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The proposed visit of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to Lakhisarai soon is considered as a turning point. Kumar who is scheduled to witness the historical edifices that are excavated from the old archaeological sites, would also take the final decision of opening of a high standard museum as putting Lakhisarai on tourism map is on cards.
For the first time history of the eastern Bihar districts, Lakhisarai administration also has geared up for conservation and protection of the historical edifices which are exposed during ongoing excavations at two places, Jainagar Lalipahari and Uren majorly in the district.
Experts concerned conducting the excavation here have specified that the edifice of the part of a monastery which dug out below Lalipahari so far, was a nunnery of Bhiksuni ( Buddhist nuns). They also claimed it as an exclusive evidence of involvement of women in Buddhism in medieval India.
Prof Anil Kumar, head of the department of ancient Indian history culture and archaeology, Visva-Bharati and in-charge of Lalipahari excavation, said on the basis of inscriptions , the monastery was a nunnery established in the honour of Vijayasribhadra, an elderly Buddhist nun and Mallika Devi, wife of king Suraj Pala of Pala dynasty was the patron of it.
He said Joseph David Beglar, an Armenian-Indian engineer, archaeologist and photographer working in British-India and reporting to the Archaeological Survey of India, in late 19 th century had identified a black stone statue of Simhanad Avlokeshara at Lalipahari (presently kept at state Hermitage museum, St. Petersburg), bearing the inscription at its bottom side about this nunnery. “Actually with the inscription mentioned in the statute which earlier during colonial period exported abroad from Lakhisarai, we found the similarities to the inscriptions mentioned in the seals found here during recent excavation,” Prof Kumar pointed out.
He also pointed out about the findings of closed designed cells with lime made structures and all are inter- connected, the rooms for the Bhiksuni here in this nunnery. There are also evidences of doors at each of the cells, he pointed out.
Prof Kumar who recently has talked with Nitish Kumar and invited him to witness the results of the excavation, said evidence of another monastery was found at Bicchway mount, hardly one km north of this nunnery which was exclusively for Buddhist monks as separate structured cells are found there. In between the two monastery the much described Chaliya hill located on the bank of river Krimikala where Gautam Buddha spent three consecutive rainy seasons (Varsha Vas), as mentioned in Buddhist texts. He said that there is the evidence of a large stupa there.
Excavation branch III, Patna of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) also conducting excavation at Uren, a sleepy Maoist ravaged hamlet falling under Surajgarha block, some 30 km south east from Lakhisarai district headquarters and some 160 km west to Patna.
Many noted British archaeologist like LA Waddell earlier mentioned Uren as the site of Gautam Buddha taming the Yaksha Bakula. Many Burmese inscriptions have been reported from there earlier. Chaliya hill is also located near Uren.
Goutami Bhattacharya, deputy superintending archaeologist, excavation branch III, Patna circle, ASI said that the recent findings during the excavation established the facts that Uren once remained famous for Buddhist center with affluent patronages from the than Pala kings. “We already excavated the portion of the structure of a residential complex having many tiny cells in lower level. The cells were used a granary as we also recovered carbonized rice and pulses particles in huge quantities from the small cell like structures,” Gautami narrated. Besides, the structural parts of Stupas are also exposed during the excavation.
She further mentioned about an eyed Goddess made from ivory which was recovered recently from the site. “This item suggested that high ranking official or even the king or the top ranking monks usually used to worship such types of costly and sophisticated idols in their daily life routine,” she mentioned. According to her, the idol of crowned Buddha in Vhumisparsh Mudra, potteries dated back to 1100-1200 AD along with other valuable items were recovered still now. “We will send all the items for establishing its original timing by different modern laboratory testing,” she said.
Amit Kumar, district magistrate, Lakhisarai said that the proposed visit of Nitish Kumar on April 30 here yet not finalized. But he said that senior officials have been assigned to visit such places where excavations are going on and also at other places having archaeological significances. A team of senior officials recently inspected the excavation site at Uren where ASI, Patna has been conducting the excavation works.
“I have assigned official concerned to take care of the areas as well as the findings. We are scheduled to display all such items in a museum which is proposed here,” Kumar told.
He said the administration initiated for conservation and protection of such items. “Since we don’t have any museum, we will place all such things inside a government building here till up to the construction of the museum,” he said. According to him the administration also urged the state government to protect the excavations sites like Uren along with other places having historical significances at Lakhisarai.
Local residents have welcomed the move of the district administration. “Lakhisarai otherwise known for the Maoists and other dreaded goons could have the chance to change its fate by the ancient history. We believe once the flow of tourists will start here, the district will automatically change,” said Sringi Narendar, a Lakhisarai based social worker. Echoing, him some senior district officials said that the their priority was to set up a museum so that tourists could have opportunity to see the ancient items. “Bihar government also extended all supports for promoting Lakhisarai into a tourist hub and the chief minister will arrive here mainly for inspecting the ground zero realities here,” the officials pointed out.