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Mandapeshwar Caves, Mumbai Overview

Situated near Borivali West in Mumbai, Mandapeshwar Caves are 8th Century rock-cut shrine which are dedicated to the Hindu God - Shiva. Initially the caves were Buddhist Viharas, some time later they were occupied by the Brahmans. Currently they are a popular tourist site.

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Mandapeshwar Caves were built around 520 CE by Buddhist Monks. During the time when the caves were built, several routes through the mountains in Maharashtra were important nodes on the trade routes. The Western Ghats of India, in particular, served as an important junction for traders who would often take the sea trade routes. The monks carried the responsibility to share the message and teachings of Lord Buddha to the population. The Western Ghats of India were deemed suitable for meeting this goal. The monks thus built these caves inside the hill and created separate chambers like the halls, stupas and rooms for themselves. They then named the structure, “Mandapeshwar Caves”, which means “The Hall of Lord” and continued living, praying and meditating in the caves.

The monks who stayed at the Mandapeshwar Caves would communicate with traders travelling through the route. For the merchants, the caves provided a good point to rest whereas, the monks used it as an opportunity to introduce and share the teachings of Gautama Buddha and his meditation techniques.  The monks also welcomed those who renounced the worldly possessions and accepted monkhood. After the caves were built, the monks hired some Persian artists travelling through the mountains to paint the interiors. They created magnificent works of art on the walls of the caves that, unfortunately, can barely be seen today. The caves outlived the tests of time but their significance changed over the centuries.

Archaeologists discovered that several sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses were created inside the caves during the 8th century. This denotes that the Buddhist Viharas were later occupied by the Hindus and transformed into shrines for the deities. Till the early 18th century, the Mandapeshwar Caves were used by locals, travellers etc. as a place of worship or to rest. Above the caves, on the mountain, are the ruins of a 16th Century church and a graveyard which were founded by a Franciscan Missionary. This denotes that the Portuguese also lived and travelled in this region. In 1739, the Marathas invaded this part of Mumbai. The caves were left deserted and they got hidden in the dense forest that grew around them. Later in the 20th Century, the Mandapeshwar Caves were discovered again and designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


Mandapeshwar caves are a good example of rock-cut architecture in Mumbai. They were built according to the traditional Buddhist Cave architecture and have several chambers for prayers, meditation and lodging purposes. These chambers were excavated into the ancient rock formations and have an L-shaped corridor with carved pillars on the outside. They consist of the Prayers Halls which are called Chaitya Grihas, Votive Stupas, and several private rooms for the monks. The walls of the caves also have carvings of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Nataraja, Ardhanarishwara, Lord Ganesha, Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Sadashiva. These works of art depict significant stories from Hindu Mythology like the wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.  

How To Reach Mandapeshwar Caves

Mandapeshwar Caves are located in I C Colony, Borivali West, Mumbai on Laxman Mhatre Road.  The closest landmark is Mount Poinsur. It is very well connected by roadways with other parts of Borivali. The nearest bus station to the Mandapeshwar Caves is the Borivali Sukurwadi Bus Station which is located about 3 kilometres away. Travellers can board one of the state transport buses to head to Borivali Bus Station. Upon disembarking, they can take an auto-rickshaw or a taxi to reach the attraction via this route – M G Road – Kasturba Ched Marg – Sudhir Phadka Flyover – Devidas Road – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Road – Laxman Mhatre Road.

Other than state transport buses, Indian Railways are also convenient to reach Borivali. Borivali Railway Station is barely 2.6 kilometres away from the attraction. This railway junction also connects all the other railway stations of Mumbai City. So, boarding a local train can prove to be an affordable option for budget travellers. Once travellers reach Borivali Sukurwadi Bus Station, they then need to take the same route given above via M G Road - Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Road to reach Laxman Mhatre Road where the attraction is located.

The closest airport is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Airport which is located about 20 kilometres away from the attraction. Travellers can choose between the roadways and the railways to reach the attraction from the airport. Santacruz Railway Station is the closest railway station to the airport. It is located about 7 kilometres away and has trains operating to Borivali every 20 to 30 minutes. If one wants to take the roadways instead, they can opt for a city bus or a rental cab. The route that leads to Mandapeshwar Caves from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Airport goes via Sahar Road – Western Express Highway (towards Ahmedabad)/ NH 48 – Sudhir Phadka Flyover - Devidas Road – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Road – Laxman Mhatre Road.

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