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Brabar Cave
The Barabar Caves are the oldest surviving rock-cut caves in India, mostly dating from the Maurya Empire (322–185 BCE), some with Ashokan inscriptions, located in the Jahanabad district, Bihar, 24 km north of Gaya. The location is 11 km from Makhdumpur Block HQ.
These caves are situated in the twin hills of Barabar (four caves) and Nagarjuni (three caves) - caves of the 1.6 km distant Nagarjuni Hill sometimes are singled out as Nagarjuni Caves. These rock-cut chambers date back to the 3rd century BC, Maurya period, of Ashoka (r. 273-232 BCE) and his son Dasaratha Maurya. Though Buddhists themselves, they allowed various Jain sects to flourish under a policy of religious tolerance.
The caves were used by ascetics from the Ajivika sect, founded by Makkhali Gosala, a contemporary of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and of Mahavira, the last and 24th Tirthankara of Jainism. Also present at the site are several rock-cut Buddhist and Hindu sculptures.
Most caves at Barabar consist of two chambers, carved entirely out of granite, with a highly polished internal surface and exciting echo effect. The first chamber was meant for worshippers to congregate in a large rectangular hall, and the second, a small, circular, domed chamber for worship, this inner chamber probably had a small stupa like structure, at some point, though they are now empty.
About / Importance
The seven caves (Satgarva) which were created in Mauryan emperor Ashoka’s time for the Ajeevikas (Buddhist monks). These were carved in monolithic hardest granites and have extra ordinary interior polish to reveal the outstanding skills of the period. Satgharva/ Seven caves.
a) Barabar Caves
(i) Karna Chaupar
(ii) Sudama Cave
(iii) Lamarshi (Lomas Rishi) Cave
(iv) Vishmitra (Vishwa Zopri) Cave
(b) Nagaragunja Caves
(i) Gopi Cave
(ii) Bahayak Cave
(iii) Vaidantika Cave
Barabar Caves – There is a well-maintained stairway leading to the fantastic caves at the Barabar hill. The inscriptions on the entrance walls and gateways reveal that these were meant for Buddhist monks. These caves also have very highly polished interior which are carved into gigantic monolithic granite that looks like a huge crocodile from outside.
Nagarjuna Caves – Situated at the Nagarjuna hill about 5 minutes’ drive from Barabar hill. The larger cave is tucked at the middle of the hill and a climb of about 5 minutes till the opening base of the cave. Highly polished rectangular walls of the cave are the witness to the technical advancement of the bygone era. The other two smaller caves are located at the base of the hills. A concreted winding path completely surrounded by the grey boulder- hillocks that reaches to the Bahayak cave & Vaidantika cave gives an out of the world experience. These caves are also similarly polished. The serenity of the place is absolutely incredible. Most of these were made by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka around 250 BCE.
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