#projectinterpret started 2019 with a tour of the nearly 2000 year old Kanheri Caves in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali East, Mumbai. Easy to reach, through winding lush green path, spotting deers enroute, this cave cluster needs to be climbed by foot once a vehicle takes you to its base. Not for the fainthearted or those who need assistance in climbing steep terrain, the Kanheri Caves can still be enjoyed through numerous photographs by crazy selfie takers 😉
7 of us climbed on 13th Jan morning, the weather was cool and just perfect for a trek. Kanheri is made out of a massive basalt rock front and you read of 109 caves, scooped out by hand as residential and devotional space for Buddhist monks, made possible by active donation by traders. Imagine, with bare minimum tools, predatory animals like lions and leopards lurking around, no architectural software for erasing out mistakes, how were these huge caves made??? You did not have much of a chance for re-do 😦 Around 60 have been excavated, more are yet to be as they are in the dense jungle.
I love Kanheri, especially during Monsoons. It just comes alive, to sit there and imagine how Buddhist monks selected this site, came from all over the world, with traders, on boats, within the heart of wild forests, with the barest minimum clothing and food – just to meditate and think of Buddha – how strong the bond must have been!
The caves are home to some striking, large sculptures of Buddha, and stories from important events from Buddha’s life like the Sravasti Miracle. There are sculpted images of donor couples – more like selfies sculpted into the caves, freezing their image for posterity in case you forgot how crucial sponsorship is! 🙂
Zahabiya and Hardik, physiotherapist and software engineer remarked about the tour: “So much to learn and know at the Kanheri caves this Sunday. My fav part was this cave. Can’t believe it was carved with only chisel and simple tools. It was grand and Poulomi shared interesting knowledge on what the sculptures depicted and Buddha’s different hand gestures and their meanings gave such great insight to Buddhism and life at that time. We were surprised to know some of the sculptures are of traders! With more than 100 caves there is still more to explore. Looking Forward to coming back!”
Vishal Shastri, designer and former colleague started a new blog with the first post on the Kanheri Caves tour 🙂 this is truly motivating – many many many thanks Vishal…
“More often, my life, like everyone else’s, gets in the doldrums—week in, week out, I am required to accomplish the same tasks. Thus a weekend with the same mundane routine, without having to sift through the newly-acquired/gifted reading material I hold dear, seems grudgingly upsetting. After running the unavoidable Sunday errands however, I stashed all the remaining ones away, and took an Uber to the Kanheri Caves in north-west Mumbai. My friend, a litterateur by profession and a historian at heart, had me convinced last minute to join the tour she conducted at Kanheri Caves on a surprisingly-breezy and mildly-sunny Sunday morning, with a bunch of history enthusiasts from Mumbai. It luckily proved the ‘time out’ I badly needed on the weekend.”
All photos in this blog taken by the author, all photos in his blog are taken by Vishal.