The Karla, Bhaja and Bhedsa Cave temples are good examples of the early phase of Buddhist architecture known as the Hinayana phase, wherein, the Buddha was represented symbolically. The characteristic features of these early temples were two establishments, each self-contained and consisting of a prayer hall (chaitya) and a monastery (vihara), which contained accommodation for the monks. The square central hall was approached through a verandah or portico and doorways led into cells for members of the brotherhood.The Karla Caves were carved somewhere around the 2nd century BC, the time when Buddhism was at its peak in India. One of the main structures situated inside the Karla Caves is a Chaitya Hall (prayer hall), which has been adorned with exquisitely carved sculptures. Adding to the beauty of the Chaitya Hall is a number of pillars with beautiful structural designs. The roof, constructed out of teakwood, is a testimony to the excellent carving skills of the artisans of those times. Since Karla Caves also used to serve as the residence of the monks, a number of viharas (dwelling places) with arched entrances and vaulted interiors can be seen inside. Lord Buddha has been shown inside the caves only symbolically and not in the form of images.The Bhaja Caves, near the Karla Caves, are a group of 18 rock-cut caves dating back to 200 BC. These caves are examples of a phase of early Buddhist architecture, belonging to the early Theravadin period. Ten caves of the caves contain Viharas and one is a chaitya, stylistically similar to the Karla Caves. There is also group of 14 stupas, five inside and nine outside the caves. Near the last cave is a waterfall, which, during the monsoon season, has water that falls into a small pool at the bottom.The Bhedsa Caves belong to a slightly later period than the Bhaja Caves. The Chaitya resembles the Rear Hall at Karla, but is smaller. It has four pillars, each 25 ft high, with carvings of horses, bulls and elephants mounted by male and female riders. 26 octagonal pillars, at a height of about 10 ft, support its ribbed roof.
Bhaje Caves Road, Near Bhaja Village Maval District, Lonavala, 412106, India