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|Gentle walk up to Gridhakuta, (or Vulture’s Peak)||Thai Pilgrims at the Holy Site of Gridhakuta||Rock formation giving name to Vulture’s Peak||Buddhist nuns from Taiwan in prayer|
|Buddhist nuns from Taiwan in prayer||Christian pilgrim pays homage at Gridhakuta|
A high-level probe has been ordered into the administrative lapses that led to the destruction of the Ashokan stupa located near the Ratnagiri hills at Rajgir in Nalanda districtand also a separate police probe into the destruction.
Official sources said a committee of state human resources department (HRD) principal secretary Anjani K Singh, ADG (police HQ) P K Thakur and additional principal chief conservator (forest) Bashir Ahmad Khan has been assigned the probe into the administrative lapses.
This move follows a report in a newspaper on Friday on the mysterious destruction of the Ashokan stupa, to have been built by emperor Ashoka. After going through the report, an aerial survey of the site has been made along with state chief secretary Anup Mukherjee, HRD principal secretary Singh and ADG (HQ) Thakur.
The Nalanda DM and SP have been directed to launch a combing operation to catch the culprit(s). Both the district officials also made an on-the-spot inspection of the site on Friday. Security measures have been beefed up near the destruction site.
Incidentally, officials had a tough time climbing the hill on foot. The aerial ropeway, operated by the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation, has been constantly non-functional.
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has already lodged an FIR at the Rajgir police station against unknown persons in this regard.
A fully-fledged excavation in and around the Ashokan stupa has to be undertaken along with the aerial ropeway. The area is a `protected site’ under the ASI.
Meanwhile, ASI’s Patna circle superintending archaeologist S K Manjul told a proposal for excavation at the site would soon be sent to the ASI DG.
Buddhism Pilgrimage Photo Galary
|The Dhamek Stupa dominates the Sarnath site||Ruins in nicely manicured grounds at Sarnath||Many pilgrims visit the Sarnath site each year||Base of Ashokan pillar at Sarnath|
|The Dhamek Stupa dominates the Sarnath site||Pilgrim puts gold leaf at a site in Sarnath||Mulagandhakuti Vihara monastery|
|Mahaparinibbana Stupa at Kushinagar||Bell at Kushinagar site||Mahaparinibbana Stupa front view||Statue at spot where the Buddha attained Nibbana|
|Pilgrims walk around statue at Nibbana site||Makutabandhana stupa at the site of cremation|
|Inside of Mayadevi temple on spot of the Buddha’s birth||Fresco at spot of Buddha’s birth||Sacred Bodhi Tree and pond at Lumbini||Ashokan pillar at Lumbini|
|Pond and sacred Bodhi Tree at Lumbini site||Meditating monks under Bodhi tree at Lumbini||Western Pilgrim at Lumbini|
|Manicured grounds at Savati||Bodhi Tree at Savati site||Manicured grounds at Savati thanks to ASI||Bodhi Tree at Savati site|
|Ruins of stupa at Savati||Monks at Jetavana Monastery, main pilgrimage site||Monks at Jetavana Monastery||Stupa at site of Twin Miracle|
Preliminary excavation at the site has led to the discovery of pottery and images belonging to Gupta period (5CE) to the later Pala period (9-10 CE).
“Digging has also revealed that a 34-metre-long floor lined by a number of cells. The vast floor is dotted with a number of platforms with images of Buddha installed on them,” says Atul K Verma, head of the ASI excavation team at Telhara.
Verma, an excavation and exploration officer in the Bihar state directorate of archaeology, told that the excavation work at nearly 350-feet-high Bulandi mound at Telhara has revealed evidence of three-storyed concrete structure as mentioned by a Chinese travellor Xuan Zang in his travel account.
“A four-feet high blue basalt image of Buddha in ‘abhay mudra’ and another in ‘dhamma chakka mudra’ have also been found in horizontal position on the floor. It appears to have been a prayer hall, mentioned by the Chinese travellor,” Verma said.
