I Karla Caves or Karla cells am a complex of ancient Buddhist rock cut cave shrine. I am located in Karli near Lonavala in the state of Maharashtra. These rock cut cave shrines were developed in two different period, one from 2nd century B.C to 2nd century A.D and the other one being 5th century A.D to 10th century A.D. the oldest shrine date back to 160 century B.C.
It is said that it developed on a very important trade route of that period that ran eastward from Arabian Sea into the Deccan. These Karla Caves shrines are one of the oldest and finest specimens of Indian art.
The areas where these Karla Caves are located were in the past dominated by the Buddhist and therefore are completely influenced by the Buddhist art form. The Karla Caves are associated with the Mahasamghika sect of Buddhism.
This sect was very much popular in the region of Karla Caves and had a wealthy patronage as well. This is the reason that this sect patronized these caves and presented India with such a brilliant craftsmanship.
The Karla caves Lonavala complex is built into a rocky hillside around 60 kms from Pune and the complex is lit by large windows cut out of the rock and they illuminate the interiors. The main cave has a large and beautifully sculpted prayer hall which is also known as chaityas and they date back to 1st century B.C. overall the caves which is like a complex is an outstanding piece of craftsmanship on stone.