Three new caves discovered in the Trirashmi Buddhist cave complex of Nashik: Everything we know so far

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The caves all have verandahs and they also consist of a square stone platform for monks. (Image: IE)

Buddisht Caves: Nearly two centuries ago, the Trirashmi Buddhist caves or the Pandav Leni in a Nashik hill had been documented by a British military officer. Now, three more caves in the same area have been found by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), according to a report in IE. It is believed that these caves could be dwellings of Buddhist monks, and while their antiquity has not yet been determined, the archaeologists are of the opinion that these caves date back to before the Trirashmi caves.

The report added that the Pandav Leni or Trirashmi are a cluster of 25 caves and these date back to some time between the 2 century BC and 6 century AD, having been carved out of the Trirashmi Hill. Captain James Delamaine had documented the complex of the caves back in 1823, and the site is now protected by the ASI and it is a tourist destination.

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The new caves had been discovered after ASI Nashik division’s staffer Salim Patel found two caves last month during the annual pre-monsoon cleaning drive, following which a wider search was started by ASI Nashik head Rakesh Shende. It was during this search that the third cave was found. Patel was cleaning a drainage line on the hill and had been looking for somewhere to dump the grass, wood, and soil that was removed during the process when the cavity was spotted by him.

The report quoted Patel as saying that when he spotted the cavity, he went and removed the tree branches that were covering it, finding two cave-like structures that had been carved out. He added that he was “thrilled” because something like this had happened to him for the first time in his tenure of 25 years.

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Once Shende was informed by Patel about his discovery, the site was immediately cleaned up and secured, and the ASI would now document the three newly discovered caves. Shende said that at present, there are no pathways or safety railings in place and therefore, people would not be able to reach these three caves, but once the caves have been notified, the team would make the requisite arrangements.

The report also cited Mumbai’s Trirashmi Research Institute of Buddhism, Indic Language and Scripts director Atul Bhosekar as saying that he had been to the site of the new caves, as the third cave was discovered when he was also present there. He added that the new caves have been found on the opposite side of the other complex, and have been located in a steep hill. He added that as per looks, it seems to have been monks’ dwelling that had been made before the Trirashmi caves.

The caves all have verandahs and they also consist of a square stone platform for monks. Moreover, just like in the Wai and Kanheri caves, these caves have also been found to have special arrangements to facilitate meditation of monks.

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