Highly secretive and hidden caves dating back to well over 2,000 years ago have been discovered near the Chaugav village in Chopda tehsil of Jalgaon district of Maharashtra.
The caves possibly belong to the Satavahana period, says Bhujang Ramrao Bobade, a history scholar and archaeology expert from Jalgaon, who led the expedition team. The Satavahana dynasty is an ancient Indian dynasty based in the Deccan region – that ruled between the 2nd century BC and lasted till the early 3rd century BC.
“From outside you just cannot make out that there is a cave. Even the local villagers have not seen and have never been told about it,” said Bobade, Director of Archives and Museum Department of the Hyderabad-based Deccan Archaeological and Cultural Research Institute (DACRI).
The cave is located on the ancient route which is known as Bhiram Ghat Road.
Talking to DH, he said that to reach there is difficult. “The old Shiva temple, which is the last stop of vehicles, is three kilometres from the village. From there, after two kilometres walking up to a hill and three km climb on the hill, you will get to the door of a fort that was built by Gavli kings. There you can find a cave which has two entries/exits,” he said.
However, Bobade and his team stumbled upon a new cave. “There is no road or path for this new one. It's a very small cave, just upside of the big cave,” he said, adding that no one is aware of it and there are no records. The discovery team includes Ashok Patil, Atharva Bobade, Vishram Tele and Dr Gopal Patil.
“As you enter, there is a tank of 8 feet by 2 feet. You can see rock-cut pillars. If you want to enter, you can go inside only in a sitting position and see 30 feet by 30 feet cave. This is completely hidden from the outside world perhaps holding mysteries of ages… What is surprising is that there are no symbols, carvings, no figurines or idols of God and Goddess,” said Bobade, a former curator of Jalgaon-based Gandhi Research Foundation.
For research, Bobade took the help of Dr Emani Sivanagi Reddy, Former Assistant Director, Archaeology Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh. “This is a very important discovery and more studies are needed,” said Bobade, pointing out that he has already sent details to Dr Tejas Garge, Director, Directorate of Archaeology & Museums, Government of Maharashtra.
“Since Jalgaon is on the trade route, perhaps merchants used to stay here with their belongings or it might be a hiding place for rajas, sardars and senapatis,” he said, adding that the entrance is full of water and it is difficult to go on.