Lonad Caves

Lonad Caves, view of entrance portal
Lonad Caves, view of entrance portal / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Main characteristics

Coordinates: 19.3137 N 73.1365 E
No:103        (list of all attractions)
Categories:Buddhist shrines, Rock cut architecture
Values:Art, Architecture, History, Archaeology
Address:Asia, India, Maharashtra, Thana district, 8 km north-east from Bhiwandi, near Janwal village
Alternate names:Kalyan Caves, Shiv Kandeshvari
Age:the 5th century AD?
Religion:Buddhism, Hindu

Near Janwal village there is located a group of several rock-cut Buddhist temples, made around the 5th century AD - Lonad Caves.

Group consists of larger chapel - chaitya and 2 - 3 unfinished cells.


Most interesting structure is chaitya - it has obtained certain fame thanks to the beautiful, interesting stone carvings.

Lonad Caves, sculptures depict scenes from Vessantara Jataka
Lonad Caves, sculptures depict scenes from the history of Buddhism / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Chaitya faces to the south-west and there opens a fine view from it. In front of it there is located rock-cut water cistern.

Temple consists of double verandah, hall and unfinished shrine. Outer verandah is partly ruined due to landslides. Entrance is adorned by a row of three square pillars and two pilasters.

In the architrave of cave there is a narrative scene of the Vessantara Jataka (story about one of the past lives of Buddha) together with panels of Hariti (family goddess) and Panchika (god of affluence).

Lonad Caves, sculpted architrave above the entrance portal
Lonad Caves, sculpted architrave above the entrance portal / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Central doorway leading into the interior hall is flanked by cariatid Yaksha images.

Large panel on the right side of the cave, outside the verandah, appears to be a magnification of the scene on the architrave, where Vessantara's father is depicted seated on a high seat amidst courtiers and attendants - he is taking the fateful decision to banish the princess Vessantara.

Lately the ancient Buddhist shrine of Lonad has been turned into Hindu shrine. It contains later images of Khandeshvari and Mahishasura Mardini.

Unfortunately the beautiful artwork is disfigured by graffiti.


See Lonad Caves on the map of India!


  1. Indian Archaeology, 1981 - 82 - a review, New Delhi, 1982.
  2. Thana District Gazetteer, Places of Interest, Maharashtra State. Accessed on June 15, 2010.

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