Buddhist Rock-Cut Monasteries of the Western Ghats

Spectacular Buddhist monastic shrines and dwellings carved over 2,000 years ago can be found in the Western Ghats in Maharashtra.

The magnificent rock-cut Buddhist monasteries near Nashik and Junnar, and at Karla, Bhaja, Bedsa, Kondane and Kanheri in Western Maharashtra were cut into the basalt cliffs of the Western Ghats more than 2,000 years ago.


Some of the most spectacular examples of ancient Buddhist architecture can be found in the rugged landscape of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra, where shrines and the dwellings of monks and nuns were carved from the rocky faces of the mountains. Dating back to the first and second centuries BCE, these so-called “caves” preserve evidence of early monastic life, while their figural carvings offer glimpses into the era’s courtly culture. Beginning in the fifth century these caves were embellished with Buddha and Bodhisattva images, and they resounded with the prayers of devotees, magnified by echoes from the surrounding rocky landscape.