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Forts/Palaces/Monuments in Bihar

Forts, Palaces and Monuments of Bihar

  • Mauryan Palace In Bihar (Site of Mauryan Palace, Kumrahar, Patna)

The archaeological remains of ancient Pataliputra namely the Eighty pillared hall and Arogya Vihar are located at Kumrahar about six kms east of Patna railway station.

Ancient literature refers Pataliputra by various names like Pataligrama, Patalipura, Kusumapura, Pushpapura or Kusumdhvaj. In 6th Century B.C. it was a small village where Buddha, sometime before his mahaparinirvana, had noticed a fort being constructed under the orders of King Ajatasatru of Rajagrih for defence of Magadh kingdom against the Lichchavi republic of Vaisali. Impressed by its strategic location king Udayin, son and successor of Ajatasatru, shifted the capital of Magadh from Rajgrih to Pataliputra in the middle of 5th Century B.C. For about next thousand years Pataliputra remained the capital of great Indian empires of Saisunaga, Nanda, Maurya, Sunga and Gupta dynasties. The place has also been an important centre of activity in the fields of education, commerce, art and religion. During Asoka's time the third Buddhist council was held here. Likewise Sthulabhadra, the eminent Jain ascetic had convened a council here during the time of Chandragupta Maurya.

The first vivid account of Pataliputra including its municipal administration comes at about 300 B.C. from Megasthenese, the celebrated Greek ambassador at the court of Chandragupta Maurya, who mentions it as Palibothra in his book named Indica. According to his account the spread of the city was like a parallelogram, about 14 kms east-west along the river Ganges and 3 kms north-south. The circumference of the city was about 36 kms. The city was protected by massive timber palisades and further defended by a broad and deep moat which also served as a sewer of the city. Kautilya also in his book Arthasastra indicates wide rampart around the city. Remnants of the wooden palisades have been discovered during a series of excavations at Lohanipur, Bahadurpur, Sandalpur, Bulandibagh, Kumrahar and some other locations in Patna.

The Mauryan pillared hall at Kumrahar was brought to light by excavations conducted by Archaeological Survey of India in the years 1912-15 under D.B. Spooner with the funds donated by Sir Ratan Tata. In this excavation traces of 72 pillars were found. Further excavations in 1951-55 by K.P. Jayaswal research Institute, Patna exposed 8 more pillars of the hall and four additional ones belonging to the entrance or porch. Since then it is popularly refered as the 'Eighty Pillared Hall'.

All the pillars were made of black spotted buff sandstone monoliths with a lustrous shine typical of the Mauryan period.

Regarding the nature of this hall, it has been variously assigned as the palace of Asoka, audience hall, throne room of Mauryas, a pleasure hall or the conference hall for the third Buddhist council held at Pataliputra in 3rd Century B.C. during the reign of Asoka.

Excavations by K.P. Jayaswal research Institute have unearthed brick structures of Gupta period identified as Arogya Vihara or hospital-cum-monastery on the basis of an inscribed terracotta sealing discovered from the place which bears the inscription reading 'Sri Arogya Vihare Bhikshusanghasya'. Another small red potsherd was also found inscribed with the word 'Dhanvantareh', possibly referring to the name or the title of the presiding physician of Arogya Vihar. Hence it can be surmised that this hospital was run by Dhanvantari, the famous physician of Gupta period.

Important finds from the excavation of this area include copper coins, ornaments, antimony rods, beads of terracotta and stone, dices of terracotta and ivory, terracotta seals and sealings, toy carts, skin rubbers, terracotta figurines of human, bird and animals and some earthen utensils. An exhibition hall at the site depicts the story of Kumrahar through antiquities, photographs, translites, diorama and other illustrations for the convenience of visitors.

Rohtasgarh Fort
39 kms from Sasaram are the remains of Sher Shah Suri’s Rohtasgarh fort.It now occupies a part of the plateau about 4 miles east to west and 5 miles north to south,28 miles in circumference.It is considered one of the largest and strongest hill forts in India.This fort served as a safe shelter for treasures and families of Sher Shah Suri,Shah Jahan,Man Singh,Mir Qasim and others during the first war of Independence in 1857.Records suggest that there are 84 passages to the hill with 14 main gates entry.However Sher Shah closed ten of them.

Munger Fort
The most famous and important of the monuments at Munger is the fort built on a rocky eminence projecting into the river Ganga which protects it from west and partly from the north,the other sides being defended by a deep moat.The fort encloses an area of about 222 acres and has a circuit of 4 kms.It was built during the time of the early,Mohammedan kings of India.

Situated on the eastern fringe of Bihar on the western bank of river Ganga ,RajMahal was founded by Raja Maan Singh the famous 16th century Rajput General in Akbar’s army.The Sangi Dalan built on river bank is a part of the palace of Shah Shuja,son of Emperor Shah Jehan.Akbari Mosque was built in 1556 to enable Emperor Akbar to pray.

Palamu Fort
Two large forts are located deep in the forests of Aurangabad on Sher Shah Suri path.These forts were attributed to the Vanvasi kings of the Chero dynasty.It had defenses in three directions and three main gates.The architecture is very Islamic which bespeaks of Daud Khan’s conquest.

Maner Fort
Some centuries ago Maner was situated on the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Son and the river Saryu joined it from the north.The remains of an old time fortress on the bank of the old channel of the Son reminds one that Maner was a strategic point in the ancient times.Maner holds significant position in Bihar tourist map with the tomb of Sufi Saint Hazrat Makhdoom Yahya Maneri of the 13th century.

Vikramasila University
Vikramsila is a town situated in the state of Bihar, India. It lies at a distance of approximately 40 km from the city of Bhagalpur. One of the popular Buddhist destinations in India, Vikramshila cannot boast of a direct relation with Lord Buddha. It is mainly renowned for being one of the most significant centers of Tantric Buddhism, in the 8th century AD. It also houses the famous Vikramasila University, the main intellectual as well as learning center of Tantric Buddhism.

The University was built under the patronage of Dharmapala, a Pala king. Also known as Paramasaugata (meaning, the chief worshipper of the Buddha), he was a great follower of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism. The center of the university once had a huge temple, adorned with a life-size copy of the Mahabodhi tree. It is said that approximately 108 temples were constructed around it. Out of these, almost 53 temples were dedicated to the study of the Guhyasamaja Tantra.

The entrance of the main temple stood guarded by two brilliant statues of Nagarjuna and Atisa Dipankar (a great scholar of the Vikramasila University). Vikramshila also lies very close to Champanagar, another famous Buddhist destination in Bihar.

The Nalanda University archeological complex
The total area of the excavation is about 14 hectares. All the edifices are of red brick and the gardens are beautiful. The buildings are divided by a central walkway that goes south to north, the monasteries or Viharas are east of this central alley and the temples of Chaiyas to the west. The Vihara-1 is perhaps the most interesting with its cells on two floors built around a central courtyard where steps lead up to what must have been a dais for the professors to address their students. A small chapel still retains a half broken statue of the Lord Buddha. The enormous pyramidal mass of the temple No 3 is impressive and from its top commands a splendid view of the entire area. It is surrounded by smaller stupas many of which are studded with small and big statues of the Lord Buddha in various poses or Mudras.