Bhaje caves, sometimes also referred to as Bhaja, are located near Lonavla in Maharashtra. They are located just three kilometers from the main road. So you will not have to take too much of a detour.
This is actually a group of 22 caves that are located in a small hill above the Bhaje village. The caves get their name from the name of the village. Together with Karla caves, this system is among the most important historical sites in this part of the state. The architecture, and what you will find inside, is almost the same in Karla and Bhaje. Often, people would visit the Karla and Bhaje caves from Lonavla and Khandala. The Archaeological Survey of India has rightly announced that the Bhaje caves are a National Monument.
What You Will Find In the Bhaje Caves
The caves at Bhaje have been dated back to 200 BC. They stand in the middle of what was once an important trading route that ran between the Deccan and the Arabian Sea. Traders would often stay over at these caves. This was home of the Buddhist monks, and so, you will see a chaityagriha. The chaitagriha is located in the 12th cave. There is a horseshoe-arched entrance that leads to the chaitagriha. There are some inscriptions here. A beam made of wood has two inscriptions that have been dated to 2nd century BC. In fact, the wooden architecture inside these caves is some of the best you will find in India. The sculptures show elaborate jewelry, garlands and headdress. It is now considered that the caves are the ultimate expression of Hinayana and Satwahan art sculpture. There are many stupas too at Bhaje.
Interestingly, these caves also depict the history of table, the musical instrument. There are carvings that show a woman playing the instrument while there are dance performances. Somehow women in modern times do not play the table any more. But it was a different story 2000 years in the past.
Do not miss the waterfall close to the last cave. Tourists are often seen refreshing themselves here after the trip. Some people even take a dip. You can do so too, but do maintain sanctity of the place. Remember, this was a place where monks used to stay. You might also want to visit the forts at Visapur and Lohagad that are located nearby.