Deep in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the Kanheri Caves comprise 109 basalt grottos that were carved between the first century BC and the 10th century AD. The caves served as Buddhist monastic dwellings for many centuries, and some of the newer ones feature intricate carvings, pillars, and even rock-cut cisterns.
The Kanheri Caves are accessible by steep stone steps. The first cave visitors reach is Great Chaitya, featuring a large meditation hall full of intricate stone carvings and pillars. The two caves on both sides of Chaitya contain small stupas and more beautifully preserved carvings. The caves can be visited on a dedicated half-day excursion or as part of a larger tour of Mumbai-area attractions.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A must-visit for history buffs and art lovers.
- The caves are only accessible via stone-cut stairs, so wear solid footwear and be prepared to walk.
- Bottled water is available for purchase near the site, but sunscreen and insect repellant are not.
How to Get There
The caves are located in Sanjay Gandhi National Park on the northeastern outskirts of Mumbai, about an hour from the airport (depending on traffic). The nearest railway station is Borivali, with regular connections to the Andheri West commuter train station. Shuttles run from Borivali to the caves every hour.
When to Get There
The Kanheri Caves are open Tuesday through Sunday from 7:30am to 6pm, though the last entry is at 4pm. Travelers are welcome year-round, but the caves are best visited in the cooler, drier months (October to March). However, if travelers are in the area during the sweltering months of May and June, the caves do provide relief from the heat.
Brahmi: India’s Ancient Script
Many of the inscriptions on the cave walls are in the Brahmi script, which was likely at its peak at some point in the fourth and fifth centuries BC. Many of the myriad scripts used in India today descended from Brahmi, including Devanagari, which is used for writing Hindi and Sanskrit.