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ASI Report of Tours in North and South Bihar (Volume XVI)

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THE report in the present volume gives only a portion of my work during the cold season of 1880-81, as I am reserving the account of explorations at Buddha Gaya until they shall have been completed.

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Item Code: AZA500
Author: A. Cunningham and H.B.W. Garrick
Publisher: Archaeological Survey of India
Language: English
Edition: 2000
Pages: 220 (Throughout B/W Illustrations)
Other Details 9.8 x 6.5 inches
Weight 680 gm
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Book Description

THE report in the present volume gives only a portion of my work during the cold season of 1880-81, as I am reserving the account of explorations at Buddha Gaya until they shall have been completed. My object in visiting Buddha Gaya was to take the opportunity of the clearance of the accumulated rubbish around the temple, of exploring the remains that had been already brought to light by Mr. Beglar, and of ascertaining, if possible, the sites of many of the holy places which have been described by the Chinese pilgrims, and perhaps also some traces of the original temple of Asoka. In both of these objects we were completely successful.

One of the most interesting discoveries was that of the raised promenade, along which Buddha was said to have taken exercise. This was found almost intact just outside the northern wall of the present temple. But immediately under the wall of the temple there was found a row of stone pillar bases in a line parallel to the promenade, but deviating from the line of wall of the present temple. At first we thought that these might be part of the old temple of Asoka ; but afterwards it struck me that they might perhaps belong to the promenade itself. I, therefore, began to search on the north side of the promenade, and in a short time I found there a similar line of stone bases. It was clear then that the promenade had been covered by a roof, which was supported on these two lines of pillars; and such in fact it really was, as it is described as a “ cloistered walk," or a "covered walk" [chaukramana]. That these pillars belonged to the time of Asoka, was proved by the fact that each base was marked by a letter of the well-known Asoka alphabet. Thus the bases buried under the temple wall were marked with the eleven vowels-a, a, i, i, &c.; while the northern bases were marked with the consonants, beginning with k, kh; g, gh, &c.

The next important discovery was that of the Vajrásan, or famous throne on which Buddha was said to have sat under the Bodhi tree. The upper portion of this throne consisted of a single long slab carved in geometrical patterns on the upper surface, and on the sides with the geese and conventional flowers which are found on the upper members of the well-known Asoka monoliths. On the upper edge there was a long inscription, which unfortunately is very much mutilated. Enough, however, remains to show that the work is of later date than the time of Asoka, or about the period of the Indo-Scythian rule in North-Western India.

Several interesting discoveries were made inside the temple itself, where the broken and bulged floor had to be taken up for the purpose of being relaid. This work included the taking down of the basalt front of the throne, the stones of which had also got displaced. Here other pillar bases were discovered in situ, half buried under the walls of the present temple. The throne also was found to have been built over an older throne of sand-stone; strange to say, this did not occupy the centre line of the present temple, thus agreeing with the alignment of the pillars of the promenade outside. In a deposit immediately in front of the middle of the old throne, and under the old floor, we found five silver punch-marked coins, and a curious gold medal of the IndoScythian king. Huvishka, with his head on both sides, along with the usual inscription. This had a ring at the top for suspension. Along with these there was one copper punchmarked coin and many pieces of coral, and fragments of crystal, pale sapphire, pale ruby, pale emerald, and zircon.

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