Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Monday, December 6, 2021

Sana Caves

 

 

 

Sana Caves are located in Amreli district of the Indian state of Gujarat.  Sana Caves is a group of about 62 rock shelters which were carved out of soft rock. These caves were created in the period ranging between 1st century BC and 1st century AD and provided shelter to monks looking for refuge during the monsoons.

 

Sana Caves are undoubtedly the oldest Buddhist caves in western India and boasts of rock cut pillars, Stupas, benches, Chaityas, Viharas, a pillared hall and various domes. The shelters have been carved at various levels on and around a hillock. Some of the best archeological symbols representing the preaching Buddhism can be seen at Sana Caves.

 

These caves are often visited by tourists looking for deeper insights into the art forms and architectural designs of the Buddhist period. The caves are a focal point of interest for scholars, researchers and students too. A walk through Sana Caves takes one to exciting Viharas, which refers to pillared verandahs containing one or two cells. These cells have rock cut benches inside them that were probably used for resting, sitting or taking shelter during the rains.

 

 

 

The largest cave, Cave 2, is named Bhima-ni-Cori and is considered to be similar to Ebhala- Mandapa, which is located at Talaja. This cave is approximately 21 meters in depth and has a width of 18.3 meters. The ceiling is 5.3 meters high and provides ample space to tourists wishing to walk through them. It also has six pillars which are located between the pilasters in front. One of the pillars depicts unique features of a concave neck between the drum and the dome.

 

Cave 26 and Cave 13 are different from the others. They have long verandas with simple pillars resting on raised basements. These function as a support system for the beams above. The monasteries are also exquisitely designed with pillared verandahs which usually contain up to 4 cells at the back. The presence of benches around the hall is also an important feature of these caves.

 

The layout of Cave 48 is very different from the rest. It contains two halls of different dimensions. These halls contain benches around their perimeter. Most of the caves were carved at different heights and levels in the spur and could be approached by simple stairs cut into the rock. The presence of multiple tanks in this group of caves bears evidence to the importance given to water harvesting. With rock cut walls present on three sides and an oblong mouth on the other, these tanks were perfect for retaining water during the bleaker seasons. This architectural design has also been noticed in the Kanheri caves near Mumbai in Maharashtra.

 

These caves are distinctive in nature and are marked by their austere and simplistic designs. Most tourists notice a complete absence of engravings and ornate carvings—which are present in most of the other Buddhist caves in Gujarat. The caves also contain three chaitya grihas, which possess apsidal walls and flat ceilings.

 

 

 

 

 

Source:

http://www.discoveredindia.com/gujarat/attractions/caves/sana-caves-somnath.htm