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Barabar Caves

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.

The Barabar Caves are about 25 km as the crow flies (about 31 km) north of Gaya at the foot of about 300 m high mountain Siddheshwar , one of the northernmost foothills of the Vindhya Mountains in the transition to the Gangesebene , on which a Shiva Temples, various rock reliefs and traces of fortifications are located. Since 1986, the area belongs to the newly created district of Jehanabad .

An elongated, almost 200 m long, almost black granite hump holds on its north side a first cave, Karan Chaupar , and shortly west of it – later carved into a foothill of the rocky outcrop – two human figures and a lingam . In the southern front of the ridge are the entrances to two other caves, Sudama and Lomas Rishi . A fourth cave, Visva Zopri , is located about 800 m northeast of these three caves on a rocky hill, which can be reached via a rock staircase (“Ashoka Steps”).

The caves date back to the time of the Maurya ruler Ashoka , ie from the 3rd century BC. A rock inscription indicates the place with Gorathagiri – a place that occurs in the Mahabharata epic. According to the inscription in the Sudama Cave, it was dug in Ashoka’s 12th year of reign (reigned 268-232 BC) for the ascetic community of Ajivika . Another inscription and several Hindu rock reliefs and steles date from the late Gupta period (7th / 8th century AD) and later. Already at the beginning of the 19th century, the heights were perceived by Europeans, but first made known by the visit of the Indologist Alexander Cunningham in 1868 and the subsequent publication of a wider public.

The caves cut into the natural granite rocks are quite simple chambers, some of which are unfinished. Impressive are the extremely carefully polished, shiny natural stone surfaces of walls and ceilings. Only the entrance to the Lomas Rishi Cave is decorated with ornate stone carvings .

The base of the Karan Chaupar Cave measures around 10 × 4 meters. Inside, the barrel vault is about 2 meters high and about 3.25 meters high at the top. To the right of the entrance are the remains of a five-line inscription from the 19th year of the reign of Ashoka.

The chamber of the Sudama cave measures about 10 × 6 meters and its barrel vault is about 3.5 meters high. At the western end, it is connected via a door-like opening with a round room with a diameter of 6 m and a dome ceiling . It contains the Ashoka dedication inscription in Brahmi .

The Lomas Rishi Cave has almost the same dimensions and shape as the Sudama Cave. Its porch, carved out about 30 cm deep from the vertical rock face, has a profiled gable awning crowned by a kalasha vase, with 13 beam ends and two pilasters, which must be understood as the outer walls of a building; On both sides, the lower three beam heads are kept away from the ‘walls’ with small columns. The area between the archway and the gable roof shows a semicircular relief band on which elephants strive from both sides to form a stupa at the top of the band. From each of the pointed lower ends of the ribbon, a Makara urges behind the elephant. A second band arranged above the first band shows regular latticework and in its lower pointed ends one foliage tuft each. The circle segment between the archway and the horizontal fall of the actual door opening to the cave chamber carries two inscriptions from the later Gupta period.

The very simple, unpolished Visva Zapri Cave (also written by Vishwajhopri ) is carved into the south side of a large boulder. It consists of an almost cubic first chamber, whose rear wall contains a passage in a second cubic chamber. The edge length of the cubes is just over 2 m. Noteworthy is a multi-line Brahmi inscription.

Barabar Caves The earliest ancient rock caves in India. (From the 3rd century BC)
The Maurya emperors, Ashoka and Dasharatha, constructed and donated these to the caretakers of the Ajay Seva.
These stone caves are directly connected to the rock (parallel to the surface of the rock). Perpendicular is not removed.
The walls of these rocky walls have a polygonal period of polish.
There is no sculpture of Buddha in these rock gardens because of the Mahayana Sankara. Instead it appears otive stupa.
The stone architecture of the Barbar caves has been decorated with a wooden architecture. The carpenter’s carpentry has been mesmerized in the crafting of these caves.
Barabar stone caves are an example of the architecture of Maurya.
The sculpture of the Mauryas in the Barbar rock caves has no effect on the sculpture that followed after Maurya.

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Art historical classification
The caves of Barabar cut out of the natural rock are the starting point of a typical Indian cave and temple architecture , which spread far into the Asian region.

The round chambers in the Sudama and Lomas Rishi caves, viewed from the rooms in front of them, prove to be a reflection of traditional thatched rondavels that sheltered ascetics and sanctuaries. Similarly, at the entrance portal of the Lomas Rishi Cave, one can observe the typical rock and stone construction tradition of implementing the familiar wooden construction methods in stone. These forms should evolve into the kudu portals or to (blend) windows.

The artfully polished surfaces of walls and ceilings share a common craft tradition with the Ashoka columns found in various places in India.

Barabar caves
There are four caves in the Barabar Hill Caves.

Sadama cave
Lomas Rishi Cave
Karan Chauffer Cave
Cosmic zapra cave
These caves include the earliest examples of stone architecture in the hills of India, where the Sudama cave and the Lomas Rishi caves. These include the Ashoka rock inscriptions found in the caves of Sadama cave and Karan Chauffer. All in the Barabar caves are in the same architectural style. It is a unique feature of building these caves in the face of the rock. The entrances in the caves are equipped with a trapezoidal shape. Each cave is usually a rectangular hall and a cord. The roofs have a barrel vaulted roof. There is an entrance gate connecting the goddess to the beams. The inner walls of these caves have a sparkling luxurious sleeve.

Sudha cave
The cave has a rectangular hall. It has a barrel vaulted roof. The cell is round and its roof is round. The oldest Ashokan stone inscription is found in the Sudama cave. Accordingly, the Ashoka Chakravarti is believed to have been donated to the devotees in the 12th year of his reign (in 252 AD)

Lomas Rushi cave
The cave also has a rectangular hall. It has a barrel vaulted roof. The cell is shaped like an oval shape and its roof is shaped. There is no stone inscription in this cave. The entrance to the cave is similar to the architectural style of the structure built of wood. Excellent carpentry work has been molded in the stone structure of this cave. The elephant couples in a row were inscribed on the top of the entranceway at the entrance of the entrance.

Nectar chauper cave
It has a rectangular hall with 33 X 14 feet and has very smooth walls. The Ashokan stone inscription appears. The Ashoka Emperor revealed that the cave was initiated during the 19th year of his reign (in 245 AD) when he came to the state.

Loyal Zopri cave
It has two rectangular chambers.

Nagarjuni caves
There are 3 caves at Nagarjuni Hill near Barabar Hill. They are not only small compared to the Barbar caves but later.

Gopika cave
Vapia cave
The theologian cave
Gopica cave
It was the Ashokian grandson of the Maurya Emperor Dasharat. Built in 204. It was the last cave that moorings removed. It has a 46 feet long hall. It has a barrel vaulted roof. It may be a excursion.

Vapi cave
The cave also has a rectangular hall and a semicircle in front of it.

Theologian cave
This cave looks like a hut.

Mural architecture-effect
Barabar caves have greatly influenced the rock architecture of rock-cut architecture in South Asia. The Barar Caves and Nagarjuni caves later became the source of many stone caves in India. For the first time, the Mauryas who used wood for architects started sculpting wooden sculptures in the rocky grounds. However, Barabar stone caves, an example of Mauryus architect, did not affect the sculptures that followed the Mauryas. The Maurya dynasty that has been built in the Barbar stone caves is not even popular, as is the case with Mauritius and the ideology of Maurya Emperors. Therefore, their architecture has also been exhausted by the fall of the Mauryas. However, the first use of rocks to architects is the great service to the Indian architecture of India.

Source From Wikipedia