Evidence of prayer halls and residential cells for monks in the monastery have now been found in course of the recent diggings. Excavation work has been launched at Telhara on December 26 last year.
Telhara, monastic site of Theravada tradition, was first discovered in 1872 by the then Nalanda DM A M Broadley which was commented on with some details later during 1875-78 by Alexander Cunnigham.
A small image of Buddha in red sandstone reveals that this monastery was in existence during the Gupta period. A stone plaque with eight lines inscription and a black colour terracotta seal have also been found on the floor. The plaque and the terracotta seal may reveal the time and other details of this structure, say experts.
Telhara village came under Turkish rule in the 13th century. Subsequently, it became an important Muslim settlement. The place is also mentioned in the Ain-i-Akbari as ‘Tiladah’ and is shown as one of the largest parganas in the region.
State culture secretary Vivek K Singh said fresh excavation work would start from October to find out more insights about this site. “In view of the importance of this site, we will declare it as state protected site soon. We are also in the process of fencing the entire site,” he said.
Terming the site as ‘phenomenal’, Singh Said: “We will take it to its logical end. Cunnigham’s desire to excavate the site would now be fulfilled by us,” Singh said.
Tripura relics spark rethink on history
Agartala, May 30: Archaeological excavations at Boxanagar in Sonamura subdivision of West Tripura have unearthed a large Buddhist complex, including relics of a stupa, teaching centre, a bronze image of Buddha and seals in Brahmi script, triggering a controversy over the history of the state.
The excavation commenced in 2003 under the supervision of Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) Guwahati circle.
In the second phase under archaeologists Bimal Sinha and B.K. Pande, remains of walls and burnt bricks were recovered.
Indigenous historians believe that the state’s history had commenced with the arrival of Tibeto-Burman groups from the Bodoland areas of Assam, leading to the rule of the Manikya dynasty, which had ruled Tripura till October 15, 1949, for more than 500 years.
But rival schools differently interpret the excavations at Boxanagar in West Tripura and Pilak in South Tripura, which have yielded telltale evidence of the peaceful co-existence of the Hindu-Buddhist culture.
This school attributes the derivation of the name Tripura to a Kokborok (indigenous language) compound of twi (water) and pra (near), justifying the name with reference to Tripura’s proximity to the vast water resources of the then East Bengal (now Bangladesh).
The Manikya dynasty’s court chronicle Raj Mala says Tripura’s authentic history had actually commenced from the year 1432 when Maha Manikya had ascended the throne.
In the subsequent centuries, the Manikya dynasty’s domain had extended well into Bangladesh, encompassing the entire Comilla district and parts of Noakhali and Sylhet districts.
“The Hindu-Buddhist culture at Pilak had flourished from the 8th to the 12th century. The findings there are very significant — a stone image of the sun god, Tathagata Buddha in meditation, Lord Vishnu and the mother goddess; remains of a Buddhist stupa and a temple,” said Jawahar Acharjee, Tripura’s leading numismatist and historian.
Acharjee now infers that Tripura’s plains had been under the Kharg and Harikel dynasties of Eastern Bengal at the time, not under the Manikya dynasty.
He also asserted that the ancient name of Pilak was Pirok and that coins in Brahmi script had been discovered from the area.
“My interpretation is that Pilak was a temple town and religious centre for both Hindus and Buddhists at a place, which could lead a tourist or pilgrim to interiors of Bangladesh, Budddhist Arakan through Chittagong Hill Tracts and parts of Tripura,” said Acharjee.
“Both Pilak (Pirok) and Boxanagar (Birak) stand very close to the border with Bangladesh and bear a close resemblance to the Buddhist culture that flourished in Maynamati and Paharpur areas in Comilla district of Bangladesh,” said Acharjee.
The former archaeologist and director of the state museum at Agartala said Buddhism had flourished in Tripura under the patronage of the Kharg dynasty rulers of East Bengal that had ruled the Bikrampur-Dhaka and neighbouring areas from the year 664, between the 5th and 12th centuries.
The dynasty had later overthrown the Raat dynasty of Maynamati and Comilla before facilitating the growth and expansion of Buddhist culture across the border.
