Gujarat and Buddhism have been anciently connected, along with Ashokan edicts – since eons, there are many ancient Caves to prove that. With a rich existence, historical caves in Gujarat are spread to Junagadh, Rajkot, Saputara, Veraval and Kutch. The caves include Baba Pyare Caves, Khapra Kodiya Caves, Uperkot Caves, Pandava Caves, Panch Pandav Gufa, Siyot Caves and Khambhalida Caves. The one which I recently visited was Khambhalida Buddhist Caves, located near Rajkot. Virtually known as caves, these Buddhist Caves were practically carved out of stones as separate sites of rooms which the monks used as quarters.
MY PURPOSE OF VISIT : There is a sad news to start from. My dog passed away peacefully on 30th of May, 2017 and the trauma was beyond words. Abhishikt thought of traveling for a short distance to break free from the thoughts. We came back from the offices and planned to drive along with my brother. We started from Ahmedabad and drove for 3.5 hours to reach the caves.
HISTORY OF KHAMBHALIDA BUDDHIST CAVES : Located in Rajkot and near Gondal, these caves are known to be the oldest caves in the district. The caves are majestically carved from limestone, with sculptures and intricate designs. Consisting of three caves in one block, they are situated amidst a dense canopy of peepal trees and a dried river bank. The middle cave has a chaitya and the access to it is covered by two beautiful edifices. The right side edifice has been named as Bodhisatvas-Padmapani and the one on the left is named Vajjrapani. The Vajjrapani sculpture has an ancient history, with only two other such sculptures found in Ellora Caves and Nepal. There are 15 other caves situated near the main site and the caves are said to have an underground route for the monks to travel from other places. With a lot of natural light and an aura of spiritual vibrations, these caves must have been the most peaceful abode for meditation.
VALUED INFORMATION : The caves have a great connectivity from Rajkot. Due to extreme weather conditions in the region, the best time to visit the Khambhalida Buddhist Caves is between October and February. The caves are open during any time of the day and the visitors can explore the caves without any entry fees. On the way, there is an well constructed Hindu temple with a large number of devotees, giving access to number of refreshment stalls outside the premises. Additionally, there is a Buddhist temple under construction nearby the caves.
ELATION : On the way back to Ahmedabad and while nearing Rajkot, we found ourselves in the first stormy rain of this year. Much to our life, the two halts included chai from a roadside tapri, boiled eggs and dinner at ‘Highway Food Mall’ near Limbdi.
The cavers gateway has left me in greater abundance.
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