This guidebook focuses on the rock-cut Buddhist monasteries near Nashik and Junnar, and at Karla, Bhaja, Bedsa, Kondane and Kanheri, all in western Maharashtra. These magnificent shrines and dwellings, known as chaityas and viharas, were cut into the basalt cliffs of the Western Ghats more than 2,000 years ago. They are located near to trade routes that wound their way through mountain passes, linking ports on the Arabian Sea with cities in the Deccan hinterland. Merchants travelling along these routes, together with local kings and queens and guilds of craftspersons, financed these excavations and supported the everyday life of the monks and nuns who resided there in ancient times.
Co-authored by George Michell and Gethin Rees, and illustrated with splendid, newly commissioned photographs by Surendra Kumar, this is the first guidebook to describe the sites listed above. The monuments are arranged according to itineraries to encourage visitors from Mumbai, Pune and Nashik to discover these splendid vestiges of the Deccan’s ancient Buddhist period.
Surendra Kumar is a photographer based in Hampi, Karnataka, specialising in topographic panoramas. His images are published in Discovering the Deccan: A Panoramic Journey Through Historical Landscapes & Monuments (Mumbai, 2011), Temple Architecture and Art of the Early Chalukyas (New Delhi, 2014), Portuguese Sea Forts (Mumbai, 2016), and Jewish Heritage of the Deccan (Mumbai, 2017).