Class Trip

What a day it was! Along with my regular job as a Researcher and a Content Writer, I do teach History to 12th Std students at an arts academy. And today we visited Kanheri caves as a field trip. Here’s a little something about Kanheri:
Kanheri caves situated in todays Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivli, Mumbai is one amongst the circuit of 7 caves in Mumbai. The 7 caves being: Elephanta (Island), Magathane, Kanheri, Mandapeshwara (all 3 in Borivli), Mahakali (Andheri), Jogeshwari (Jogeshwari) and Jivdani (Virar).
This beautiful Buddhist site has over 109 cave excavations all together. The caves are mentioned in ancient inscriptions as Krishnagiri in Sanskrit and Kanhagiri in Pakrit. Kanheri, the modern name of the caves is obviously derived from its Pakrit form. Both Krishnagiri and Kanhagiri mean black hills (Krishna/Kanhna = black, giri = hills/ mountains). The name refers to the black basalt rock of volcanic origins in which the caves are excavated.
These caves which were excavated from 1st century BCE to 11th century CE are the only Indian caves centre which was continuously inhabited by monks for over a millennium! Unlike Ajanta and Ellora, Kanheri did not have any royal patronage but we do find some inscriptions that mention Satavahana Dynasty and Traikutaka Dynasty (these mentions are found in inscriptions of a later period than that of the dynasties).
The excavation of the caves happened in at least three stages, with 70% of it happening during the rule of the Satavahanas (1 BCE – 3 CE), 20% during Traikutakas and the rest in later periods. Having being a educational, social, commercial and religious hub for at least over a millennium, Kanheri has caves belonging to all the three sects of Buddhism: Thervada or Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism. The ancient trade route from Sopara to Kalyan passes through this site. It might have been a centre for Indo-Roman trade too!
Kanheri was one of the best known educational institution and monastery in Konkon. One copper plate inscription was found which refers to one of Buddha’s most known disciple, Sariputta, teaching Abhidhamma Pitaka. This copper plate inscription is one of the only three evidences of the existence of a Traikutaka Dynasty. Kanheri has many important inscriptions which give us an insight into the general life around the monastery. We also find Parsi, Japanese and Portuguese inscriptions along with those in Bramhi script.
Here are a few images:

Well..this a just a glimpse. To know more you can just google Kanheri caves or do actually Visit Them! The caves are beautiful and very informative. They are like a story book waiting to be read. Do visit them! I have a great time every-time that I go (this was 4th time).

I’m amazed I could write something so long after having such a tiring day. Shepherding 28 seventeen year olds is not a easy job! (I’m glad my entire class of 57 didn’t decide to turn up) Plus I’m just 9 years elder to them, so they do rarely feel intimidated by me (shocker!)  But all in all it was fun.
I know I’m saying it again but VISIT Kanheri caves. They are awesome!

© Ashwini Nawathe, Kaleidoscope of My Life
All Rights Reserved

12 thoughts on “Class Trip

  1. I often wonder if Maharashtra was a huge Buddhism belt looking at number of caves in this region. But today there is hardly any trace of this religion apart from these caves

    1. In India, today there’s hardly any trace of anything that once used to be! Everything has changed so much, it’s almost unrecognisable. But to another your question: Maharashtra had many ancient trade routes passing through it’s western ghats. And most of the Buddhist monasteries we find in Maharashtra were made from the donations made by these wealthy merchants, amongst many other things. Hence we have a dense cluster of buddhist caves here. 🙂

      1. true. everything has changed…it is changing even faster with little regard to the history and heritage. Thanks for the insight on Buddhist monastery in Maharatsra. 🙂

  2. Lawyer, Researcher, Content Writer and a Teacher! How can someone rock so many hats? Amazing! 🙂
    And beautiful pictures! Kanheri caves, and by extension, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, has become a favourite haunt of mine over the years. Almost every new Season Of Mountain starts with riding the rented cycles to caves or in the rare cases when we can’t make it on a weekday, by walking all the way to Gaumukh temple behind the caves 🙂
    Also, I took a bunch of my juniors for a trek couple of years back to Visapur and it was a riot! I cannot even imagine how someone could handle over 20 teenagers for a park visit! Kudos!
    Cheers & keep exploring 🙂

    1. <3 thanks so much! It’s definitely some fine chinas that I’m juggling 😛
      And yes taking these kids to a picnic is always tiring but so much fun!! I love enjoying and dancing around with them.. it’s very refreshing and yes sometimes a headache too 😀

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