A serene forest trail, views of the lofty Sahyadris and ancient Buddhist caves await you on a day trek

Located at the foot of a cliff in Raigad, roughly three hours from Mumbai, are a bunch of 23 Buddhist caves considered one of the oldest rock-cut temples of India. Until 5 AD, the Thanale caves were part of a trade route that snaked inland from the ancient port of Chaul, a Portuguese city near Mumbai. When the route changed, the caves were abandoned only to be rediscovered in 1890. If you're keen to explore these stone chambers, sign up for a day trek with Jungle Lore.

View from the Thanale caves
View from the Thanale caves

"The caves are over 2,000 years old. It's believed that punch-marked silver coins from the times of Emperor Ashoka were found here. In the past, we've conducted night treks to the caves. This time, we decided to organise a day trek," says Vishal Monga, member of the travel firm.

The team has organised a bus to take you to the base village of Thanale, a few kilometres before Pali, from where the easy grade trek begins. As you hit the winding trail, you'll spot lush greenery, gushing waterfalls and picturesque views of the lofty Sahyadris. It takes roughly three hours to reach the caves.

The stupas inside Cave 3. Pic courtesy/Wikimedia Commons
The stupas inside Cave 3. Pic courtesy/Wikimedia Commons

"All the caves are cut in a row. Unfortunately, only six are accessible. The southernmost are inaccessible due to a roof collapse and boulders blocking the entrance. We will explore Cave 3 which contains 13 Buddhist stupas," Monga shares, adding that several other caves have stone carvings, including remnants of paintings, discovered by archaeologist MN Deshpande.

ON: July 2, 6 am to 8 pm
STARTING POINT: Borivali
LOG ON TO: junglelore.net
CALL: 9892715151
COST: Rs 2,500 (includes travel and meals)