Almost two centuries after a British military officer documented the Trirashmi Buddhist caves — also known as Pandav Leni in a hill in Nashik, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has found three more caves in the same area.
The antiquity of the caves which may have been dwellings of Buddhist monks is yet to be established; archaeologists studying them, however, believe they could be older than the Trirashmi caves.
The Trirashmi or Pandav Leni caves are a group of 25 caves that were carved out of Trirashmi Hill between the 2nd century BC and 6th century AD. The caves complex was documented in 1823 by one Captain James Delamaine; it is now an ASI protected site and a tourist destination .
ASI officials said the first two caves were discovered during the annual pre-monsoon cleaning of a drainage line on the hill.Atul Bhosekar, director of the Mumbai-based Trirashmi Research Institute of Buddhism, Indic Language and Scripts, who has been studying the caves for nearly three decades, said he had visited the site of the new discovery. The third cave, located close to the first two, was discovered when he was there with the ASI team.These caves are on the opposite side of the current complex, and 70-80 feet above the existing complex. The caves have been carved out of a steep hill, and looking at the style of carving, it looks like these were monks’ dwellings, older than the current complex.