Press Release and News
Unattended lies the Ashokan pillar PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 27 January 2010 10:25

Unattended lies the Ashokan pillar

Ms. Reena Sopam

Hindustan Times Patna

(January 16, 2010)

Patna: The world famous Mauryan Asokan pillar and the remains of the Raja Vishal ka Garh at Vaishali may be nationally protected monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Patna Circle. But lack of upkeep has meant that the sites have not received the attention they deserve.

Thousands of tourists and Buddhist pilgrims for over two dozen countries regularly visit the site. But the main attraction – the site of the lion pillar – today a national symbol stands most neglected.

The Ashokan pillar is crumbling in absence of maintenance. Archaeologists agree that the pillar has developed cracks “Sandstone pieces from its outer surface have been peeling off due to continuous weathering. Even the Asokan inscription in ‘Prakrit’ over the pillar is hardly visible now as the spots containing it are badly damaged.” An Archaeologist preferring anonymity said.

He continued, “Even Raja Vishal Ka Garh, a Licchavi remain, is crying out for attention because of the number kilns being located around the protected site despite the mandated law, that no other structure can come up within four kilometers of such heritage sites. Some of the kilns are within 500 metres of the site.”

Suresh Bhatia, an Archaeologist and Director of ‘The Buddhist Heritage, www.bhpromo.org said it was a holy lake believed to be used by the Royal Family of Vaishali on some ceremonious occasions during the age of the Licchavis. “Its sanctity is being violated and neither the ASI nor the State Archaeology care to stop it. Even the construction of a hotel at a close distance of the ancient age lake is a violation of the ‘Ancient Sites and Monuments Act 1958,’ he said.

S.K. Manjul, Superintending Archaeologist of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Patna Circle said that the Abhishek Pushkarni Lake at Vaishaligarh was not under ASI protection. “The State Archaeology Department should also take the responsibility to protect some of its heritage sites and monuments,” he said.

Manjul said that there were large human settlements at a close distance of the protected sites. “But the chimney is beyond 300 meters”, he said.

Archaeologists say, that Vaishali drew world attention because of the ashes of the Buddha discovered here. “It has been drawing lakhs of foreign tourists during the peak of the tourist season, but there is no accommodation facility for them. It also lacks any air connectivity with other Buddhist sites. Those who visit the place to witness Buddha’s ashes have to be disappointed as they continue to remain at the Patna Museum.

Courtesy Hindustan Times; Patna
 

THEME PARKS TO SHOWCASE BIHAR HERITAGE SITES

Sanjeev Kumar Verma l TNN

The Times of India, Patna, January 20, 2010

Patna: Bihar has umpteen amusement parks, zoological parks and botanical parks, but what about theme parks depicting heritage? The concept should not sound too bizarre giving the fact that the State has a rich tradition of art and culture. And in an age of increasing globalization, sometimes it pays to be in touch with one’s roots, especially for Gen-Y.

So get ready to have a day out in the sun in theme parks across the State showcasing art works, including three-dimensional wonders. The State’s Art & Culture Department has short listed Patna, Dharbhanga, Gaya, Bettiah and Chapra for the special makeover. Themes have been decided for each park.

The one to come up at Patna on the premises of ‘Golghar’ would depict the city’s history from Asoka’s Mauryan times to the modern times. The one in Dharbhangha would depict the culture and history of Mithilanchal. Gaya’s theme park, to come up near the Mahabodhi Temple, would be replete with Buddhist philosophy, while the one at Chapra would showcase the rural culture of the region. Bettiah’s heritage park would depict the history of Champaran including the events leading to Mahatma Gandhi’s struggle against the Britishers for the local farmers. The parks are scheduled to be completed by the next fiscal year (2010-11), said the Art and Culture Department Secretary, Vivek Singh. He also said, the parks, apart from being a medium of knowledge for Gen-Y, it would also be an attraction for the tourists. “We intend to publish brochures about the park,” Singh added.

Courtesy: Times of India, Patna
 

Controversy over shift of Buddha Relic from Patna


Suresh Bhatia: B.H. News Service

January, 20, 2010

Chief Minister of Bihar, Mr. Nitesh Kumar, presently touring the State on a two-fold mission: (1) to evaluate the efficient functioning of the State’s Government’s various Departments (2) to reach-out to the people in a bid to win the next Election – which is in the offing.

At a meeting in Sravasti yesterday, as part of his four-day pravas yatra announced that the ‘Relic of the Buddha,’ would be returned to its original home – Vaishali only after making proper security arrangement for it. So now, the Bihar Government has been looking for a suitable place to keep it permanently at Vaishali. Till now the district of Vaishali and its Buddhist sites have been to a large extent neglected and the flow of International and Indian pilgrims is negligible compared to Bodh Gaya and Sarnath. The ‘Relic’ being displayed at Vaishali will hardly attract a large flow of devotees.

