Union Minister of Tourism, Culture and DoNER inaugurates amenities at ancient Kanheri Caves on the occasion of Buddha Purnima

New Delhi :The Union Minister for Tourism, Culture and Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) Shri G Kishan Reddy, inaugurated the Kanheri Caves on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. The Minister was in Mumbai on a 2-day visit between 15th May – 16th May 2022 and inaugurated several public amenities at the Kanheri caves.

The Kanheri caves comprise more than 110 different rock-cut monolithic excavations and is one of the largest single excavations in the country. These excavations were primarily undertaken during the Hinayana phase of Buddhism but also has several examples of the Mahayana stylistic architecture as well as few printings of the Vajrayana order. The name Kanheri is derived from ‘Kanhagiri’ in Prakrit and occurs in the Nasik inscription of the Satavahana ruler Vasisthiputra Pulumavi.

While addressing the media, the Union Minister Shri G Kishan Reddy said, “Kanheri caves are part of our ancient heritage as they provide evidence of evolution and our past. It is a privilege to inaugurate the works that have been carried out on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. Buddha‘s message is relevant even today in addressing challenges such as conflict and climate change ”.

He added, “If we look at the architectural and engineering marvel of heritage sites like Kanheri caves or the Ajanta Ellora caves it signifies the knowledge about art, engineering, management construction, patience and perseverance that people had back then. Many such monuments back then took more than 100 years to be built. Such caves and monuments are difficult to build even now, in 21st century, with so much of technological and engineering expertise”.

Kanheri was mentioned in the travelogues of foreign travellers. The earliest reference of Kanheri is ascribed to Fa-Hein who visited India during 399-411 CE and later by several other travellers. The scale and extent of excavations, with its numerous water cisterns, epigraphs, one of the oldest dams, a stupa burial gallery and excellent rainwater harvesting system, indicate its popularity as a monastic and pilgrim centre.  Kanheri consists of excavations primarily undertaken during the Hinayana phase but also has several examples of the Mahayana stylistic architecture as well as few printings of the Vajrayana order. Its importance is heightened by the fact that it is the only centre where a continuous progression of Buddhist faith and architecture is observed as an unbroken legacy right from 2nd century CE (cave no. 2 stupa) to 9th century CE are observed here. Kanheri flourished under the patronage of Satavahana, Traikutakas, Vakatakas and Silaharas and through donations made by the wealthy merchants of the region.

The Indian Oil Foundation is providing Tourist Infrastructure Facilities at Kanheri caves after signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Archaeological Survey of India through the National Culture Fund (NCF).  Under the project work of renovation and up-gradation to the existing structures was allowed as the work comes in the protected limit of the monument. The existing buildings such as the visitor pavilion, custodian quarter, booking office were up-graded and refurbished. The area from booking counter to custodian quarter was up-graded by providing landscaping and plants.

As the caves fall in the core area of the forest, electricity and water supply are not available. However, arrangements for electricity were made available by providing a solar system and generator set as an alternative arrangement. The water is available through the bore well that was constructed.

The Union Minister Said, “Public-private partnership, corporates, NGOs and civil Society plays an important role in protecting, preserving and propagating our heritage so that future generations can access these treasures. We all must work together and in partnership with experts and scholars where heritage can be a catalyst for development. It is a moral duty of every citizen of this country to take interest and responsibility for the preservation and conservation of our rich heritage”.

Kanheri is set amidst one of the most beautiful landscapes within a designated National Park and its setting is an integral part of its planning, with beautiful forecourts and rock-cut benches to enjoy the scenic vistas.

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