Highlights of Gujarat’s Buddhist Circuit


When one thinks of Buddhism within the Indian subcontinent, Gujarat just isn’t the primary place that involves thoughts. And but, the state’s tryst with Buddhism dates again a minimum of to the time of the Mauryan empire, when the faith flourished underneath the patronage of emperors resembling Ashoka. References to Buddhism’s thriving presence in Gujarat may be present in historic Indian and international literature.

The 14 Ashokan rock edicts on the foot of Mount Girnar in Gujarat’s Junagadh district are maybe the earliest archaeological proof of Gujarat’s Buddhist connection. Carved on a granite block, they date again to the third century BCE and communicate of points of faith, politics and morality, whereas additionally describing Ashoka’s transformation after the Kalinga Conflict.

Nonetheless, it’s most likely the Chinese language traveller Xuanzang who first discovered proof of Buddhist settlements in Gujarat throughout his Indian sojourn in 640 CE. In his journal, he mentions the presence of round 10,000 monks in 200 monasteries unfold throughout Bharuch, Atali, Kheta, Valabhi, Anandapura and Saurashtra. Yijing, who visited India in 670 CE, notes that, of the 18 faculties of early Buddhism, the Sammatiya College was the preferred in Gujarat and western India. He goes on so as to add that, at the moment, the Valabhi College, the centre of studying for the Sammatiya Buddhists, was equal in stature and significance to the Nalanda College in Bihar.

Immediately, one can relive this wealthy and vibrant historical past, because of Gujarat Tourism’s Buddhist Circuit. The circuit takes one previous historic pillars, stupas, viharas with their ornate engraving and beautiful rock-cut caves that should have been immensely vital to the folks centuries in the past. Within the course of, it additionally covers a big portion of Gujarat—Kutch, Bharuch, Saurashtra and Junagadh are a number of the main stopovers.

Development of Khapra Kodiya Caves occurred probably throughout Ashoka’s reign Pravinsinh Chauhan

The highlights of Gujarat’s Buddhist Circuit embody:

Ashoka Edicts

As beforehand talked about, the 14 Ashokan edicts on the base of Mount Girnar in Junagadh are the amongst earliest indicators of the unfold of Buddhism in Gujarat. Written in Pali within the Brahmi script, the edicts date again to 250 BCE. They preach the necessity of common values resembling turning a blind eye to greed and animal sacrifice, sustaining purity of thought, practising secularism, kindness and gratitude, respecting others and making a simply society. And regardless that the Buddha is talked about within the edicts, Ashoka’s classes lower throughout religions and creeds—lots of them nonetheless maintain true right now.

Baba Pyare Caves

Baba Pyare caves consist of 13 rooms in three storeys
Baba Pyare caves include 13 rooms in three storeys Pravinsinh Chauhan

The Baba Pyare caves (also referred to as Bava Pyara caves or Baba Pyara caves) fall underneath the Junagadh Group of Caves, a cluster that additionally consists of the Khapra Kodiya caves and the Uparkot caves. The Baba Pyare caves lie simply exterior the Uparkot Fort near Modhimath and prolong each in north-south and east-west instructions. These man-made caves, carved in rock 45 metres excessive, include 13 rooms in three storeys and are divided into three traces. The primary line lies to the north and has 4 south-facing chambers. The second line to the south branches from the japanese finish of the primary line is extra spacious and boasts of a courtroom and a chaitya corridor (prayer corridor) surrounded by cells on each its sides. The third line behind the second is inbuilt a west-north-west path. The pillars and door jambs in these caves bear influences of the artwork traditions of the Satavahanas, whereas carvings from Buddhist symbology may be seen on the partitions of the cells. Based on James Burgess, the well-known English archaeologist from the nineteenth century, the caves, which most likely return to the 2nd or third century CE, initially housed Buddhist bhikkhus. Later, Jain ascetics additionally got here to stay right here, which is why the caves are sacred to the Jains as effectively.

Buddhist Caves of Khapra Kodiya

Khapra Kodiya caves are among the earliest monastic settlements in the area
Khapra Kodiya caves are among the many earliest monastic settlements within the space Pravinsinh Chauhan

The oldest among the many Junagadh Group of Caves and the earliest monastic settlement within the space, the Khapra Kodiya caves had been constructed between the third and 4th centuries BCE. Their building, in all chance, occurred throughout Ashoka’s reign. Positioned to the north of the Uparkot Fort complicated on the sting of the Sudarshan Lake (which not exists), these caves are the plainest-looking in the entire of Junagadh. The quarters had been break up alongside a longitudinal, east-west axis—the rectangular wing within the west and the L-shaped wing which the monksused as a monsoon shelter are its most distinctive options. And whereas the caves as soon as had a water tank, water seepage and widening cracks regularly pressured the monks to desert the caves and migrate to Maharashtra.

Dev Ni Mori

The most precious find at the Dev Ni Mori site
Probably the most valuable discover on the Dev Ni Mori website Pravinsinh Chauhan

Put up independence, archaeological excavations at Dev Ni Mori within the Aravalli district within the Fifties yielded a treasure trove of Buddhist artifacts. These embody terracotta sculptures, relics, caskets, cash and artworks which have a mix of Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim types in keeping with the period they belong to. Dev Ni Mori can be the location of a stupa (which is house to 9 pictures of the Buddha designed within the Greco-Buddhist model) and a vihara which had been inbuilt a mode widespread to Buddhist settlements within the north-western parts of the subcontinent and which might regularly unfold everywhere in the nation. Nonetheless, its most prized possession is probably a casket, excavated from the stupa, with an inscription that clearly states that it accommodates the bodily relics of the Buddha.