“Chinese traveller and pilgrim Hieun Tsang had visited Assam at the invitation of king Bhaskar Barman in 643 AD and had passed through Sylhet but his account known as Si-U-Ki never refers to a kingdom called Tripura. Naturally, we cannot take the claims of the Manikya dynasty, as recorded in Raj Mala, regarding the antiquity of their lineage extending back to the epic age of the Mahabharat, very seriously,” said Acharjee.
He added that he had 150 coins of Eastern Bengal and Harikel kingdoms as evidence and claimed that Tripura’s indigenous people had arrived in batches not earlier than the 12th or 13th century and the Manikya dynasty had commenced its rule from the 15th century.
Historian Sukhendu Debbarma of Tripura University challenges Acharjee’s inferences. “Archaeological findings unsupported by literary, numismatic and other evidences should not lead to any conclusion. Moreover, the findings at Pilak and Boxanagar do not necessarily mean that Manikya dynasty rulers did not have any control in the area. Maybe the Buddhist culture there had flourished under the patronage of Tripura’s kings,” said Debbarma.
The team comprised Sridhar Bhat, a noted field explorer working in Kamala Bai High School, Kadiyali, Prof Prashanth Shetty, lecturer in history, Milagres College, Kalyanpur, Prof. Jayaram Shettigar, research scholar, Govinda Pai Research Centre, Udupi. Raghavendra Amin and Sri Naveen, artists from Kalamandir in Udupi.
Murugeshi said the Bhimana Paare, a grazing area of Buddhana Jeddu, is located in the reserve forest. The engravings were partially exposed due to erosion of the overlying deposit. “We have conducted three expeditions during three different seasons in the past couple of months, and exposed more then 10 engravings so far,” he said.
The pictures comprise three animals (cattle), three human figures, one embryo, abstract geometrical designs, cup marks and a number of footprints. Murugeshi said he had brought them to the notice of Dr Rajan of Pondicherry University and Dr A Sundara, retired professor and famous pre-historian of Karnataka. Rajan has identified them as petroglyphics, after seeing the first set of pictures. Sundara observed them to be important and comparatively significant.
The Buddhana Jeddu rock art site is the first of its kind in Karnataka, where the engravings are found on surface-level stone. Murugeshi said he was grateful to Nagesh Poojary and his family, and Manjunath Poojary, Karkunje panchayat member Shekar Poojary and forest gaurds of the local area for the successful archaeological expedition.
Among the articles recovered are earthen lamps, iron nails and slugs, beads and bangles
The site has three layers, which indicates that it has undergone three phases of construction
KOLKATA: The arrival of Buddhism in Bengal was till now traced back to the 7th century post-Gupta period. But recent archaeological excavations by the State’s Directorate of Archaeology and Museums at a non-descript village named Dheka in Murshidabad district have thrown up seals and artefacts dating back to the 5th century AD – indicating the presence of the religion in the region much earlier than was previously thought.
The site is just 20 kilometres off Karnasubarno, which was considered the earliest Buddhist site in the State and houses the ruins of the ancient Buddhist university of Raktamrittika that finds mention in the travelogues of the famous Chinese pilgrim, Hiuen Tsang.
“The presence of several mounds in the region adjoining Karnasubarno always made me curious,” Amal Roy, superintendent of archaeology at the State’s Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, told here on Friday. “So we started excavating at one such site named Deuliapar in February this year and stumbled upon the artefacts.”
Among the articles recovered are fragmented stucco figurines, terracotta plaques, earthen lamps, iron nails and slugs, beads, bangles and hopscotch made of terracotta and, most interestingly, terracotta seals inscribed with scripts used way back in 5th century AD.
Mr. Roy said that two names – Vijayachandrasya and Vainya – have been deciphered from the seals, though their identities are yet to be established.
“We still do not have any concrete evidence as to whether it was a Buddhist site or not. But its close proximity to Karnasubarno and the nature of the artefacts excavated so far are strong indications of its Buddhist affiliation,” Mr. Roy said.
