Barabar Caves

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History

The Barabar Hill 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 Makhdumpur region of Jehanabad district, Bihar, India, 24 km (15 mi) north of Gaya.

These caves are situated in the twin hills of Barabar (four caves) and Nagarjuni (three caves); caves of the 1.6 km (0.99 mi)-distant Nagarjuni Hill are sometimes singled out as the Nagarjuni Caves. These rock-cut chambers date back to the 3rd century BCE, Maurya period, of Ashoka (reigned 273–232 BCE) and his grandson, Dasharatha Maurya.

The sculptured surround to the entrance to the Lomas Rishi Cave is the earliest survival of the ogee shaped “chaitra arch” or chandrashala that was to be an important feature of Indian rock-cut architecture and sculptural decoration for centuries. The form was clearly a reproduction in stone of buildings in wood and other plant materials.

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 and inscriptions from later periods.

Most caves at Barabar consist of two chambers, carved entirely out of granite, with a highly polished internal surface and exciting echo effect.

The caves were featured – located in a fictitious Marabar – in the book A Passage to India by English author E. M. Forster. These were also shown in the book The Mahabharata Secret by Indian author Christopher C. Doyle.
Barabar Hill contains four caves: Karan Chaupar, Lomas Rishi, Sudama and Visvakarma. Sudama and Lomas Rishi are the earliest examples of rock-cut architecture in India, with architectural detailing made in the Mauryan period. Similar examples include the larger Buddhist Chaitya, found in Maharashtra, such as in Ajanta and Karla Caves. The Barabar caves greatly influenced the tradition of rock-cut architecture in the Indian subcontinent.

Lomas Rishi cave has an arch-like shape facade that imitates contemporary timber architecture. On the doorway, a row of elephants proceed towards stupa emblems, along the curved architrave.
Sudama cave was dedicated by Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka in 261 BCE. The arches of Sudama cave have bow shape. The caves consist of a circular vaulted chamber with a rectangular mandapa.
Karan Chaupar (Karna Chaupar) consists of single rectangular room with polished surfaces, contains inscription which could be dated to 245 BCE.
Visva karma cave, reachable by Ashoka steps hewn in the cliff, consists of two rectangular rooms.

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Barabar, Sultanpur, Bihar
Sultanpur 804405
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Temple TimingsAll Days : 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

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