Sana Caves Somnath Home > Gujarat > Attractions > Caves > Sana Caves Somnath

Sana Caves Somnath

Soft Rock Caves

Gujarat is one of the most culturally diverse states of India. It draws inspiration from over 4500 years of history. With a plethora of archeological finds and architectural wonders to its credit, this Land of Legends is appropriately one of the preferred destinations for domestic and international tourists in India.

Ranging from the mystique of Harappan Civilization in Lothal to the examples of Indo-Sarcenic architecture in Ahmadabad, this western state is an eclectic mix of Jain style temples, Buddhist caves and monasteries, Rajputana architecture and Hindu places of worship. The relics and remnants of various religious beliefs have left their mark on the lands of Gujarat—with Sana Caves being one of the most prominent examples of Buddhism and its unflinching philosophy for peace and harmony.

Sana Caves is a group of about 62 rock shelters which were carved out of soft rock. These caves were created in the period ranging between 1st century BC and 1st century AD and provided shelter to monks looking for refuge during the monsoons.

Sana Caves are undoubtedly the oldest Buddhist caves in western India and boasts of rock cut pillars, stupas, benches, chaityas, viharas, a pillared hall and various domes. The shelters have been carved at various levels on and around a hillock. Some of the best archeological symbols representing the preaching Buddhism can be seen at Sana Caves.

These caves are oft visited by tourists looking for deeper insights into the art forms and architectural designs of the Buddhist period. The caves are a focal point of interest for scholars, researchers and students too. A walk through Sana Caves takes you to exciting viharas, which refers to pillared verandahs containing one or two cells. These cells have rock cut benches inside them that were probably used for resting, sitting or taking shelter during the rains.

The largest cave, Cave 2, is named Bhima-ni-Cori and is considered to be similar to Ebhala- Mandapa, which is located at Talaja. This cave is approximately 21 meters in depth and has a width of 18.3 meters. The ceiling is 5.3 meters high and provides ample space to tourists wishing to walk through them. It also has six pillars which are located between the pilasters in front. One of the pillars depicts unique features of a concave neck between the drum and the dome.

Cave 26 and Cave 13 are different from the others. They have long verandahs with simple pillars resting on raised basements. These function as a support system for the beams above. The monasteries are also exquisitely designed with pillared verandahs which usually contain up to 4 cells at the back. The presence of benches around the hall is also an important feature of these caves.

The layout of Cave 48 is very different from the rest. It contains two halls of different dimensions. These halls contain benches around their perimeter. Most of the caves were carved at different heights and levels in the spur and could be approached by simple stairs cut into the rock. The presence of multiple tanks in this group of caves bears evidence to the importance given to water harvesting. With rock cut walls present on three sides and an oblong mouth on the other, these tanks were perfect for retaining water during the bleaker seasons. This architectural design has also been noticed in the Kanheri caves near Mumbai in Maharashtra.

These caves are distinctive in nature and are marked by their austere and simplistic designs. Most tourists notice a complete absence of engravings and ornate carvings—which are present in most of the other Buddhist caves in Gujarat. The caves also contain three chaitya grihas, which possess apsidal walls and flat ceilings.

Sana Caves is also known for its scenic beauty and provides a retreat to tourists wishing to enjoy the beauty and charm of the topographical landscapes beyond.


Footprints of Buddha in Gujarat can be traced back to 270 BC. This was the period when Ashoka the Great ruled Saurashtra and was striving to spread the teachings and philosophy of Gautam Buddha across his empire. The ideology of Buddhism started gaining roots in various places in Gujarat, including Junagadh, Somnath, Velavar and the mouth of the River Indus—along with a host of other far flung areas in the state. The accounts written by Chinese scholars and travelers of the likes of Hiuen Tsiang and I-Tsing bear testimony to the spread of Buddhism in these parts of the world.

Buddhism started spreading across the nation and Gujarat in particular between the periods 27 B.C. to 470 A.D. Various archeological remains and historical facts point to the development of embellishments and shelters in and around the areas of Somnath and Vadnagar. Sana Caves was the most prominent amongst them. These caves were located in the precincts of the Sana Hill, which is located 25 kms. North-east of Una and witnessed the rise and fall of a once flourishing monastery. With several water tanks and shelters to their credit, Sana Caves were constructed on the three slopes of an elevated plateau sloping down to the waters of River Rupen on the western face of the elevation.

How to Reach

By Road

Somnath, which is very well connected to various nearby places by road, links Sana Caves to the rest of the world. Visitors can take a bus/taxi from as Veraval (7 km) or Junagadh (85 km).

By Rail

One can book a ticket to Veraval Railway Station, which is located 7 km from Somnath and serves as the nearest railhead in the region. Veraval is connected by train to Ahmadabad and some other prominent cities and towns in the state.

By Air

To reach Sana Caves, tourists need to travel to Somnath, which is the nearest city located nears these Buddhist caves.  Situated 55kms away, Keshod is the nearest airport to Somnath.

Nearest Town:  Somnath

Nearest Village: Kodinar in Junagadh/Mota Bhandariya in Kaswala/ Vanika, 24 Kms. North-East of Una railway station.

Related Image

Sana Caves Somnath
Sana Caves Somnath
Sana Caves Somnath
Sana Caves Somnath
Sana Caves Somnath
Sana Caves Somnath

Also Browse Following Under This Section

Related Topics


The history of the state of Gujarat is very old and the visit to the state offers a mesmerizing experience to the visitors. The history of the state is beautiful ....

Hill Stations

Gujarat is famous for its rich cultural tradition and heritage. Over time, Gujarat has been exposed to a variety of cultures - European, Hindu, and Islamic ....

Junagadh Caves Junagadh

Dotting the foothills of Girnar, the city of Junagadh ...

Khambhalid Caves Rajkot

One of the major tourist attractions of Gujarat ...