Sone Bhandar – Constructed in 3rd or 4th Century A.D.

The great jain sage Vairadeva ji got the two caves constructed in 3rd or 4th century A.D. These caves were meant for meditation. According to legend these caves were King Bimbisars treasury. Hence, these are also known as ‘Swarn Bhandar.” The eastern cave was two storeyed high and the statue of jain arhats were installed in the cave. A fine image of Vishnu riding on Garuda belonging to the Gupta period was found in the cave which has been kept in Nalanda Archeological Museum.

Source: Forest and Environment Department, Bihar

Laxmi Narayan Upadhyay – a local guide upon our arrival at Son Bhandar Caves further enhanced our knowledge by sharing The History of Son Bhandar Caves as follows:

– Sone means Surang (tunnel) and the length of the tunnel is 3 miles.
– At hot water springs after climbing 565 steps there is Saptparni cave and Pipli Cave. It is said Sonbhandar caves is connected with them but both side tunnel entrance is closed.
– Those days the King of this area was Bimbisar. Ajatshatru (son) killed Bimbisar by prisoning him. Bimbisar wife Kaushalya after his husband’s death donated all her wealth to Jain Muni Gautam Swami. As he was a sadhu and does not require wealth, he kept all the wealth inside this tunnel and closed it with a huge rock and wrote few mantras in Shankh lipi. Whoever able to read the mantra will be able to open the rock to enter inside the tunnel. When Englishmen ruled India, they tried to break the tunnel entrance via cannon (तोप) but unable to succeed and that is why you can see a black mark at the entrance rock.
– Shankh Lipi was taught in Nalanda University but Bakhtiyar Khilji burn all the three libraries at Nalanda University to ashes. He also destroyed idols present at Sonbhandar cave walls.
– Aadinath, Parshvanath idols were recovered from these cave holes. Due to security it is kept in Nalanda Museum.
– Few pillars outside the cave and a verandah and a two storeyed Jain temple was destroyed in 1934 earthquake.
– Rajgir was earlier known as Grih Braj.

Wonderful narration. Thank you – said I with donations. Knowledge enhanced for sure.

Bimbisar Jail – Excavated by Sir Alexander Cunningham in the Year 1861

Bimbisar Jail is nearby Chariot Wheel Mark and Shell Characters situated at Udayagiri Hills few km away from Rajgir.

The one that you see far on top of the mountain is known as Gridhkuta mountain. Lord Buddha deliver sermons from there. Gridhkuta Mountain is also known as Vulture Peak.

Let me introduce you to this location – Bimbisar Jail and myself:

My name is Nand Lal Verma, and I am a private guide. This location is of 5th Century and was only for one person ‘Bimbisar’ – The King of Magadh. We are currently standing at Old Magadh.

King Bimbisar was a follower of Buddha which was not liked by his son Ajatshatru. Ajatshatru prisoned his father within his fort which is nearby bus stand of Rajgir Town at present. Later he prepared a jail for his father. When Bimbisar knew his son intentions, he requested to prepare jail at a location from where can he can watch Lord Buddha daily. Thus, this location was selected.

The boundaries you are watching are the original boundary wall of the that time jail. It is 2 meters broad and 8 feet deep.

Ajatshatru make sure no food is provided to his father nor anybody visit jail to meet his father except his mother. Only his mother Kaushalya was allowed to meet her husband. It is said Kaushalya used to rub honey all over her body before meeting Bimbisar so that during the meet Bimbisar may lick to have something in the form of food to survive.

Soon Ajatshatru become father. Son was born. His name was Udyain. During birthday celebration Ajatshatru realized during his birth his father Bimbisar also had celebrations. He realized his mistake. He ordered to release his father immediately and walked towards the prison. This was known to his father. He thought he might be killed by his son. He was wearing a diamond ring which he licked to die by poison. When Ajatshatru reached it was too late by then.

Ajatshatru was also named a ‘Pitrahanta’ i.e., one who is the killer of his father.

Sir Alexander Cunningham excavated this site in the year 1861. A room made with stone was first discovered. Handcuffs, Legcuffs were recovered from the room was first shifted to the museum at Nalanda and then shifted to Nation Museum, New Delhi.

