With the discovery of a series of similar ancient man-made caves in the highlands of Nepal, India, Pakistan and other countries, the researchers digging into the Mustang's "cave civilisation" now wonder whether there existed an independent civilisation in the Himalayan range of the Indian subcontinent.
The experts say man-made caves similar to that of Mustang have been found in several other parts of the Himalayan range that stretches around 3,000 km joining India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet Autonomous Region of China. According to Mohan Singh Lama, research officer at the Department of Archaeology, masks recovered from several cave complexes in Mustang cave excavation of 2011 were similar to those found in the caves of Ladakh of North East India and Taulin village of Nari province in Tibet. Like Mustang, both Ladakh and Nari province are parts of the Himalayan range.
Masks recovered from these three places are supposed to have been made of similar materials. According to Lama, the masks and idols religiously resembled the deities of Bon religion. Bon is supposed to be a religion popular in Himalayas during the pre-Buddhist era.
"Discoveries of similar cave settlements in various parts of the Himalayan range hint that the area may have witnessed an independent civilisation thousands of years ago," said Lama, adding the new finding challenges an established fact that human settlement of entire Indian subcontinent was influenced either by the Indus Valley civilisation or the Chinese civilisation. "If Himalayas emerge as an independent civilisation, it will be the third and probably the most influential one to affect the settlements of mountainous regions of Asia."
Since neither the Indus Valley civilisation, nor the Chinese civilisation has the system of cave settlement, the cave settlements cannot be argued to have been influenced by either of these neighbouring civilisations, say scholars. Like in the caves of Mustang, caves in Ladakh, Kashmir and other Tibetan and Chinese plateaus are also found to have been used for three purposes-burial, religion and accommodation. According to Lama, some of the caves are very sophisticated and luxurious that these structures contain several rooms of varying sizes, toilets and even septic tanks. Mansion-like inner structures of these caves suggest that people used to live here in large numbers, in extended families.
A team of archaeologists and historians from the DoA and National Geographic Channel also unearthed thousands of religious scripture related to Bon tradition from caves in Mustang. The most surprising among these is the burial tradition. Even the dead bodies used to be buried in caves, along with jewellery, money, utensils, used by the persons while alive. Same culture was also encountered in Ladakh and Nari province of Tibet.
"Buried along with the dead bodies, we have also recovered grains of rice and millet, among other things," said Lama. "This suggests that even farming was existent in the area."
"The people who started their own unique style of living here are believed to have been nomads who travelled along the Himalayan range for several business purposes," said Lama.Owing to the favourable living conditions in areas of Mustang, Ladakh, Tibet, they started settling, ending their nomadic lives.
Source: Yahoo news