Home to the Buddhist monks initially, out of the original 9 caves, only 5 have survived the test of time.
Planning a day trip from Indore? Fret not, we have got you covered! Explore Bagh Caves, the 'Ajanta' of Madhya Pradesh, which stands at a distance of 150 kilometres from Indore, on the banks of River Baghani. A culmination of man-made caverns, Bagh Caves are a sound specimen of 5th-century Indian rock-cut architecture. Along the southern slope of the Vindhyas, this set of nine rock-cut caves, is famous for murals by the expert painters of ancient India.
From being a monastery for monks to housing tigers!
Said to be quarried in the 4th-6th century AD, the caverns came into existence during the late Buddhism era in India. Home to the Buddhist monks initially, out of the original 9 caves, only 5 have survived the test of time. As per the legends, this place has gotten its name from the word bagh, which means 'tiger' in Hindi, as it was frequented by them.
Based on the style of architecture, these grottos were stated to be from the 7th century. However, a copperplate inscription inside one of the caves, traces the set back to the 4th or 5th century AD.
'Ajanta' of Madhya Pradesh
Though the Bagh Caves and Ajanta Caves stand 300 kilometres apart, their topography is not very different. The paintings from these caves are said to be the contemporaries of the paintings at Ajanta. These artworks reflect vivid imagination and innovations, that strike a close resemblance to the Ajanta Paintings. The breathtaking depiction of art has made these caverns stand out as a tourist hotspot of Madhya Pradesh.
Explore the colours of Rang Mahal
Among the five surviving caves, the fourth cave known as the Rang Mahal, adds colour to this place, quite literally. Traces of ancient frescos, done by expert craftsperson on roofs and ceilings of the caves, can be noticed apart from the astonishing 'Padmapani'- painting of the bodhisattva, which is believed to be a prototype of the one at Ajanta. In 1982, around 21 specimens were removed from Cave 4 in order to prevent permanent damage.
The caves, also known as viharas, were even used as monasteries by Buddhist monks. These monasteries comprised of a four-angled place with a small chaitya (prayer hall), situated at the rear end. Monks used to live around the central hall of the caves, in tiny cells.
Preserving the lesser-explored heritage site
Bagh Caves, one of the lesser-explored heritage sites of India, is conserved by the Archeological Survey of India. A small museum near the locale demarcates the efforts undertaken by the ASI to conserve the paintings of the site. The museum entails sections of retrieved paintings that depict a wide range of Jatakas (Buddhist tales), Boddhisatva Padmapani, Buddha's miracle at Kapilavastu, Princess Malini of Benares, a horse procession of the Lichhavis at Vaisali and a sequence of female musicians, with captions of their stories
Here is how you can reach the spot!
Cabs can be booked from Indore city, to access this locale easily. It will be a 3-hour drive from the main city and for sure, it will be a road trip to remember! So make sure to carry your camera along and of course, do follow the COVID protocols for a safe trip.
Timing: 9 AM to 5 PM (barring public holidays)