachi fort and Ulhas river which flows next to the road. Saw a couple of women washing clothes in the river.  The river was not very deep in certain portions and hence saw a couple of buffaloes bathing in it too. I guess it was the heat. This place would look wonderful in the rains, greenery all around.

Apart from Kondivade Village, Kondana village, has a small shop that offers refreshments,  no refreshments at Thakurwadi village.  Each of these villages are small consisting of around houses ranging from 10 to 20.

Another view of Kondana Caves
A muddy path, the first left after you cross Thakurwadi village leads to the Kondana Caves.  again there are no sign boards placed here.  So my advise is to follow the most traveled path,  you will also see wafer and chocolate wrappers along the way.  Means that you are not the right path.  The path is like a rollercoaster ride,  on the edge of the cliff and on flat plateau. It is made of loose soil. So be careful while trekking uphill and downhill. 

Mike and Me
As the sun was right over our head,  we were feeling the heat,  our water resource was also depleting. After a couple of breaks and having kandha bhajiya as food we started to explore the caves.  

In a matter of 30 minutes we could locate the caves.  Sign of relief.  We finally made it. 

Resting rooms in the Caves
Just 4 to 5 caves here. out of which the second cave was beautifully carved. It had a Stupa in it, which is currently broken down along with pillars around. There are two wooden arches too. 

Next to it is another cave, which can be reached by climbing the steps, it had many rooms in it. Each of the rooms had a flat bed like structure made of stone. I believe this was the resting place for the Buddhist monks who carved these caves. There is water seepage in the caves, as the floor of the caves was still moist. 
Water cistern in the Caves
There are two other caves, but nothing much to see in them. The last cave was a water cistern. Water was currently filled in it. not sure if it was fit for consumption.

Its fun to come here in the rains, reason being , you can enjoy the waterfall that happens over the caves. But due to this waterfall the carvings are getting eroded. The Govt should work on the up keeping of these caves.  
Scenic view of Rajmachi
After having our lunch in the form of vada's and kandha bhajiya we rested in the cool shade of trees. The birds chirping and the sound of the leaves swaying in the winds was music to my ears. 

We then decided to head back to Mumbai. From Kondana Caves, there is a trail that leads to Rajmachi Fort. Now it would take around 3 to 4 hours to reach the top from here. 
We reached Thakurwadi village in 20 minutes, walked for an hour's time to reach Kondivade Village to board the shared tum tum to Karjat.
Tum Tum
Though we were tired, trekking in the hot sun, this journey was fun.

Looking forward to Mumbra Devi Temple tomorrow.


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