20 Most Famous Caves In India

Caves have always been associated with a unique air of mystery surrounding them that sparks our imagination. And why not be? Caves have historically been treasure troves of rich archaeological specimens that have helped science and history both in understanding our past. Being one of the most ancient civilizations in the world it is only fair that India should have amazing caves within the country, elusive with wonder, spirituality and adventure.

Some of these caves still in their pristine state are recognized as not only religious destinations, but also as heritage spots with all the massive sculptures and carvings dating back to pre-historic times.

Here are 20 Most Famous Caves in India :

1. Ajanta Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

This being one of the most well-known caves in India is a must see sight in the state of Maharashtra, located in the Jalgaon district. A total of 34 caves are situated at Ellora and 29 caves in Ajanta, date back to the 6th and 11th centuries AD and some even to the 2nd and 6th century BC.

Ajanta Caves
Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta caves are adorned with sculptures related to Buddhism, while those at Ellora are dedicated to a mix of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain deities.

Ellora Caves
Ellora Caves

Also Read : Ajanta & Ellora Caves Information

Suggested Tour : 7 Days - Ajanta Ellora Caves Mumbai Tour

2. Bagh Caves, Madhya Pradesh

Situated at the banks of the Baghani River in Madhya Pradesh at the foot of the Vindhyachal ranges, the Bagh Caves are a set of 9 rock cut structures, sought after for amazing paintings within them.

Bagh Caves Madhya Pradesh
Bagh Caves

The interiors of the caves are aptly often called as Rang Mahal due to all the amazing paintings lining the cave walls. Believed to have been built by the Buddhist monk Dataka in the late 4th century to 6th century AD, these caves are best examples of ancient Indian paintings and art and are a must visit spot in the historically rich state.

Bagh Caves Painting
Bagh Caves Painting

Also Read : Top 10 Places to Visit in Madhya Pradesh

3. Bhimbetka Caves, Madhya Pradesh

Yet another majestic cave situated at the Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, this is also a UNESCO World Heritage site as it preserves some of the earliest artworks made by man. Legend has it these caves were the shelter for the Pandavas of Mahabharata during their time of exile.

Bhimbetka Caves
Bhimbetka Caves
Bhimbetka Caves Painting
Bhimbetka Caves Painting

Also Read : Top Seven Attractions In Madhya Pradesh

4. Udayagiri Caves, Odisha

Situated close to the capital city of Bhubaneshwar in Odisha the Udayagiri caves are famous for its 33 rock cut chambers that showcase Hindu and Jain scriptures and paintings. The caves date back to the golden age for Hindu philosophical ideologies of the Gupta Period of about 350 – 550 AD.

Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri Caves

The most famous sculpture in the caves is the majestic 5 feet tall statue of Vishnu's Boar Avatar, surrounded by worshippers standing in homage to the deity, which is a beautiful sight to behold for lovers of art and culture.

Varahavtar Udaygiri Caves
Lord Vishnu's Boar Avatar

5. Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra

Located close to the Mumbai city, at only 7 km away on a small island accessible by frequent ferry rides, the Elephanta caves are 7 rock cut structures created with great attention to architectural design by ancient artisans. The cave dates back to the 6th century AD, and the main attraction of these caves is the sculpture of Mahesh-Murti that depicts Lord Shiva in three forms - the Aghora, Tatpurusha and Vamadeva.

Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

Also Read : Must See Tourist Places in Mumbai

Mumbai Travel Guide :

Suggested Tour : 1 Day - Mumbai City & Elephanta Caves Tour

6. Badami Caves, Karnataka

A pilgrimage spot with 4 caves in Karnataka, there are 2 caves at the place dedicated to Lord Vishnu and 1 dedicated to Lord Shiva while the other one is dedicated to Jainism. One of the spectacles of Indian rock cut architecture of the ancient times; this is red sandstone cave lying at the precipice of a hill.

Badami Caves
Badami Caves

Also Read : 15 Top Places To Visit In Karnataka

7. Borra Caves, Vishakapattanam

Situated close to the Ananthagiri hills of the Araku Valley in Vishakapattanam, the Borra Caves are veneered by the local tribal community and is a popular Hindu pilgrimage spot due to the presence of a naturally forming Shiv Lingam inside the caves. The caves are full of stalagmite and stalactite formations and spread across 1 km.

Borra Caves

8. Varaha Caves, Tamil Nadu

Named after and dedicated to the avatar of Lord Vishnu the Hindu deity, the Varaha caves is a temple cave dedicated to the Varaha Avatar. It is a rock-cut cave also regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage site situated in Tamil Nadu, known for its magnificent architecture.

Varaha Caves
Varaha Caves

Also Read : Top 10 Tourist Places in Tamilnadu

Suggested Tour : 11 Days - Tamilnadu and Kerala Tour

9. Undavalli Caves, Andhra Pradesh

Situated 8 km away from the historic city of Vijaywada, the Undavalli caves is located at the banks of the River Krishna in Andhra Pradesh. Known to have been built by the Vishnukundin Kings and in 7th century AD, they are believed to have been carved out of solid sandstone and dedicated to the Hindu deities Anantapadmanabha Swamy and Narasimha Swamy.

Undavalli Caves
Undavalli Caves

The most popular structure at the caves is the one with 4 stories that depicts a huge statue of Lord Vishnu in a reclining position.

