Wednesday, December 23, 2009

History of Nalanda monastic site

The heritage of the Nalanda is more than just the physical assets of the place, besides the archeological remnants of the glorious past there are a myriad of intangible assets that need conservation and a bit of grooming so that they can become part of main stream tourism.

The non-written history, local traditions, dying arts and sports, popular festivals, each played an important role in the cultural development of the area for centuries together. This PRA tool helps in documenting key events, history of the places and oral traditions. Such a list would help with the identification the popular trends, events, past problems and accomplishments. To be able to learn from the past success, we need to have a baseline about the local and national events that affect the community lifestyle and play a role in its economy.
A good exercise to gather this information was to initiate a conversation with the elders of the community and jog there memories to recollect the past events. The discussion with these key people gave us a valuable insight that took us back many a generations. This perspective is hard to find through any other medium but a direct conversation with the people themselves, it provided us with an opportunity to ask elders from all walks of life about previous events and retorts; and discuss possible solutions to solving current problems. The occurrences listed shall help in devising future programmes specially when designing the broader master plan.

Nalanda monastic site
1- In early 20th century (1905-07) the excavation work started at the site and lots of the plots were not public land but were ploughed by local farmers. Local farmers were raiyat of landlord Jahoor Chaudhry from Islampur. British people first facilitated the smooth transfer of land from the landlord to the farmers and then they bought the lands from them by 1907. Local farmers also participated in the excavation work. Before the excavations the land was used for agriculture and grazing. The mounds were covered with trees and bushes.

2- Site was open to the tourists in 1922, without any formal inauguration. And the excavation continued till 1935.
3- The earth removed from the excavation site was dumped in farmers land and they were paid Rs, 1 per Katha for dumping the earth.
4- There was no boundary around the excavated site and a barb wire fencing was built much later in the mid 1940’s
5- There were reported incidences of brick removal from Bargaon devisthan Mound and Muzzafarpur mound by few musclemen in 1940. The incidence was reported to ASI by the community and the then DG, ASI, Shri Srivastav personally visited the place and inspected the place and suspended the Guards.
6- Nalanda Museum was opened in 1956
7- The approach road was not convenient and means of local travel were also not there till 1960’s
8- Sarai Mound and the surrounding area was purchased from the community and the present boundary was also made at the same time
9- Till 70’s people used to leave their animals inside the campus for grazing
10- Shooting of film “Johny mera Naam” happened here in 1968, a big crowd came to see the shooting.
11- There was a youth hostel at the place were we have cafeteria now. The tourist information centre was shifted from Mohanpur (Nalanda Turning) in 1985
12- There were incidences were museum people were involved in removing the Sculpture from Museum and local Villages in 1980’s
13- The present brick boundary around the remains was made in 2005

Facilities for tourist
1- Bus Stand and the Rest House were made in 1950’s
2- The Guesthouse was very functional place to stay till the 80”s, many important guests preferred staying here as compared to other available options.
3- Bus stand was operational for only for a few years till 1987

Entry fee at Nalanda excavated site

1- 1922--- 1 Ana
2- 1940---2 Ana
3- 1950---20 Paise
4- 1968---50 Paise
5- 1980----Rs 2,
6- 2000----Rs 5
7- Local people were allowed to visit Nalanda remains for free till 1960”s

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