Caves are made in conglomerate rock in a cliff towering to the south-west of the village. On top of this rock, there are remnants of an ancient fort. Part of the facade wall of caves has been reinforced with a wall of boulders.
There opens wide, beautiful view in Indus valley from the caves.
Interior of caves is simple – ceiling, for the most part, has been left without changes, with large boulders perched in the conglomerate. Walls though are plastered with clay and covered with bright colored paintings. Paintings consist of a large amount of smaller miniatures showing the many deities of Buddhist pantheon.
Caves have rather simple planning, there have not been used columns as it is usual in Central and Southern Indian cave temples. Some caves basically are just shelters.
Entrance in the main temple – Cave 2 – is painted with orange color. Earlier it was hard to access, now there are made stairs. Paintings in Cave 1 (counted from the west) are bleached. Cave 3 is the upper part of the two-storied cave. Cave 4 is located higher than the others.
Caves have been shaped in the 13th – 15th century AD by the followers of Tibetan Buddhist school Drikung Kagyu, focusing on meditative practice. This school of Buddhism is prominent in Ladakh up to this day while in Tibet it has been replaced by other schools long ago.
Interesting feature of paintings are some miniatures showing Hevajra – one of ishta-devas (final achievement of personal meditation, fully enlightened being) and Samvara, guardian deity. In some cases, there is drawn two-handed (in a case of Samvara – four-armed) form of these deities, in some – twelve-armed form. These are two parallel lineages in the perception of this deity, a meeting of Indian and Tibetan traditions.
Surroundings of Saspol have numerous other monuments of history including large boulders with ancient petroglyphs.
Saspol Caves are included in the following list:
Saspol Caves on the map
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|Location, GPS coordinates:||34.2503 N 77.1598 E|
|Categories:||Buddhist shrines, Rock cut temples and monasteries|
|Values:||Art, History, Archaeology|
|Where is located?||Asia, India, Jammu and Kashmir, Leh District, in the valley of Indus, cliffs to the north from Saspol village|
|Alternate names:||Saspul Caves|
|Age:||the 13th – 15th century AD|
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