Have you ever heard of a place 2 millennium old and yet preserved as if designed just a century ago? If not, this will be an interesting read for you.
This was the fifth time I had planned a trip to Lohgarh but this time to get a real flavor of Maharashtra, thought of catching the local train. We got off at Malavali station and walked past the small lane that would lead us to the starting point of Lohgarh trek. I always saw the stairs which lead to Bhaja caves but always kept it for the end (post the trekking trip). But in reality, we never really climbed those stairs after the hectic 4 hour trek.
That day, we stopped at the tea stall to stuff ourselves to be ready for the tiring trip. Misal Pav and tea made us feel geared for the journey ahead. Before leaving, the stall owner advised us to go to Bhaja caves first. He was kind enough to give us details about how good the caves were.
Yes, as expected, Change of plan. Before we could even realize we had climbed half the stairs leading to the caves. 30 minutes later, we were panting but it all vanished with the very first sight of the caves.
The magnificent place comprised of 22 caves which were symbolic of architectural brilliance 2000 years ago. In those days, it was a centre of Hinayana sect of Buddhism. The caves also depicted sheer perfection as they encompassed structures like separate sleeping cells, halls and gateways. There were some underground caves filled with water, with their ends not in sight from outside.
The main attraction point was the central prayer hall Chaityagrah. Surrounded by 27 tapered octagonal pillars and the roof supported by horseshoe shaped wooden beams, the structure looks mostly intact and unfolds the 2000 year old hidden history since it is engraved with images and inscriptions from those times. It also has a big Stupa for prayers.
There was a separate monastery complex too which was forbidden for tourists and could be seen only from outside.
After exploring the entire place I felt proud of being a part of this country which encompasses a rich culture and gives an opportunity to feel the depth it carries. It’s not just a historical monument representing ancient culture, but also a remarkable example of architectural and engineering brilliance of that time. I now leave you with the quest to answer all the questions in your mind while reading this. A nice place to visit and unravel the mystery.