On a treasure hunt in the Son Bhandar Caves of Bihar

On a treasure hunt in the Son Bhandar Caves of Bihar

The Son Bhandar Caves of Bihar: A Mysterious and Ancient Attraction

If you are looking for a place to explore the history and culture of Bihar, you might want to visit the Son Bhandar Caves in Rajgir. These are two man-made caves that date back to the 3rd or 4th century CE, and are believed to be associated with Jainism. The caves are also known as the Swarn Bhandar Caves, which means the gold storehouse caves, because of a legend that says they contain hidden treasure.

The History and Architecture of the Caves

The Son Bhandar Caves are located at the base of the Vaibhar Hills, about 5 km from the Rajgir railway station. They are carved out of a single rock and have a polished surface. The larger cave is rectangular with a pointed ceiling and a trapezoidal entrance, while the smaller cave is circular with a flat roof. Both caves have niches and windows on the walls.

The larger cave has an inscription in Gupta script of the 4th century CE, which mentions that it was built by a Jain monk named Vairadeva. The inscription also says that the cave contains images of arhats or tirthankaras, who are the enlightened teachers of Jainism. However, no such images have been found in the cave so far.

Some scholars have suggested that the caves could be older than the inscription, and might date back to the Mauryan period (3rd century BCE) or even earlier. They have compared the caves to the Barabar Caves, which are the first artificial caves in India and were built by Emperor Ashoka for the Ajivika sect. The Son Bhandar Caves have some similarities with the Barabar Caves, such as the shape, the polish and the acoustics.

The Legend of the Hidden Treasure

The Son Bhandar Caves have a fascinating legend attached to them. According to local folklore, there is a secret passage in the larger cave that leads to a chamber filled with gold and jewels. The treasure is said to belong to King Bimbisara, who was one of the earliest patrons of Buddhism and ruled over Magadha (modern Bihar) in the 6th century BCE.

The legend says that there is a script written on the wall of the cave that reveals how to open the passage. However, no one has been able to decipher it or find the passage so far. Some people have tried to break through the wall with dynamite or other tools, but without success.

Some believe that the script is actually a code that can only be read by someone who has attained a high level of spiritual enlightenment. Others think that it is a hoax or a prank played by someone in ancient times. Some also speculate that the treasure might have been looted or moved elsewhere over time.

The Significance and Appeal of the Caves

The Son Bhandar Caves are not only an interesting historical site, but also a place of religious and cultural importance. They are considered sacred by Jains, who visit them for pilgrimage and meditation. They are also admired by tourists and locals alike for their architecture and mystery.

The caves offer a glimpse into the ancient history of Bihar and its diverse religious traditions. They also inspire curiosity and imagination among visitors who wonder about the secrets hidden behind their walls. They are a must-see attraction for anyone who wants to experience the beauty and mystery of Bihar.

How to Visit the Son Bhandar Caves

If you are interested in visiting the Son Bhandar Caves, here are some tips and information that might help you plan your trip.

Location and Accessibility

The Son Bhandar Caves are located in Rajgir, which is a town in the Nalanda district of Bihar. Rajgir is about 100 km from Patna, the capital city of Bihar, and about 12 km from Nalanda, the ancient seat of learning and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can reach Rajgir by road, rail or air. The nearest airport is Patna Airport, which has flights from major cities in India. From there, you can take a taxi or a bus to Rajgir. The nearest railway station is Rajgir Railway Station, which has trains from Patna and other nearby towns. You can also drive to Rajgir by taking the NH 31 or NH 20.

The Son Bhandar Caves are about 5 km from the Rajgir Railway Station and the main market area. You can hire a rickshaw, a bicycle or a car to reach the caves. Alternatively, you can also walk to the caves by following the signs and the road that leads to the Vaibhar Hills.

Timing and Entry Fee

The Son Bhandar Caves are open to visitors from sunrise to sunset. There is no entry fee for visiting the caves. However, you might have to pay a nominal fee for parking your vehicle or hiring a guide.

Things to Do and See

The Son Bhandar Caves are not very large or elaborate, but they have a unique charm and appeal. You can explore the caves and admire their architecture and polish. You can also try to read the inscription and the script on the wall of the larger cave and see if you can solve the mystery of the hidden treasure.

You can also enjoy the scenic views of the surrounding hills and fields from the caves. You can also visit some other attractions nearby, such as the Vishwa Shanti Stupa (a peace pagoda built by Japanese Buddhists), the Venu Vana (a bamboo grove where Buddha used to meditate), the Griddhakuta (a hill where Buddha delivered many sermons) and the Hot Springs (a natural spring with medicinal properties).

You can also experience the culture and cuisine of Rajgir by visiting the local market and trying some local delicacies such as litti chokha (a baked dish made of wheat flour and stuffed with roasted gram flour), khaja (a crispy sweet made of flour and sugar) and rabri (a thickened milk dessert).

Tips and Precautions

Before visiting the Son Bhandar Caves, here are some tips and precautions that you should keep in mind:

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that are suitable for walking and climbing.

Carry enough water and snacks with you as there are no shops or restaurants near the caves.

Respect the religious sentiments of the Jains who visit the caves for worship and meditation. Do not make noise or litter inside or outside the caves.

Be careful while entering or exiting the caves as they have low ceilings and narrow passages.

Do not try to damage or deface the caves or their inscriptions in any way.

Do not believe any rumors or claims about finding or opening the secret passage or treasure in the caves. They are most likely false or fraudulent.


The Son Bhandar Caves are a fascinating and mysterious attraction that showcase the ancient history and culture of Bihar. They are worth visiting for anyone who loves history, architecture, religion or adventure. They are also a great place to enjoy nature and peace in Rajgir.


Son Bhandar Caves - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_Bhandar_Caves.

Sonbhandar Caves in Nalanda | Bihar Tourism. https://tourism.bihar.gov.in/en/destinations/nalanda/son-bhandar-caves.

Son Bhandar: Caves of Bihar - India Chalk. https://indiachalk.com/blog/son-bhandar-caves-of-bihar/.

The Mysterious Caves Of Son Bhandar - HubPages. https://discover.hubpages.com/travel/The-Fascinating-Secrets-of-an-Ancient-Cave-in-India.


What is written on Son Bhandar caves?

The inscription on the rock, when translated, reads as follow: “Muni Vairadeva, the jewel among the acaryas and of great lustre, caused to be made the two auspicious caves which are worthy of ascetics and in which were placed the images of arhats (ie tirthankaras).

What is the secret code of Son Bhandar caves?

Ali Baba got hold of the riches stashed by the thieves in a cave by uttering the magic words 'khul ja sim sim'.

What is the history of Son Bhandar caves?

The caves are generally dated to the 3rd or 4th century CE, based on the dedicatory inscription found in the largest cave which uses Gupta script of the 4th century CE, although some authors have suggested the caves could actually go back to the period of the Maurya empire from 319 to 180 BCE.

Who built Sudama cave?

They belong to the 3rd century, Maurya period. The Sudama Cave was dedicated by the emperor Ashoka to Ajivikas in 261 BC and consists of a circular vaulted chamber with a rectangular mandapa.

To Top