Pithalkhorā monastery, (towards) Kannad, Maharashtra, IN

Raw data

This group of 13 caves is "78 km from Aurangabad on the road to Chalisgaon". It is on an ancient trade route from Sopara to Paithan. Since two of the caves are monasteries there might have been 40 monks at the site. It includes an assembly hall. The site has the typical pattern for Maharashtra - occupancy by Hinayana monks 1st century BCE to 1st century CE, and later 7th-8th centuries by Mahayana with added sculpture. The site has useful inscriptions, linking it to Amaravati.
See D.C. Ahir, Buddhist Sites and Shrines in India: History, Art and Architecture (Delhi: Indian Books Centre, 2003) p. 201.
Src: IN
Input by: SG Apr 02, 2009

"Pithalkhora, located in Gautala sanctuary on the Satmala hills, has numerous Buddhist caves, which dates back from the 2nd century BCE to 1st century CE. Situated at a distance of 40 kilometers northwest of Ellora caves and 78 kilometers from Aurangabad, the Pithalkhora caves are a unique combination of temples and monasteries. The caves, which comprises mainly viharas, are the largest structures related to the early Theravadin sect of Buddhism."

"Pithalkhora Caves : Regarded as the oldest Buddhist caves in India, the Pithalkhora Caves form a link between the art of Amravati and Sanchi. Set amidst the Satmala range of the Sahyadri Mountains, these 13 caves houses Buddhists chaityas (monasteries) and viharasa dating between the 2nd century BC and 5 th century AD."

"Cave Pithalkhora Caves
Alias Brazen Glen
Built In 3rd to 4th century AD
Region Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Pithalkhora Caves is 40 km away from Aurangabad. On the Aurangabad – Chalisgaon road, one has to take a diversion at Kalimath and travel nearly 4 km to reach the caves. […]
The Pitalkhora (20°15’ N; 75°15’ E) [= 20.25 N 75.25 E - tmc, 2 Jun 2009] or “Brazen Glen” is located at a distance of nearly 25 km west of Kannad, a tehsil headquarters in Aurangabad district and nearly 40 km west of Ellora caves. On the Aurangabad – Chalisgaon road, one has to take a diversion at Kalimath and travel nearly 4 km to reach the caves. The caves are located in a valley below and one has to ascend the steep steps to reach down. A stream, usually full of water during monsoon greets the visitors midway during the descent, and after crossing over through an iron bridge constructed by the ASI, one reaches the caves.
Pitalkhora consisting of 14 Buddhist Caves forms one of the earliest centres of the rock-cut architecture. They are cut in a variety of basalt rock which weathers faster in contrast to other parts in Maharashtra. Out of 14, 4 are chaityagrihas, one housing votive stupas, one apsidal and single cell (5A), and the rest are viharas. All the caves belong to the Hinayana period but the painting executed in the caves are of Mahayana period. The caves are in two groups; the first group consists of 10 caves and second consists of 4 caves. The Chaitya and Monastery Caves in this group have traces of very beautiful paintings of which some are surviving in the former. It is believed that Pitalkhora can be identified with ‘Petrigala’ of Ptolemy’s and ‘Pitangalya’ of ‘Mahamayuri’, a Buddhist chronicle. The inscriptions found here dates from c. 250 B.C. to 3rd – 4th century A.D. Two of the records mention ‘Pathitana’ (Pratishtana, the capital of Imperial Satavahanas, modern Paithan) and one mentions ‘Dhanyakataka’ modern Dharanikota in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh.
The sculptural representations here are similar to that of found in the stupas of Sanchi, Karla, Nasik, of the same period. As these Caves are carved in somewhat softer and fragile rock, here one can also see examples of ‘ancient conservation’. A feature which needs special mention is the very ingenious arrangement of diverting water that found its way into the cave through cracks; long tunnel like openings were bored into the ceilings and the water was allowed to flow fully into the cave underneath the floor in concealed drain channel cut to lead the water outside near the cave entrance (Cave 4)."

Kannad, India Page
World:India:State of Maharashtra
Lat 20.2667 Long 75.1333

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 19 May 2009

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 2 km from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Pithalkhora monastery, IN.

General location of the Pithalkhora monastery, IN.
lat=20.25 long=75.25
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (http://maps.fallingrain.com), 2009.

Google Map link:


Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Pithalkhorā monastery - Huntington & Chandrasekhar (2000:56)

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • India:State of Maharashtra

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

  • [missing data]

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

  • [missing data]

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Theravada, later Mahayana

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • [missing data]

11. Date-early

  • 250 BCE

MBM chrono-tag <=0200 - tmciolek 08 Jul 2014
<=0200 0200-32c 0233-66c 0267-99c 0300-32c 0333-66c 0367-99c 0400-32c 0433-66c 0467-99c 0500-32c 0533-66c 0567-99c 0600-32c 0633-66p dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

  • 400 CE

MBM chrono-tag 0400-32c - tmciolek 08 Jul 2014

13. Date-late

  • 600 CE

MBM chrono-tag 0600-32c - tmciolek 08 Jul 2014

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • Inscriptional evidence of contact with Amaravati and a capital in Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh. Stylistically connected with Karla, Sanchi, and Nasik monasteries.

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • Archaeological, inscriptions, art historical.

16. Additional notes

  • 2 of the caves are monasteries, so there might have been 40 monks - Ahir (2003:201)

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

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