Gandharpale / Pale Caves


Photo Credit: Flickr

Distance (From Mahabaleshwar Bus Station): 62 Kms

Trip Duration (Including Travel): 4 Hours/Half Day

Place Location: At Mahad

Transportation Options: Bus / Cab

Travel Tips: Gandharpale Caves are situated on the way to Raigad Fort from Mahabaleshwar. If you are travelling to Raigad these can be visited with 2 hours extra effort.

At a distance of 5 km from Mahad, 28 km from Raigad Fort and 62 km from Mahabaleshwar, Gandharpale or Pale Caves are situated on a hill near Mahad on Mumbai-Goa highway at the confluence of Savitri and Gandhari Rivers in Raigad district of Maharashtra. These caves are the popular tourist attractions near Raigad Fort.

The Gandharpale Caves have probably taken the name from two villages in the vicinity of Mahad viz Pale village. These Buddhist caves built between 150 and 300 AD. According to the mythological story, the ancient Pandav Leni in Gandharpale is the sculptured houses built in one night by the Pandavas. But according to historians and archaeologists these are Buddhist caves built during the reign of Prince Vishnupalita Kambhoja.

Gandharpale Caves are a group of 31 Buddhist caves. Some caves are on upper side of the hill and some are on the lower side of the hill. They are mostly Buddhist viharas belongs to Hinayana Sect. The caves have a few small stupas located in prayer halls called chaityagrihas. There also exist a few carvings of Lord Buddha the Bodhisatvas along with attendants on the vihara walls and pillars. There is also an inscription in the brahmi script carved on the wall of one cave.
One can see water cisterns and rooms and other remnants near these caves.

Cave 1, Cave 8, Cave 15 and Cave 21 are the important caves in Gandharpale Leni. Cave 1 has a Verandah in front, which is 53 feet long and 8 feet wide. Shrine has sculpture images of Buddha, with wheel and deer beneath. Cave 8 and Cave 15 has a high dogoba. Cave 21 has a seated Buddha with attendants.

There are stone steps to reach the top and can be accessed in hardly fifteen minutes. The ambience surrounding these caves is awesome, especially in the monsoons, when the entire hillock gets wrapped by a green blanket and is adorned by several rivulets and water cascades. One can also visit Kemburli falls which is about 3 km from Gandharpale Caves.