The old name of Rajgir was Grih Braj. Rajgir is surrounded by five mountains. People during those days used to stay in between these five mountains. All these five mountains are connected with each other. Historian name these mountains as follows:

1. Vipulgiri (Jain temples can be seen) 2. Ratnagiri 3. Udaygiri 4. Sonagiri 5. Vyavhargiri

Hot water springs are at Vipulgiri and Vyavhargiri because both mountains are having good amount of sulphur.

Thank you very much – said I to the private guide. Fantastically said brief history of Bimbisar Jail. Donations.

Chariot Wheel Mark and Shell Characters, Udayagiri Hills

This Archeological area indicates some parts of Chariot Wheel Mark and Shell Inscriptions. These Shell Inscriptions, which have been found in many places in Rajgir and Northern India, have not yet been deciphered. Probably these shell inscriptions belong to 4th or 5th century A.D. According to legend the chariot wheel marks belong to the Mahabharata Period.

Source: Display board by Forest and Environment Department, Bihar

Nand Lal Verma – a private guide present nearby enhance our knowledge.

Rajgir was earlier known as Grih Braj and is surrounded by five mountains connected with each other.

1. Vipulgiri 2. Ratnagiri 3. Udaygiri 4. Sonagiri 5. Vyavhargiri

Currently, we are nearby Udaygiri.

Distance of Tourist Places from Rajgir

This photo was taken at Gaya – Rajgir road.

(Distance from Rajgir in Kms)

Vishwa Shanti Stupa & other Tourism Sites of Rajgir – 2
Tapovan – 16
Jethian – 15
Ruins of Nalanda – 19
Hiuen Tsang Memorial – 21
Rural Tourism Village, Nepura – 21
Kundalpur – 21
Pawapuri – 24

History Behind Naming Gaya

At Gaya, nearby Vishnupad temple, we met Dr. Mahesh Lal – Tirth Purohit who was very busy due to Pitr Paksh. Upon request, he narrated Gaya name history and the importance of Pitr Paksh.

Gaya tirth was earlier also known as Magadh desh. The King of Magadh was Jarasandh, but the story is from Satyug.

In Gaya there was a demon named Gaya sur – son of Tripura sur. Kolahal mountain is on the southern side of Gaya where Gaya sur was meditating for 10,000 years. Because of meditation his body becomes so pure that anybody just by touching it immediate reaches heaven. Due to this, there was worry among Devtas. Devtas think that if a demon becomes so famous and powerful on earth, then nobody will think about them and worship them. They will be lesser-known or not known in days to come. To solve this issue, all the devtas visited Lord Vishnu and narrated their worries and requested to solve it.

Lord Vishnu said: Let me call Gaya sur to know what he wants to end his meditation.

Gaya sur upon request arrived and said: Lord, I need three wishes to be fulfilled by you, then only I will stop meditation.

Lord question – What are those three wishes?

1. The location of the meditation and the nearby area to be known as Gaya.

2. Whoever dies, his burning should be done here nearby Falgu river.

(It is said during that time there was no burning procedure, and people just drop dead bodies into Falgu river)

3. Whoever die for Moksha Pind Daan should be done here in Gaya.

Lord granted all  his wishes and said: Gayasur your body is utmost pure. I want to do Yagya on it. Gayasur was ready.

On Yagya day Gayasur laid down on the earth while keeping his head at south and feet towards the north. Lord put Dharamshila on top of Gayasur and took a Gadadhar roop to start Yagya. During Yagya Lord Vishnu with his right leg pressed Gayasur chest. Thus, Vishnu’s feet imprint was done and this is the location where Vishnupad temple is, and we offer Pind Daan at the feet of Lord Vishnu.

Vishnupad temple’s height is 100 feet.

It is believed that Gayasur body is in five kos (one kos = more than 3 km) and the head is in one Kos.

Panch kosam gaya chetram, kos ekam gaya sirah

In short Gaya tirth is in 5 kos and since those days the importance of Gaya tirth established.

There are three most important historical locations to offer Pind Daan:

1. Narayan Shila at Haridwar is considered as navel of Lord Vishnu.

2. Vishnupad temple at Gaya (feet of Lord Vishnu)

3. Brahma Kapal at Badrinath i.e., Head of Lord Brahma

I question: The importance of Pitr Paksh?

