Road to Nirvana

I’d been restless, and itching to ride the open road pretty much the whole of last week. The husband was happy to fulfill that wish over the weekend, with a short road trip that began without a destination in mind, and ended with renewed spirits, memories for a later day and stories to share over coffee with friends.
Starting from our home in Pune at around 6 am, we turned into NH4 towards Mumbai, and drove down the old highway, with the sun beginning its slow ascent behind us soon after.

Discussing options, Pawna Dam seemed like a fun drive, although we missed the turn for that, and had to save it for another time. An hour into the drive, we recognized Karla on the signboards and decided to check out the Buddhist caves out there instead.
Having recently researched the Karla, Bhaja and Bedse Caves, all of which lie relatively close to each other, I was especially keen on seeing them. We stopped and asked for directions to the Karla Caves but thanks to translation troubles with ‘left’ and ‘right’ in the local language, ended up on the opposite side, driving away from Karla, and towards the Bhaja Caves instead. We discovered that tiny little detail when we stopped to ask for directions again. The conversation this time was at best short, leaving no margin for error.
Ho, Bhaje.
Oh, Bhaje.

So apparently, we’re in Bhaje, with an accented ‘e’. Ok, so we’ll just check out the Bhaja/e caves first.
After a 10-minute wait at a railway crossing, and a ½ Km drive down the narrow road there, we bring our car to a stop at the foothills of the Sahyadris. 
We walk down a dusty path that leads to a stone-and-concrete stairway snaking up the hill into which the caves are cut. The climb wasn’t too difficult, but we did secretly wish for a little less gravity.

We reach the ticketing counter, but it’s closed. We carry on anyway, only to find that the gates that allow entry to the caves are locked too. What a damper! 
We’re the only people out there, so I consider climbing over the gate. Try it too, but the gate’s too tall, and I’m too short. Doesn’t work. But see that little space underthe gate? Being short and thin doesn’t come without any advantages either, so I squeeze though quite successfully, keeping my spotlessly white tee spotlessly white!
Voilà! Here are the caves. And here I am, gleefully on the inside. 
One look at the caves and you know it’s completely worth the effort! These Buddhist excavations are, in fact, very early Hinayana caves that date back to the 1st century BC.

The principal excavation at Bhaja is this Chaitya, at the end of which stands an impressive Stupa. 
There are Viharas on either side of this Chaitya hall, each with its rock-cut bed, while some even have windows overlooking the valley.
If the view is this good now, then you can imagine just how amazing the view will be during the rains!

I didn’t linger too long because I had someone waiting patiently on the other side of the locked gate, for me. The climb down was relatively simpler, and definitely faster, and we made it to our car in less than 10 minutes.
Our next stop was Karla, and we made it there without any wrong turns, but that’s another story for another day.

4 thoughts on “Road to Nirvana

  1. Well that was one interesting adventure you had… And well I admire the patience in that poor somebody who was there on a stake out keeping your back! :)Nice work explorer! :PI want to hear the Karla story too ! 🙂 But yeah I like the idea of unplanned adventures! 🙂

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