The Barabar Hill Caves (Hindi बराबर, Barābar) in Magadha region of Bihar state are the oldest surviving rock-cut caves in India.
The Barabar and Nagarjuni Hill Caves are dated back to 3rd century BCE. Belonging to the Maurya period, these caves were dedicated to Ajivikas, a lost sect today. Three caves are located in the Nagarjuni hill in the name of Gopika, Vadathika, and Vapiyaka caves. Three out of four caves of Barabar Hill bear dedicatory inscriptions by 3rd Mauryan emperor Ashoka. Similarly, all three caves of Nagarjuna range hold dedicatory inscriptions by the grandson of Asoka, Dasaratha.
This site is well connected by all the three modes of transport, road, rail and air.
Barabar is well connected by road with Makhdumpur town, 15 km away. District Headquarter of Jehanabad is on NH-83 Patna Gaya Road, about 32 km away. Regular buses and private taxi services link Barabar and Makhdumpur/Jehanabad. Buses and taxies are available from Patna, Gaya also.
Nearest railway station is at Makhdumpur (Jehanabad district), 15 km from Barabar (Patal Ganga). Vanavar Halt is also a small railway station for local trains on the Gaya-Patna section of East Central Railways route.
Nearest airport is at Gaya, at about 32 km. Another airport is at Patna, 80 km from Barabar Caves.
Fees and permits
- Barabar Hill Caves (Karan Chaupar, Lomas Rishi etc) Barabar Hill contains four caves, namely, Karan Chaupar, Lomas Rishi, Sudama and Vishva 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 in the subsequent centuries, like the larger Buddhist Chaitya, that were found in Maharashtra, such 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.
- Karan Chaupar Cave A single rock of Barabar Hill has been cut to construct Karan Chaupar Cave. The size of room is 33.5 feet long & width is 14 ft. Height of the cave is 6.6 feet and in the middle height of cave ceiling is 10 feet. On western edge of the cave there is a small platform. Probably the platform was constructed to install a statue. Inner surface of whole Cave is very smooth and polished. The gate of the Cave is a magnificent example of Egyptian style. On right of the cave entrance there is depilated stone inscription of 5 lines. Through writings on this stone it is established that this cave was also known as Sufian & that Samrat (King) Ashoka had ordered to build this cave in 19th year of his rule (245 BCE, at outside of this cave on western side there are two human shapes & one Shiva lingam. According to stone scripture this hill was known as Salatika.
- Sudama Cave Entrance of Sudama Cave is also built in Egyptian style. There are two rooms in this cave. Outer room is almost circular in shape & its diameter is 19 feet. Ceiling of both rooms have linings & on eastern edge of this cave there is a small shelf. Inner surface of this cave style is a magnificent example of ancient masons’ excellent workmanship and architectural expertise. Sparkling polish on walls of cave is still present. This cave was built for Ajivik seers. Through study of inscriptions on rocks it is known that this cave is the oldest in rock cave series & this was built by King Ashoka for giving it to Ajivik seers.
- Lomas Rishi (Seer) Cave The Cave of Lomas Rishi (Seer) is almost identical in shape and construction to Sudama Cave. It is clear from the architecture of this cave that this was also built in Mauryan age. The entrance is made in Egyptian style. Above the entrance of this cave, an architectural shelf has been made. There are two rock inscriptions on entrance of this cave, which provide details about Mokhari King Shardulvarman and his son Anantavarman. According to another rock inscription in Brahmi script, this place was known Gorathgiri. This cave was also built in times of King Ashoka but due to some reason it could not be completed. After Gupta Times, this was finished architecturally. The arch-like shape facade of Lomas Rishi Caves, imitate the contemporary timber architecture. On the doorway, a row of elephants proceed towards stupa emblems, along the curved architrave.
- Vishwa Jhopri Cave The cave is the smallest of them all and can be reached by steps carved during the Mauryan period known today as Ashokan steps. The property of the granite rocks here is such that walking on the steps over two millennia has also polished them, therefore one need to be careful walking on them lest one may skid and fall. The cave comprises two cubical prayer rooms. The entrance is much different from the rest and also opens up to 220 deg SW.
