This Mystical cave present at Rivona, known as Rivona Caves (Pandava) or the Buddhist caves is situated about 5km northeast of Ponda in South Goa.
The main opening to the caves is next to a small stepped well or tank at the bottom of the rock. This is flanked by a 16th century bas-relief of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey God and leads to the cell on the upper level.
Rivona Caves – Goa
The caves hold a very symbolic place in Hindu mythology, it is known that the caves were called the Pandava caves because Lord Hanuman visited the caves. It is said that the rock cut sculptures and painting was made by a Buddhist monk and influenced Buddhism in Goa.
At the Buddhist caves at Rivona one can see a “Pitha”, which is carved out of laterite and is believed to have served as the seat of the teacher. The caves are also considered one of the few examples of Buddhist influence visible in Goa today. It is said that, during the era of Chandragupta and Kadamba, Rivona, given the presence of hot springs, fresh flowing water and dense forests, was a hideaway for the Buddhists following the decline of Buddhism.
As you enter the cave, a flight of rock cut stairs leads you to the central position that has a wonderful old ceiling and an opening at the center to let daylight enter. Also, inside the caves you will find origin of two perennial springs which served as the main water source for the Buddhist monks or the Hindu priests who inhabited the caves. This water from the stream is currently used for irrigation by local farmers. Inside the cave, you will also find a raised pedestal or a ‘pitha’ that was perhaps the seat of the teacher.
If you sit in tranquility inside these less traveled caves, you will sense a part of history running through the walls of this 6th century year old cave. Here is a cave that does not have the lavish ornamentation of a royal abode. Simple, and ideal for the lone saints who wanted to live a humble life and meditate, the Rivona caves have a very gentle ambience that brings peace to the mind.
By the side of the caves are rock cut steps that lead to a natural pond. Also known as the Pandava caves after the popular belief that says they took refuge here during their exile, drawings of animals and birds on the laterite rocks can be found, considered to be dating back from the time much before even the birth of Christ. The fresh hot springs that must have drawn the Buddhists and Pandavas to this spot still exist and within a radius of 2 square km of the caves 20 perennial springs can be found.
Finding the Rivona caves can be somewhat difficult because these are not much visited by tourists. However, once after you find the caves, they take you to an altogether different world. Visiting the Rivona caves would take at least a one-day tour because of the secluded position of the Rivona village. You have to stay at a nearby village for the night if you want to visit the caves.