Pitalkhora was the last of the cave sites we visited in India, and I found it to be a refreshing anomaly. The caves are the oldest of those we visited, and the only ones in which we had to descend rather than climb to reach. When we arrived, I was relieved to find the site was located on a nature preserve and not a crowded tourist site. It was the only cave we were not harassed to buy geodes or take selfies.

The caves themselves were in the last stages of decay. Much alike glaciers, our children would likely not have the chance to see them. Due to their location and composition, water had been seeping in for years to eat away at the stone. Bats and mice and bees occupied the the caves that had once held monks and worshippers. It was fascinating to see that this flaw in geography had been realized centuries earlier, but instead of abandonment of the site, ancient people had come up with creative solutions. You could follow drainage pipes which led to a Naga king carving, a physical and spiritual bandaid to reroute water. Inside caves, bad stone had been removed and replaced with bricks, pillars had been added 500 years after the first carving and painted over again. But still the site crumbled. It made me wonder how many sites like this have been lost back to nature, or what of our own lives would endure into the future. Despite these cheesy questions, I am so glad we got to experience Pitalkhora before nature transforms it back into another bald cliff face in western India.

Pitalkhora Caves
View from watchtower, caved located in valley
Graffiti on a pillar

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