Paintings of Buddha dating back at least to the 12th century have been discovered in a cave in a remote area of Nepal's north-central region. Researchers made the find after being tipped off by a local sheep herder. They discovered a mural with 55 panels showing the story of Buddha's life.The mural was uncovered in March, with the team using ice axes to break through a snow path to reach the cave. The find was in the Mustang area, 250km (160 miles) north-west of Kathmandu."What we found is fantastically rich in culture and heritage andgoes to the 12th century or earlier," American writer and conservationist Broughton Coburn told the AP news agency.
Mr Coburn said the main mural measured around 8m (25ft) wide, and each panel was about 35cm (14in) by 43cm (17in).
It was set in sheer 14,000ft (4,300m) cliffs in Nepal's remote Himalayan north.
The team of international
researchers - including film makers, climbers and archaeologists - from
Nepal, Italy and the US were told of the works of art by a sheep herder.
In passing conversation he
said that he had seen a cave with old paintings in it several years ago
as he took shelter from the rain.
It turned out to be a treasure trove of Buddhist art, consisting of a complex of caves several hours walking distance apart.
Theteam says that there
are around 20 openings in each complex, with multiple floors connected
by vertical passages with rudimentary hand and footholds, requiring
some climbing skill to negotiate.
Besides the main mural, other paintings were discovered which the team believes are marginally older.
A nearby cave had
manuscripts written in the Tibetan language, which were photographed by
the team to be translated later by experts, along with pre-Christian
era pottery shards.
"Who lived in those caves?
When were they there, when were (the caves) first excavated and how did
the residents access them, perched as they are on vertical cliffs?"
asked Mr Coburn.
"It's a compelling, marvellousmystery."
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