This article provides an introduction to Buddhist monasteries situated in the Western Ghats Mountains and on the Konkan Coast. These monasteries took the form of caves that were cut between 200 BC and AD 500 approximately. The caves provided shelter for monastic communities, housing activities such as meditation, eating and discussion. During the period when they were cut, people and goods moved through the Western Ghats Mountain Range, channeled by its numerous valleys and ghats, the latter a term used to describe steep paths that offered access to the mountain’s interior. These geographical features became an important influence on the location of caves and this article will introduce the geography and environment of the Western Ghats and the Konkan coast before going on to summarise the distribution and attributes of the monasteries in the form of a gazetteer.
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