Kadia Dungar Buddhist Caves

The Kadia Dungar Caves are thought to have been conceived as viharas
The Kadia Dungar Caves are thought to have been conceived as viharas Pravinsinh Chauhan

Seven rock-cut caves had been found on the Kadia Dungar Hill in Bharuch district in central Gujarat. Carved out within the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, their building means that they had been most likely conceived as viharas. At this website, one also can discover a sculpture of the Buddha’s ft, monolithic lion pillars and a brick stupa on the base of the hill.

Khambhalida Buddhist Caves

The distinctive function of the Khambhalida Caves in Gujarat’s Rajkot district is that they’re carved in limestone rocks.The Khambhalida website, found by famend Indian archaeologist P. P. Pandya in 1958, has three main caves and 15 others in shut proximity. They had been made someday within the 4th or fifth century CE on the banks of a spring flowing near the foot of a hillock. Of all of the caves, it’s the one on the centre of the three main ones that grabs essentially the most eyeballs.It has a stupa or a chaitya griha in its depths, the doorway to which is flanked by sculptures of bodhisattvas. The determine to the left might be that of Padmapani (one of many 108 avatars of Avalokiteshvara) with a feminine companion and attendants, whereas the one on the appropriate exhibits Vajrapani (one other bodhisattva) with attendants. The sculptures present similarities with the Kushana and Western Kshatrapa artwork types.

Siyot Caves

Five rock-cut caves make up the sacred Siyot caves
5 rock-cut caves make up the sacred Siyot caves Pravinsinh Chauhan

From Rajkot, we transfer to the Kutch district the place one finds the Siyot caves within the Lakhpat taluka. The caves, additionally referred to as the Kateshwar Buddhist Caves, had been confirmed to have Buddhist occupancy, because of the findings from the excavations carried out in 1988-1989. Clay seals—some exhibiting the Buddha in numerous mudras, others having inscriptions in Brahmi and Devanagari—had been unearthed, along with cash, terracotta statues, copper rings and totally different types of earthenware. Out of the 5 rock-cut caves, the primary one has a sanctum and areas for strolling; the others being easy, single cells. It’s believed that the 5 caves had been a part of the 80 Buddhist caves close to the mouth of the Indus, which discover point out in Xuangzang’s chronicles from the seventh century CE.

Talaja Hills

30 caves are cut into a hill at Talaja in Bhavnagar
30 caves are lower right into a hill at Talaja in Bhavnagar Pravinsinh Chauhan

Lower into the conical rocks of a hill in Talaja in Bhavnagar district are 30 caves—a mixture of chaitya halls, water tanks and peculiar cells. Nonetheless, the pièce de résistance of this group of caves is the Ebhala Mandapa—a big corridor with 4 octagonal pillars. The cells and the bodhisattva sculptures in them bear marks of Buddhist structure from the 2nd century BCE—a interval previous to when Buddhist rock-cut structure makes its presence felt in neighbouring Maharashtra.

Taranga Caves

Sculptures of the Buddha designed with Bodhi Vriksha in Taranga caves
Sculptures of the Buddha designed with Bodhi Vriksha in Taranga caves Pravinsinh Chauhan

Excavations and archaeological excavations at Taranga Hills in Mehsana district, identified for its Jain temples, proceed to spring surprises. A cave domestically generally known as Jogida ni Gufa is claimed to have been utilized by Buddhist monks hundreds of years earlier than. The identical cave accommodates stone sculptures of the Buddha designed with Bodhi Vriksha, Kalpavriksha and different Buddhist paths. The mountain path resulting in the cave is dotted with comparable constructions. Close by, the Dharanmata and Taranmata temple are devoted to the Buddhist tantric goddess Tara, and within the neighborhood of the temples, terracotta pictures of the Buddha and carvings of Dhyani Buddha have additionally been found. And over the previous decade, almost 40 small burnt-brick stupas have been discovered on the base of Taranga and neighbouring hills, thereby elevating its standing within the state’s Buddhist circuit.

Uparkot Caves

The Buddhist settlement within the Uparkot caves may be discovered close to Adi Kadi Vav, a stepwell within the magnificent Uparkot Fort dug out of stable rock. The caves, going again to the 2nd or third century CE, present a mix of influences from the structure of the Satavahanas and the Greco-Scythian types. The caves, that are divided into two flooring, boast of a number of the most exquisitely and intricately designed pillars among the many Junagadh Group of Caves. The primary ground accommodates a deep kund (tank) surrounded by lined verandas on three sides. Each flooring of caves showcase comparable architectural options—stone-benched recesses divided into lengthy compartments, vihara cells for meditation by the monks, ornate and fantastically designed pillars and horseshoe-shaped chaitya home windows.


Archaeologists unearthed a monastery in Vadnagar
Archaeologists unearthed a monastery in Vadnagar Pravinsinh Chauhan

Discoveries over the previous two years have put Vadnagar in Mehsana district firmly on Gujarat’s Buddhist circuit map. Within the 2000s, archaeologists had unearthed a monastery within the Ghaskol locality of city with stupas, an open courtyard with surrounding cells in a sample that resembled a swastika. ASI’s findings in 2020 and 2021 undertaken by the Excavation Department in Vadnagar have revealed extra treasures. A round construction, most likely a stupa, being uncovered on the southern facet of Sharmistha Lake appears to be one of many vital finds—it has been constructed of burnt bricks. ASI’s discoveries right here in 2021 have a particular reference to Dev Ni Mori’s treasures—a curious elliptical construction close to the city boundary (which specialists imagine was used for congregation functions or to deal with a shrine), numerous artefacts and a sealing with the identical phrases because the casket bearing Buddha’s stays in Dev Ni Mori.


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