The so-called “Buddhist Caves” around Uparkot are not actually caves, but three separate sites of rooms carved out of stone to be used as monks’ quarters, hence the name. They are all a little over 2000 years old, give or take a couple of centuries.
The oldest, the Khapara Kodia caves caves belong to 3rd-4th century AD and are plainest of all cave groups. These caves are along the edge of the ancient Sudarshan Lake (which no longer exists) and the northern side of Uparkot. The chambers are separated into an east-west longitudinal crest. The rectangle western wing and the ‘L’ shaped wing used by the Monks as a monsoon shelter, are the important parts of the caves. They were carved into living rock during the reign of Emperor Ashoka and are considered the earliest monastic settlement in the area. After many years of use, they were abandoned because cracks above them allowed water to seep into living quarters, rendering them unusable. Many accounts say that after this, the monks left for Maharashtra, where they went on to carve many similar and more elaborate structures. Khapara Kodia was damaged by later quarrying, and now only the highest story remains.
Across Uparkot from Khapara Kodia are the caves of Baba Pyara. Baba Pyara caves are lying close to the Modhimath, which has four caves in its northern group. The next set of south group caves has a unified plan with a spacious court and a chaitya hall. The art tradition of Satavahanas period has influence over these cave pillars and door jambs of the caves. It is believed that they belong to 1st – 2nd century AD. These have 13 rooms in three stories, cut into the rock 45 m. (150 ft.) high and adorned with carvings of Buddhist symbology. These are much more intact than the Khapara Kodia caves. The last (and most recent, being only 1900 years old) caves are next to the Adi-Kadi Vav.
Entry Rs.5/- for Indians & Rs.100/- for Foreigners.
How to get there
By road: Junagadh is 327 km from Ahmedabad, 102 km from Rajkot, and 113 km from Porbandar, and is accessible by ST bus from each of these places, as well as from other cities in Gujarat by way of Veraval and Rajkot. Bus is recommended as the best way to get to Junagadh.
By rail: Two express trains run on the Ahmedabad-Veraval line, one at night (with a rather inconvenient schedule) and one by day. Ahmedabad is 7.5 hours away by train. Junagadh is also on the Rajkot-Veraval line, with Rajkot 2.5 hours away, and Veraval 2 hours.