General view of Lilajan River and Jaru, Barabar Hills
Photographer: Beglar, Joseph David
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Lilajan River and Jaru in the Barabar Hills in Bihar, taken by Joseph David Beglar in 1872-73. The Barabar and Nagarjuni Hills, which are situated close to one another, contain seven cave-temples. The earliest of these have been both architecturally and epigraphically dated to around 250 BC, when the area was under the rule of the Mauryan king, Asoka. Asoka was a Buddhist who governed 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 are very influential to the tradition of South Asian rock-cut architecture. They are also the setting for the opening of E.M. Forster's 'A Passage to India'.