Friday, February 26, 2010


Saptaparni Cave- (Lat- 25° 00’ 37.20”, N, Long- 85° 24’. 43.81” E)

The morning of 28th December found CM walking all way to the top of the Vaibhara hill. The one hour hike to the top of Vaibhara hill was laden with scared spots for many faiths including Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. From top the view was clear and the CM was able to observe many important sites situated at the base of the hill. He also got the bird’s eye view of Ashokan relic stupa and Ajatsatru new fort. Since the Vaibhara hill at the time of Xuanzang and fahien was a dense bamboo forest, CM instigated that the complete hill be restored to a bamboo forest and instructed the forest officer to sow the seeds for the same this following season. The access path to Vaibhara hill in its crumbling state received attention and is now on its way for the necessary repair work. On the top of the hill, there is an ancient temple from gupta period, CM was stunned by the dilapidated state of such valuable piece of history and culture and assured a facelift of the temple.
Picture 1: Climbing the Vaibhara Hill

The Saptaparni on the top of Vaibhara hill is the site as identified by Beglar, the one identified by Marshal is at the foot of the hill. CM saw the other Saptaparni site up close through binoculars.

Picture 2: At Saptapanni
In the list of suggestions to his team to explore further was the idea that the complete Vaibhara hill and the base of the foothill be developed as a bamboo grove.

Picture 3: CM greeting the Jain monks on Vaibhara Hill

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Nalanda (Lat- 25° 08’, N, Long- 85° 25’ E)

It was an early Sunday morning on 27th of December; the light of dawn barely hit the red brick structures when the CM along with his team visited the remains of ancient nalanda university. CM listened to the history, the exploration process and the present situation of the ruins as they stand, during the discussion on site he came up with few suggestions on development of new interpretation plan, weaving the stories through the archeological evidences and development of suitable signage so that even a lay person could identify with the heritage. He seemed very interested in the proper exposure of the site and developing the proposed Xuanzang Avenue linking of Juafardih and Rukmanisthan with Nalanda remains and opening up the western face of ancient remains of nalanda. Interpretation of Nalanda becomes more comprehensible once Rukmanisthan and Juafardih are included in its description. While Juafardih was once an outhouse of Nalanda sangharama, Rukmanisthan was the place where last students took hiding when Nalanda was attacked by Turks invaders. These facts about the new sites built up a complete picture and interest the visitors to look beyond the established patterns.

Picture 1: At Nalanda University
There is a big mound at the centre of Juafardih village which was excavated in 2007. The antiquities and the excavation find suggest that Juafardih is the site of ancient Kulika, the birth place of Mahamogallan an important disciple of Buddha. As per Xuanzang the stupa was erected by King Ashoka over the body relics of Moggallana. CM inquired about the exact distance between Juafardih and Nalanda, and also about the heritage tanks and gave necessary guidelines for its renovation. Tourism department is preparing a site plan for the newly excavated site which will be implemented soon.

Picture 2: At the remains of Nalanda University

Also, there is a detailed plan being formulated by the department of tourism, government of Bihar, which is based on the original master plan that we shared here in the blog, to help showcase the heritage of Nalanda and pave way for the rural tourism to the heritage villages. This plan would take into account the development of the sites that have already been identified and would place a system in progress for all future discoveries.

Monday, February 22, 2010


As we have been discussing in the past many posts, a master plan was in the works with the help of the community and on 22nd October we had the opportunity to make a presentation to honorable Chief Minister of Bihar state, Shri Nitish Kumar. The presentation mainly focused on the historical and archeological gems scattered throughout Nalanda and the potential it holds for the community to benefit from tourism and make it a sustainable source of livelihood.

Picture1: During the presentation on 22nd October 2009
It was a great opportunity to be able to share our detailed plan with a person who was in a position to make direct impact to the lives of many others. The presentation was a virtual journey that the CM took with us and he was intrigued enough to explore the possibilities of the area and planned a six day trip to visit the sites discussed in the presentation.

The interest that Shri Nitish Kumar showed and the initiative that he took was remarkable and on many notes similar to the one that king Ashok must have taken to popularize the pilgrimage and now in the modern world as we realize how much we have left behind in the past, this is an effort to revive the pilgrimage and brush away the dirt accumulated over the footsteps of Buddha over the course of history.

The presentation must have ignited something in Mr. Nitish Kumar’s spirit as the first thing that he uttered after landing at Rajgriha was, ‘ …we have come here to revive the old Buddhist pilgrimage path and work on the action plan prepared by Nava Nalanda Mahavihara’.
It was great honor for us and the community who had helped us put it together that our work was acknowledged and is now being chosen to be carried forward by experts in the field. Such recognition would allow more communities to take the initiative.
He further added that the government is going to set up a “Bihar Virasat Vikas Samiti” which will prepare a detailed action plan for the protection and preservation of the heritage of Bihar and study scope of tourism development through the heritage.

Picture 2: CM's arrival at Rajgriha
The CM spent almost a week visiting the remote and not yet popular archeological sites, he met with the experts and the local community to chart out a route so that the infrastructure that the community needs could be provided, new possibilities could be explored and the pride and heritage of Nalanda is restored.
Picture 3: CM and his team visiting the new facilities for tourists at Hot water springs