ASI discovers two 1200-year-old miniature stupas at Nalanda
Recently the Archaeological Survey of India has discovered two 1200 years old votive miniature stupas in Nalanda.
- In Bihar, within the precincts of the Nalanda Mahavihara, small charitable stupas have been found near a mound called Sarai Tila. These small stupas were built on fulfillment of vows.
- The word stupa is derived from Sanskrit, which literally means “heap”. It is a mound-like (semi-spherical) mausoleum structure. It houses the remains of Buddhist monks.
- For example – Sanchi Stupa is built over the relics of Buddha.
Architectural features of the Stupa:
- It has a semi-circular mound or egg like the shape of a dome.
- A square railing or harmonica is made in it.
- The central pillar supports three chhatri (umbrella) like structures. This structure represents the three gems of Buddhism.
- It is surrounded by a wall and has ornate gateways (toranas) on all four sides. A circular platform (Medhi) is made around the egg for the ritual circumambulation.
- It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has archaeological remains of a monastery and educational institution dating from the 3rd century BC to the 13th century.
- Both Gautama Buddha and Mahavira resided in Nalanda for some time.
- Scholars like Nagarjuna, Dharmapala, Dinnaga, Jinamitra, Shantarakshita were related to Nalanda Mahavihara.
- Buddhist foreign travelers like Hiuen Tsang and Itsing also visited this place.
- The Nalanda Mahavihara flourished under the patronage of the Gupta dynasty, Harsha of Kannauj and the Pala dynasty.
- It includes stupas, chaityas and viharas (residential and educational buildings) and has important features of stucco plaster, stone and metal art.
Source – Times of India