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 Makhdumpur region of Jehanabad district, Bihar, India. The caves are situated in the Barabar Hills. There are similar caves in the Nagarjuni Hills which are located less than two km away which are also considered as part of the Barabar Caves. Between second century BC and first millennium AD, Rock-cut architecture had become the key feature of Indian architecture. The roots of this architecture are found in Maurya era. 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 Makkali 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. The caves have huge arches and all the caves have two chambers that have been carved completely out of granite. They have an echo effect that is unique to these caves because of the way they have polished interiors. 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.
Barabar Hill contains four caves, namely, Karan Chaupar, Lomas Rishi, Sudama and Visva Zopri. Sudama and Lomas Rishi Caves are the earliest examples of rock-cut architecture in India, with architectural detailing, made in the Mauryan period, and became a trend the subsequent centuries, like the larger Buddhist Chaitya, that were found in Maharashtra, as in Ajanta and Karla Caves, and greatly influenced the tradition of South Asian rock-cut architecture. Barabar caves have magnanimous arches which are few in ancient history.
Lomas Rishi cave:
Lomas Rishi caves are the most beautiful and alluring caves. The caves have been cut out from a huge granite rock. It has an arch-like shape facade that imitates contemporary timber architecture. On the doorway, a row of elephants proceed towards stupa emblems, along with the curved architrave.
Sudama Cave was dedicated by emperor Ashoka in 261 BC and consists of a circular vaulted chamber with a rectangular mandapa, Which looks just like a bow and there is a circular chamber. look just like a bow and there is a circular chamber.
The Karan Chaupar cave consists of a single rectangular room with polished surfaces, contains inscription which could be dated to 245 BCE.
Fourth cave – Visva Zopri can be reached by simple steps cut in stone – “Ashoka Steps” 500 – 1000 meters northwest from the other three caves in the south-facing cliff face. There are two rectangular caves over there. There are two rectangular caves over there.
The best time to visit Barabar Caves is between the month of October and March.
How To Reach:
By Air: The nearest airport Gaya (31 km) and Patna (105 km), The Gaya airport is a domestic airport but at the same time is connected to international cities of Colombo and Bangkok.
By Rail: The Nearest Railway station is Gaya (20 km)
By Road: Barabar caves are well connected by roadways to other major places such as Patna(105 km), the state capital of Bihar, Bodh Gaya(12 km).
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Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. As the site of the Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment, Bodh Gaya is the most revered of all Buddhist sacred sites. Bodh Gaya is the most revered of all Buddhist sacred sites. Bodhgaya (also written Bodh Gaya) is the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment and the holiest of four main Buddhist pilgrimage destinations. Known as Uruvela in the Buddha’s time, the city of Bodhgaya is now a town of about 30,000 permanent residents. For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha, the other three being Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath. In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The history of this town can be traced back to 500 BC. History mentions Bodhgaya as Bodhimanda and the main monastery as the Bodhimanda-vihara.
Bodh Gaya is the holiest place for the followers of the Buddhist faith all over the world. Situated by the bank of river Neranjana the place was then known as Uruwela. In the 6th century B.C. Prince Siddhartha Gautama attained Supreme Enlightenment at this Holy place and became the Buddha. As Siddhartha, he renounced his family at the age of 29 in 534 BC and traveled and meditated in search of truth. The disciples of Gautama Siddhartha began to visit the place during the full moon in the month of Vaisakh (April–May), as per the Hindu calendar. Over time, the place became known as Bodh Gaya, the day of enlightenment as Buddha Purnima, and the tree as the Bodhi Tree.
After gaining Enlightenment, Gautam became Buddha (The Enlightened One) and spread his message of love and peace. To mark the spot where Gautam Buddha had attained Enlightenment, the great Mauryan ruler King Ashoka built a small shrine here in the 3rd century BC. Subsequent rulers left their mark on this shrine, which finally took the shape of the Mahabodhi temple that still stands.
One of India’s prime spiritual places, Mahabodhi Temple is not just a temple but Buddha’s actual enlightenment place, which is declared as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. It contains the Mahabodhi Temple with the diamond throne (called the Vajrasana) and the holy Bodhi tree. This tree was originally a sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka, itself grew from a sapling of the original Bodhi tree. Inside the Mahabodhi templecomplex, you can also enjoy the Lotus Pond or the meditation garden. Though the temple was constructed in 7th century AD, it has been repeatedly repaired and renovated, the last being in late 19th century by the Burmese King and Archeological Survey of India. It has a very calm and serene ambiance, which people from all walks of life can appreciate.
It is believed that this tree is a direct descendant of the one under which the Buddha Sakyamuni attained enlightenment, inside the Mahabodhi complex. Buddha meditated below this tree for the first seven days of enlightenment. The original tree was burned down and destroyed by many Kings. Emperor Ashoka was in fact so depressed that he ordered a branch of the tree in Sri Lanka and planted it and took so much care that the jealous queen ordered its destruction. The current tree is the descendant of the original. Devotees circle around the tree and gather fallen tree leaves and seeds as blessings from the lord.
Great Buddha Statue:
The gorgeous idol stands tall at a height of 80 ft and is made of sandstone blocks and red granite and was instated by the XIV Dalai Lama in 1989. This huge figurine depicts Lord Buddha meditating (dhyana mudra) while he is seated on a giant lotus in open air. Bordered by 10 smaller sculptures of Buddha’s disciples in the passageway leading to the Great Buddha Statue, the entire visual is a breathtaking sight.
Best time to visit:
October to March is ideal for a visit according to the weather conditions, but tourists flock here throughout the year.
How To Reach:
By Air: The nearest Airport is Gaya (17 km), It is connected to Kolkata by flights; however, the frequency is less. Kolkata is the nearest international airport, around 485 km away.
By Rail: The nearest Railway station is Gaya (14 km), It is well-connected to major Indian cities.
By Road: Bodhgaya is well connected to many cities of India through roads. The Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation provides deluxe buses for tourists twice a day.
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