Kahneri Caves

Photo of Kahneri Caves - Trip On Cards 1/24 by Shally Ashish Dhar

In the heart of Mumbai city, these millennium-old Buddhist caves take you back to the era when the Buddhist religion was at its peak in this region. It is one of the largest Buddhist sites in India with more than 100 cave excavations on one hill.

These caves were built between the 1st and 11th centuries and consist of 109 rock-cut caves which include Viharas (monasteries), Chaitya (Meditation halls), cisterns, and one of the earliest statues of Buddhist iconography.

Why this location was ideal for Kahneri caves?

The Ancient trade route between important ports like Sopara and Kalyan passed through Kahneri ( Krishnagiri – Black mountain ). Businessmen would use it for staying during their long travels. Various inscriptions at Kahneri mention that various businessmen contributed to building these caves.

Why should you visit Kahneri Caves?

109 rock-cut caves of different types Cave 1

This is the first cave you encounter, It is a Vihara and the only two-storied cave in Kahneri. The interior part of the cave is unfinished probably due to a structural defect in the architecture.

Photo of Kahneri Caves - Trip On Cards 2/24 by Shally Ashish Dhar

Cave 2

This cave is simple and has a long verandah to provide relief during Monsoon months.

Cave 3

Cave 3 is the chaitya cave and the most celebrated cave of Kahneri.

Inside the case is a huge Buddha stupa and it has pillars on either side, a few of the pillars are unfinished.

Cave 11

The Durbar Hall or the Assembly Hall has a statue of Buddha enshrined in the center and many small Viharas on either side.

Dining area in Cave 3


Most of the caves are small cells used by Buddhist students for living and meditation.

Each Vihar has a small porch, one main room, and a small room that has a stone bed. The exterior part with have a cistern for water storage on either side

Rock Cut Stairs connecting all the caves.

Evolved Rain Water Harvesting System.

Kahneri in Mumbai region is famous for its heavy monsoons which last between June to September, Over the years the water management system was evolved by inhabitants to store this rainwater to last them for the remaining dry months.

Two hills on which these caves are built look like one water stream flows during the Monsoon season and water tanks are built to collect this water.

On the top of the hill there are huge water tanks and then small canals which help route water from top to bottom in a perfect network system.

These cisterns have multiple level structures where the top cisterns fill first and when it is full water routes to the next cisterns, to ensure water isn’t wasted at all. Each Cave has cisterns on either side.

One of the water tanks on top of the hill

Best season to visit Kahneri Caves

  • The best Season to visit If you want to explore all the caves is from December – Jan. Climate is pleasant, you can walk around and due to the sunlight – the interior of the caves is bright.
  • Even the Rainy season is the perfect season to explore caves for adventure purpose as the climate is pleasant and the forest around caves is lush green, however, the interior of caves are dark so I suggest carrying a torch if you want to explore caves properly.
  • During the rainy season avoid days when it is pouring heavily as it might get big dangerous as water starts accumulating on the pathways making it slippy and a bit dangerous especially if you have kids with you.
  • I would suggest taking private vehicles to the main entrance of the caves and then exploring which will take 2-3 hours.
  • If you are looking for some adventure you can even walk from the main gate of the national park ~ 6kms from the caves.

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