Cave Architecture of India

  • Pia Brancaccio
Living reference work entry
Caves in ancient India were places of special relevance. Aside from offering natural shelter, they were regarded as loci of supernatural powers and spiritual enhancement. Located at the nexi of sacred geographies and often associated with local deities, caves were favored abodes by hermits and renouncers. Elaborate rock-cut architectural structures were created for ascetics to use during the Maurya period (322–185 BCE) with King Ashoka (304–232 BCE) being the first to endow man-made caves to the Ajivika ascetics at Barabar Hill (Falk 2006). The four Barabar caves located in a rocky outcrop in the Gaya district of Bihar preserve distinctive plans with rectangular spaces attached to a circular, hut-shaped room at one end. The cave interiors are plain and flawlessly polished in a manner that alters light and sound. The only decoration appears at the entrance of the so-called Lomas Rishi cave where a portal motif with an architrave embellished by elephants and stupasis engraved in the...


Sixth Century Ancient Port Indian Ocean Trade Sacred Geography Early Cave 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Art and Art HistoryDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA