India is a nation blessed with various Natural, Cultural, Historical and Spiritual Wonders. The Rich Heritage and Culture of the nation can be seen in diverse landscapes, historic sites, edifices and monuments of the country. The Caves in India are one of these Natural/Structural Marvels which depict the glorious past and heritage of India. Some of these caves represent the artistic work of nature while some represent the architectural skills from the past. All the caves in India are really unique in its own ways, some hold cultural significance, some are of spiritual significance and some are of natural significance.
Among all the caves, some popular caves like Ajanta and Ellora showcase the finest example of rock-cut architecture in India, whereas Amarnath and Vaishno Devi Caves reflects the spiritual sentiments attached. Several of these Caves in India are now maintained and preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India under UNESCO World Heritage Sites and thus require permission before the visit.
Here is the list of 15 most popular Caves in India, which you should visit to have a feel of the underground world as well as the preserved heritage of India.
- Ajanta and Ellora Caves – Maharashtra
Showcasing the finest illustration of the Rock-Cut Architecture in India, Ajanta and Ellora Caves are one of the most popular Tourist Destination in India. Situated in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, Ajanta and Ellora Caves were carved out of Hillside Rocks and present the age-old Indian Paintings and Sculptures. Ajanta Caves are 30 Rock-cut Buddhist Caves, which represent the ancient culture and tradition of Buddhism through rock-cut sculptures and fine paintings.
Ellora Caves are a group of 34 Caves, which presents the artwork and monuments of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism from the period of 600-1000 CE. If you are a History Buff, you should visit Ajanta and Ellora Caves to dig deep into the Ancient Culture, Traditions, and Architecture of India. Both the caves are listed under UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India and depict the rich heritage and culture of our nation.
Other Popular Caves in Maharashtra – Bedse Caves, Kanheri Caves, Pataleshwar Cave, Jogeshwari Caves, Karla Caves, Elephanta Caves, Bhaja Caves
- Mawsmai Cave – Meghalaya
Mawsmai Cave is an ideal destination for Adventure Enthusiasts and is one of the Best Cave for the Caving Experience. This Natural Cave is a Revered Landmark in Cherrapunji and is one of the best among many Caves of Meghalaya. The grand entrance, the limestone formations and magical mystery inside the cave will leave you spellbound for sure.
There are around 1580 caves in different hills of Meghalaya and Mawsmai is most popular among all. Another feature that makes Mawsmai best among other caves is the cave is lit systematically, and one can enjoy the awe-inspiring stalagmite and stalactite formations very clearly.
Other Popular Caves in Meghalaya – Mawjymbuin Cave, Krem Kotsati, Krem Lawshynna, Krem Dam, Krem Umthloo
- Elephanta Caves – Maharashtra
Located near to Gateway of India, Mumbai – Elephanta Caves are the only Island Caves in India. The Caves are situated on the Elephanta Island and are one of the popular places to visit in Mumbai. The architectural work of the 7 caves at Elephanta presents the sculptures and paintings of Hindu and Buddhist Deities.
There is one large cave which is also called the main cave and depicts the rock-cut sculptures of Lord Shiva. You have to take a ferry from Gateway of India to reach these beautifully Carved Elephanta Caves.
- Tabo Caves – Himachal Pradesh
The wonderful Tabo caves are located in the beautiful Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh. The caves are believed to be 1000 years old and were the place for Dwelling and Meditation for Buddhist Monks in the Past. Some caves are still used for the purpose of Meditation by the Monks.
These beautiful caves attract a large number of tourists across the globe and the view of Tabo village and Tabo Monastery from the caves is awe-inspiring. Tabo Caves can only be visited from April-October, as the roads get blocked due to heavy snowfall in the winter season.
Further Read – Best Hill Stations in Himachal Pradesh
Other Caves in Himachal Pradesh – Masrur Rock-Cut Temple, Arjun Gufa, Lahesh Cave
- Badami Caves – Karnataka
Badami Caves are one of the most beautiful caves in India and present the fine artistic work of Chalukaya Dynasty architects. The caves were carved from the rocks and have sculptures and images of Mahavira, Jain Tirthankaras, and several Hindu Gods.
There is a total of 4 Temple Caves, among which 2 caves are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, 1 cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva and 1 cave is dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras.
Badami caves depict one of the best rock-cut architecture in India and the caves are one of the popular destinations in Karnataka.
Other Caves in Karnataka – Aihole, Pandava Caves, Hulimavu Cave Temple, Nellitheertha Cave Temple, Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple, Anthragange Caves
- Vaishno Devi Cave Temple – Jammu and Kashmir
Vaishno Devi Cave Temple is one of the most visited Temples in India. Located in the Trikuta Mountains in Katra Region of Jammu and Kashmir the Cave Temple is dedicated to Mata Vaishno Devi. The cave temple is the 2nd most visited shrine in India after Tirupati Balaji and offers a unique and divine experience to the Pilgrims.
The temple is about 14 km from Katra and can be accessed by ponies, paalkhis, electric vehicles and even through a Helicopter. However, the best way to visit this holy Cave temple is through a 14 km Trek from Katra to Bhawan for having a splendid experience.
- Bhimbetka Caves – Madhya Pradesh
Bhimbetka caves are a beautiful natural site situated in the Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary near Bhopal. These caves signify the beginning of the Stone Age in India and one can also witness the earliest traces of human life in these Cave Shelters. Bhimbetka Caves are famous for its Cave Paintings that are believed to be 30,000 years old.
Must Read – Best Places to visit in Madhya Pradesh
The paintings on the Caves illustrate the early Evidence of Dance, Day to Day life, Hunting Style and the Survival of Life back from the Centuries. These Caves derived its name from the Bhima, the Hero Deity from Epic Mahabharata and regarded as the “Sitting Place of Bhima” in the Past.
