Barabar Caves, Bihar: A 2300 years old Buddhist heritage waiting to be discovered

Default, Featured, Tourism — By on July 17, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Bihar is home to not only some the greatest of Bhuddhist shrines and monuments at Bodh Gaya, Nalanda and Rajgir, but there are many more which even pre-dates the more famous Buddhist sites in the State. The caves of Barabar and Nagarjuni hills fall in this category: An incredible evidence of human endeavour towards its quest of being closer to the God, some of these caves were personally sanctioned to be built by Emperor Ashok 2300 years ago to be hewn out of huge granite rocks for the monks to pray in sublime surrounding of nature

Tarique Anwer Barabar Caves, the fabulous site of untold historical wealth offer a vibrating and pulsating experience to various visitors. Of late, the isolated Barabar caves are getting attention from many multicultural tourists in recent times as the government of Bihar has taken many steps to ensure smooth and secure travelling from Gaya to Barbara Hill. Located 25 kms from Gaya and 90 kms from Patna, the State capital, the Barabar hills takes us away from the clutters of city life. The caves as are the hills are a visual delight. The architectural beauty of Barabar and the nearby Nagarjuni caves remains pristine. The four caves of Barbara were hewn in the monolithic granite cliff during the reign of the great Mauryan King Asoka, at least inscriptions on the walls of Loma Rishi caves tell that King Asoka dedicated the caves chambers to Ajivika, a small Buddhist sect. The hill has four caves Karan Choupal with single chamber. The other three caves: Sudama, Lomas Rishi and Vishwa  Jhopri each one has another chambers inside the caves. Inscriptions reveal that, on instructions from Asoka (264-225 B.C.), four chambers were excavated, cut and chiseled to a high polish by the stone masons, as retreats for ascetics who belonged to Ajivika sect. These caves when seen from outside with some distance gives the impression of sleeping giant, Sauroposeidon, one of the biggest Dinosaur. If anybody seeking high andraline doses gets inside the caves unaccompanied, it is utterly dark with pin drop silence.

Despite a candle litting inside especially at the second chambers, the light, surprisingly, does not suffuse well all around. However, the most unnoticeable unique feature of the cave is the eco and the follow up it creates, that continues to reverberate for another 4-5 seconds, an experience which probably the followers of Ajivikas spiritually enjoyed most. Striding up the mountain, there lays a lake, Nauka Vihar, which offers natural vistas to the visitors. Here people can experience boating but only in raining days. Although there are plans to make the water reservoir sustainable even during the summer months. The hill itself offer grandstand views, on clear days one can even see the distant Rajgir Mountain range. A couple of kms east of Barabar, lies Nagarjuna Hill, where there are another three equally interesting and similar caves. The Gopi cave, the biggest cave among all, Badhika cave and Pepai cave were built by King Dasrath, the grandson of Asoka for the Ajivika. On the way from Barbara to Nagarjuna, there are some rocky trails that offer you for short time trekking. Kauwa Dol, five kilometres south west of Barbara,

Thanks to its wealth of Buddhist heritage, Bihar has witnessed a dramatic rise in the arrival of foreign tourists in the last few years. From just over 38,000 foreign tourists in 2004, the state is now attracting close to one million foreign travellers, a 25-fold growth! The latest figures released by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India ranks Bihar in the top ten inbound destination in India above big brands like Kerala, Karnataka and Himachal Pradseh. Sensing opportunity, the state tourism department has identifies sites to boost its tourism offering. Barabar features prominently in the state’s agenda to develop it as a tourism hotspot. According to D K Srivastav, Director cum Special Secretary, Department of Tourism, Government of Bihar, “ “The required tourism infrastructure including a tourist facilitation centre, cafeteria and public convenience, signages, de-silting and development of the existing lake, renovation of the existing park, increasing the green cover by undertaking tree plantation are some of the initiatives currently underway to boost Barabar’s tourism profile.” Shayan M

Naresh K Sharma

Reacting to the knowledge of heritage and history of Barabar caves, New Delhi based tour operator Inpac Tours’ Managing Director, Naresh K Sharma, said, “I have been taking Buddhism centric specialized tours of Japanese, German and American groups to Bodh Gaya, Nalanda and Rajgir. However I did not know of such an incredible site being located so close to Gaya. I would definitely include it in the packages that we offer to our foreign groups. We could probably workout a two night stay itinerary for our groups in Bodh Gaya, with one day dedicated to the sightseeing of the Barabar Caves.” Sharma also added that a quality cafeteria, public convenience and access road are must haves for the foreign tourists to visit the site.


Shayan Mallick

though not many people visit here, is another deeply meaningful for Buddhist. The place is known for a Seated colossus of the Buddha statue on a large pedestal and two smaller images one of which had an inscription containing the usual Buddhist creed formula. Connoisseurs of art, history lover and many other travelers can look forward to a rewarding visit. Art buffs can swoon over the range and depth of the enigmatic Maurya polishing. This place is confluence of history, art and nature and offer vibrating experience even to the laidback visitors. The best month to be here is in the month of January and February. Although its one day affair. The foreigners who visit Bodh Gaya can complete the memorable visit of Barabara in one day However, if you want to enjoy the dawn and the night at the Barabar, Hotel Siddhanath Vishram Graha, is the only option currently.

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