Undavalli caves, Andhra Pradesh
Statue of Lord Vishnu in a reclining position

Andhra Pradesh Travel Guide

10. Mawsmai Caves, Meghalaya

These are natural limestone caves, still alive i.e. with water passing through the caves located in Cherrapunjee the rainiest place on Earth. The caves are close to the massive Nohsngithiang falls, with numerous naturally formed passages and chambers of varying heights where tourists some times have to crawl to get through.

Mawsmai Cave, Meghalaya

Also Read : Top 10 Places To Visit In Meghalaya

11. Dungeshwari Caves, Bihar

Located approximately 12 km from Bodhgaya in Bihar these caves are Buddhist pilgrimage spots as the Buddha is known to have meditated in these caves. The three cave structures house a golden statue of Buddha, another huge statue of the Buddha and the goddess Dungeshwari present in them.

Dungeshwari Caves

12. Jogimara Caves, Chhattisgarh

Situated in the forests of Chhattisgarh, the Jogimara caves can be accessed by a naturally formed tunnel known as the Hathipol, which means that even elephants can pass through it. The caves are full of ancient paintings and inscriptions and legend has it that the Hindu deities Lord Ram, Sita and Laxman spent their days here during the exile.

13. Tabo Caves, Himachal Pradesh

This cave is situated near the picturesque Tabo village where the legend has it that Buddhist monks would sit to meditate. The place offers great panoramic views of the mountains surrounding it and has a few big caves along with some small caves that are dotted with colorful prayer flags. Another interesting feature of these caves is that Buddhist monks still use them for prayers and meditation during the harsh winter months.

Tabo Caves, Himachal Pradesh

Also Read : Top 15 Offbeat Places to Visit in Himachal Pradesh

Suggested Tour : 8 Days - Himachal Hill Station Tour

14. Pataleshwar Caves, Pune

Beautifully structured these caves are similar to those of Ellora, and are dedicated to Lord Shiva. The caves date back to the 8th Century AD and are specimen of architectural magnificence with flawless construction from a single rock. Also large sculptures of Sita, Ram and Laxman can be found at this cave.

Pataleshwar Caves

15. Khandagiri Caves, Odisha

Located close to the capital city of Odisha, Bhubaneshwar are these massive caves in a group of 15. One of the earliest Jain rock-cut structures believed to have been used by Jain monks during the reign of King Kharavela. The most popular one out of the 15 is the Ananta Cave which depicts massive sculptures of women, athletes and elephants on the walls.

Khandagiri Caves

16. Karla Caves, Lonavala

Lonavala is a popular hill station in Maharashtra not too far from the capital city of Mumbai. The Karla Caves located at Lonavala is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the country, dating back to 200 BC.

Karla Caves
Karla Caves

The rock cut structures of the cave resemble wood carvings and form a major attraction for cave lovers. There is an Ashokan Pillar at the front of the cave, along with beautiful arched entrances, vaulted interiors and beautiful embellishments on the walls.

Ashokan Pillar at Karla Caves
Ashokan Pillar at Karla Caves

17. Sittanavasal Caves, Tamil Nadu

These caves are located at the small village of Sittanavasal in the Pudukottai district of the state of Tamil Nadu. The caves are also called as the Arivar Koli in local dialect and dates back to the 7th Century AD.

Sittanavasal Caves
Sittanavasal Caves

Several beautiful paintings inscribed all 7th Century AD. Several beautiful paintings inscribed all over the cave walls form the major attraction for visitors over the cave walls form the major attraction for visitors, some of the finest ones being – people collecting lotuses from the pond, lilies, geese, fish, buffaloes, elephants, two dancing figures and lotus flowers.

Sitanavasal Cave Painting
Sitanavasal Cave Painting

Read More : Top 10 Tourist Places in Tamilnadu

Suggested Tour : 7 Days - Tamilnadu Kerala Culture Tour

18. Trichy Caves, Madurai

Situated in the popular tourist spot of Madurai these caves are located inside the Tiruchirapalli Rock Fort complex, they are a set of two cave temples.

Trichy Caves

The lower cave temple and upper cave temple house the deities of Shiva and Vishnu in the caves which are known to have been built by the Pallavas, Cholas and Nayaks of Madurai.

Lower Temple Trichy Caves
Lower Temple Trichy Caves
Upper Cave Temple Trichy
Upper Cave Temple Trichy

Also Read : 8 Best Places to Visit in Madurai

Suggested Tour : 4 Days - Madurai Rameshwaram Kanyakumari Temple Tour

19. Koteshwar Caves, Uttarakhand

A cave with great religious significance for the Hindus as they believe the cave is the place where Lord Shiva meditated; this enigmatic cave is located 3km from Rudraprayag and is a popular pilgrimage spot for Hindus.

Koteshwar Cave

Also Read : 10 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Uttarakhand

20. Patal Bhubaneshwar Caves, Uttarakhand

Situated at the Bhubaneshwar village in Uttarakhand, great legends and mystery surround the cave as it is believed to have been found by King Rituparna in Treta Yuga as per Hindu mythology. It is believed that there are 4 doors through which one can enter the cave Randwar, Paapdwar, Dharamdwar and Mokshadwar. The Paapdwar, which translates to the door of sin, got closed after the death of Ravana the demon king by Ram. And the Randwar which translates to the door of battles got closed after the great battle of Kurukshetra in Mahabharata. Now only two entrances remain open the dharamdwar – the door of righteousness and the mokshadwar – the door to enlightenment.

So here was a list of 20 most captivating caves in India, out of the many others that dot the nation with mystery, enigma and an undying sense of adventure, which one will you be visiting next?