Other Caves in Madhya Pradesh – Bagh Caves, Udaygiri Caves, Jana Mana Cave in Kanha National Park.
- Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves – Orissa
Situated at a mere distance of 6 km from Bhubaneshwar, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves are Famous for 33 Rock-Cut Sculptures, Chambers and Wall Paintings. Ornately carved in the Kumari Parvat (a Hill) these Caves once served as the residential place for Jain Monks. The Caves are built during the 2nd Century BCE by King Kharavela and hold a distinctive position and religious significance in India.
- Borra Caves – Andhra Pradesh
Situated in the breathtakingly beautiful Araku Valley in Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh, Borra Caves are one of the Largest and Deepest Natural Caves In India. The caves were formed naturally by the erosion of Limestone Rocks by several water streams. Located at an elevation of 705 m from sea level Borra Caves depict marvelous features of Limestone Topography like Helictite, Stalactite, and Stalagmite.
The natural rock-cut formations and a variety of Fauna present in the Cave areas are a perfect delight to its visitors. There are many spiritual stories attached with Borra caves and a Stalagmite Shiva Lingam is worshiped by Local people inside the Cave. As the Caves are situated in the beautiful landscape and hilly terrain of Araku Valley, these caves provide breathtaking views of the nearby scenery.
Other Caves in Andhra Pradesh – Undavali Caves, Yaganti Caves, Guntupalli Caves, Guthikonda Caves, Moghalarajapuram Caves
10. Pallava Cave Temples of Trichy – Tamil Nadu
Pallava Cave Temples are situated inside the Tiruchirapalli Rock Fort Complex and are most Incredible Cave Temples among all Cave Temples in India. There are two main temples namely the Upper Cave Temple and the Lower Cave Temple, which exhibit the finest masterpiece of construction during the Pallavas Era. These temples are constructed on an 83-meter high rock that is believed to be a billion-year-old. One prime attraction of these caves is the unique form of pillars in the lower cave that cannot be found in any other temple in the state.
The caves along with the Hilltop Fortress and some other important attractions make it one of the Best Tourist Destinations in Tamil Nadu.
Other Caves in Tamil Nadu – Varaha Caves, Mangulam Caves, Yanaimalai, Gudiyam Cave, Kukkal Caves
- Amarnath Cave – Jammu and Kashmir
While talking about the Caves of Spiritual Importance, Amarnath Cave is the most popular Cave Temple in India. The Sacred Cave is located at a very high altitude amid snowy mountains and can be visited by means of the Amarnath Yatra only. The Holy Cave of Amarnath remains covered with Snow throughout the year except for the few months of summer.
The most significant attraction of this holy cave which makes it one of the most Sacred Places in India is the Ice Stalagmite that is formed every year naturally inside the cave. The stalagmite is formed by the freezing of water drops falling from the roof of the cave and takes the shape of Shiva Lingam. Every year, thousands of Hindu Devotees make their way on the challenging mountainous terrain to visit this holy cave for an annual Pilgrimage.
Also, See – Best Hill Stations in Jammu & Kashmir
Other Caves in Jammu and Kashmir – Vaishno Devi Cave Temple, Saspol Caves, Peer Kho Cave Temple
- Patal Bhuvaneshwar Cave – Uttarakhand
Situated in the Pithoragarh District of Uttarakhand, Patal Bhuvaneshwar is a 160 m long and 90 feet deep limestone cave of spiritual significance. The cave is believed to be the holy shrine of Lord Shiva along with 33 koti Hindu Gods (33 types of Gods as per Hindu Mythology). The cave is also supposed to be old as the earth and it is believed that one can feel the presence of Eternal Power in this holy cave temple.
The Cave Temple also exhibits some of the spectacular Stalagmite and Stalactite figures of various forms and hues. Another notable feature of the Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave is the rock formations. The rock formations and figures inside the Cave resemble Ganesha, Airavata (Elephant) of Indra, Sheshnaag, Kal Bhairav and the Hair of Lord Shiva.
Other Caves in Uttarakhand – Robbers Cave, Shivam Cave, Sukhram Cave, Khatling Cave, Gauri Udiyar Cave, Pandkholi Cave
- Krem Liat Prah Cave – Meghalaya
Titled as the Longest Cave in India, Krem Liat Prah is a network of caves extended more than about 30 km in length. The Deep, Dark and mysterious cave is the best place for a Cave Expedition in India. There is a continuous mix of Slippery Slopes, Low Ceilings, and Pools of Water inside the cave. Caving here demands you to juggle between wading, walking and Crawling throughout your caving expedition. However, if you explore the Krem Liat Prah with the help of a skilled cave guide, it will be a fascinating Adventure of Your Life for sure.
- Karla and Bhaja Caves – Maharashtra
Somewhat identical to Ajanta and Ellora caves, Karla and Bhajja caves exhibit the finest example of Buddhist cave Architecture in India. Located in the lush green surroundings near Pune, Karla and Bhaja Caves are one of the best offbeat Weekend Getaways near Pune.
The striking sculptures, elaborate carvings and vast prayer hall at Karla cave are the prime attraction. Bhaja Cave is best for the quiet excursion. A spectacular waterfall near the Bhaja cave is an added attraction of the trip to Karla and Bhaja caves.
- Belum Caves – Andhra Pradesh
Situated in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, Belum Caves is regarded as the second longest Cave in India. The Belum Caves have a length of more than 3.9 km. This cave system is the longest and largest cave system open to the general public on the Indian Subcontinent. The caves were naturally formed by the continuous flow of underground water over the course of millions of years.
The caves exhibit spectacular Stalagmite and Stalactite formation along with various galleries, long passages, spacious caverns of fresh water and several siphons.