Barabar Caves

Useful Information

Location: 36 km north of Gaya.
Classification: ExplainCave Church
Guided tours:  
Address: Barabar Caves, Tel: +91-, Fax: +91-,
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


200 BC caves excavated.


This is Naxalite bandit country and visitors are strongly advised not to travel alone, but go to the police station and organise an armed escort.

Two of these caves were made famous by E M Forster in his book, and later in the film, A Passage to India. He called them the Marabar Caves and they contain Ashokan inscriptions.

The caves consist of temples and sanctuaries hacked out of huge granite outcrops. Their interior surfaces are remarkably smooth, and some are thought to have served as retreats for Jain monks.

Drawing inspiration from ordinary huts, the Barabar Caves are designed to look as if they have been made of wood. The facade of the Lomas Rishi Cave, which is sculpted to resemble lattice screens, is the first available example of the famous Buddhist Chaitya Arch style in India.

On the southern face of Barabar hill lies the earliest cave shrine known as the Sudama Cave, known in ancient times as Nigoha-kubha or Banyan Tree Cave. This cave, excavated in the 12th regal year of Ashoka or 2 BC is a two-chambered structure and the interior surface of the cave is polished to a high degree and gives an impression of a layer of glass laid on stone.

Karan Chopar, a single-chamber-structure with a vaulted roof and simple opening in the rock face, lies to the north of this cave. This cave was chiselled out in the 19th regal year of Ashoka. An early inscription refer to it as the Supriya Cave while later inscriptions describe it using various names like Bodhimula, which means The Root of Intelligence, Daridra Kandara, The Cave of the Poor, etc.

About 1000 meters east of this cave lies the fourth two-chambered cave: This is the Vishva Zopari Cave which was excavated in the 12th regal year of Ashoka.

Text by Tony Oldham (2003). With kind permission.