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Friday, November 29, 2013

Nalanda University Ruins

History of Nalanda goes back to the days of Mahavira and Buddha in 6th Century B.C. It was the place of birth and Nirvana of Sariputra one of the famous disciples of Buddha. The place rose into prominence in the 5th Century AD as a great monastic cum educational institution for Oriental Art and learning in the whole Buddhist world attracting students from distant countries including China. The Galaxy of luminaries associated with Nalanda includes Nagarjuna,Aryadeva,Vasubandhu,Dharmapala, Suvishnu, Asanga, Silabhadra, Dharmakirti and the celebrated Chinese travelloers Hieun Tsang & I-Tsing who have extensively described the monasteries and shrines there and the life of the monks.Various subjects like theology, grammar,logic,astronomy,metaphysics,medicine and philosophy were taught. Nalanda Mahavihar, regarded as one of the greatest universities of the ancient world was founded by Kumara Gupta: 413-455 AD.of the great Gupta Dynasty. King Harshavardana of Kannauj: 606-647 AD and the Pala Kings of East India: 8th-12th Century AD continued to extend patronage to this centre.The decline of this Center started in the later Pala period but the final blow came in 1200 AD by the invasion of bhaktiar Khilji who demolished and razed the institution and destroyed it substantially.
The ruins have subsequently been excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India but we shall talk about this in greater detail in the next post. Meanwhile the campus is well maintained by the ASI with neatly manicured lawns and beautiful trees all around and some of the pics are shown below:
A river enroute to Nalanda
Well manicured lawns and trees in Nalanda under the auspices of ASI

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Vaishali - The Land of Mahavira and Buddha

As I had mentioned earlier I was in Patna to attend an old boy's reunion. I took the opportunity to visit some places of historical importance.on 15 November I visited Vaishali along with Shri Abhai Choudhary a school mate of mine who is now a Patna based plastic surgeon at Nalanda Hospital.
Vaishali is a district in Bihar.  The history of Vaishali district is very ancient, and finds mention in the Indian classic Mahabharatha as well as in Buddhist and Jain tradition.
Vaishali derives its name from King Vishal. Even before the advent of Buddhism and Jainism  Vaishali was the capital of the vibrant Republican Lichavi State which was in existence even before the birth of Mahavira  ( 599 BC), which suggests that it was perhaps the first republic in the world, similar to those later found in Ancient Greece.
In the Republic of Vaishali was born Lord Mahavira. Gautam Buddha delivered his last sermon at Vaishali and announced his Parinirvana there. Vaishali is also renowned as the land of  Amrapali, the great Indian courtesan who appears in many folktales as well as in Buddhist literature.Now sadly only the ruins remain of this great republic.
A kilometre away is Abhishek Pushkarni or the Coronation Tank. The sacred waters of the tank anointed the elected representatives of Vaishali. Next to it stands the Japanese temple and the Vshwa Shanti Stupa   (World Peace Pagoda) built by Nipponzan Myohoji sect of Japan.
A Japanese Temple - above & below
Abhishek Pushkarni or Coronation Tank - The World Peace Pagoda is in the background
Vishwa Shanthi Stupa or World Peace Pagoda
Two magnificent lions at the entrance to the Pagoda
Stunning golden images of Lord Buddha placed around the circumference of the Pagoda
A Korean Temple under construction at Vaishali

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Incredible India

Here are some picture clicked during my recent visit to Bihar. I traveled by road from Patna to Vaishali a distance of around 60 Kms. En-route we stopped over at several places including a village hamlet and took some pics:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Jal Mandir - Pawapuri

Was recently in Patna for a few days to attend a school reunion of old boys of St.Xaviers 1965 batch. After the reunion festivities took a few days off to visit places of historical importance like Pawapuri, Nalanda, Bodh Gaya & Gaya.Here I am posting pictures clicked at Pawapuri Jal Mandir.
Pawapuri in the state of Bihar is a holy site for Jains, located 38 kilometers from Rajgir in Nalanda district and 90 kilometers from Patna, the capital of Bihar.Around 500 BC, Lord Mahavira, the last of the 24 Tirthankaras and one of the founders of Jainism, breathed his last here. This is the place where Lord Mahavira achieved Moksha or Nirvana (Salvation from the endless cycle of life and death). He was cremated at Pawapuri, also known as Apapuri ("the sinless town"). There was a great rush to collect his ashes, with the result that so much soil was removed from the place of his cremation that a pond was created.Now, an exquisite marble temple in the middle of a lotus pond, the Jalmandir, stands magnificently on a rectangular island.Jal mandir as the name suggests is a temple in the middle of a lake blooming with lotuses. The main deity of the beautiful temple is a very old “Charan Paduka” of Lord Mahavira.Jal Mandir is built in the shape of “Vimana” and there is a stone bridge about 600 feet in length across it from the bank to the temple.

Views of Jal Mandir above & below
The beautiful chequered marble walkway
A marble fountain near the pond
The Lotus pond & the stone bridge
Devotees praying & making offerings
Charan Paduka of Mahavira
A sugar cane juice vendor
A Tum Tum which is the standard mode of transportation in Pawapuri
A chaat vendor
A fruit seller

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dilli Haat

A visit to New Delhi is incomplete without a visit to Dilli Haat.
Dilli Haatis is the brain child of  Tourism Department of Delhi for encouragement and development of handicrafts.Dilli haat has a festive village atmosphere spread over an area of 6 acres and it serves as a single destination to shop for arts and crafts products as well as enjoy variety of delicious North India food items and witness cultural programs including enthralling folk dances & enticing folk music. It also organizes and conducts regional food festivals.The handicrafts offered includes sandalwood and rosewood carvings, pottery,brass ware, metal ware, jewelry, gems, camel hide footwear,textiles, Madhubani Paintings and a wide range of exciting exotic ethnic products at reasonable prices. The best time to visit is late evening when the village is well illuminated and the atmosphere is enchanting.