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Panhale Kaji (Panhale Kazi)

WorldBlue  In short

Nobody is able to grasp the immense universe of Indian cultural heritage. This was proven again in 1970 when Panhale Kaji (often called Panhale Kazi) cave temples were discovered.

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GPS coordinates
17.6379 N 73.2579 E (mistake up to 1000 m)
Location, address
Asia, India, Maharashtra, Ratnagiri district, left bank of Kotjai river, at Dapilo-Dabhol road
Buddhist shrines, Hindu shrines, Rock cut temples and monasteries
Alternate names
Panhale Kazi, Panhāle-Kāji, Panhale-Kaji, Pranalaka
The 3rd – 14th century AD
Buddhism, Hindu

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WorldYellow In detail

More than 100 years have passed since scientific research of Indian rock-cut temples started, hundreds of these monuments were described in numerous books but – out of nothing appeared unknown complex of 28 – 29 caves filled with exquisite art values!

By the way – this was not the last discovery – forgotten Indian cave temples are rediscovered up to this day.

History in short

Creation of these caves started approximately in the 3rd century AD, at a time when influential merchants were spreading the teaching of Buddha in India. Many large temples appeared near ancient trade routes. Panhale Kaji was one of such temple complexes, located at the busy route from inland to Dabhol – one of the most important port cities in the Arabian Sea in these times. Dabhol has been marked even in maps of Ptolemy.

Later, around the 10th – 11th century AD caves became a stronghold of a small group of followers to the Vajrayana sect (Tantric Buddhism). Some of the earlier caves, for example, Cave 10, were adjusted for the worship of deities like Akshobhya and Mahachandaroshana. An interesting monument of art is five Budha sculptures, possibly representing Vajrasana Buddha – showing relatedness to the iconography of late Ellora Buddhist Caves.

During the 13th century caves were taken over by Naths, a Hindu cult, adding artwork characteristic for their religion. Then, during the late Silahara period, these caves were used for Ganapatya and Shiva worship.

Description of caves

Nowadays Panhale Kaji caves represent exquisite monument of ancient art – both regarding architecture, art and the quality of craftmanship. Among other values caves contain also few inscriptions – one inscription in Brahmi script and one in Devanagari script. Some of most interesting caves are described below:

  • Cave 2 – ceiling in hall has imitation of wooden beams. Rear wall contains seven small carvings of Mānusi Buddhas.
  • Cave 5 – contains relief of Buddhist stupa from the 3rd century AD.
  • Cave 10 contains image of Maha-Chandraroshana – this is significant feature as it tells about contacts of Konkana with Ratnagiri – a Buddhist site in Odisha, where this deity is shown on stupa.
  • Cave 14 – earlier Buddhist cave with large forecourt. Sometimes around the 13th century it was transformed for worship of deities of Naths. Front wall is adorned with sculpted panels of Nath siddhas – transcendent masters. Contain also representation of Chauranginatha with several feet and hands.
  • Cave 19 – contains monolithic linga-shrine inside the hall. Entrance in shrine is guarded by dvarapalas. Ceiling panels in this cave show scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata.
  • Cave 21 contains sculpture of Ganesh.
  • Cave 22 contains damaged statue of goddess Sarasvati.
  • Cave 29 (known as Gaura-Lena, Gaur Lene) – earlier Buddhist cave transformed for the worship of deities of Natha-pantha. Contains composite panels with images of Matsyendranatha, Adinatha and Uma as well as sculpted panels depicting Goraknatha and Maha-Tripurasundari – the latter according to Lalitasahasranama. Inside the cave there are depicted 84 siddhas in small panels. One panel shows Chauranginatha with several feet and hands. Opposite the entrance of cave there are some more sculptures – Ganesha flanked by Lakshmi and Sarasvati. Outside the cave there are also two large niches with sculptures of Hanuman and Bhairava. In the front of cave a sculptural group – cow and calf.

Unusual element in this complex is large boulder in river – it also has been carved with four imitations of doors.

  1. Indian Archaeology, 1981 – 82 – a review, New Delhi, 1982.

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