Tulja Caves is a hidden gem located about 4km west of Junnar, India. Now, don’t be fooled by the unassuming entrance to this historical site. Once inside, you’ll be transported back to 50 B.C. when these ancient caves were first excavated.
As you explore the caves, you’ll notice that some of the facades have fallen away, but fear not, the staff of the Archaeological Survey of India have done a great job keeping the place clean and tidy. The stupa may be badly damaged, but the real show-stoppers are the twelve octagonal pillars that surround it. You can’t miss the circular dome at the top either, it’s still looking sharp!
The group of Tulja Caves consists of 11 caves, with the fourth cave housing a temple dedicated to Goddess Tuljai, hence the name Tulja Caves. Although the carved monastery for the Buddhist monks is in good shape, historians believe that these caves were carved during the time of Emperor Ashoka.
You might even stumble upon a few sentences on the wall if you’re lucky.
Now, the best time to visit Tulja Caves is during the rainy and winter season. Trust me, the climb is easy, and the views are worth it! Junnar taluka becomes a magical wonderland in the rainy season, with fog, rain, and streams flowing over mountains. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale!
Before you leave, be sure to check out the platform built by modern devotees of Tulja Devi in front of one of the cells to the north-east. Also, don’t miss the Chaitya-window ornamentation, the larger one over where the door has been, and the inner arch filled with knotted ribbons. The front of the arch is carved with flowers, and on each side, you’ll find a smaller arch. You’ll also spot a dagoba in half relief with the umbrella or chhatri over it, and male and female figures weatherworn with time. Over all of this is a projecting frieze carved on the front with the “Buddhist rail pattern.”
All in all, the Tulja Caves are a sight to cheer.