Panhalekaji caves are very old cave structures amidst unexplored locality of Dapoli. Also known Panhale Kazi Caves, they hold a strong historical importance!
Location Address: Dapoli-Dabhil Pangari road, 31 km from Dapoli, Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra (India).
Best Time To Visit: Tourists can visit this spot throughout the year.
Caves Formation: Between 3rd century to 14th century.
Panhalekaji Caves Information:
Situated on the river banks of Kotjai river, these are total 29 rock cut ancient cave structures. Panhale Kazi caves are more than 1000 years old Buddhist caves located in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. Amazing caves of Panhalekaji are among the top tourist attractions in Dapoli. Their location of caves is marvelous. They lie in a deep valley near the confluence of Dhakti and Kotjai rivers.
Though these caves are protected sculptures, they are not as popular as other caves in Maharashtra. Panhalekaji caves are yet to be known to many people. Due to non-commercialization, the cave complex is clean and peaceful.[caption id="attachment_1656" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Stone columns in a cave![/caption]
Tourists can also enjoy swimming in the river nearby the caves. There are also few natural hot water springs besides Panhale Kazi caves. These hot water springs are rich in sulphur hence they are useful to treat skin diseases. Plenty of bird and reptile species are also found in this region. So wildlife lovers have a double benefit here!
Panhalekaji Caves History:
These caves were unknown to the world for many centuries since its formation. Panhalekaji caves were rediscovered in the 1970’s. It is a great spot to explore for history lovers. The carving of Panhale Kazi caves had initiated somewhere around 3rd century AD. It was the period when students of Lord Buddha were expanding his teaching throughout the India. The location of Panhale Kaji was on the famous route of Dabhol port to inside Maharashtra. So there was a frequent travel of Buddhist monks via this route.[caption id="attachment_1654" align="aligncenter" width="240"] The design on a stone outside a cave.[/caption]
Somewhere around 10th and 11th century AD, these caves became a permanent center of Buddhist monks (Vajrayana sect). After that, Hindu monks occupied Panhale Kazi caves in the 13th century. Panhalekaji caves then were used for worship of Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva during the Silahara dynasty.
Structures of Panhalekaji caves have a similar appearance as world famous Ajanta Caves. Tourists can see various sculptures dating back to a 3rd century to 14th century inside these caves. Various statues of Hindu god-goddesses and Buddhism are there inside these caves. Tourists can see the complex art of ancient artists over here!
All 29 caves are not placed next to each other; they are spread around the entire site. Some inscriptions in Brahmi and Devanagari languages are also there inside Panhale Kazi caves. There are no informative boards or name plates regarding caves in the Panhalekaji caves area. There is a unique member of this spot – a big boulder in the river flowing nearby. That boulder has carvings of 4 imitations of doors.[caption id="attachment_1655" align="aligncenter" width="600"] The complex of caves![/caption]
Highlights of Panhale Kazi Cave Structures
- Wooden beams and 7 carvings of Mānusi Buddha in cave number 2.
- Buddhist stupa from the 3rd century AD in cave number 5.
- The impression of Maha-Chandraroshana in cave number 10. It was the place for worship of Akshobhya and Mahachandaroshana.
- Sculptures of Nath Siddhas(transcendent masters) and Chauranginatha in cave number 14.
- Linga idol formed of a single large block of stone in cave number 19. There are figures of dvarapalas (guards) at the entrance of this cave. You can see carvings of scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata on the roof of this cave.
- Sculpture of Lord Ganesha in cave number 21.
- Disfigured statue of goddess Saraswati in cave number 22.
- Representations of Matsyendranatha, Adinatha and Uma are there inside cave number 29. This cave also hosts sculptures of Goraknatha and Maha-Tripurasundari. Different panels inside this cave show various figures. Small panels in this cave have 84 Siddhas.
Places To Visit Nearby:
- Murud Harnai
IMPORTANT TOURIST INFORMATION
Timings/ Opening hours: You can visit Panhalekaji caves by anytime of the day. There are no specific hours of visit.
Time Required: Panhale Kazi caves are the just 1-hour drive away from Dapoli. Hence visit from Dapoli would need 4-5 hours to explore this spot!
How To Reach
Panhalakaji caves lie of the Dapoli-Dabhil Pangari road. So you can reach there from Khed via Vakavali and Tetavali. Dapoli is the closest commercial town (31 km away) to reach up to these caves.
- By Road: State transport (ST) buses and auto-rickshaws are available from Dapoli to reach Panhalekaji. Apart from them, a lot of private vehicles are available in the Dapoli on hire basis. Dapoli has good connectivity via road to almost all major cities in Maharashtra.
- Nearest Railway Station: Khed station is the convenient railhead to reach Panhalekaji caves. Station is 33 km away from the caves.
- Nearest Airport: Ratnagiri Airport (145 km) is the closest airport to reach Panhale Kazi caves. However, it has very less number of flights. Pune (219 km) and Mumbai (252 km) airports are other options to reach over here.
Entry Fee/Ticket Charges: Not applicable (at least as on date).
Accommodation/ Stating Options: Dapoli is a great place to stay near Panhalekaji caves. Caves lies amidst mountain valley, so there are no accommodation options nearby. Dapoli (20 km away) has plenty of resorts, hotels, lodges and private villas for accommodation purpose.
Restaurants Nearby/ Eating Stuff: It is advisable to have food on the way to caves. No restaurants or hotels are available nearby Panhale Kazi caves. Tourists can carry their own food but make sure that you do not leave any dry waste behind. Please help this place to maintain its natural habitat!
Map To Reach:
Panhalekaji caves are certainly among the must visit spots near Dapoli. Do try to visit these caves while your tour to Dapoli region!