Dr. Mahesh said: During Pitra Paksha we do not invite Pitr to accept Pind Daan. They themselves arrive at Gaya tirth in hope that someone from their family will visit to offer them Pind Daan.

Gaya Shraddha is of 17 days also known as Tripakshiya Shraddha. Though all days are important at Gaya for Pind Daan but
these 17 days are the most important.

It is said that after death a person may enter any other yoni out of 84 lac yoni. If one does Shraddha for dead ones the dead person’s soul enters into God’s yoni and in peace, or else will wander into birth cycle again and again or maybe become a ghost.

Jau ka Aata, Kala Til, Madhu, Rodi, Agarbatti, Abeer, Abrak, Panchmewa, Supari, Flowers, Deepak etc etc are pujan samagri. Pind Daan is only done after one year of death date.

Thanks very much. A very useful information. Knowledge enhanced.

And I offer a donation for sharing The History of Gaya Tirth. Thanks again.

Dr. Mahesh also narrated another story about Lord Ram, Goddess Sita and Lord Laxman. While returning from their exile, they stop at Gaya tirth to offer Pind Daan in the name of their father Dashrath.

Click to watch the Video to know the story. Similar story was narrated by Dr. Mahesh.

I also met Gautam Kumar Dubey who was very helpful. He is Tirth Purohit for Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Gautam said: Maharashtra and Nepal there is only one Tirth Purohit.

Upon query to know more, he enhanced our knowledge

There are 360 vedis to offer Pind Daan in Gaya, but now-a-days only 45 vedis (including Kunds – Surya Kund, Vaitarni, Sita Kund) are visited in these 17 days. Vishnupad temple was renovated by Queen of Indore – Ahilya Bai Holkar during Eighteenth century (1782).

On top of the temple there is a gold flag and a kalash – total of 51 kg donated by Shree Bal Govind Sen (tirth purohit of Gaya).

Shree Shambhu Lal Vithal (temple committee member) further enhanced knowledge. He said Shree Bal Govind Seth’s family also donated 50 kg of silver that is around Lord Vishnu’s feet inside the temple.

Wonderful knowledge. Thanks to all of them. Thanks again. The journey continues..

Mahakala Caves – Lord Buddha for The First Time Meditated Here for 6 Years

We booked an entire auto for Mahakala Caves (Dungeshwari mountain) nearby Mahabodhi temple for Rs. 300 to and fro.

9:55 am we started our journey and reached Ghunghari Tand Chowk (Gaya bypass) at 10:15 am. Right turn towards the new bypass to cross river Falgu and right turn via Sunheri more we reach Larpur village at 10:50 am.

Sunheri more till Larpur village I guess must be 7-8 km. The road condition here needs improvement. Rest is fine.

Bodhgaya to Mahakala caves (Dungeshwari mountain) total distance must be approx. 20 plus km.

The path towards Mahakala caves is well-made but a little steep. 15 – 20 minutes, approx. climbing. If one is unable to walk, one may talk to palanquin carriers. They charge Rs. 200  to and fro. We hire as one of visitors was unable to walk due to old age.

Chandra Kumar Pandey – The priest was inside the cave as it was the first day of Navratri (Ashwin month). He showed us Dungeshwari devi idol found by villagers years ago. He also said: This is the cave where Lord Buddha for the first time meditated in Gaya for 6 years before attaining enlightenment at Bodhgaya.

Vaishakh Purnima, Ashwin and Chaitra month navratri lots of devotees visit.

We offered prayers and had a view of Mahabodhi temple from Dungeshwari mountain. Beautiful it is.

While returning, we stop at a makeshift shop on the way.

Shiv Shankar Singh is the owner of the shop selling cold drinks, biscuits. We requested for one 400 ml Coca Cola and a 600 ml Sprite for palanquin carriers as the job to carry a person is a tough job. Cold drinks are little expensive – Rs. 40 and Rs. 50, but what to do as it has to reach the interiors of the mountain area and electricity to keep it cool also an issue – said Shiv.

Anyway, he further enhanced our knowledge by saying: 1484 bigha is Larpur village and 700 bigha is Dungeshwari mountain.

Thank you very much – said I. Auto was waiting. We reached Bodhgaya by 12:50 noon hours. Nice journey. The journey continues..