Two more caves found at Trirashmi Leni

Two more caves found at Trirashmi Leni
  • Two bhikkhu residences hidden in thick vegetation newly found after 200 years

  • Finding during pre monsoon cleaning work

Nashik: Two more caves have been added to the famous Trirashmi Buddhaleni group at Pandav Leni here in Nashik and it has taken over 200 years to rediscover the caves. One week before the Buddha Purnima, the discovery of these two monastery residences has added a new dimension to the history and number of Buddhist monasteries in the country.

The pre monsoon works at the caves carried out by Rakesh Shende, senior conservation assistant at the Archaeological Survey of India, the need to stop water from seeping into the caves in view of the rains. According to the report, Salim Sheikh, a senior staff member of the Archaeological Survey of India, found two residents of monks surrounded by thick vegetation. He informed Shende about it.

The two caves were carved out of rock on a steep hillside, due to the recent heavy rains. By studying them, according to archeological criteria, these two monks residences are from the second century.

One of them must have had two monks living in the monastery, while the other must have had only one monk living in it. Both caves have verandas. In this cave, a characteristic stone chauthara has been carved for the monks and for meditation, a leper has been carved outside the caves.

A panoramic view of Nashik can be seen from this meditation room. Such special arrangements for meditation can be seen in Buddhaleni at Kanheri and Wai.

First documented in 1823
Captain James Delamine, a British military officer, first documented the 'Trirashmi Buddhaleni' in Nashik in 1823 and published it to the world. Since then, numerous historians, archaeologists, scholars and tourists have visited the Buddhaleni. Many did PhDs on it. Many research papers have been published on these caves around the world.

Trirashmi: triple sunbeam
These caves carved between 250 BCE and 600 CE run along the north face of the hill about half way up. The three hills are steep and pointed. The triple fire-tongue shape was origin of its name 'Trirashmi' (triple sunbeam), which is inscribed in the caves. It is now popularly known as Pandu caves or Pandav Leni. The caves face north and north-east. Their northern frontage saves them from the sun and the south-west rains, because of which the rich carved work and inscriptions have survived 1,500 to 2,000 years. The broad terrace which runs in front of them offers a panoramic view of Nashik city from south.

"I was very happy to see these two caves for the first time. This place is invaluable. Its preservation will be a priority. They will be included in these cave groups. Waiting for people to go, erecting protective walls will be encouraged.

- Rakesh Shende, Senior Conservation Assistant, Department of Archeology

While the nullah cleaning work was going on, a big pit was seen in a rock corner. As soon as we noticed the carving, we contacted our superiors. We were literally thrilled to see these two caves, which had been hidden for so many years, with the team. It was an exciting moment in 25 years of service.

- Salim Patel, Senior Staff, Department of Archeology.

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