Nagarjuni Hill Caves Nagarjuni (three caves- Gopi, Vadathika and Vapiyaka) - Caves are 1.5 km from Barabar Gate. Nagarjuni Hill is singled out as Nagarjuni Caves. These rock-cut chambers date back to the 3rd century BCE, Maurya period, of Ashoka (273-232 BCE) and his son Dasaratha Maurya.
The three caves are listed below-
- Gopi Cave Gopi cave known as Gopi-ka-Kubha or simply Nagarjuni, is the largest of all the caves of the Barabar complex. It consists of a single large oblong room of 13.95x5.84m. The two ends of the room have the particularity of being circular, contrary to the other caves. The cave lies on the south bank of the hill, dug by King Dasharatha grandson of Emperor Ashoka, according to the inscription that was engraved above the front door. The cave also has the "Gopika Cave Inscription" in the entrance corridor, dated to the 5-6th century CE. There are about 40 steps to reach at Gopi Cave.
- Vidhathika Cave Vadathika Cave - located in a crevasse in the rock. It consists of a single rectangular room sized 5.11x3.43m, with a porch at the entrance of 1.83x1.68m. This cave was consecrated by Dasharatha Maurya, the grandson and successor of Ashoka, for the sect of Ajivikas. The cave also has a much later Hindu inscription, the Vadathika Cave Inscription.
- Vapiyaka Cave Vapiyaka Cave, also called "Well Cave" from the meaning of its name. It consists of a single rectangular room of dimensions 5.10x3.43m. This cave was also dedicated to the Ajivikas sect by Dasharatha, with an inscription equivalent to that of the cave of Gopika. This cave also has a beautiful vaulted hall, entirely made of perfectly polished granite. It has an inscription identical to its neighbor, except for the name of the cave, as well as a number of short inscriptions of the Gupta era.
- Siddheshwar Nath Temple According to Shiva Purana, there are nine Avatars (Incarnations) of Lord Shiva. Barabar Hills are believed to be abode of one of these Avatars of Lord Shiva. There is a great faith and belief in Siddheshwar Nath (Lord Shiva) in local population. Local people of Jehanabad, Gaya, Vaishali, Nawada, Rohtas and other districts of Bihar and nearby districts of UP regard Siddheshwar Nath as God of Gods (Nathon Ke Nath) and believe that Lord Shiva resides in Barabar Hills and if somebody prays with devotion and pure heart then Baba Siddheshwar Nath fulfills his or her wishes. Devotees find Lord Shiva here in the form of Shivalingam. Local youth come here in Shravan month (15th July to 15th August), called Kanwarias, with their Ganga Jal pot to offer to Shivalingam. According to sign board installed at Barabar Temple Gate this temple was perhaps constructed in 7th century CE. There is a statue of Maan Durga (Mother Goddess Shakti) also installed in this temple. According to inscription on this statue, construction of this temple was started in Gupta period. According to myths in local populace, construction of this temple was done by King Vana, who was father in law of King Jarasandh of Mahabharata period. Local population also believes that legend Ashwatthama of Mahabharata period got fame due to prayers of Lord Shiva and he got penance from his evil deeds. He got blessings of Lord Shiva and resided in Barabar hills.
- Hotel Barabar. 350 m from Barabar Hills. A state government initiative.
- Hotel Viraat Inn 1.9 km from Barabar Hills ₹ 960
- Hotel Satyam International 1.9 km from Barabar Hills ₹ 1,344
- Hotel Manisha International 2.3 km from Barabar Hills ₹ 3,098
- Hotel Swagat 2.4 km from Barabar Hills ₹ 1,506
- Sukhdeo Clarks Inn 2.7 km from Barabar Hills ₹ 3,360
- Hotel Arnav 3.1 km from Barabar Hills ₹ 2,464
- Tourist Police Station Barabar 950 m. Nearest Police station.