On the other hand, the Country’s first ever Buddha Smirti park – another ambitious project of Chief Minister, Nitesh Kumar, at Patna. The ‘Mega-project’ is rapidly being constructed on the 22 acres of land where the Bankipore jail once stood. The park is located right in front of the main Patna Railway Station. The project estimated to cost approximately Rs.125 crore is likely to be completed by March 2010.

As per the earlier decision, the ‘Relic’ was to be placed in a transparent box at the theme park. Last week Chief Minister had himself reviewed the progress of the work done at the theme park. One of the main exhibits at the Theme park was the ‘Relic.’ Now with the decision of the Chief Minister’s to return the antiquity to Vaishali. One wonders why Rs. 125 crore was spent on a project that will be deprived of its main exhibit. It cannot be denied that if the ‘Relic’ was to remain in Patna, Buddhist pilgrims visiting the city would have been blessed at having seen the holy ash remains of the Buddha.
 
 

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NAV NALANDA MAHAVIHAR – LOOSES STATUS OF ‘DEEMED UNIVERSITY’

BH NEWS SERVICE:

January 21, 2010

NALANDA: as per the directives of the Central Government HRD Minister Mr. Kapil Sibal, all Universities with the status of ‘Deemed University’ have been de-recognized. The Nav Nalanda Mahavihara which, in 60 years since its establishment had till date, not been able to attain the status of an ‘Independent’ University. The students to suffer most from this set-back are nearly 250 monks who are studying here. Most of the monks are from South-Asian countries as well as some from India. The main reason for the College not being able to become an ‘Independent University’ has been the incompetence of the Director, Dr. Ravindra Pant along with members of the administrative staff.

This University was created by Late Ven. Jagdish Kashyapa and in pursuance of a scheme worked out by J.C. Mathur I.C.S., the then Educational Secretary to the Government, to revive Oriental learning on the traditional lines and to re-orientate it according to the methodology of modern scientific research. Hence Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, the Institute for Post-graduate teaching and research in Pali and Buddhist Studies was officially established in 1951. If no solution can be found to cancel the de-recognition of this Institution, Nalanda’s reputation of being a place for Buddhist Study will finally come to an end
 

BUDDHIST HERITAGE TEAM DISCOVER ANANDA’S STUPA

BH NEWS SERVICE:

The Stupa of the Buddha’s Cousin and Chief Attendant for 20 years has been finally located by the Buddhist Heritage team on the banks of the River Ganga, at a place known as Chechar – not far from Vaishali. The Stupa is in the hands of a private owner and was never visited by the British Archaeologist during their reign in India. The Buddhist Heritage seeks benevolent Sponsors globally for the restoration of the Site as a venue for pilgrimage. Information on the ancient site as well as a proposal for building a Monastery for Nuns as well as Stupa is available. For more information please email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
 
 
Ten Sites under UNESCO RADAR PDF Print E-mail
Written by Suresh Bhatia   
Thursday, 10 December 2009 20:48
Ten Sites under UNESCO RADAR

Altogether ten heritage sites and monuments of the state will be in contention for UNESCO’s World Heritage Status this year.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Patna Circle has sent a list of ten Buddhist and Muslim period sites, including the silk route sites, to be included in the ‘tentative list’ to be released by UNESCO in the future.

The list includes the rock cut caves of Barabar in Jehanabad, shershah’s mausoleum at Sasaram, Nalanda and Rajgir besides the Silk route sites like Vaishali and Vikramashila. The other two sites are Sarnath and Kushinagar; both these two sites recommended by ASI are in Uttar Pradesh.

Till date the Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya has been the only monument to have attained the UNESCO notified world heritage status in Bihar. “This year the UNESCO Gazetteer of world heritage sites has also included a slot for the sites believed to have been on the silk route. This category includes places of importance between Arabia and China via India, the route was also followed by the early Chinese Pilgrims Fa Hian (late 4th Century CE) and Huien Tsang (7th Century CE) and later by I Tsing among others. Dr. S.K. Manjul, S superintending Archaeologist of the ASI, said.

Among the recommended sites, the Barabar caves, for instance have been identified as the first architectural caves made for the Buddhist monks by King Asoka in the 3rd Century BC and still retains the fine polish which is unmatched to this day.

The proposed sites by Patna Circle were discussed at a meeting held in China recently. Several more meetings are required before the tentative list is drawn up and the final selections are done thereon. The final list may be declared by April-May 2010.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times, Patna

Is Kesarya Stupa eligible for World Heritage Status?

 - A Buddhist Heritage Desk Report

The Buddhist Heritage Research Team has its own views about which Buddhist site should be granted the status of World Heritage site by UNESCO. In the very short list drawn up by us, there are only three that qualify for this distinction:
(1) Kesarya
(2) Kolhua/Vesali
(3) Sarnath.

Kesarya, as already listed in the Content of our website relates to an event in the life of the Buddha. It was at this site that the ‘Begging bowl’ of the Buddha was buried by the people of Vesali. Further in time, near about the 7th Century CE, the king of Java, impressed by the magnificence of this Stupa commissioned the building of the Borobudur stupa in his own country. The Borobudur stupa is held in high esteem in Buddhist history and has been included in the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, while on the other hand the Stupa that inspired its creation continues to remain in oblivion, partly excavated and hardly visited by pilgrims.

