Bihar is one of the most important sites related to Buddhism. Said to have been the place where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment while meditating under the Bodhi tree, Bihar's Bodh Gaya is one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites. A much sought-after destination, this religious land, along with Nalanda, attracts hordes of tourists and devotees from all over the world to Bihar.
Recently, an ancient monastery was discovered after an excavation in Lakhisarai Hills in Bihar. And researchers and archaeologists are very excited about what the discovery could mean.
They say that a long forgotten city called Krimila, said to be a religious-cum-administrative centre in eastern India during early medieval period, can now be resurrected, thanks to the excavation.
Lakhisarai is located in ward no. 33of Jayanagar village, some 125 kilometers east of Patna on the hilltop of Lal Pahari. The discovery of two burnt clay sealings here show that the Buddhist monastery belonged to the early medieval period.
The geographic location makes it the first ever hilltop monastery in the entire Gangetic valley.
The artefacts found here substantiate a nearly 140-year-old theory that the monastery was actually run by a woman monk, Vijayshree Bhadra. The burnt sealings recovered from the site records &lsquoThis is the sealing of the council of monks of the Srimaddhama Vihara&rsquo. It is written in Sanskrit and dates back to around 8th-9th century.
A flourishing urban settlement, Krimila was famous for manufacturing stone sculptures especially of Tibetian Buddhist origins. It also attracted many explorers, travellers, and scholars from the British and Indians.
In the course of exploration over 500 Brahmanical and Buddhist sculptures from all over the region have been documented, of which 200 have been shifted to a temporary museum.
The region was first explored by Sir Alexander Cunnigham, a British army engineer who formed the present day Archaeological Survey of India. He studied the area in 1871 and identified several ancient temples and stupas in his report. Chinese Buddhist monk Hwen Thsang mentions that lord Budhha resided in these areas and meditated.
The recent discovery and research in the area will further add to the base of knowledge about the importance that this place had played in medieval eastern India during the rule of the Palas.
The exploration work to unearth the lost city began in 2009 and an area of 72 square km has been identified as a tentative boundary of the ancient city.
Out of 60 sites which have been identified by researchers, six have been declared as state protected.