When it comes to studying the spread of Buddhism in Gujarat, the Buddhist caves of Uparkot serves to be the most genuine source of study material. It is one of the popular places of attractions in the state which draws visitors from every corner of the world. These practically are not the actual caves but constitute the three distinct room sites which had been constructed through stone carving. These caves used to be the resting place of the Buddhist monks during the time of monsoon. The caves comprises of two parts along with two floors which makes them the main center of attraction in Junagadh.
The historic caves have been subdivided into two sections known as west- east crest. They form the prime example of amazing rock carved architecture with intricately designed monastic cells, Chaitya Hall, water cisterns, carved entrances and ornamented pillars. Its outstanding central hall is well connected with a ventilated chamber by the winding staircase and was illuminated with of shaft which served to be used as the source of refractory. The Caves also comprise a thirty feet deep canal where crocodiles used to live. The wall of these caves had been engraved with the sculptures of erstwhile rulers with images of deities. The meditation chambers of the Caves comprise of horseshoe shaped windows and the pillars bear the influence of Scythian- Greco architectural styles of the Satvahana period.
These landmark Caves are considered to be a bit more than two thousand years old. The oldest among them is estimated to have been carved out of stone during the period of third to 4thcentury A.D. Certain sections among the historians believe that the origin of these caves dates back to the period of Asoka the great Mauryan Emperor revolving around the time span of 304 to 237 B.C. Similarly, the establishment of Baba Pyara caves dates back to the period of first and second century A.D bearing the influence of Satavahana kingdom. The last among these caves is about nineteen hundred years old. These caves have also been part of local folklores of the region and constitute an important place to visit in Gujarat. According to legends, these caves had been carved out along the edges of Sudarshan Lake in northern part of Uparkot region. It is also said that the monks deserted these caves due to development of cracks which resulted in the water leakage.
Where is it located?
Buddhist Caves of Uparkot are based in Junagadh district of Gujarat on the north western side of the Jama Masjid. By road it will hardly take 327 km to reach Junagadh from Ahmedabad. By rail, it will roughly take about 2.5 hours via Veraval-Rajkot line.
Ideal Visiting Time
These landmark Buddhist caves can be visited in any part of the year. The most favorable period is from the month of October to March when the weather is quite pleasant and charming.