India is known for its rich cultural heritage. The eventful history of India has been a fascination for people all around the world. Since time immemorial, Indians have been creating memorable sets of history. We all are fortunate to be having remains and traces of various Indian historical events, so that we can interpret our glorious pasts and present them in the form of historical monuments.
In my summer vacations in 2017, I got a splendid opportunity to visit a historical place – Bhaje Caves. Situated in Lonavala, Maharashtra, these caves are protected under the Archaeological Survey of India. The Bhaje caves are a series of 29 Buddhist meditation enclosures. From taking the ticket from the counter of Archaeological Survey of India to climbing the steep steps to reach the caves, the experience of visiting these caves is worth-having.
We were four – my father, my mother, my sister and I. All teeming with high spirits and excitement, we started a wonderful climb to the Bhaje caves. These caves are situated high above the ground and one has to climb two hundred steep steps to reach there. We had expected to be tired halfway, but constant drizzling made the weather fresh and joyful. With every breath we took, we got more and more energy to make it to our destination. Around us, most visitors seemed to be students, who had planned adventures with their friends to enjoy their holidays together.
Firstly, we went to the Stupas. These cylindrical bodies topped with domes, are important structures in the Buddhist culture. There was peace all around. The environment was such that even the most noisiest people tried to maintain the tranquillity by keeping quiet. There were no guides or people versed with the place, so we had to interpret different parts of the caves our our own.
What we saw after walking a short while was a huge vacant space resembling a dormitory. Everything was made of stone. These structures had been carved from the mountains. Standing there, I wondered how strong the people back in 2nd century BC. would have been. Personally, I couldn’t imagine a harder task than cutting rooms and dormitories from mountains, at a time when there weren’t many equipments, and the only tools were the mighty hands of the people.
Every place that followed looked like a room with slabs at the walls. These large halls gave way to other small private rooms, each having a slab. We arrived at a conclusion after looking at them for a while that the small rooms must have been the sleeping rooms for monks with the slabs being their beds. And the large halls must have been meditation centres where everyone gathered.
There were also stairs emerging from enormous boulders, which led us to yet other such rooms. Though the structures were almost the same, yet seeing each one of them separately was a wonderful experience altogether. Some of the caves were visible directly, while others could be seen when one climbed some irregular rocky stairs. This place was a dream place for young adventurers, who could experience the solitude of the caves, echoing voices and drizzling rains all at the same time. The view from the top supplemented its beauty. Surrounded by gigantic Sahayadri hills getting washed by waterfalls, plateaus of the Western Ghats and deep valleys, the view was breathtaking. We could also see the Lohagad Fort standing at the top.
Back to the caves there was another room, with a Shiv Ling made of stone. Bare-footed, we worshipped the great symbol of Lord Mahadev. Just behind the Shiv Ling, we saw an extremely huge rock balanced on a small tip emerging from a wall. Under this rock was a small reservoir, which was collecting rainwater. We interpreted it to be a catchment area used for storing water in case of water scarcity. It seemed that this rock could fall down, causing devastation, at any time. We all were amazed that it had never stirred from its position for the last 2300 years. All of us have to salute our ancestors for their wit and intelligence that is depicted in such structures, in spite of the fact that there was lack of technology at that time. The Indian history is a testimony to the facts that the inhabitants of this country are blessed with sharp minds.
In all, thus visit to a historical place was indeed a very memorable one. I can never forget a visit to such a terrific place. Though utterly exhausted when we came back to our hotel, we still came back with fond memories of these caves. The Bhaje Caves are the best place for those who love history, science, Indian culture, adventure, sports and so on – a full fun package!
——Writer, KUSHA GROVER, Ahlcon International School, a Participant of the International Essay Competition held in July-2018.