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titanic1

The Mythical Caves Under the Himilayas

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpsLbd-qheA

A treasure trove of Tibetan art and manuscripts uncovered in "sky high" Himalayan caves could be linked to the storybook paradise of Shangri-La, says the team that made the discovery.

 

Few have been able to explore the mysterious caves, since Upper Mustang is a restricted area of Nepal that was long closed to outsiders. Today only a thousand foreigners a year are allowed into the region.

In 2007 a team co-led by U.S. researcher and Himalaya expert Broughton Coburn and veteran mountaineer Pete Athans scaled the crumbling cliffs on a mission to explore the human-made caves.

(Get Coburn's impressions of the challenges of reaching the Shangri-La caves in the December/January issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine.)

Inside the caves, the team found ancient Tibetan Buddhist shrines decorated with exquisitely painted murals, including a 55-panel depiction of Buddha's life. (See a picture of one of the Buddhist murals.)

A second expedition in 2008 discovered several 600-year-old human skeletons and recovered reams of precious manuscripts, some with small paintings known as illuminations.

The sacred hoard seems to match descriptions of treasures to be found in Buddhist "hidden valleys," which served as the basis for Shangri-La in British writer James Hilton's popular 1930s novel Lost Horizon.

Hidden Texts Show Religious Mix

Looters have raided the caves over the centuries, cutting valuable artwork from the ancient texts. In addition, religious pilgrims have damaged the cave walls to collect souvenirs.

Still, the researchers were able to collect and document manuscripts from about 30 volumes, which were then moved for safekeeping to Mustang's central monastery.

 

Preserved by the mountain region's cool, arid climate, the ancient manuscripts contain a mix of writings from Buddhism and Bön, an earlier, native Tibetan faith, Coburn said.

This combination suggests that Bön beliefs survived for at least a century or two in this region after the Tibetan conversion to Buddhism, which began in the eighth century, Coburn said.

The team suspects the kings of Mustang abandoned the Bön sacred texts in the caves as a respectful alternative to destroying them.

Mark Turin, of the Digital Himalaya Project at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., also thinks this was a possibility.

But it's also possible the finds tie in with the Tibetan tradition of deliberately hiding religious texts, said Turin, who wasn't involved in the National Geographic Society-funded expedition. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)

"There's a real sense of discovery in Tibetan tradition," he said. "People discover hidden texts, or they discover hidden cultural knowledge that is lost or secreted away."

Today Mustang is depicted as "the end of the world" and is culturally isolated from Chinese-occupied Tibet, Turin added. (Explore how Tibetan traditions have endured under Chinese rule.)

The new discoveries now show that Mustang was "for many, many hundreds of years absolutely central—a vibrant, dynamic, culturally rich, and religiously diverse settlement."

Hidden within the Himalayas, 155ft from the ground, are an estimated 10,000 man-made caves dug into the Cliffside or tunnelled from above. They remain one of the World’s greatest archaeological mysteries as it is not known who built them and why.

In the mid-1990s, archaeologists from Nepal and the University of Cologne began exploring the stacked caves and found several dozen bodies, all at least 2,000 years old. Since then, groups continued to investigate the remote Upper Mustang site. Those who have seen the mysterious caves say the effect of them on the cliff face makes it look like a giant sandcastle.

“Quite honestly when I got there it was even bigger and more grand than anything I ever could ever have imagined,” said Cory Richards, adventure photographer who joined a team of explorers to unearth hidden relics of the ancient and remote caves.

Even accomplished climbers and explorers had difficulty reaching and climbing into the caves and it posed real danger to the team. In fact climbing into the caves was so dangerous, Mr Richards lost his footing, fell and broke his back. On another assignment to Mustang the following year, videographer Lincoln Else was hit by a falling rock, fracturing his skull. The difficulties and dangers experienced by the team raised the question as to how the original inhabitants managed to climb into the caves, and indeed to build them.

“This was real exploration. It's dangerous it's loose rock it's scary. Everything is loose, everything around you feels like it's crumbling. You feel like when you're climbing everything is going to collapse,” said Richards.

http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/mystery-ancient-kingdom-discovered-nepal-where-thousands-caves-are-carved

Edited by titanic1
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Interesting!  There is still so much (human / nature / extra terrestrial and ocean) we know absolutely nothing about.

I suspect that over the years a lot of erosion has happened to the cliff-face which may have been quite different and more stable when first the monks etal built and used the caves. Erosion is evident in some of the images HERE

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15 hours ago, titanic1 said:

Still, the researchers were able to collect and document manuscripts from about 30 volumes, which were then moved for safekeeping to Mustang's central monastery.

Preserved by the mountain region's cool, arid climate, the ancient manuscripts contain a mix of writings from Buddhism and Bön, an earlier, native Tibetan faith, Coburn said.

It is not my intention to blame the expedition, maybe they don't know what they are doing. But ... Tibet is a treasure trove of ancient manuscripts. Many of these books are of a religious nature for sure, but Tibet also has a tradition of powerful black magic -- quite dangerous stuff.

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