General view of Barabar and Neurali lines from ridge of caves, Barabar Hills
Photographer: Beglar, Joseph David
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of Barabar and Neurali lines from the ridge of the caves, at Barabar Hills, Bihar, taken by Joseph David Beglar in 1872-73. In the report accompanying his photographic tour Beglar wrote, "...It was with much anticipation that I awaited the morning view into the valley, the opening being, as described by Mr. Grierson, funnel-shaped. As I expected, I found it enchanting. Two hills meet each other by an easy incline, the foot of each being washed by the same stream." This photograph makes up the view from a group of caves have been both architecturally and epigraphically dated to around 250 BC, under the Mauryan king, Asoka. Asoka was a Buddhist who ruled almost the whole of what we now call India in the third century BC. However these caves were used by the Ajivikas, a Jain sect which were allowed to thrive under Asoka's policy of religious tolerance. The sect believed that life was totally predetermined by destiny and practiced asceticism at locations like these caves. The Barabar caves provided a prototype for the larger Buddhist Chaitya halls that are found in Maharasthra such as Ajanta or Karli, and were very influential to the tradition of South Asian rock-cut architecture. The area was also the setting for the opening of E.M. Forster's 'A Passage to India'.