ASI discovers 26 ancient caves in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

The agency said that the newly discovered archaeological remains have added a ‘new chapter in the history of Baghelkhand’.

Published: 29th September 2022 09:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th September 2022 09:47 AM   |  A+A-

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

Representational image (Photo| Special Arrangement)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered 26 ancient caves, dating to 2nd-5th century CE, in Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve area. During the exploration and documentation of the region carried out in May-June, the agency has also found remains of temples, Buddhist structures and inscriptions containing names of cities such as Mathura, Kaushambi, Vejabharada and Sapatanaairikaa.

The announcement about the new findings was made on Wednesday. The agency said that the newly discovered archaeological remains have added a ‘new chapter in the history of Baghelkhand’.
The northeastern regions of Madhya Pradesh and southeastern Uttar Pradesh are referred to as Baghelkhand, which was also known as Dahala during 6th-12th centuries.

The exploration was under the direction of Shivakant Bajpai, Superintending Archaeologist, Jabalpur circle (sub office) of ASI. The exploration team covered nearly 170 square kilometre (Sqm) area under the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve during the months-long exercise, which was undertaken for the first time since 1938.

During the exploration 26 temples, 26 caves, two monasteries, two votive stupas, 24 inscriptions, 46 sculptures, other scattered remains and 19 water structures were recorded. The time period of the findings covered the reigns of the kings Shri Bhimsena, Maharaja Pothasiri, Maharaja Bhattadeva. Places deciphered in the inscriptions are Kaushami, Mathura, Pavata (Parvata), Vejabharada and Sapatanaairikaa.

While sharing the details on the ‘remarkable’ remains on Wednesday, Bajpai said that previous exploration in the area was conducted by archaeologist NP Chakravarti in 1938. “Several structures were found and duly documented. Our teams reported and documented more structures including ancient caves, Buddhist remains, sculptures, temples, water bodies, mural inscriptions in old scripts such as Brahmi and Nagari,” he said. Coins belonging to Mughal-era and Sharqi dynasty of Jaunpur Sultanate have also been found, he said.

ASI officials said a total of 35 temples have been documented, nine earlier and 26 temples or remains of temple of Kalachuri period in the latest exploration. Of the caves, 26 are newly documented, dating to 2nd century BC to 5th century AD period and mostly Buddhist in nature, while 50 were reported earlier, he added.  Two new Shaiva maths of Kalachuri period (9th-11th century AD) and two new stupas have also been documented, officials said.

Findings of historical importance

  • 26 caves are mostly Buddhist in nature
  • Remains of Mahayana sect---- largest Buddhist sect in the world-- of Buddhism like chaitya shaped doors and cells containing stone beds
  • A Votive Stupa and a Buddhist pillar fragment containing miniature stupa carving. They roughly belong to the 2nd -3rd century CE.
  • 24 Brahmi inscriptions datable from 2nd century CE to 5th century CE
  • Some remains of Gupta period like door jambs
  • 26 ancient temples or remains of Kalachuri period (9th century CE to 11th Century CE)
  • Two Saiva Math of Kalachuri period (9th-11th century CE)
  • 48 new sculptures
  • A large Varaha sculpture measuring 6.4x5.03x2.77 meters datable to 9th - 13th century CE. It appears to be the world’s largest sculpture.
  • 19 water bodies of different periods from 2nd to 15th CE
  • Quarry sites, brick kiln and water treatment related structures
  • Places names Kaushambi, Mathura, Pavata (Parvata), Vejabharada and Sapatanaairikaa are mentioned in the inscriptions
  • Important Kings mentioned in the inscriptions are Maharaja Shri Bhimsena, MaharajaPothasiri, Maharaja Bhattadeva

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