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'Stone mining threatens ancient cave site in Kashmir'

Jammu And Kashmir,Kashmir, Thu, 19 Apr 2012 IANS

Srinagar, April 19 (IANS) Two ancient caves in central Kashmir's Badgam district Thursday became the focus of a group of migrant Kashmiri Pandits seeking preservation of ancient, heritage sites in the Kashmir Valley.


The caves, known as 'Abinavagupta caves', are located 40 km from here and are sacred to local Kashmiri Pandits. They are also archaeologically important as ancient sites in the valley.



'These caves are known as Abinavagupta caves after the 11th century Kashmiri philosopher, mystic and aesthetician who would retire to these caves for meditation. Legend has it that Abinavagupta meditated inside these caves along with 1,200 of his disciples when he was about to leave this world in 1020 AD,' said Vir Saraf of NGO Searching for Roots in Kashmir.



Saraf, who visited the caves Thursday along with some locals, said stone mining has been going on around the caves, which is threatening the heritage.



'These caves are not only sacred to Kashmir Pandits, but are essentially of great historical and heritage value for everybody. If properly exploited, the cave site would become a major heritage tourism destination,' Saraf said.



The officials of the local geology and mining department said mining of stones has been allowed in the area some 150 feet away from the cave site, but Saraf who visited the place Thursday said, 'I have seen trucks removing stones from near the cave site and this is definitely a great threat to the ancient caves.'



Abinavagupta is regarded as the greatest teacher of Kashmir Shaivism, an ancient Hindu school of thought for which Kashmir is famous the world over.


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