Recently, the Union Minister of Tourism and Culture inaugurates amenities at ancient Kanheri caves on the occasion of Buddha Purnima.

Kanheri, which has over 100 caves, comes under the purview of the Archaeological Survey of India ( ASI ). Kanheri caves are located deep inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and are one of the major tourist attractions on the outskirts of Mumbai. Chiselled out of a massive basalt rock outcrop, the cave complex demonstrates the Buddhist style of art and architecture. It has the largest number of cave excavations from a single hill. The caves contain Buddhist sculptures and relief carvings, paintings, and inscriptions dating from the 1st century CE up to the 10th century CE. Chinese Buddhist monk and traveller Xuanzang is said to have briefly stayed at Kanheri. Kanheri comes from the Sanskrit word 'Krishnagiri', which means black mountain.

Kanheri caves are a part of our ancient heritage as they provide evidence of evolution and our past. Deeply nestled among the tranquil surroundings of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali in Mumbai. It is located on the former island of Salsette on the western outskirts of Mumbai.

The Kanheri caves comprise more than 110 different rock-cut monolithic excavations and are one of the largest single excavations in the country. The site is on a hillside and is accessible via rock-cut steps. These excavations were primarily undertaken during the Hinayana phase of Buddhism but also have several examples of the Mahayana stylistic architecture as well as a few printings of the Vajrayana order.

It constitutes a group of rock-cut monuments, the traditional art of western India. It lies 1500 feet above sea level. Kanheri was a large monastic settlement. In the caves of Kanheri, the Buddhist monks lived, studied, meditated, and spread the teachings of Gautam Buddha. The earliest reference to Kanheri is ascribed to Fa-Hein who visited India during 399-411 CE. Kanheri was also mentioned in the travelogues of foreign travellers. The name Kanheri occurs in the Nasik inscription of the Satvahana ruler Vasisthiputra Pulumavi.

The Kanheri caves in Mumbai, known to most but visited by few. They have influenced the magnificent Elephanta caves as well. They are well known as important Buddhist sites. We should consider it as a privilege that we have got an opportunity to preserve this ancient and cultural heritage.

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