Buddhist Caves of Khapra Kodiya
The Khapra Kodiya Caves are part of the Junagadh Buddhist Cave Group. They are the oldest of the caves in the group. The caves, on the basis of scribbles and short cursive letters on the wall, are dated to 3rd-4th century BCE during the Emperor Ashoka’s rule and are the plainest of all the caves in the groups. These caves are also known as Khangar Mahal. They were carved in rock during the reign of Emperor Ashoka and are considered the earliest monastic settlement in the area. These caves are along the edge of the ancient Sudarshan Lake (which no longer exists) and a little outside Uparkot fort, to the north.
The caves are carved out in an east-west longitudinal ridge. They are small in area. But the architecture of the water tanks is unique, and the caves form an ‘L’ shaped residence. Caves were used by bhikkus during vassa period. After many years of use, they were abandoned because cracks within the caves let water seep into living quarters, rendering them unusable. Many accounts say that after this, the monks left for Maharashtra, where they went on to carve many similar and more elaborate structures. Khapara Kodia was damaged by later quarrying, and now only the highest story remains.
Buddhist Caves Of Khapra Kodiya In Junagadh, Gujarat, India | Khapra Kodiya Ni Gufa
The Khapra Kodyiya caves are reached through narrow lanes on the outskirts of Junagadh. These are not caves in the real sense but are actually chambers that have been chiseled in rock. The Khapra Kodiya caves are considered to be one of the important of the Buddhist cave groups of Junagadh. The chambers hewn into the rock are quite large and are believed to have been the living quarters of Buddhist monks.
An iron gate encloses the Khapra Khodiya caves which are under the Archaeology Survey of India. Inside can be seen the shape of rocks blackened and eroded by time, that appear stacked together in a heap.
But as you go nearer you can see columns supporting roofs, hewn into the face of the rock. Steps lead up to the chambers, which are plain and filled with a musty smell. The chambers are absolutely plain and there is no ornamentation of any sort, apart from the plain pillars that support the roof.
The chambers or rooms, as can be seen, have been hewn into the rock face in an east-west longitudinal ridge. We observed that the central portion was unusually narrow. The main sections of the Khapra Kodiya caves are the western wing which is oblong shaped and dotted with a grid-like pattern of water tanks, which must have been the source of water supply to the place.
The other section is L-shaped and is believed to have been the residential section where the Buddhist monks stayed. Though the Khapra Kodiya caves are bereft of any decorative element, vague remnants of scribblings and cursive letters on the walls have helped in dating the caves.
Khapra Kodiya Caves, Junagadh – History
Not much is known about the history of the Khapra Kodiya Caves apart from the fact that they were living quarters for Buddhist monks. The caves were discovered by a British archaeologist named James Burgess in the 19th century. James Burgess was the Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India between 1886 to 1889 and has published many books including one titled, ‘Temples of Somnath, Junagadh, and Girnar,” in 1870.
Based on available evidence the Khapra Khodiya caves are estimated to have been built sometime between the 3rd and 4th century AD.
Khapra Kodiya Caves, Junagadh – Best Time To Visit
The summers are very hot and temperatures high in Junagadh. The best time to visit the Khapra Kodiya Caves and Junagadh is during the winter months between October to February.
How to get there
By Road: Private and state bus services are available from different junctions in the state.
By Rail: The town has a railway station that is connected to major cities in Gujarat.
By Air: The closest airports to Junagadh are Keshod (40 km) Porbandar (104 km) and Rajkot (105.3 km).