Aravalem / Harvalem Caves & Falls

Goa is the smallest state in India and is popular for its beaches and parties. The state is so famous for its beaches that all the other places to visit gets hardly a mention. Goa has several natural, heritage and historical beauties that is worth exploring. One such place that perfectly categorizes as an offbeat destination of Goa is Aravalem. Aravalem, also spelled Harvalem, is a small village that is located at a distance of 32 km from Panjim. Though it is a small town, Aravalem / Harvalem has few attractions to keep the visitors busy. Within a square kilometer, the village has caves of historical importance, a beautiful waterfall in the middle of lush greenery, and a temple dedicated to Lord Rudeshwar (an incarnation of Lord Shiva).

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves, Goa

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves

The caves at Aravalem is known by different names. Aravalem, Harvalem, Arvalem or Pandava Caves, the last one being more popular than the others! The reason these caves are known as Pandava Caves is due to its link to the Pandavas of Mahabharatha. It is believed that Pandavas sought refugee in these caves during their exile.

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves, Goa

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves

The architecture of the caves is very simple. A large laterite rock was cut into caves and is divided into six chambers. The last chamber (towards the right) is an empty chamber, and is believed to be for Draupadi. The chamber also used to serve as a kitchen. That chamber had a raised platform, which was perhaps built to aid cooking.

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves, Goa

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves

 

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves, Goa

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves

The other five chambers are believed to be the rooms for Pandavas, one for each. Each of these chambers have Shivalingas. These Shivalingas are placed on a square or rectangular raised platforms and are carved out of black granite stone. Pandavas used to worship Lord Shiva during their exile in these chambers.

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves, Goa

Shivaling inside Aravalem / Harvalem Caves

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves, Goa

Shivaling inside Aravalem / Harvalem Caves

 

 

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves, Goa

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves

There is also a debate going on if the caves are really linked to Mahabharata. Few reports suggest that this could have been a Buddhist caves, as a large statue of Buddha was found in the vicinity. When I asked the security guard here, he was unaware of any such statue nearby. He said that the archeological department has traced these caves back to 5th Century. One of the chambers also have inscriptions dated to 13th Century!

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves, Goa

 

Aravalem / Harvalem Caves, Goa

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls

About 500-600m ahead of Pandava Caves, the road ends in front of a temple dedicated to Lord Rudreshwar. As you enter the premises of the temple, you can hear the sound of water gushing down. When you trace the source of the sound, you will come across a view point from where you can see a beautiful waterfall. Aravalem Falls or Harvalem Falls is a small waterfall, which is formed as River Cudnem descends down suddenly by 50 meters (70 feet).

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls, Goa

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls, Goa

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls

The best time to visit the falls is during the monsoon season, or just after the monsoons. It is during this time that the view of the falls is at its best. The stunning view of the waterfalls in the rocky terrain, and surrounded by lush greenery is so pleasing to the eyes.

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls, Goa

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls

A set of stairs with guarded grills on one side provides several view points from where you can get uninterrupted views of the waterfalls. On the other side of the stairs, several benches are placed so that visitors can sit and peacefully enjoy the view. At places where there is enough space, nice landscaping is done to attract the kids. If you keep climbing the stairs, you will reach the top of the waterfalls. You can get very close to the waterfalls, however, the thick trees around, and the slippery terrain near the falls make it dangerous to get into the water at the top of the falls.

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls, Goa

Well paved path near the falls

 

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls, Goa

From the top of Aravalem / Harvalem Falls

The vicinity of the waterfalls is very neatly maintained. You can continue straight up the stairs where you can reach another road that also ends here. So effectively there are two roads that you can take to reach the waterfalls. One of them will take you through the caves, and the other directly to the waterfalls.

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls, Goa

Steps leading to Aravalem / Harvalem Falls

 

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls, Goa

Water canals near Aravalem / Harvalem Falls

From the other road (the road that takes you to the waterfall directly), you can find two sets of stairs. One will take you to the temple, and the other to the waterfalls (and eventually to the temple). There are about 50-60 steps that you need to climb down from the end of the road.

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls, Goa

Entrance to Lord Rudreshwar Temple

 

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls, Goa

Lord Rudreshwar Temple

 

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls, Goa

Lord Rudreshwar Temple

At the other side of the temple, you can get into the water that flows downstream from the falls. The falls actually forms a huge lake before the water starts flowing down. The water at the formed lake is very shallow (except for near the base of the falls). You can find several visitors getting into water, playing, swimming, and trying to reach to the base of the falls.

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls, Goa

Aravalem / Harvalem Falls

How to reach?

The nearest town to Aravalem is Sanquelim, and is well connected by bus from Mapusa and Panjim. However, from Sanquelim, the caves and the waterfalls is about two kilometers. If you are using public transport, then you need to walk for these two kilometers, or look for options (taxi or some other mode of transport). The other alternative is to hire vehicles (two or four wheelers; self-driven or with a driver) from Mapusa or Panjim.

Where to stay?

  • Panjim
  • Mapusa
  • Beach Resorts

Location


Distance Chart

From Distance (in km)
Panjim 32
Goa Airport / Railway Station 43
Belgaum 85
Hubli / Hubballi 170
Gokarna 175
Mangalore 385
Pune 425

 

2 responses to “Aravalem / Harvalem Caves & Falls”

  1. madhuvanaa says:

    nice pictures thank you for sharing
    holiday village resort

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