Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Karla Caves clubbed with Wax Museum - March 18, 2012

We decided to plan out the “With Family” trip for the first time since we started our excursions in my new department. After various cancellations and rescheduling of venues, we planned for Karla Caves – just before Lonavala, about 55 kms from Pune.
This is one of the very sought after locations for people in and around Pune; however I missed to visit this place earlier.

Two families and a bachelor started off our journey on Sunday morning of March 18, 2012. I left my house in Pune at 6.30 am. We took the Pune-Mumbai (NH-4) Old Highway. I collected Bala on the way from Pimpri and reached Bhakti-Shakti (Nigdi) where Ashutosh was waiting with his family in his brand new Brilliant Blue colored Vista VX Quadrajet.

We cooched ahead at 7.15 am from Nigdi. At the Toll Booth after Dehu Road, we came to know that the Old Highway has been closed ahead due to an accident. A LPG Tanker had overturned and the Traffic Police were diverting the traffic from Express Highway to avoid any further mishaps due to LPG leakage. Now we had no option but to go via Expressway till Lonavala and come back to Malavli.

We had a sumptuous breakfast at Rama Krishna (at Lonavala). No trip to Lonavala is complete without a Chikki. Since we got a chance to visit Lonavala, we bought packets of Chikki as well.

We turned back on Old Highway towards Pune. I had heard that there is some Museum of Wax Statues made in the line of Madame Tussauds, London. We decided to take stop here.

It is made by one Mr. Sunil Kandalloor (a Keralite). It houses about 30 statues – Anna Hazare, Mahatma Gandhi, Shivaji Maharaj, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Rajiv Gandhi, Satya Sai Baba, Sai Baba, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussain, Mata Amritanandamayee, A R Rahman, Kapil Dev, Jackie Shroff, Angelina Jolie, Hariharan – to name a few.
This is definitely worth a visit. We boast about Madame Tussauds every now and then. I see photos with the celebrity wax models taken by my friends whenever they visit those countries. Feels great that such a museum by an Indian is present within a quarter day visit from my City. (Coordinates: 18 45’ 33.86” N   73 26’ 13.44” E)

Entry fee is Rs. 100 for adults and Rs. 70 for children. No additional charges for photography; photographs can be taken without flash. Comes without saying, wax-models should not be touched.

However, there were some models which were nowhere near to the original – Angelina Jolie, Sai Baba. However, some others were to the point exact; like Anna Hazare, Saddam Hussain, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Mata Amritanandamayee. Just to mention, when I checked the actual photograph of Anna Hazare, with his wax-model, a small mark on left of his forehead was also seen on the model.

From here we moved towards our original destination – Karla Caves. Just after the Toll comes the village Malavli. This is the railway station prior to Lonavala while coming from Pune. Hence we can visit Karla Caves (and also Bhaje Caves on the opposite side) by coming from Pune by a Local Train.
About ½ a km inside the highway starts ascend for the hillock. There is a small parking area for buses and heavy vehicles. Since the road is extremely steep at the turns, its better to park heavy vehicles and take the rock cut steps. Small cars however can go till the mid-hill where there is another parking. There was high amount of loose gravel on the road. This was making this ascend even more difficult.

There is a suggestion, in case you are new to driving or do not have the confidence, either park the vehicle at the bottom and start walking or else start early so that you can climb the ascent before any traffic.

There are about 250 odd steps from this parking till the top. Steps are easy and there are various shops on both sides that sell pooja items, caps and toys apart from eating, drinking stalls.

At the top there are two main attractions – Temple of Goddess Ekvira and Buddhist rock-cut Caves. Coordinates: 18 46’ 54.08” N   73 28’ 10.24” E
Goddess Ekvira Temple with Caves at the backdrop
Goddess Ekvira is the main deity of the Koli Tribe of Maharashtra (the fisherman tribe). People from all across Maharashtra visit this place. Poeple from Mumbai do visit here on Sundays; and being a holiday can be crowded at times. Its better to start early so that one can reach the top before the Sun starts showering heat and complete the darshan of the deity before the rush.

After the darshan, we went to see the caves. Most important part is the Chaitya-griha (or Prayer Hall) which is just next to the temple.

There is a large pillar at the entrance on LH side. Above it are the 3 lions carved which resemble to our National Emblem. It seems that there should be one more pillar on the RH side; which seems to have damaged. Once inside, before the Chaitya-griha entry is an area where beautiful human carvings made on the walls on both side of door. Large elephants are seen carved on either side as if they emerging from the walls. Almost all of them are severely damaged. When observed closely, there is an opening seen for the tusk. I feel in those days, there must have been real Ivory Tusk fitted.
Large pillar with Lion carvings on the top
Magnanimous carvings at the entry of Chaitya-griha
Human figures carved at the entry of Chaitya-griha
Inside Chaiya-griha, there are about 12-14 pillars on both sides (with the carvings of four humans atop two sitting elephants at the top of each pillar) and a Stupa at the end-centre. The roof is full with wooden arches which give a excellent look to the whole structure. I read it on one site on the internet (link is given below) that its the only place in India where 2000 year old woodwork can be seen. Also, the play of light inside this room is beautiful. More pictures are below:
Chaitya-griha (Prayer Hall)
This Chaitya-griha is the Principle Cave with large area and lot of carvings (as it is in any of the Buddhist Caves). Then there are many Viharas (2 storied) or Monastery for the residence of Buddhist monks. Play of light and the view from here is also mesmerising.

More info of these caves here.

From here we started our return journey. While going back also the road was closed near Vadgaon due to that Tanker accident. We had to take the diversion again through Talegaon. By 2.45 pm we reached Pune.

The journey which was of about 110 kms and 5 hours max got stretched to 160 odd kms and 8 hours. However, this gave us the opportunity to visit the museum also, apart from our pre-planned destination.

Since we had to go through various diversions, I am not providing the Odometer readings in this travelogue as those will be irrelevant. The map below would be more useful.

No comments:

Post a Comment