The site has three layers, which indicates that it has undergone three phases of construction in the past, starting from the post-Gupta period.
Mr. Roy said that the earliest used bricks were large and highly decorated with geometrical patterns. Some were even adorned with stuccos. The later ones were much smaller.
Interestingly, archaeologists have lately discovered another site named Ugura, which is not very far from Deulipar, where excavations have revealed Buddhist sculptures inscribed with the image of Lord Buddha.
“There is a high possibility that the region housed a flourishing Buddhist centre in early times. The entire picture will become clear once the excavation is completed,” Mr. Roy said.
“What we have found till now is just the beginning.”
Mayawati strikes again: Robs Gandhis of brand Amethi
Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh (UP) chief minister Mayawati has taken her
political battle against AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi to a new
level by renaming his Lok Sabha constituency.
The new name is quite a mouthful, which Congress leaders here are
finding difficult to digest.
Amethi, the VIP borough of the Nehru-Gandhi family for several
decades, is now a new district and would be known as Chhatrapati
Shahuji Maharaj Nagar.
The district includes Amethi and areas from Sultanpur and Rae Bareli
districts. A government spokesman said the cabinet decided to
“restore” district status to Chhattrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar.
Amethi was accorded district status and renamed after Chhatrapati
Shahuji Maharaj by then BSP government in 2002.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was representing Amethi in Lok Sabha.
The decision was scrapped next year, soon after the Samajwadi Party
came to power. The decision was challenged in court and the case had
been pending ever since.
Shahuji Maharaj, a 19th century ruler of Kolhapur is an icon for BSP.
He is the pioneer in granting job reservations.
Mayawati got the chance to rechristen Amethi after the Allahabad high
court recently left it to the government to reconsider its earlier
decision of carving out new district.
Mishra back in action
Lucknow : The BSP’s national general secretary, Satish Chandra Mishra,
is all set to return to the party’s political platform. Earlier,
Mishra, the BSP’s Brahmin face, was asked by Chief Minister Mayawati
to concentrate on legal matters. At a recent meeting with her party
functionaries, the Chief Minister communicated her decision to
re-assign the task of roping in Brahmins to Mishra. He has already
discussed his strategies for the constitution of “Brahmin bhaichara
committees” across the state with party leaders. Sources in the BSP
said Mishra would undertake a tour of the state in September. Besides,
Mishra has also started holding regular meetings of the State Advisory
Council, which currently handles development projects in places which
are considered to be of religious importance, including Mathura,
Vrindavan and Varanasi.
Congress rides goons to realise UP dream
NEW DELHI: Congress appears to be treading the beaten track in its efforts to counter its opponents in the 2012 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and has begun to induct leaders with criminal records in its state unit in an attempt to shore up its prospects.
The induction of criminal elements has sent out mixed signals and the decision to fall back on leaders with questionable background appears to be undermining this endeavour.
This dual approach has led to some disagreement within the party, with a group of senior leaders arguing that without taking musclemen into the party fold, it’d be difficult for them to take on BSP in the state.
There have been a spate of inductions of criminal elements in the party over the last few months. In April, Tulsi Singh Rajput of Chandoli was taken into the party. Rajput has about a dozen criminal cases pending against him. Charges have also been framed against him under the MCOCA.
Similarly, Congress has taken into its fold the independent MLA from Basti, Rana Kinkar Krishna Singh. He has as many as two dozen criminal cases against him.
Such is Mr Singh’s notoriety that party workers protested during his induction in Lucknow. Another independent MLA, Ajay Rai of Varanasi has become an associate member of the party, while in Unnao, Ramlakhan Pasi, who has some 20-odd criminal cases against him has joined Congress.
For the time being the induction has been limited to locally known musclemen, though sources indicated that the party has been trying to reach out to some well-known leaders with criminal records.
Amarmani Tripathi, who’s currently in jail after being convicted in the murder of the Hindi poet Madhumita Shukla, and eastern UP’s mafia don Hari Shankar Tiwari are said to be among those waiting in the wings for a berth in Congress.