Bava Pyara Caves

Baba Pyara Caves


Useful Information

Location: Eastern part of Junagadh city.
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Address: Bava Pyara Caves, Tel: +91-, Fax: +91-,
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History


Description

The Bava Pyara Caves are both Buddhist and Jain temples and/or living quarters cut into the rock. The caves are rectangular cells, each with its own door and a window on both sides of the door. Typically there are two smaller rooms at the far end. It is interpreted as something like monk cells, each inhabited by one religious man. There are three groups of caves. The first consists of four cells. The second has a central courtyard, about 16m long and 5m wide, the cells open to the courtyard, and there is one bigger chamber. The third group again has three normal cells, but als a bigger chmaber with three smaller rooms at the far end. How and by whom the caves were used, who actually created them and when is a mystery.

The caves are impossible to date with geophysical methods, as they are simply voids cut out of the rock. Dating is only possible by comparing the architecture and the symbols carved into the rock. As a result there are quite different opinions on the age and history of the caves.

At the end of the 19th century Burgess visited the caves and later described them in his report Report on the antiquities of Kathiawad and Kucch which was published in London in 1876. He does not mention the age of the caves in this report, but he described an affiliation with both Buddhism and Jainism. He thought these caves were initially built for Buddhist bhikshus and in a later period were occupied by Jain ascetics. The archaeologist James Burgess (14 August 1832 – 3 October 1916), was an important archaeologist of India in the 19th century and the founder of the magazine The Indian Antiquary (1872).

The scholar H.D. Sanklia interpreted the caves to be of Jain origin, as he discovered various inscriptions and symbols which are typical for this religion. He found eleven auspicious symbols, e.g. "Nandhyavarta", "Swastika", "Darpan" , "Bhadrasana" , "Meen Yugal" and "Purna Ghata". There is also an inscription with the term kevalgyan which is only used by Jains. He dated the caves to the 2nd century BC.

Madhusudan Dhaky also explored the caves and he discovered two Vyala figures carved into the rock. Based on those sculptures he dated the caves to the 2nd or 3rd century AD. Madhusudan Amilal Dhaky (31 July 1927 – 29 July 2016) was an architectural and art historian from Gujarat, India.

The Jaina religion teaches asketism and the caves are interpreted as a sort of hermitages. However, the number of cells and the larger caverns and courtyard makes it more likely they are a sort of monastery.