Pandava caves are one of the most famous caves in the country. Like Ajanta and Ellora caves, these caves also have some rich history behind their constructing of these caves.
Well, these Pandava caves are located on a hill about 3000 feet above sea level on the outskirts of Nashik city. Like the famous Ajanta and Ellora caves, these caves are also a group of old Buddhist caves which were expectedly built in 250 BC- 600 AD. These caves are built like their northern side saves them from the sunlight and the southwest side rains have much of the carved work and many long and most valuable inscriptions have passed untouched and unharmed for the past 1500-2000 years.
All the caves present there are big examples of crafts and architecture. Among all these caves the 3,10, and 18 are the must-visit caves as they have outstanding sculptures in them. Even mostly caves as the idols of Buddha and some famous Jain Tirthankaras. Even the caves have an arrangement of water tanks there, that are carved into the rocks themselves.
Let’s dig into the history of these Pandava caves, why it is called Pandava caves? Everyone must has having questions in their mind, do the caves have some relation with Pandavas? Let’s end your curiosity here.
The origin of caves is a well-known mystery till now, but one can surely tell the rest of the story. let’s go back to the time of Mahabharata, the five Pandava brothers who sought refuge in during the Agyaat Vas or the last year of their exile period. The caves are associated with the Mahabharata and the Pandava brothers due to the existence of Shiva Lingas in the caves, the Pandavas found shelter here and were devotees of Lord Shiva. They have also created a pond nearby Arvalem falls and this pond was believed to have been created by one of the brothers, Bhima.
There is another story as well, the legends also say that the caves have Buddhist origins because there is a huge Buddha statue found near the caves at Mhamai Kamat house which has been dated to the 4th century CE. It is known that Buddhists used the caves for meditation, and deriving the practice. It is said that the caves were abandoned by the monks in the 6th century mainly due to the denial of Buddhism in the area. Then Goa became an important part of the Hindu region after the sixth century, and the presence of the Shiva Lingas denotes that the caves were converted to a Hindu place of worship.
Well, the caves can be entered by a series of stone steps that are simply built with plain, plain walls, and are carved into laterite stone, a commonly found material in Goa. These are the group of 6 caves, with five used for worship, whereas the sixth is nicknamed ‘Draupadi’s Kitchen’, referring to the brothers’ wife, due to the kitchen-like platform. The caves are small in size. The one which is slightly bigger with enough air circulation is called Draupadi Kuti or Cave. The most congested or crowded and dark cave is called Bhima Kothari or Cave.
And the other three caves have shrines, the central one holding a Shiva Lingam, which has Brahmi and Sanskrit inscriptions on it dating to the 7th century. The overall architecture of the caves looks like other rock-cut caves known to have been carved by Buddhist monks, having a sanctuary at the northern end side and a vihara at the southern end.
However, some other caves in India have been likened to the caves that the Pandavas might have sought refuge in, including the Rivona Caves in Goa which is located 5 kilometers northeast of Ponda.
Furthermore, the archaeological shreds of evidence claim that the caves were constructed by Buddhist monks during the time of the 1st century as they used them as a place of refuge. But, the myth of Pandavas is more famous among the general public for a long time. It is a must-visit place for anyone who goes to Pachmarhi. Hence, the Pandava Caves are beautifully carved natural caves.
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