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Bagh Caves

One of the most surprising monuments of ancient Buddhist art is found in remote Bagh Caves. Bagh Caves are a group of nine rock-cut caves, made in perpendicular cliff towering 45 - 50 m above the Baghani River, on the southern slopes of Vindhya Range. These are renowned for mural paintings by master painters of ancient India.

According to legend these caves were established by Buddhist monk Dataka. Earlier it was considered that caves were shaped in 7th century AD, but find of inscription in Cave 2 changed these views and now it is considered that caves were carved in late 4th century - 6th century AD.

It is believed that with the decline of the impact of Buddhism circa 10th century AD the caves were abandoned and, according to legends, even tigers lived here. Thus among the locals they became known as Tiger (Bagh) Caves.

The most famous features of Bagh Caves are murals made in tempera technique. Walls and ceilings to be painted were covered with a thick mud plaster in brownish orange colour. Over this plaster there was done lime-priming and then paintings were laid.

Caves were used as 'viharas' or monasteries having quadrangular plan. A small chamber, usually at the back, forms the 'chaitya', the prayer hall. Most significant of these five extant caves is the Cave 4, commonly known as the Rang Mahal (Palace of Colors)

At the time of their creation the murals of Bagh were lively, beautiful, expressing vivid imagination and talent of artists. Sophistication and richness of these paintings surpasses even the paintings in Ajanta, Ellora and Karla Caves. Murals of Bagh certainly represent "golden age" of Indian classical art.