Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Monday, July 4, 2022

Lenyadri Group of Caves, Junnar

 

 

 

 

 

Lenyadri cave complex. The caves are numbered from right to left (east to west).

 

 

 

 

Word "Lenyadri" could be translated simply as "mountain cave". This word is compiled from "Lena" ("Cave" in Marathi) and "adri" ("stone", "resistant" in Sanskrit). Area around Junnar contains more than 200 ancient rock-cut temples. The largest and most impressive group is Lenyadri Caves known also as Ganesh Lena. These caves are located to the north from Junnar, on southern hillside of large mountain called Sulaiman Pahar or, after the Ganesha shrine in one of the caves, – Ganesh Pahar. 

 

 

Lenyadri contains nearly 40 rock-cut caves. The best known and most visited is a group of 30 caves located in a compact group and all facing towards the south. These caves have been created in the 1st – 3rd century AD as a Buddhist monastery. Later one of the Buddhist dwellings was turned into a popular shrine of Hindu god Ganesh. Caves are reached by stepping 283 stone cut steps arranged in ten flights, built in the 19th century. 

 

 

Buddhists created these caves according to the canon of time – Hinayana. Group of 30 caves contains two large shrines – chaitya griha and one small chaitya. Other caves were created as dwellings for monks – viharas

 

 

  • Cave 1 has a cistern in front, filled with earth.

 

 

  • Cave 2 is similar to cave 1 in design. The veranda has two pillars and two pilasters, a bench between each pillar and pilaster with curtains in the back, which have a rail pattern. Over the pillars rests the rail-patterned rock beam, above which is the ceiling.

 

 

  • Cave 3 has an open veranda and a cell. The veranda has a bench along the back wall. A door leads to a cell, which has a seat in a left recess. In front of the recess, below the seat, are vertical bands. Between caves 2 and 3 there is a seat in the front, in a recess.

 

 

  • Cave 4 has an open veranda and a cell. The veranda has a bench, along the back wall. A grooved door leads to a cell, which has a bench along the right wall. A broken window is to the left of door and to its right, a small hole, which could have been used to wash feet before entering the cell.

 

 

  • Cave 5 has cistern in front. Seven cells around the central hall. Rear wall of verandah contains inscription with swastika at the end – inscription tells that this cave has been donated by merchants of corn.

 

 

  • Cave 6 – chaitya griha (main shrine). This was the main Buddhist shrine in this group. One of the earliest examples of Hinayana tradition chatya griha. Consists of pillared verandah and an apsidal hall which by a row of 16 pillars is divided into central nave and side aisles. 

 

 

 

Lenyadri Chaitya external view

 

 

Lenyadri Chaitya hall

 

 

Lenyadri chaitya dagoba

 

 

Lenyadri Chaitya pillar capitals

 

 

 

  • Cave 7 – largest vihara in this group, largest man-made cave in vicinities of Junnar. Nowadays better known as important Hindu temple, although initially it was created as the dwelling of Buddhist monks. Consists of a large central hall with rows of small cells on three sides.  Verandah has six pillars and two pilasters. During the conversion to Hindu shrine, the entrances have been enlarged and there were made sockets to fix the wooden door. Two central cells at the rear wall in unknown time have been transformed into one and here has been arranged Ganesh shrine – with an image of Ganesh. It is one of eight prominent Ashtavinayak shrines in Maharashtra, in general, visited as No.6 during the Ashtavinayaka pilgrimage. Cave was covered with comparatively late paintings (the 19th century?) depicting scenes from Ganesha’s life – childhood, Hallisaka dance, marriage preparations, battle with demons. Other paintings showed other Hindu deities – Vishnu, Krishna, Shiva and others.

 

 

 

 

 

Lenyadri Ashtavinayak Temple

 

 

 

Lenyadri cave inside

 

 

Cave 8 is a difficult-to-reach dwelling. It consists of a veranda with a cell and a half cell in its back wall, both entered through the veranda. The cell has a broken door, a small window, benched recess and a peg hole. The half cell has an open front and a bench at the back

 

 

  • Cave 9 – verandah had four pillars. It has been speculated that the main hall of this vihara was used as a school or study.

 

  • Cave 10 contains traces of paintings on the ceiling.

 

  • Cave 11 also contains traces of paintings on the ceiling.

 

  • Cave 12 – ceiling in the hall contains traces of painting – concentric circles.

 

  •  Cave 13 has a cistern in the front. Ceiling in the hall contains traces of paintings.

 

  • Cave 14 – chaitya griha. Pillared verandah. Hall has flat roof and there are no pillars inside. At the rear end there is stupa with a base diameter – 2.6 m. At the back of verandah there is inscription, the calligraphy of writing could be dated to the 2nd century AD.

 

  • Cave 15 is a small dwelling consisting of a cell with an unproved doorway and a veranda.

 

  •  Cave 16 is a small dwelling, on a slightly higher level above cave 15. It has a cell with a bench along its right wall and a veranda, which leads to the cell through a door.

 

  • Cave 17 consists of three dwellings behind a single verandah. Cell in the middle dwelling contains traces of painting. In front of this cave and near it there are five cisterns. One cistern contains inscription – "A meritorious goft of a cistern bu Saghaka a goldsmith, son of Kudira of Kalyana." Another cistern contains inscription "A meritorious gift of a cistern by Lachhinika (wife) of Torika the Na daka Nadabalika, wife of Isimulasami."

 

  •  Cave 18 is a dining hall (bhojanamandapa), cistern to the left from verandah.

 

  • Cave 19 is a cell without a front wall and a bench runs along the left wall. The ceiling shows signs of a dressed stone or wooden screen from the right wall to the end of the bench.

 

  • Cave 20 is a small dwelling, hard to reach as the front is broken. To the right is a passage and to the left a cell with a bench along the entire left wall

 

  •  Cave 21 is approached through a small crevice from cave 20, in the absence of any direct approach. Its living space has a veranda of fairly large size. There is also an inner cell with a grooved door frame.

 

  • Cave 22 contains inscription left by donor.

 

  • Cave 23 has two dwelling units with a long passage with shallow niches with seating provisions on the left wall. A door provides links to the rooms.

 

  • Cave 24 is a long cave with difficult access that leads into a cistern with seating arrangements in the niches. There is a door access to the passage, which also has benches for seating

 

  • Cave 25 is comparatively large cave, not completed due to the bad condition of rock.

 

  • Cave 26 is small chaitya – shrine. This is plain cave located below cave 6, which is a chaitya (chapel) cave.

 

 

 

Source:

https://www.wondermondo.com/lenyadri-caves-junnar/

Junnar, Maharashtra Gazetteers Department, accessed on March 30, 2010.

Lenyadri Group of Caves, Junnar, Archaeological Survey of India, accessed on May 30, 2010.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenyadri