Monday, April 30, 2012

Move to make Jethian a protected site

Protection, Preservation & Conservation of the Cultural values of Jethian
Jehian retains a unique assemblage of places of cultural heritage value relating to the sublime wanderings of the Buddha. The Jethian valley, its landscapes and features and the archaeological sites, are treasures of distinctive value and they provide visible evidence of the continuity between past, present and future. There is a need to safeguard the tangible and intangible cultural values of the Jethian for present and future generations.
Making of the Site Development Plan and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) at Jethian is planned under the “Revival of the Ancient Buddhist Pilgrimage in Bihar”(RABPB) Project. Site Development Plan and PRA are designed to facilitate the process of the heritage development and showcasing.  
The whole process of the site development will need some conservation intervention. Conservation may involve, in increasing extent of intervention: non-intervention, maintenance, stabilisation, repair, restoration, reconstruction or adaptation.
Identification of the Antiquities of Jethian
The antiquity of the Jethian was first noticed by A. Cunningham in 1871. In 1899 Sir Auriel Stein visited the place and identified Rajapinda cave with the Asura’s cave mentioned by Xuanzang. Besides the Rajapinda cave, Stein also linked the remains over the hills and the valley with the Xuanzang’s description, prominent among them was the remains at Saffighat pass. The remains of Saffighat pass were also reported by Grierson

Dr Atul Verma, Asst. Director, State Archaeology Department made a visit to Jethian on 29th April-2012, to inspect the places that needs to be protected 

Places to be protected at Jethian
1-      Remains at Saffighat pass- 25° 55’ 54 N, 85° 19’ 58 E

Xuanzang's description- A stupa 6-7 Li south-east of the dense forest to mark Buddha’s presence and a road constructed by raja Bimbisara by the ridge of mountain.  

Brick (Stupa) remains marked with the circle...the  Bimbisara road as mentioned by Xuanzang

Dr. Verma inspecting the Site
Rich archaeological remains near the Dam by Saffighat (Marked as circle)
2. Remains of Supatiṭṭha cetiya (local name-Buddha Mandap)  25° 55’ 40 N, 85° 19’ 15 E

Pali reference- In it was the Supatiṭṭha cetiya, where the Buddha stayed during his first visit to Rājagaha from Gayāsīsa (Brahmayoni Mountain, Gaya), after the Enlightenment. There Bimbisāra visited him with twelve nahutas of followers, and Uruvela Kassapa dispelled their doubts by declaring his acceptance of the Buddha as his teacher (Vin.i.35ff, DhA.i.88, AA.i.166, BuA.18, etc).
Xuanzang visited Ashokan Stupa at place where the Buddha preached law
Remains of Supatittha Chetiya...marked in red
Sculptures at the site....
Ancient Sculptures at the site...
3. Asura's cave ( Local name-rajapinda cave) - 25° 56’ 45 N, 85° 20’ 25 E
Ancient "Bimbisara path" reaching to the cave...
Xuanzang's Description- and 4 Li further north of rishi Vyasa place was a large Asura Cave on the hill where the Buddha had discouse with Asura.  Xuanzang also mentions about a causeway reaching the cave made by raja Bimbisāra to reach the Buddha.    
Cave at the centre of the Hill and the 600mt long Bimbisara path to the top as mentioned by Xuanzang
Google image of the ancient path and the elevation details..
Asura's cave- mentioned by Ven Xuanzang, identidied by Sir Auriel Stien in 1902

A part of the "Bimbisara path consists of a 20ft wall of Dressed stone same as Cyclopean Wall, Rajgir
"Bimbisar path" needs conservation and restoration work
Support of the local people at Jethian
People of Jethian village are aware towards the heritage they are bequeathed with. Villagers are very kind and generous, we can't thank them enough for their cooperation. Specially, Raju who is very active and he keeps documenting events and visits of the pilgrims in Jethian. He was kind enough to share few of his pictures from this pilgrimage season with us.
Dr Verma and Raju (2nd From left) at Asura's cave
Villagers record each visit of the pilgrims at the Supatittha Chetiya
Comments  by the Visitors...
                         Shri. Ramauchit Singh Ji was big help with documents pertaining to land records
Myself with Shri Ramuchit Singh JI
Dr Atul Verma with the village elders...Collecting the oral history
                                           Pictures shared by Raju
 Thai Pilgrims .... Monks and Nuns at Supatittha Cetiya
Villagers welcoming pilgrims at Jethian
More than 500 pilgrims took the Jethian-Rajgir Buddha Path this February

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Aerial Photography at Gurpa (Kukkutapadagiri)

Gurpada (also Kukkutapadagiri, now Gurpa) is known as the place in which Maitryea Buddha will return and receive the robes of the Buddha kept with Maha Kassappa. Legend says that Maha Kassapa didn’t die. Instead, he took Samadhi at this majestic place, sleeping within the rock. Maha Kassapa will offer the robes of the Buddha to the future Buddha when Maitryea Buddha descends to this realm in order to share the next basket of teachings with the world. This place was such a big attraction for the followers of the teachings of the Buddha over the centuries, that pilgrims developed Gurpada in their own native countries.
With aerial views from the top of Gurpa Hill, Yves Guichard and I hoped to capture the majesty of this place to match the legend.
Read about Mahakassapa and Gurpa (also Gurupada)

With Sunil Kumar, an enthusiastic young guy from the village

We were fortunate to meet Ven. Ananda Bhante and his disciples at the Gurpa Hill

Shri Anil Kumar a very resourceful and helpful person