Also, known as Mahakala Caves, the Dungeshwari Caves are located 12 km north-east of Bodh Gaya. Lord Buddha is believed to have meditated in this place for six years before he went to Bodh Gaya to attain enlightenment. A golden emaciated Buddha sculpture commemorating his rigid penance is enshrined in one of the cave temples. Another cave houses a large statue of Lord Buddha, about 6 ft high, to pay tribute to that phase of Buddha's life.


There is a popular myth associated with these cave temples and it is said that during his self-mortification, Gautama (as Buddha was earlier called) became emaciated. A cow-herder by the name of Sujata was moved by his weak appearance and offered him food and water. Later, Gautama realised that enlightenment cannot be attained by self-abasement and carried on with his journey to Bodh Gaya. One of the cave temples is dedicated to the Hindu goddess, Dungeshwari.

Other Attractions in Bodh Gaya