Kolhua/Vesali stands as our second choice primarily that Kings and rich merchants continued to build/restore Viharas even in the later centuries – thereby preserving the history of the site as the venue of the Buddha’s final ‘Rain retreat’ and also of the place where he declared his forthcoming Mahaparinirvana.

Sarnath undoubtedly deserves the attention of UNESCO as this was the site where the Blessed One turned the ‘Wheel of the Dhamma’ to his five Disciples for the first time. The only discredit to the site is that the British Archaeologists never undertook a serious excavation of the site – they merely removed the upper layers of soil to expose the projecting stupas. Hence the site has never been properly excavated or its actual history brought to light. However, if the site attains the status of World Heritage sites, we will be the last people to protest.
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 December 2009 21:01
 
PRESS RELEASE PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 29 September 2009 11:59

SURESH BHATIA

Author & Peace Pilgrim
                                

Ref : Demand for Complete Restoration of Kesariya Stupa situated in Champaran District Bihar, India.

Dear Sir,

I wish to draw to your attention that I am presently in the process of compiling a 'mega' photographic book entitled: 'The Buddhist Heritage of Bihar.' This book will cover a many of the forgotten sites whose history were last recorded by the British Archaeologists in the 19th Century and after the Independence of India their existence was never investigated by the Central or State Archaeological Department.

One such site is the Kessaputta Nigama Stupa at Kesariya in Champaran District of Bihar. The Stupa is located 55 km north west of Vaishali  and is of immense value to the International Buddhist Community as it was here that the Buddha (just before attaining Mahaparinirvana at Kushinagar) presented the lay devotees with his begging bowl. The devotees preserved the bowl by placing it in a Stupa at this site. The Scriptures also mention that it was here that the Buddha preached the outstanding Kalama Sutta to the people of the Vijjian kingdom.  This stupa was visited by both Fa-hien and Hieun Tsang who left brief accounts of their experience of visiting the stupa. The very first stupa to be built over the Buddha's begging bowl was in the 2nd Century B.C. and was probably a small mud and stone mound, which, over the Centuries Buddhist kings and rich devotees continued to restore and expand till it reached the height it presently is. In the 7-8th Century A.D. the King of Java, a Buddhist devotee visited the site and was impressed by the magnificence of the Stupa and on returning home had a hill carved to resemble the Kesariya Stupa. This replica, famously known as the Borobudur stupa is a popular venue visited by the International tourists, while the Kesariya Stupa which inspired the creation of the Stupa in Java continues to remain in oblivion for lack of interest on the part of the Archaeological Survey of India. If the site was to be fully restored, it would become as popular as the Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya and all the winter International Prayer Festivals could also be held here as the venue has immense spiritual significance.

Historical evidences show that the site attracted the interest of eminent Archaeologists such as Alexander Cunningham, who in his report of 1861-62 mentions that as early as in 1814 a gallery had been excavated from the east to the centre of the great mound at the instance of Colonel Mackenzie, who was the first explorer of the ruins of Kesariya. Later, in 1835 Mr. Hodgson published a sketch of the site without any description; but a more systematic account with a sketch plan of the ruins was mentioned by Alexander Cunningham in his report.

Cunningham says in his report; 'that underneath the existing ruins are buried the remains of another earlier and perhaps a much larger stupa, as can be inferred from the unusually large dimensions of the lower mound or basement as can be observed at present. He calculated that the earlier stupa may have been 160 feet in height, including its pinnacle, surrounded by a circumambulatory path all around. There is every reason to believe that this early monument was held in considerable importance in the heydays of Buddhism.' The Archaeological Survey of India, under the Superintendent- ship of Mohammad K.K. did attempt to excavate 30 percent of the ruins somewhere in the year 2000. After the transfer of this Officer to another post, no further work has been done on the site though elaborate amounts of money are being spent here to build a Guest House for the Department's Officers and a boundary wall around the site rather than excavate the rest of the stupa. If the site was to be fully excavated, it would once again become a popular site for prayer and pilgrimage - thereby bringing to the State of Bihar badly needed foreign revenue and the people of the area a much needed source of livelihood as it is one of the most backward areas of the State.

To help me strengthen my campaign for the restoration of this Holy site, I request the readers to kindly send a letter expressing their concern for the restoration of the Stupa to: The Additional Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, Janpath, New Delhi - 100001, India, or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it A copy of your letter may kindly also be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   for reference and further action in the matter. In return we shall send you a picture of the site.

I sincerely hope that you will publish this article at the earliest,

Thanking you.
Suresh Bhatia
(Peace Pilgrim)
Director,
The Buddhist Heritage Research Foundation,  
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: www.bhpromo.org
Blog: www.bhpromo.org/blog


Kesaria Stupa
Kesaria Stupa

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 September 2009 12:13