Buddhists caves facing neglect in Jahanabad

By Ajay Kumar, ANI, Dec 18, 2008

Jahanabad, India -- The Buddhist Caves in Bihar's Jahanabad area hold a great potential to draw thousands of tourists from different parts of the country and world. But not many tourists feel motivated to visit this historically important place.

Following Maoist insurgency and administrative neglect, these historically significant Barabar Caves are lying unattended.

Located deep inside the Barabar Hills, 45 kilometres from Gaya and 38 kilometres from Jahanabad, the Barabar Caves are losing their attraction value.

Locals believe that the government's negligence discourages tourists from visiting this spot.

It is said that Mauryan Emperor Ashoka had these caves done up for the Buddhist monks in 200 B.C. Five caves were formed from one single granite-based hill and the caves measure around 120 metres.

Among these, the one named after Lomas Rishi is the most popular cave and it looks like the abode of some sage.

What fascinates the visitors here is the façade inside that is well polished, in contrast to the rough rocky looks from outside. The other two significant caves are named Sudama and Chaupar.

"This hill is of granite stone; there are five sorts of caves over here. This cave is a handmade cave; human beings did cutting of this cave. This cave has not lost its gleam and shine. And the best part is that the five caves have been made inside one single hill," said Sanjay Kumar, a tourist.

Declared part of the national heritage by Archaeological Survey of India, condition of the caves is very bad.

"The main thing about these caves is that King Ashoka got them done, but condition of these caves has deteriorated over the period of time. Tourism here is suffering because roads are not in proper shape. These caves are located at an isolated area and that's another reason why just a few visitors come here," said Nandu Paswan, caretaker of Barabar Caves.

Despite Bihar being a prime destination for Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world and also for others interested in knowing the saga of Lord Buddha such as the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, the concerned authorities have not been able to maintain a proper upkeep here.

Historians contend that these caves date back to the era of the Emperor Ashoka and who was instrumental in spreading of Buddhism beyond the frontiers of India. But today it needs proper conservation and realization of its significance by authorities.
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