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Sana Buddhist Caves

By Gaurav Manandhar at
Sana Buddhist Caves

About Sana Buddhist Caves

Sana Dunbar Buddhist Caves, also popularly known as Sana Buddhist caves, is located at Shana Vankiya, Gir Somnath district, Gujarat. Like other Buddhist caves in India, this cave is also constructed through a rock cut carving. Sana Buddhist caves include 62 caves spread over the hill consisting of stupas, chaityas, pillows and benches.

As the historians and archaeologists studied the caves, they mentioned that the construction of these caves had started by the 2nd century BC in Western India. There are some groups of scholars who focused that the construction of these caves was started around the 1st century CE. But few scholars claimed that it is hard to trace the date of the caves' architecture.

Whatever the constructed date may be, Sana Buddhist Caves are seen as the most prominent caves than other found in nearby places. Inscriptions confirm that these caves were once a flourishing monastery with several water tanks and shelters. Sana Caves were constructed on the three slopes of an elevated plateau sloping down to the waters of River Rupen on the western face of the elevation.

Architecture of Sana Buddhist Cave

It is learned that Sana Buddhist Caves of Junagadh was carved for the purpose of providing shelters to monks looking for refuge during the monsoons. Sana Caves are undoubtedly the oldest Buddhist caves in western India and have been carved at various levels on and around a hillock. It is the fact that the best archaeological symbols representing the preaching of Buddhism can be seen at Sana Caves.

Some of the most important caves are:

Cave 2: It is the largest cave found in Sana Buddhist caves which is named as Bhima-ni-Cori. The height of this cave is 5.3 meters while width 18.3 meters and depth 21 meters approximately. Hence, it provides ample space to tourists who wish to walk through them. The cave is supported by six pillars which are located between the pilasters in front. Among six, one of the pillars depicts unique features of a concave neck between the drum and the dome.

Cave 26 and Cave 13: Both of these caves have long verandahs with simple pillars resting on raised basements. These caves contain 4 cells at the back and consists of benches around the hall.

Cave 48: This cave is quite different from the rest as it contains two halls of different dimensions. The halls are equipped with the benches around their perimeter.

The caves carved in Sana hills have different heights and levels which is mostly led by the simple stairs cut into the rock. It is observed that the caves have built multiple tanks which suggests that the fellow monks residing in these caves gave much importance to water harvesting.

Sana Buddhist Caves in present period

Sana Caves are distinctive in nature and are marked by their austere and simplistic designs. The scholars, researchers, students, pilgrims, and tourists all visit these place to fulfill their personal objectives. The people who visit the caves often notice a complete absence of engravings and ornate carvings. These carvings are often noticed in other caves in Gujarat. These caves displays the deeper insights into the art forms and architectural designs of the Buddhist period. Sana Buddhist Caves is also known for its scenic beauty and provides a retreat to tourists wishing to enjoy the beauty and charm of the topographical landscapes beyond.

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