Didn’t the story of Alibaba and the 40 thieves fascinate you as a child? The crafty young man who fooled a bunch of thieves? And how he found the secret password for that cave? Did you know that a similar cave is in India? What more, it stores some of the richest treasures in the world? Guess what’s the catch here? No one has yet found that password to open it. So it remains closed till date. The two artificial caves called Son Bandar is situated at Rajgir in Bihar. The town of Rajgir is host to many events that are considered to be important in the history of the country. Buddha is said to have given sermons to Bimbisara, the King of the Magadha empire, at Rajgir.
The cave dates were built during the rule of the Maurya empire from 319 to 180 BCE. One cave is square-shaped with its cone-shaped roof. Its square-shaped entrance is reminiscent of India’s first artificial cave - Barabar caves. The second cave, adjacent to the main cave, is largely destroyed, but it has some beautiful Jains reliefs. This cave dates back to the 3rd and 4th century AD. Inscriptions found inside one of the caves narrates that the caves were constructed by the Jain saint Muni Vairadevi as an abode for the Jain ascetics during that time. The Son Bandar cave chambers are polished, which makes it one of the rare cave temples in the country to have this unusual feature. The cave resembles an early Mauryan rock-cut sanctuary, which further increases the mysteriousness about the age of the caves.
The story behind it
Myth has it that Gupta King Bimbi Sara’s treasures are hidden in this cave. Bimbi Sara who has the King of Magadha was an extremely rich man. But once he got inducted into Buddhism, he lost interest in all worldly things and the excess wealth became a burden to him. He started giving away a huge chunk of his wealth to the poor and needy which worried his son Ajatha Shathru who decided to take things into his hands.
The King’s wife who came to know of the son’s sinister motives decided to hand over the wealth to Jain monk Vaira Devan for sake keeping. It was Vaira Devan who kept all the wealth inside the caves and sealed it with a magical lock.
Though many have been trying to find the magical code for centuries, they have remained unsuccessful. It’s believed that if one is able to decode an inscription inside the walls, they will be able to crack the password. This inscription done in a special font is so complex that even scientists and researchers are unable to decipher it.
Mughals and Britishers did try to usurp the treasures from the cave. Britishers try to break the caves with canons. But they couldn’t even scratch the walls and the aftermath of that attack is still visible there.