It is a distance of about 97 kms and it’s worth the drive if you are interested in seeing five famed Buddhist caves. The caves were probably natural cavities, in a sandstone cliff, which were then enlarged and built upon by Buddhist monks in the 5th and 6th century.
The tradition of living in caves goes back to pre-Buddhist days. Indian ascetics, like the mendicant friars of medieval Europe, served as wandering spiritual guides. They begged for their food and were, therefore not expected to stay long in any one place and become a burden to the host community. Consequently, they did not have permanent dwellings. In the rainy season, however, when the roads became impassable in India, they assembled together in monasteries. This is how the practice of living in caves came about.
Caves could be abandoned during the fair-weather months and then re-occupied in the drenching monsoons. But not all caves were of a suitable size. And so they had to be enlarged, with hammer and chisel, cells and beds carved into them for the use of the monks, and central prayer halls created for their congregational activities. The caves, or sections of caves, used for living were called viharas or monasteries.
The assembly halls for discussions and congregational worship became their chaityas. Naturally, in the process of excavating these caves, they were also beautified with sculpted figures and carved pillars supporting rock overhangs. And to while away the long, wet season, the talented artists amongst them even painted the walls of their caves with murals depicting the legpnds of their faith on the background of contemporary life.