Friday, November 19, 2010

Lenyadri Caves : A Photo Feature

Lenyadri Caves or Ganesh Lena Caves as they are also known are located 4 km north of Junnar (100km from Pune) across the river Kukdi. They are a part of the Junnar group of caves. There are nearly 40 caves in this group of which the main group of 30 caves are located in a line and stretch from east to west, all facing south and overlooking the valley of Kukdi river.

The caves are numbered from east to west and among them Cave 6 and 14 are chaityagrhas and the remaining are viharas (monasteries) of which Cave 7 is the larges and also houses the image of Ganesha. The remaining monasteries are small in size which has two or three cells, in some cases with a front verandah. They range in date from 1st century to 3rd century A.D.

Cave 6 is the main chaityagrha of the Lenyadri group of caves. Although of smaller dimensions when compared to Ajanta, Karle, Bhaja, Bedsa, etc. it is significant as one of the earliest examples of Hinayana chaityagrha. On plan, the chaityagrha consists of a pillared verandah and an apsidal hall divided into a central nave and side aisles by row of sixteen pillars. The hall measures 13.3 in length; 6.7 m in width and 7.6 m in height. The hall is preceded by a pillared verandah and entered by a plain and large doorway measuring 1.8 m in width and 2.79 m in height. The stupa is located at the rear and consists of a drum with a moulding below and railing above, a globular dome and a corbelled dome with a railing at the base. A donatory inscription datable to 2nd century A.D. mentions it as a gift of a native from Kalyana (modern Kalyan near Mumbai).

Cave 7 is a huge vihara and the largest excavation at Junnar. The cave is located to the right of Cave 6 to its west. On plan the vihara consists of a large hall with cells on three sides, entered by a central door from a pillared verandah the latter approached by a flight of steps. The central door is flanked by a window on either side. The hall measures 17.37 m in length; 15.54 m in width and 3.38 m in height and it has traces of plaster and paintings.

There are 20 cells in total with varying dimensions, 7 cells in either of the side walls and 6 cells on the rear wall. The two central cells of the rear wall has been converted into one during later period and at present a Ganesha image is consecrated for worship. The verandah has six pillars and two pilasters (half-pillars) and in elevation it consists of an octagonal shaft placed over benches and back rest and topped by an inverted ghata, compressed amalaka in between two square plates, inverted stepped pyramid and finally crowned by a bracket of addorsed animal figures. The pillars support an architrave from which projects eaves relieved with a railing resting on beams and rafters.

One more chaityagrha is also located in a separate group of small caves, situated at a distance of nearly 2 km from this group.

[Text Information: Archaelogical Survey of India, photograph source : Abhijit Rajadhyaksha ]


  1. I just want to know that when these buddhist caves converted into a Ganesh Temple????

  2. Very difficult to say, dont u think? But after the decline of Buddhism in Maharashtra, many caves were abandoned and were converted into Hindu and Jain ones!

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