Often Nagarjuni Caves are joined with the nearby Barabar Caves in one group of monuments. They share many similarities and have several unique peculiarities. Unfortunately bad criminal situation in the area has not helped to boost the popularity of this mysterious monument.


Gopi (Gopi-ka-Kubha, milkmaid) is a cave available by stepping up a flight of megalithic steps. It has got the largest chamber in the group. The cave contains several important inscriptions, some of these testify that son of Ashoka – Dasaratha (reigned in 232 – 224 BC) – has devoted these caves to Ajivika – thus these structures might be some 50 years younger than caves at Barabar. It is possible that the cave was used also in the middle of the 19th century by some Islamic eremites. The cave is 12.3 m long and 5.8 m wide, both ends of the chamber are semi-circular. The roof is vaulted, up to 3.2 m high. This cave has polished walls and floor – the famous “Mauryan polish”.

North from Nagarjuna Cave there is the second cave – Mirza Mandi (house of Mirza). Next to it, there is a dry well – this can explain the other name of it – Vahiyaka, Vapuiyaka Kubha, Vapya-ka-Kubha – “cave of the well”. Nearby there are remnants of several buildings – possibly viharas – Buddhist shrines. The cave contains inscription: “The Vahiyaka Cave was assigned by Dasaratha, His Sacred Majesty, immediately after his consecration, to the venerable Ajivikas, for as long as sun and moon endure.” (4) Other caves have similar inscriptions, just the name of the cave is different.

Inscription in one of Nagarjuni caves
Inscription in one of Nagarjuni caves. / Photo Dharma, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Through an enormous crevice one can reach the third cave – Vedathika Kubha (Vadithi ka Kubha, Vadathi ka Kubha).

Although caves might have been created for Ajivika, it is possible that for some period of time some caves contained Buddhist stupas too.


  1. The Barabar Caves. A Passage to India by David Lean – last accessed in 21.03.2010.
  2. Nagarjuni Caves. Indian Travel Portal – last accessed in 22.03.2010.
  3. Adwaita P. Ganguly. India, Mystic, Complex, and Real: A Detailed Study of E.M. Forster’s a Passage to India : His Treatment of India’s Landscape, History, Social Anthropology…. 1990.
  4. Vincent Arthur Smith: Ashoka: The Buddhist Emperor of India. Clarendon, Oxford 1920.
Nagarjuni Caves on the map
Travelers' Map is loading...
If you see this after your page is loaded completely, leafletJS files are missing.
Location, GPS coordinates: 25.0089 N 85.0785 E
Categories: Ancient shrines, Rock cut temples and monasteries
Values: Architecture, History, Archaeology
Rating: 1.5 out of 10 stars
Where is located? Asia, India, Bihar, Jehanabad district, 24 km north of Gaya, 1.6 km east-north-east from Barabar Caves
Age: Around 230 BC
Alternate names: Nagarjuna Caves, Nāgārjunī
Religion: Ajivika

Video of Nagarjuni Caves

gaya bodhgaya, July 2014

Landmarks of India

Key Gompa, India
Key Gompa / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

India is seventh largest country of world by area, and, naturally such a large area contains huge amount of exciting attractions…

Wondermondo considers that India is the second richest centre of architectural heritage in the world after Europe and may be no single country of the world can match it in this respect.

Rock cut architecture and sculptures

Great Sphinx in Giza, Egypt
Great Sphinx in Giza, Egypt / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
This category includes outstanding rock cut architecture and large rock cut sculptures.

Rock cut architecture is a very ancient form of architecture and some of the oldest rock cut structures were tombs and dwellings.

Recommended books

In The Orient

The stories in this collection are in general set in India, Southeast Asia, and Indonesia, places to which the author traveled while living and teaching in Japan, a country which is situated in such a way so that it provides a gateway to other countries in the Far East.

Illustrations Of The Rock-cut Temples Of India

This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923.

We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x