Aug 05

The buddhist excavations at Bhaja, also known as Bhaja caves, date almost to the 1st century AD and are believed to be one of the oldest buddhist religious centres in this area. it is also a big tourist draw as it is near Lonavala, but thankfully, because of its classification as a national monument, it is relatively well maintained compared to many other tourist attractions here.

How to go to Bhaja caves from Pune (magarpatta city): Bhaja caves are very easy to locate , as the exit is located right on the old Pune-Mumbai highway. Take the Nh4 (old mumbai-pune highway) towards Mumbai, few kilometres (6-7) before lonavala, you should see an exit on the left towards Bhaja/Malavali (and one on the right towards Karla caves). Take the left, you should reach Malavali village (there is a railway crossing to cross – a wait not more than 10 minutes). 2 kms from Malvali, you would reach the base village of Bhaja, where ample parking is available. On any monsoon day, you would see lot of trekking/walking grps walking towards Bhaja from Malvali railway station, but the likes of me drive over as much we can and then walk the remaining distance. On the day i went, the old highway was blocked because of Palkhi, so i was forced to take the expressway. So, if you too have to take the expressway for some reason, drive upto Lonavala (central point), take almost a U-turn onto the old highway going towards Pune, drive for 6-7 kilometres and then turn right towards Bhaja. During the non-monsoon seasons, there is a shortcut from behind the food court on the expressway (before lonavala) to reach the malvali village road without having to go to Lonavala and then come back.

The base village of Bhaja has its typical share of chai/Pakora shops and the garbage dumps. Once you cross all this, it is just you and nature all the way. There is a waterfall just at the base which is used for bathing as well as washing clothes. But, if no one minds, who cares? There were many buffaloes grazing near the fall and Akshara wanted a snap with them. A little later, she found another dirty cow to get photographed with!

To reach the caves, it is a short climb of around 20-25 minutes on a properly laid out path. There are steps for most of the distance, but at some places, it may get tricky. The steps were a little too big for Akshara to climb on her own, but it wasn’t a tough climb even with carrying Akshara most of the way

The best time to visit Bhaja caves would be late evening, as the caves face west and the late evening light would be great for photographing the caves. It was cloudy/raining for most of the time on the day we went, but the few minutes that the sun came out, the light was magical. The caves officially close around 6 pm and they dont allow anyone to enter beyond 5.45 pm, so time your visit leaving around 20-30 mins for the climb. We took it easy going up , spending lot of time taking photos of the amazing greenery around and also using our standard prop (nowadays), the umbrealla.

You can actually spend a lot of time at the top exploring every nook and corner of the caves. We went close to the closing time and it was also starting to drizzle. With just one umbrella for the three of us ( and no jackets), we spent just around 10-15 mins walking around and doing a brief survey of the caves.

The caves are right next to the Lohagad fort. You can see the fort from Bhaja village as well as from the caves. If you walk to Lohagad from the base village, it is a walk of 2-3 hours. If you have a good vehicle, you can drive along for most of this distance almost upto the base of Lohagad fort. Visapur fort is also closeby. To go to Visapur fort, you have to climb up to the left of the caves. There is no clear path marked, but just keep going up and you should reach Visapur Fort. If you intend to walk to Lohagad from Bhaja, don’t come towards the path to the caves, instead walk across the fields (next to the temple). This should save you a km or two.

More photography on the way down. It was a good half-day trip with a mix of nature and history

written by Rajaram S


One Ping to “Bhaja caves near Malavali Village, Lonavala”

  1. Rain Rain, come again » Child's Play - Akshara Rajaram Says:

    [...] On the trail up to the Bhaja Caves near Lonavala [...]


20 Responses to “Bhaja caves near Malavali Village, Lonavala”

  1. 1. Anupama Says:

    Absolutely stunning place … thanks Rajaram ! we atleast get to see them thru your wonderful pictures :-)
    And nice to see you in few pictures this time :-D

  2. 2. Parul Agarwal Says:

    Very good pics….

    The monsoons being a perfect place to visit the place. The slight drizzle makes the hill station even greener and peaceful. It’s the most favourable place for a quick break and one surely comes back with a smile and a breath of relaxation.

  3. 3. Preeti Revankar Says:

    Hi Rajaram..I am new to navi mumbai..and your blog has given me some fantastic locations…thanks a ton.
    Looks like you travel every weekend…awesome..how do you manage to do that..with work i mean :)

    thanks again…Preeti Revankar

  4. 4. Nalla Says:

    thanks so much for posting these beautiful pics. and for the great information.

  5. 5. Pradeep Kumar Says:

    Thanks for all the excellent information and photos. They are very useful. I am thinking of taking my family there for coming weekend based on your recommendation.
    A road map would have been an added advantage to your excellent article.

  6. 6. sarita Says:

    nice blog….can you suggest some scenic places near pune where we can have a picnic and where kids can also have a good time…we are planning a trip ths weekend with friends n kids……pls suggest some…thnx

  7. 7. Rajaram S Says:

    pavna dam is a good place for a picnic – very calm with a beautiful view, but nothing much for kids.
    There arent much options to mix scenery with something to do for kids. Just take some soap balloon blower and kids will hve fun :-)
    lavasa is also a good option. the drive is good, the place is scenic and kids actually have many things to do including water sports (though not sure of this in winter)

  8. 8. Gislaine Says:

    Thank you again for allowing me to relive my childhood! I can SMELL the wet earth, and feel the rain of India once more. Keep up your photographic adventures, life goes by so much faster than you think, and your delightful children will grow and go all too quickly. Thank you. God less

  9. 9. Sneha Sabnis Rao Says:

    Keep up the great work of blogging your trips.. truly amazing places discovered through you

  10. 10. ajinkya Says:

    Is the abv mentioned trek possible in 1 day on byk….

  11. 11. Rajaram S Says:

    easily ..one-way climb should take a max of 25-30 mins…

  12. 12. BK PATNAIK Says:

    Thank you for the total information regarding Bhaja caves and the peculiar details are my favorite. I am planning to visit today and was checking for some pre-knowledge. Your publication really cleared all my doubts and in addition charged me for some good photographs. thanks again.

  13. 13. S.Neeta Says:

    Amazing photos and information! Thnx!

  14. 14. Courtney Says:

    Dear Rajaram,
    I love your pictures, the caves look incredible! I have a rather mysterious request, I’m hoping you might give me a moment of your time. I’m trying to narrow down a specific cave once visited by a woman from my hometown (Sacramento, California, USA). She visited India back when Bombay and Poona were still on the maps (in other words, it was the late 1800s). She rode on a mule, through a dark jungle, and the journey to the cave took 5 days. She visited a Great Yogin she called Bhojaveda. Here is her description of the cave: “The cave of Bhojaveda is situated about seven miles from Poona under a low wooded hill. It is less a true cave than a rock-shelter which runs some fifty feet back into a turf-covered gigantic boulder” I know this is a long shot, but does this description sound like a specific cave you know of? Thank you so much!

  15. 15. Courtney Says:

    PS Sorry if I wasn’t clear about her journey, I believe she left Bombay and arrived at the cave 5 days later. =)

  16. 16. Rajaram S Says:

    seven miles from Poona doesnt fit bhaja or karla. You do have Ghorwadeshwar caves and they do seem to fit in the description. You can check the ghprwadeshwar photos. All googling leads only to Aimee Crocker :-)

  17. 17. Courtney Says:

    Rajaram,
    Thank you so much! And yes, I’m researching my hometown hero, Aimée Crocker. I’m planning on visiting India within the next few months, and it would incredible to see a few of the sites she saw (albeit over 100 years later!). Thank you again! :)

  18. 18. Jamir Says:

    Hi
    We are planning Trekking to Malavli and Bajja Caves. Is it ok if we go by train and get down at Malavali Station and walk to Mlavali Hills and bajja caves.

    What is the distance from Malavali station to Malavali hills and any transport available from Malavali station to Hillss like 6 seater auto share transport. We are 40 People

    Do suggest me

  19. 19. Rajaram S Says:

    Malvali station to the base village is 2 km. Many trekking grps do this. But depends on your enthu to walk this extra 2 km. there are options to take shared transport for this 2 km

  20. 20. Deepak Says:

    Hello All,

    Yeah its really gr8 place…..

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