Karla caves, also known as Karle caves or Karli caves, are a famous tourist attraction situated near Lonavala, Maharashtra. These are a complex of Buddhist rock-cut cave temples found at Karli dating back to ancient times. Karla caves near Lonavala houses beautiful shrines which were developed during the period between the 2nd-century BC to 5th-century CE. The oldest cave shrine is believed to be discovered somewhere around 160 BC. It is one of the most famous shrines because it arose adjacent to a major ancient trade route. The Karla Caves comprises 16 rock-cut excavations, out of which cave 8 is Chaitya Griha.
Chaitya Griha is one of the largest rock-cut Chaityas in India that features a large, intricately carved prayer hall. There is a wide and flat open area in front of the chaitya, which was an ideal place for large gatherings of the followers of Buddhism. It consists of an apsidal hall which is divided into a nave and two aisles, with 37 octagonal pillars and a water jar base along with a front verandah. The hall houses sculptures of males, females as well as animals such as elephants and lions, which are carved out of teak wood. There is a stupa at the rear end of the hall, which was the object of worship. The access to Chaitya Griha is adorned with a horseshoe-shaped arch.
The complex of Karla Caves houses many other carved chaitya and viharas for the monks. These complexes have their interiors lit by windows and have arched entrances. A temple dedicated to the goddess Ekveera is found inside the caves. This goddess is highly revered by the Koli community of Mumbai. It is believed that these caves have been carved from living roots. If you wish to take a walk back to ancient times, take a walking tour of Karla Caves.