Guest post by Indrani Ghose, who blogs at isharethese. An avid traveller, Indrani writes about the Rock Cut Arvalem caves in Goa.
Fortunately or unfortunately for Goa, it has got labeled as a beach destination!
So much that even tourists with open minded focus only on beaches, and involved in beach hopping. Many of the sight-seeing gems of Goa therefore get ignored. One such heritage site is the Arvalem Caves.
Arvalem Caves were carved in 12th century, which makes them nine centuries old! When I heard about it for the first time it was hard to relate Goa to something so old. Goa has a young bubbly image in my touristy mind! So, last April when I was in Goa, I searched this place out. It isn’t hard to locate, but at the same time the caves are quite hidden and we almost crossed it. Thanks to a blue board of Archeological Survey of India highlighting the protected monuments that we halted.
These caves are also called Pandava Caves, with the belief that Pandavas resided here during their 12-year exile, though there is no proof to establish the same. But then, for us Hindus anything that remotely connects to Ramayana or Mahabharata excite us!
Yet another belief is that these caves are of Buddhist origin as they were constructed in the same style as found in Ajanta and Ellora caves. A 4th century Buddha head too was found in the vicinity which is now showcased in Goa state museum.
Rock Cut Caves
The first striking feature of the place is its cleanliness. The whole place hardly measure 500 sqm and the tourism department has maintained it very well. Kudos to them for that! In all there are just five caves. The entrances to the caves are fitted with grilled doors. Though there are different gates, once you enter it is a long passage and you can see all the caves. There are lingas installed, five of them. From the fresh flowers scattered there, it seemed they are worshipped on a regular basis too. A small cave exists a few meters away, within the same area. This one looked more for meditation or residential purpose. The entire tour takes hardly fifteen minutes to one hour if you wish to linger on. If you like ancient monuments and caves, then this visit is a must.
Location of Arvalem Caves
Arvalem Caves are located 36 km from Panaji, in a village called Khandepar in the Ponda Taluka. Few kilometers away from these caves are other lesser known caves, the Rivona caves and the Lamgau caves. Arvalem waterfalls too are close by.
It is open on all days of week, from 8 am to 4 pm. No entry fee is required.